Substance Use

Substance use, particularly when misused or abused, contributes to worsening asthma symptoms and overall poor health. Substance misuse happens when you do not use them as prescribed. On the other hand, substance abuse happens when you use too much of a substance. For best health outcomes, consider limiting or avoiding these substances.


Alcohols are a substance that can aggravate or worsen your asthma symptoms.

Alcohol is a substance that can trigger asthma in sensitive people. When you drink alcohol, your immune system responds by producing molecules and immune responses. One of these responses is histamines, which cause inflammation. You may notice these symptoms if you are sensitive to alcohol. 

  • Labored breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing 
  • Face swelling or itching
  • Sudden tightening of your airway muscles

An occasional glass of red wine can be good for your heart health. But, if you are sensitive to alcohol or substances like sulfites, you may want to avoid alcohol. Alcohol also increases the risk for adult-onset asthma (AOA). This form of asthma usually affects people on the extreme ends of a spectrum, such as those who rarely drink or heavy drinkers. 


Abuse or misuse of drugs increases your risk of respiratory symptoms and illnesses.

Drugs can be bad for your body, especially if they are illegal 1 or abused. Opioids are a highly addictive class of legal pain medication that can lead to dependency or misuse. 

Drugs and Asthma

Opioids are a substance that causes your body to release histamines, which are inflammatory responses. When this happens, your body produces mucus, which can plug your lungs and slow down your respiratory system. As a result, your respiratory system does not function properly, increasing your respiratory symptoms and risk of distress.

  • Wheezing
  • Coughing 
  • Respiratory arrest 
  • Shortness of breath
  • Airway obstruction 
  • Difficulty breathing