Addiction and Your Immune System

Addiction and Your Immune System
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Millions are affected by addiction every year throughout the world. People often think about how addiction can impact the brain, emotion, or cognitive abilities. However, we rarely talk about how addiction affects the body’s immune system. A compromised immune system can invite a wealth of health problems to the body, some even life-threatening.

What does your immune system do?

The immune system serves as the body’s defense or protection system. Some important tasks your immune system handles are neutralizing harmful pathogens that come into the body and disposing of them. It is also responsible for fighting off its own cells that have mutated such as cancer cells.

How is your immune system affected by addiction?

A healthy immune system filters through everything that enters your body by isolating and neutralizing anything that it views as a foreign body. Addiction does not necessarily compromise your immune system directly, but over time can severely weaken the immune system. This can put a person at higher risk for infection, disease, and illness.

When your defense system isn’t working properly, the body becomes more susceptible to foreign agents in the body and can cause the immune system to miss threats or misidentify healthy cells, leading to an autoimmune disorder. Dehydration, mental or physical fatigue, sleep deprivation, and lack of proper nutrients can be the result of a weakened immune system.

Let’s take a look at how various forms of addiction can affect the immune system:

  • One of the primary ways alcohol and many other substances affects the body is through the liver. The liver is responsible for filtering out toxins, waste, and harmful chemicals from our bodies. Over time, damage to the liver can lead to liver failure or liver disease.
  • Snorting substances can damage the mucous membranes of the nose, throat, and lungs leading to various upper respiratory infections.
  • The inhalation of substances, whether marijuana or nicotine, can kill numerous cells throughout the body that affect your immune system’s abilities. In addition to weakening the immune system through the loss of important cells, your body becomes at risk for developing infections, diseases, and illnesses.
  • While all opioids have an effect on the immune system, injecting substances into the body greatly raises the risk of viral, bacterial, and fungal infections. Illness such as HIV and Hepatitis A and B are common from the sharing of needles. Opioids also decrease or suppress your immune system’s response meaning slower healing and an increased risk of infection, disease, and illness. For those who are already sick and prescribed opioids for pain relief, an addiction to opioids can further their condition.

We take pride in helping our patients experience freedom from addiction. If you are struggling and want to experience optimal health both physically and emotionally, we are here to help you.

For more information on our services or the effects of addiction on your immune system, please contact Dr. Jamila Battle at Phone: (919) 230-2569 today.

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