A Weak Immune System, Addiction, and Illness

A Weak Immune System, Addiction, and IllnessIt is well understood that the abuse of drugs and alcohol can have severe effects on the body. Excessive, long-term substance abuse and addiction can damage nearly every system in the body, including the immune system. In addition, when a person develops an illness, he may be more likely to turn to the use of drugs and alcohol in order to cope. Ohio families should be aware of this cycle of illness and substance abuse that becomes progressively worse with time.

Effects of Addiction on the Immune System

The effects of addiction on the body vary depending on what substance is being used and how regularly it is used. However, nearly all substances cause damage to the immune system in some way. In most cases, addiction is linked to increased amounts of physiologic and psychological stress. This stress is found to have devastating effects on the immune system that Ohio families should consider. According to the Mayo Clinic, long-term stress increases the risk of many health problems, including digestive problems and heart disease.

In addition, the use of drugs and alcohol is strongly correlated with the development of cancer, a devastating and possibly terminal chronic illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), excessive consumption of alcohol contributes to several types of cancer, including cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, colon, and breast. According to the National Cancer Institute, nicotine addiction and excessive cigarette smoking is strongly linked with cancers of the lung, esophagus, mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, pancreas, stomach, and cervix. The CDC reports that in 2010, as many as 56,357 new cases of cancer were diagnosed in Ohio. Though not all of these cases are necessarily linked with the use of alcohol or cigarettes, it is likely that a considerable amount of them are.

Illness and Substance Abuse

Unfortunately, many people who experience illness will then turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with the symptoms of their illness. Substance abuse is especially prevalent in those who suffer from chronic illness. Chronic illnesses like arthritis, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease can put severe limitations on a person’s lifestyle. According to the CDC, about one-fourth of those with chronic illness report experiencing limitations in their daily activities. This can lead to low self-esteem and depression. When this occurs, many Ohio residents turn to drugs or alcohol to avoid confronting their emotional state. Unfortunately, this substance abuse and addiction then increases the limitations that the person was originally self-medicating.

The pain associated with certain illnesses is another factor that often contributes to substance abuse. Many Ohio residents will abuse pain medications in an attempt to relieve symptoms. Opioids are a common choice of abuse for those experiencing illness-related pain. If these prescription painkillers are not available, they might use drugs or alcohol to distract from the pain they are experiencing. While substances can temporarily relieve pain, they ultimately create more problems for the user, especially if addiction develops.

Get Help for Drug or Alcohol Addiction

If you or a loved one in Ohio has developed an addiction to drugs or alcohol, it is important to seek appropriate treatment. Please call our toll-free helpline today. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you might have about treatment for drug and alcohol addiction.