As you navigate college and grow more independent as an adult, you will likely be in social settings where you may be exposed to alcohol. Alcohol can affect each IBD patient differently, so you should know the risks of consuming alcohol just as you would for the medications that you are taking to treat your disease. The use or abuse of alcohol or other drugs, either illicit or over the counter can have damaging effects on your GI tract, including your liver, and may interfere with your medications, (example: Flagyl/Metronidazole). Alcohol can irritate the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, cause malabsorption and bleeding in people with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. It is best to avoid consuming alcohol until you are of legal age. No matter your age, always be sure to talk to your doctor to see if drinking alcohol is safe while you are taking your IBD medications.
There are many health risks associated with smoking, including but not limited to lung cancer, and heart disease. But did you know that smoking can also make IBD symptoms worse? Smoking cigarettes can trigger flares, and people with Crohn’s disease have more frequent need for surgery and medications that suppress their immune system.
If you are experiencing a difficult time with overconsumption of alcohol, or any other drugs, it’s important to seek help. There may be student counseling services available on your college campus that can offer support and guidance. Be sure to check your school’s directory for more information.