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Does Drinking Alcohol Decreases Your Immune System?

How Does The Immune System Works?

When someone is exposed to a virus, the body mounts an immune response to the attack and kills the foreign pathogen. Does drinking alcohol decreases your immune system? By default, alcohol makes it harder for the immune system to gear up and defend the body against harmful germs. Drinking also makes it harder for your body to properly tend to its other critical functions, like fighting off a disease.

In the lungs, for example, alcohol damages the immune cells and fine hairs that have the important job of clearing pathogens out of our airways. When the body is unable to clear a pathogen, an infection can worsen and lead to more severe, life-threatening complications. Does drinking alcohol decreases your immune system? Read for the answer to this and to learn more.

Alcohol And Immune System

Does drinking alcohol decreases your immune system? Clinicians have long observed an association between excessive alcohol consumption and adverse immune-related health effects such as susceptibility to pneumonia. In recent decades, this association has been expanded to a greater likelihood of acute respiratory stress syndromes (ARDS), sepsis, alcoholic liver disease (ALD), and certain cancers; a higher incidence of postoperative complications; and slower and less complete recovery from infection and physical trauma, including poor wound healing. [1]

How Much Is Too Much?

Does drinking alcohol decreases your immune system? Yes and alcohol consumption does not have to be chronic to have negative health consequences. In fact, research shows that acute binge drinking also affects the immune system. 

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults of the legal drinking age can choose not to drink, or to drink in moderation by limiting intake to 2 drinks or less in a day for men or 1 drink or less in a day for women, on days when alcohol is consumed. The Guidelines also do not recommend that individuals who do not drink alcohol start drinking for any reason and that if adults of legal drinking age choose to drink alcoholic beverages, drinking less is better for health than drinking more. [2]

Does Drinking Alcohol Decreases Your Immune System?
Does drinking alcohol decreases your immune system? Yes. Alcohol is known to cause inflammation in the body, leading to an immune deficiency.

Moderate Alcohol Use

In the United States, a standard drink contains 0.6 ounces (14.0 grams or 1.2 tablespoons) of pure alcohol. Generally, this amount of pure alcohol is found in:

  • 12-ounces of beer (5% alcohol content).
  • 8-ounces of malt liquor (7% alcohol content).
  • 5-ounces of wine (12% alcohol content).
  • 1.5-ounces of 80-proof (40% alcohol content) distilled spirits or liquor (e.g., gin, rum, vodka, whiskey).

Excessive Alcohol Use

Excessive drinking includes binge drinking, heavy drinking, and any drinking by pregnant women or people younger than age 21.

  • Binge drinking, the most common form of excessive drinking, is defined as consuming
    • For women, 4 or more drinks during a single occasion.
    • For men, 5 or more drinks during a single occasion.
  • Heavy drinking is defined as consuming
    • For women, 8 or more drinks per week.
    • For men, 15 or more drinks per week.

Most people who drink excessively are not always alcoholics or alcohol dependent.

Does Drinking Alcohol Decreases Your Immune System?
Does drinking alcohol decreases your immune system? Yes, because alcohol and drugs put the brakes on your immune system.

How Do Drugs And Alcohol Affect The Immune System

Does drinking alcohol decreases your immune system? Yes. Drinking too much alcohol can weaken your immune system. A weaker immune system will have a harder time fighting off common infections (such as a cold), as well as HIV-related infections. A weaker immune system also increases the chance that you will experience more side effects from your HIV medications.

Smoking marijuana (pot) or any other drug irritates the lungs. You may be more likely to get serious lung infections, such as pneumonia. Other common recreational drugs, such as cocaine or crystal methamphetamine (“meth,” “speed”), can leave your body dehydrated and exhausted, as well as lead to skin irritation. All of these things can make it easier for you to get infections.

Does drinking alcohol decreases your immune system? Yes, and alcohol and other drugs also affect your liver the most. The liver rounds up waste from chemicals that you put in your body. Those chemicals include recreational drugs as well as prescription drugs, such as your HIV medications. A weaker liver means it is less efficient. If you also have hepatitis C (or any other kind of hepatitis), your liver is already working very hard to fight the disease itself and deal with the strong drugs that you may be taking for your hepatitis treatment. [3]

Drinking Alcohol Weakens The Immune System

Does drinking alcohol decreases your immune system? Yes, it does. Long-term alcohol misuse can weaken your immune system, making you more vulnerable to serious infections. It can also weaken your bones, placing you at greater risk of fracturing or breaking them.

There are many long-term health risks associated with alcohol misuse. They include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Pancreatitis
  • Liver disease
  • Liver cancer
  • Mouth cancer
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Bowel cancer
  • Depression
  • Dementia
  • Sexual problems, such as impotence or premature ejaculation
  • Infertility

Health Effects Of Alcohol

Drinking too much can harm your health. Excessive alcohol use led to approximately 95,000 deaths and 2.8 million years of potential life lost (YPLL) each year in the United States from 2011 – to 2015, shortening the lives of those who died by an average of 29 years. Further, excessive drinking was responsible for 1 in 10 deaths among working-age adults aged 20-64 years. The economic costs of excessive alcohol consumption in 2010 were estimated at $249 billion, or $2.05 a drink. [4]

Immune System After Drinking

The gastrointestinal (GI) system is typically the first point of contact for alcohol as it passes through the body and is where alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream. One of the most significant immediate effects of alcohol is that it affects the structure and integrity of the GI tract. For example, alcohol alters the numbers and relative abundances of microbes in the gut microbiome (see the article by Engen and colleagues), an extensive community of microorganisms in the intestine that aid in normal gut function.

These organisms affect the maturation and function of the immune system. Does drinking alcohol decreases your immune system? Yes as it disrupts communication between these organisms and the intestinal immune system. Alcohol consumption also damages epithelial cells, T cells, and neutrophils in the GI system, disrupting gut barrier function and facilitating leakage of microbes into the circulation.

Alcohol Abuse Treatment

Does drinking alcohol decreases your immune system? Yes, and the best way to prevent alcohol-related diseases is to stop drinking alcohol now. We Level Up TX addiction treatment provides the needs of each client that are specific and personalized, as we aim to provide comprehensive support for mental health, alcoholism, and dual diagnosis treatment.


Several different modalities of psychotherapy have been used in the treatment of alcoholism including:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – It is an effective treatment that involves making changes in both the patterns of negative thoughts and the behavioral routines which are affecting the daily life of an alcoholic person.
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy – It is a comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment program whose ultimate goal is to aid patients in their efforts to build a life worth living. The main goal of DBT is to help a person develop what is referred to as a “clear mind.” 
  • Person-Centered Therapy – It is a strategy that allows and encourages clients to understand and resolve their concerns in a safe, supportive environment.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment Centers Texas

Does drinking alcohol decreases your immune system? Yes, and drinking alcohol causes brain damage and mental health disorders often co-occur. In many cases, traumatic experiences can result in a mental health disorder and substance abuse. Dual diagnosis rehabilitation treats both of these issues together. The best approach for the treatment of dual diagnosis is an integrated system. In this strategy, both the substance abuse problem and the mental disorder are treated simultaneously. Regardless of which diagnosis (mental health or substance abuse problem) came first, long-term recovery will depend largely on the treatment for both disorders done by the same team or provider.

Does Drinking Alcohol Decreases Your Immune System?
Does drinking alcohol decreases your immune system? Yes it does. Chronic alcohol consumption is often the cause of immunodeficiency.

Medication-Assisted Treatment Inpatient Rehab Texas

Medication-Assisted Treatments (MAT) for substance use disorders and mental health disorders are commonly used in conjunction with one another. This includes the use of medications and other medical procedures. During your rehab, the staff from your treatment facility will help you identify what caused your addiction and teach you skills that will help you change your behavior patterns and challenge the negative thoughts that led to your addiction. Sometimes, the pressures and problems in your life lead you to rely on substances to help you forget about them momentarily.

Alcohol Detox In Texas Inpatient Rehab

Does drinking alcohol decreases your immune system? Yes, and the best thing to do now is to stop drinking alcohol. The first step in alcohol use disorder treatment is alcohol detox. It will help you navigate the complicated withdrawal process, but it doesn’t address patterns of thought and behavior that contribute to drug abuse. Various treatment approaches and settings can help provide the ongoing support necessary to maintain long-term sobriety after you complete detox.

Cravings are very common during detox and can be challenging to overcome. This often leads to relapse. Constant medical care provided during inpatient treatment helps prevent relapse. Clinicians can provide necessary medication and medical expertise to lessen cravings and the effects of withdrawals.

How We Can Help? Searched for “Texas inpatient consultants & inpatient alcohol rehab Houston TX?” or are you seeking a national inpatient rehab destination?

Does drinking alcohol decreases your immune system? Yes, and drinking alcohol causes brain damage and causes harm to your loved ones as well. If you or a loved one are struggling with alcoholism and a co-occurring mental health condition such as anxiety and depression, contact one of our helpful treatment specialists today. We Level Up TX can provide information on dual diagnosis and detox programs that may fit your specific needs.

Call today to speak with one of our treatment specialists. We will help you explore alcoholism treatment options. Your call is private and confidential, and there is never any obligation.


[1] Alcohol and the Immune System – National Center for Biotechnology Information
[2,4] Alcohol Use and Your Health – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
[3] Drugs and Alcohol: Interactions with your HIV meds – U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs