The temptation to drink, smoke or take drugs can be high when you're with your mates or on a night out.
There are circumstances where they're legal to use, and circumstances where they're not, but you also need to be aware of how each of these may affect your psoriasis. It might sometimes be hard, but it's important to make decisions based on what's right for you.
Too much of anything is bad for you, including alcohol.
However, many people enjoy alcohol, whether it’s a glass of wine with dinner, a few beers whilst watching the game, or out on a Friday or Saturday night. Just because you’ve got psoriasis, it shouldn’t make you an exception. Some people say that people with psoriasis shouldn’t drink - it certainly won't make it any better, but the truth is that no hard evidence has been found that says drinking in moderation will make psoriasis any worse.
Alcohol does dehydrate the body, so you may find you have to be slightly more careful than most in terms of making sure you have a few hydrating soft drinks alongside your alcoholic ones. You may find your skin is a bit drier, and needs moisturising more. Some of the systemic or biologic treatments state that you shouldn’t drink whilst taking them, and if this is the case, it’s important you follow these warnings.
Drinking too much alcohol can be dangerous for anybody, and can result in impaired judgement, loss of consciousness, vomiting and potential alcohol poisoning. Long-term alcohol abuse can result in addiction and dependency, and an increased risk of liver damage and various cancers. Please remember that it is illegal to buy alcohol if you are under 18, and, if you have been drinking, look out for yourself and your friends, book licensed taxis and do not drive.
For all the facts about alcohol, visit Drinkaware.
Smoking can have very negative effects on a person’s health and wellbeing, regardless of whether or not they have psoriasis.
Smoking increases the risk of heart attack and stroke in middle age (which might seem a long way off right now!) as well as all cancers. Smokers are also prone to lung conditions such as bronchitis and emphysema. Smoking is addictive, it smells bad and can cause cosmetic damage to your teeth, skin and nails, and it's expensive. Think of the money you could save just by not smoking!
Research has found a link between female smokers and palmoplantar psoriasis. This is where a number of blisters appear on an inflamed area of skin, on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. The blisters burst and the skin is shed. It can be extremely painful. This link suggests it could be possible that if you have psoriasis and smoke, you have an increased risk of also developing the palmoplantar form of the condition. It is also currently thought that smoking can reduce the effectiveness of treatments, meaning that they won't work as well. All good motivation to quit smoking, or never start!
Certain drugs are illegal for a reason, often because they are dangerous, addictive, and can kill. There are no regulations on illegal substances, and so you have no way of knowing what other harmful chemicals may be mixed in with the drug.
Sometimes when you feel down or stressed, drugs may seem like an option to help. But in reality, they can often make a bad situation worse. If your psoriasis is causing you to turn to drugs then it’s time to make a doctor’s appointment so that they can help get your psoriasis back under control.
Even with substances that are legal, it is important to remember that just because something isn't illegal, it does not mean it is ‘safe’. Drugs marketed as a ‘legal high’ are often produced overseas and so we have no way of knowing what they contain. The term 'legal high' is actually now incorrect and irrelevant, as the New Psychoactive Substances Act has banned all psychoactive substances. It is still possible to become very ill or even die from taking a psychoactive substance or something marketed as a ‘legal high’, and they can also cause allergic reactions or interact with medication you’re already on.
As a person with psoriasis, you may be taking a range of systemic or biologic treatments, painkillers, antihistamines, and other medications to manage your condition or the side effects of your treatments. It is extremely dangerous to take illegal drugs or legal, unprescribed drugs, as you do not know how these will react with the medication you are already taking.
If you want more support or advice on drug use and addictions, Talk to Frank.