Last Updated on March 20, 2023 by Dr. Alberto Solà

As someone in recovery from addiction, it will probably not surprise you to learn that active addiction can greatly negatively affect an individual’s immune system. Not only that, but even after a person gets clean and sober, he or she will likely experience a weakened immune system for years. These are unfortunate truths and in the time of Covid-19, possession of a strong immune system has never been more important.

However, knowing is half the battle and there are many things that you can do to help strengthen your immune system to help keep you and your loved ones safe during this pandemic.

Read on to learn more about the ways that addiction affects the immune system and the things you can do to help rebuild your immune system during your recovery from addiction.

The Effects of Drugs and Alcohol on the Immune System

Regardless of your drug of choice, your history of substance abuse had a negative effect on your body’s ability to fight sickness and disease.

Alcohol affects the function of your liver and pancreas which can lead to immune system issues. Use of cocaine damages your nasal and throat passages thereby weakening their ability to protect you from infection. Smoking of any substance weakens your upper respiratory system and can keep it from fighting off illnesses effectively. Opioids directly impact white blood cells which results in a weakened overall immune system when it comes to its response to the invasion of viruses, bacteria, and diseases.

All of these negative effects are certainly present when a user is using on a regular or even occasional basis. However, even after that person quits using drugs or drinking alcohol, he or she may still experience these effects in the long term.

Fortunately, though, a strong immune system is something that can be built and nurtured.

How to Strengthen Your Immune System

There are so many things you can do to strengthen your immune system and they are also all just great ideas to bolster your overall health. Change can be difficult but you will reap major benefits if you incorporate these healthy immunity-building habits into your life.

Clearly, your decision to quit using drugs or drinking alcohol has already made a big difference in your ability to fight off illness and disease. You may notice that you feel better throughout the year and that you don’t get sick as often in the winter months. Hopefully, any chronic cough or runny nose has healed itself and you have more energy. These are all good things.

However, if you are still smoking cigarettes, it’s time to call it quits. Many people in recovery still smoke, but smoking is bad for you in so many ways. When it comes to your immune system, smoking is damaging your lungs and it is creating a weakened first line of defense when it comes to respiratory illness.

People with strong immune systems exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight. They also get plenty of rest every night and wake up feeling refreshed and drink lots of water throughout the day. These may seem like small things, but they can make a world of difference in your overall health and in making your immune system more resilient.

There are other factors that are in play when it comes to immunity as well. Daily practices like washing your hands frequently and staying away from people who appear ill can help. Also, people who are stressed tend to get sick more often; meditation, yoga, and relaxation techniques can be a big help in this realm.

Immunity and Covid-19

Doctors, epidemiologists, and other scientists are all working hard to learn as much as they can about Covid-19 every day. Although this sickness has been with us for several months now, it is still relatively new. Experts didn’t even know about it until December of 2019 – less than a year ago.  When you think about how long people have been studying diseases like cancer and heart disease and how much there is to still learn about them, it’s not really all that surprising that we are still uncovering new information and knowledge about Covid-19 every hour of every day this year.

However, over the past few months, experts have learned and have shared so much. We know that, for the most part, Covid-19 is transferred from one person to another through the air as the virus rides on small, airborne droplets. As a result, our best defense against it is to social distance from others as much as possible, avoid group gatherings, and wear a mask whenever we are near others. These practices have been successful for most of us, and as a result, infection numbers are finally beginning to get under control.

We have also learned that although anyone can contract Covid-19 and that anyone is not only at risk of death but also of long-term health issues after recovery, the people who are most negatively affected by this illness are people with pre-existing conditions and older adults. People in these groups often have weakened immune systems by nature, sadly, and as a result, they are more susceptible.

The loss of so many people in these groups is a further reminder of the importance of keeping our immune systems strong and ready to fight. As someone in recovery, you know that you cannot change the past, but that you can make great improvements for the future. Because of the likelihood that your immune system is damaged due to your past of substance abuse, it’s crucial that you do all you can to keep your immune system strong.

Furthermore, the tips and suggestions above to help you strengthen your immune system are also just good practice in general. These healthy habits will not only help you in the whirlwind that is the year 2020, but they will help keep you happy, healthy and safe for years to come.

At Clear Sky Recovery, we are here to help you get started on your path to recovery.  Our ibogaine treatment is innovative and effective, and our staff is standing by to answer any questions you may have about our staff, our facility, or the process.  Please give us a call today!  We can’t wait to hear from you!