Opiates and the Immune System
I’m always reluctant to write about medically related topics, because I don’t want to represent anything incorrectly. Since I’m not a Doctor, I try not to give any medical advice so I don’t steer anybody in the wrong direction. With this post I’m just going to give you my experience and what little I know about how opiates like vicodin affect the immune system.
One thing that I noticed after all my years of opiate abuse was that, without fail, everytime I would try and detox from the drug, I would get sick about 7 days after my withdrawals. And I’m not talking about dope sick, I mean literally, I would come down with a cold or flu every single time. It was like clockwork. After going through that cycle a few times, I started wondering if the opiates were having some sort of negative effect on my immune system, so I started doing some research.
I learned about something called “immunosuppression”…long ass word huh? Anyway, for those of you that don’t know, our immune system works as a defense mechanism for our body. In the case of the cold and flu it acts to protect us from foreign viruses and bacteria that cause those God awful symptoms we all hate. When our immune system is suppressed, it fails to protect us from those foreign parasites, so we end up getting sick.
In recent years, immunologists have found a link between our own natural endogenous opioids (endorphins), and our immune system function. In a nutshell, our internal opiates help our immune system function better. But, what happens when we replace our own endorphins with artificial ones like vicodin? Our body lowers its own production, and uses the drug as a replacement.
For me, it seemed that as long as I was on the pills, I would never get sick. It was weird and great all at the same time. But, what I didn’t realize was that the vicodins were actually suppressing my own natural ability to fight off colds, and replacing it with an artificial imposter. All was well until I decided to quit. That’s when my internal opioids, which had been reduced to next to nothing, were all of a sudden expected to save me from all the bacteria and viruses floating around. Well, you know the rest of the story.
If you didn’t have a reason to quit before, I hope I’ve given you yet another incentive to work on getting and staying clean. You see, we have our own internal vicodin, our own morphine, heroin, oxycontin, etc… etc… that protects us and makes us happy. And guess what? It doesn’t cause withdrawal, it doesn’t make us lose our jobs or our families, it doesn’t land us in jail and best of all, it doesn’t cost a dime.
Stay healthy everyone!
*Note: Monitor your physical health closely. Try and find correlations between your opiate use and other physical conditions that you were never prone to before. One thing I’ve noticed is that if/when I would use large quantities of opiates in one sitting, the next day I would end up with a canker sore in my mouth directly above my cervical lymph node in my jaw. The lymph node would also be swollen. It would only happen to me during those high does sessions. Lymph nodes play a part in the immune system as well, so I’m assuming that the two are related. Has that ever happened to you? Do you have a story that you can share with us?