There are common illnesses that often result in a compromised immune system, such as the flu. While some people get a mild case of the flu, others experience serious, even deadly consequences. This is magnified many times when thinking of the coronavirus.
There are some risks that likely increase your risk of getting coronavirus, or the next pandemic illness if you abuse alcohol or other drugs. Learn why you are possibly among the individuals that are at an increased risk of developing coronavirus, even if you are not in another high-risk category.
What is Coronavirus?
Coronavirus is an illness that existed before the start of the recent pandemic. That was before COVID-19 began spreading across the U.S., and around the globe.
Some groups that are at high risk, compared to the general population include:
- Individuals with certain illnesses
- Exposure to someone with coronavirus
- Individuals with a compromised immune system
Although most people likely think of those that have a compromised immune system as individuals that have HIV, AIDS, cancer, or individuals receiving certain treatments, there is another high-risk group. That group is people that abuse alcohol or drugs.
Why are People that Use Drugs at Higher Risk During this Trying Time?
When you have a substance use disorder, you are at higher risk of experiencing coronavirus or other illnesses, compared to people that do not have an alcohol or drug addiction. This is because drugs and alcohol can compromise your immune system.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that coronavirus could affect some people that abuse alcohol or drugs ‘particularly hard.’ COVID-19 affects the lungs, and NIDA considers it a potentially serious threat when you use drugs or alcohol. Some people that are at particularly high risk include:
- People that smoke marijuana or vape
- Individuals with an opioid use disorder
- Homeless individuals that use drugs or alcohol
- Meth users
- People that abuse alcohol
Do you have a different drug of choice? Perhaps you abuse cocaine. You are still at risk of contracting the coronavirus or other serious illnesses because of a compromised immune system. The Endowment for Human Development published information from research indicating that cocaine abusers are far more likely than non-users to have illnesses such as hepatitis, HIV, sexually transmitted infections, and other infections.
COVID-19 is a virus, not an infection. There is no known cure. This means that not only do those that abuse alcohol or drugs have a greater risk of contracting the coronavirus, they likely experience more serious symptoms, and have a more difficult time recovering from it.
Alcohol Abuse and Compromised Immune System
Researchers have stressed that there is a relationship between alcohol abuse and a compromised immune system for many years. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) published information where researchers produced evidence indicating that alcohol abuse disrupts immune pathways. The compromised immune system has the capability of impairing the ability of the human body to fight off serious illnesses. It also can potentially contribute to organ damage.
An NIH article reveals that alcohol abuse suppresses multiple levels of the immune system. Researchers indicated that the positive resolution of bacterial infections and viruses is ‘severely impaired’ in people that abuse alcohol. The compromised immune system can increase your potential risk of mortality.
The Importance of Substance Abuse Treatment During These Trying Times
Receiving comprehensive treatment for your substance use disorder or alcohol use disorder is important on any day. When we go through trying times like these, your risk of contracting a serious illness that resulted in a pandemic is even greater. Every day that you continue using, you put yourself at greater risk because of your compromised immune system.