A man with an alcohol feeling the abuse on his immune system

How Substance Abuse Can Affect Your Immune System

Substance abuse can affect your mental and physical health in many ways. Having consistent, prolonged, and excessive consumption of alcohol or drugs can weaken your immune system and make you more likely to get sick. There is a higher chance that you’ll struggle with fighting off infections, develop sepsis, and are more prone to viral infections.

Drugs can have several harmful effects on your body, and your immune system is no different. It’s important to recognize how drug abuse can lead to declining health and susceptibility to certain illnesses. Here’s an overview of how substance abuse can negatively impact your immune system.

How Addiction Affects Your Physical Health

Although various drugs have different effects, there are several short and long-term effects of drug use. It typically affects every organ and system in the human body to varying degrees. It impacts your body in several ways, including:

  • Ongoing drug use weakens your immune system, dramatically elevating your risk of infection.
  • Many prescription drugs affect your heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Drug use has harmful and sometimes irreversible effects on your digestive system.
  • Many drugs affect your lungs, leading to respiratory rate and function changes.
  • Drugs also impact your liver, reproductive system, and kidneys and significantly affect cognitive health and function.

How Can Alcohol Affect Your Immune System?

Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to several immune deficiencies. Your immune system can weaken over time with alcohol use and abuse. The typical effects that it has on your immune system include:

  • Prolonged alcohol use may cause problems in your digestive system.
  • Long-term alcohol use leads to liver damage and liver failure.
  • Alcohol may affect your ability to store protein.
  • Prolonged alcohol abuse may cause autoimmunity, a condition that causes the immune system during which the body attacks its own tissues.
  • An alcohol use disorder may affect the white blood cells in the body, which are responsible for eliminating “killer” white blood cells.
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