A sick businessman sits at his computer holding the bridge of his nose and thinks about his addiction to opioids.

Can Taking Opioids Weaken Your Immune System?

The toll of opioid addiction can impact your life in a variety of ways. From erratic emotional experiences to debilitating physical conditions, the disease of opioid addiction destroys every facet of your life – leaving you lost and lonely. Opioid abuse does something else to you that you don’t always notice; it weakens your immune system, putting your physical health at even greater risk than it already is.

For many people struggling with addiction, admitting this fact is essential to not only confronting their substance use disorder, but also beginning the recovery journey that is critical to their very sobriety and overall health. Before recovery can begin, it is important to understand just how detrimental opioid addiction can be on your immune system and how it systematically destroys different parts of your body.

Can Opioids Weaken the Immune System?

Opioid addiction has been shown to significantly impair the body’s ability to manage and avoid a variety of ailments. From infections and diseases to organ failure, ingesting opioids lowers the body’s natural ability to not only identify unhealthy cells, but to also fight them off to maintain health and wellbeing.

Additionally, depending on the method of ingestion, other problems associated with opioid addiction may arise, as well. For example, people who use needles to inject heroin are at risk of developing abscesses and infections at the injection site. If they share needles, they may also be at risk for contracting transmittable diseases, like Hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS.1

How Do Opioids Affect the Immune System?

Evidence shows that opioid addiction does, in fact, inflict significant damage on the immune system. Those who suffer from chronic opioid abuse are predisposed to higher rates of every form of infection, including viral, bacterial and fungal.

Although the complete mechanism of interaction between opioids and opioid receptors on the immune system is not fully understood, there is no questioning the damage that opioid addiction can have on an individual’s ability to maintain a healthy state of homeostasis.

The Immune System has Two Components: The Innate and the Adaptive

The innate immune system functions as the first-line barrier and the most rapid response mechanism to prevent the invasion of dangerous microorganisms into the body. The adaptive immune system may take days to weeks to develop the appropriate bodily responses to an identified threat and is more in tune with defeating evolving illnesses within the body.

Opioids have considerable negative effects on cellular function across many immune cell lineages, affecting both the innate and adaptive immune systems.

As mentioned, the innate immune system is our first line of defense against invading pathogens. Opioids have been shown to significantly impair various aspects of this response, including:

  • Increasing the development of HIV by reducing immune function or limiting the bodies response to the disease
  • Increasing the likelihood that HIV opioid abusers develop neurotoxicity and HIV-induced dementia
  • Increasing the potential to contract bloodborne viruses, including hepatitis C
  • Increasing the likelihood of developing bacterial skin soft-tissue infections, respiratory tract infections, endovascular infections and musculoskeletal infections

Opioids and Immune Health: You Can Always Turn Your Health Around

However far along you are in your addiction and whatever physical damage you have inflicted upon your physical and mental health, the beauty of the human body is that it is amazing at healing and repairing itself.

While the devastation that opioid addiction can inflict on your life is immense, making the decision to begin your recovery journey through a safe and clinically guided detoxification process is your first step toward rejuvenation and redemption.

Living with an opioid use disorder creates a void within your life, driving you deeper and deeper into the abyss as the addiction grows in both scope and severity. Making the brave decision to face your opioid addiction with the help and encouragement of your friends and loved ones allows you to purge your mind and body of a poisonous state of being, reviving your reason for existence and providing you with another day of precious life.

Holistic Opioid Addiction Treatment at Ranch Creek Recovery

If you want to regain control over your entire life, you must believe that your life can begin again. It is our firm belief at Ranch Creek Recovery that those struggling with addiction can recover from their disease and can rebuild abstinent, productive lives.

If you are addicted to opioids or have a loved one who is in the grips of an opioid addiction, there is
help. We go beyond the traditional, widely used 12-step program and focus on tailor-fitting each recovery program to address every patient’s unique needs.

With a more intimate recovery experience, a higher level of care, a serene environment, individual recovery plans and a holistic approach, you can be sure you will receive everything needed to achieve sobriety and prepare for a thriving, sober life.

Contact us today to get your questions answered and learn how to begin the admissions process.

CALL NOW: (877) 293-8607

Examining the Impacts of Opiates on the Brain

Opiates are extremely addictive substances that can have a lasting impact on your brain chemistry. This video from HBO can help you achieve a better understanding of how opiates affect the brain.

The video starts with an explanation of how opiates change your brain’s natural chemistry. Though opiates are powerful pain relievers, those who take prescription opiates can become addicted and eventually experience the numerous physical and emotional effects that come with opiate abuse.


Ranch Creek Recovery can help your loved one on the path to a full recovery from opiate abuse. Contact us at (951) 795-4326 if you notice the symptoms of opiate addiction in a friend or family member. Professional addiction treatment is just a phone call away.