Alcohol Directly Affects your Immune System

The Importance of Alcohol Addiction Recovery and the Impact of Alcohol on the Immune System

Normally, our immune systems attack and kill invading cells; thereby keeping us safe from infection and disease. But, in autoimmune diseases, peoples’ immune systems attack the healthy cells of the body, not just foreign invading cells. Why does this happen ?

Many theories abound about the cause of autoimmune diseases; one theory is that there is a familial link. There are over 80 types of autoimmune diseases, some having similar symptoms, but they are each unique.

When you have an autoimmune disease, lifestyle changes need to be made, particularly to your diet. Why? Immune function fluctuates greatly depending upon the body’s nutritional status. People give up gluten, sugar, and dairy because of their negative impact on well-being. Some are able to have an occasional serving of alcohol without ending up in crippling discomfort. But, the alcoholic is unable to stop at that one drink and the amount of alcohol consumed by someone with an alcohol addiction is decidedly dangerous.

In addition to the health risks associated with alcohol dependence and addiction, patients who have as autoimmune diseases face a series of specific consequences that can jeopardize their health and therefore can make worse an already uncomfortable condition. For this reason (among others), people with an autoimmune disease who also have an addiction have to seek out addiction treatment as soon as possible.

Alcohol Directly Affects Your Immune System
Your immune system has specialized cells called “natural killer cells” whose affects are decreased when alcohol is consumed. It is the job of these killer cells to bind to cells infected by viruses and kill them. They do this quite nicely when alcohol isn’t present in the bloodstream; this ability is diminished in effectiveness when alcohol is involved.

Your Autoimmune Disease Makes You Particularly Sensitive to a Leaky Gut
All people who suffer from an autoimmune disease are prone to developing what is called a ‘leaky gut.’ In leaky gut, the consumption of alcohol in large amounts has quite an effect on the gut’s permeability. Because of this, there is an increase in substances that leak out of the gut. These substances trigger the  immune response of inflammation and, in addition, harm the liver.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment Is an Ideal Solution
Even moderate amounts of alcohol affect the immune system, but the large-scale usage that accompanies an alcohol addiction exacerbates these issues. So, a person with an autoimmune disease will not only have the physical consequences of drinking (for example, the poor decision-making and hangovers), they will also have to deal with acute inflammation, increased illness, and inability to heal.

The ‘social drinker’ is likely to be able to make the choice to stop drinking, but the true addict will continue drinking- because their need to drink is so compulsive.  If you are abusing alcohol, you know this to be  the case. Because the use is compulsive and there are so many health concerns involved, cutting back using ’will-power’ alone is unlikely to be effective. Instead, it is best to look for a professional, qualified alcohol abuse treatment center .Below we’ll briefly discuss what you ought to expect from a treatment program as well as some things to look for.

Look for a Dual Diagnosis Program
When a person has one or more diseases or conditions in addition to an addiction, they are termed co-morbid, or co-occurring. So, your specific autoimmune disease would be a co-morbid condition to your alcohol addiction. So, in obtaining treatment,you should search for an addiction treatment program that can address BOTH of your conditions. These are called dual diagnosis programs.

Because alcoholism impacts your autoimmune disease and the reverse is also true, treating one will affect the other. Ideally, both should be treated simultaneously, which requires that you attend a rehab program which is capable of properly addressing both your autoimmune disease and your addiction. Most centers will be perfectly prepared to treat alcohol addiction, but you need a specialized medical staff in order to make sure your autoimmune disease is correctly treated: This would be a dual diagnosis program.

Here,  you should find should medical doctors on the staff who are knowledgeable about your particular autoimmune disease and its care. They can help prescribe appropriate medications, administer treatments, and design a diet that will limit the amount of discomfort you experience during rehab. They ought also to know the particulars of alcoholism and how it is affected by autoimumme disease. However, don’t assume this is the case. Be sure to ask questions of all potential dual diagnosis programs before choosing one.

As you transition from alcohol detox into proper treatment, your immune system will begin strengthening. Continuing to abstain will help to reverse some of the negative effects. Greater healing will take some time. It will also be necessary to accept that damage to your liver or kidneys may never be completely reversed. For this reason, it is critical that you seek out treatment as soon as possible.
Sylvia Maynard is a writer with a background in immunology. She worked as a nurse in acute care for patients with renal failure. Now, she works with those who suffer from autoimmune diseases to help them better their overall health and to live full lives. She is currently studying the paleo diet and its applicability for people with an autoimmune disease.

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2 thoughts on “Alcohol Directly Affects your Immune System

  1. Yes true that Alcohol is really harmful and does some irreversible damage to the body, but Smoking is worse. You might not believe, what kind of Harm Smoking Leaves on your Body. I have an article published about the same about What Happens to Your Body When you Quit Smoking (Read here if Interested:
    I have helped a few friends of mine in leaving smoking. You can get in touch with me via my Email Address.

    • Lakshaya, do you have articles which show a link between lupus and smoking? I can imagine that there could be a worsening of pulmonary fibrosis which can develop in Sjogren’s and I’m open to any autoimmune (MS, lupus, RA, sceleroderma, etc). Yes, smoking is such a filthy habit, but the addiction is so strong. Still, I don’t understand why people continue to smoke despite the known health risks. That nicotine must make individuals incapable of rational thought! Annie

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