Meth and kidney failure: causes, risks and treatment

Methamphetamine, often shortened to “methamphetamine”, is a stimulant drug that can be addictive. Methamphetamine primarily affects the central nervous system (CNS), increasing blood pressure and heart rate. The drug impacts your brain by increasing dopamine.

Methamphetamine can also cause kidney (kidney) failure, a life-threatening complication in which your kidneys cannot effectively process waste products from your bloodstream. Kidney failure can lead to long-term complications, including kidney disease and death, if not treated quickly.

Read on to learn more about what the research says about meth and kidney failure, other health risks of meth use, and how to seek treatment for a substance use disorder. (SOUTH).

Other names for methamphetamine

Methamphetamine has a variety of street names, including speed, ice, and crank.

Both prescription drugs and illegal drugs can have nephrotoxic effects, which means they can damage the kidneys. Methamphetamine is one such substance that can cause nephrotoxicity, leading to eventual kidney failure.

Kidney failure means that your kidneys can no longer function as they should. This leads to a dangerous buildup of waste in the body which can become fatal.

Kidney failure can be chronic (long-term) or acute (sudden). Nephrotoxicity associated with drugs, such as methamphetamine, is a common cause acute renal failure.

Acute kidney failure due to methamphetamine use can be related specifically to the following kidney problems:

  • Renal tubular necrosis: A reduction in blood flow to the kidneys and is considered the The most common cause of acute kidney injury.
  • Acute interstitial nephritis: A disorder that damages the small tubes (tubules) inside your kidneys, reducing their overall ability to filter waste.
  • Angiitis. Causes inflammation in your blood vessels.
  • Rhabdomyolysis. A serious health condition in which muscle fibers break down and release proteins that damage both the kidneys and the heart.

Kidney failure is just one of the many negative health consequences of methamphetamine, and this risk is associated with both short- and long-term drug use.

Short term effects

Some of the short-term risks of meth use include:

  • increased body movement and overall physical activity
  • decreased sleep and increased wakefulness
  • an increased and rapid heart rate
  • faster breathing
  • higher blood pressure
  • increased body temperature
  • reduced appetite

Methamphetamine, like other stimulants, affects dopamine in the brain. Dopamine reinforces pleasurable sensations and experiences, encouraging us to repeat them.

The role of dopamine in addiction is still being studied, but experts believe it plays a key role in the chemical processes of addiction and the development of SUD.

Even in small amounts, methamphetamine can dramatically and rapidly increase dopamine levels. This can impact the “reward” system in the brain, promoting addiction to the substance.

Long term use

In the long term, methamphetamine also poses serious health risks, including:

Also, injection meth can increase your long-term risk of getting serious infections. These include hepatitis types B and C, as well as HIV.

Learn more about the link between intravenous drug use and viral infections like HCV.

A methamphetamine overdose is an emergency that requires immediate medical attention. Not only does a methamphetamine overdose increase the risk of organ failure, including the kidneys, but it can also lead to heart attack, stroke, or death.

Possible signs of a methamphetamine overdose to understand:

It is important to seek emergency medical help if you or someone you know has a methamphetamine overdose so that it can be treated in a hospital. Prompt treatment can also reduce the risk of other health consequences.

In addition to the above symptoms of a meth-use emergency, signs of kidney failure may include:

  • nausea or vomiting
  • reduced appetite
  • increased urination
  • bubbly or frothy urine
  • bloody or dark urine
  • extremely itchy skin
  • breathing difficulties
  • muscle cramps
  • insomnia
  • swelling of the legs or feet (oedema)

Acute kidney injury can induce kidney failure in as little as 2 days. It is essential not to assume that these symptoms will go away on their own. Blood, urine, and some imaging tests can rule out kidney damage due to drug use or another medical condition.

Not everyone who uses meth or overdoses on meth will suffer from kidney failure, but it is a risk. Methamphetamine use is never safe for your body as a whole and can lead to many health complications.

Treatment for methamphetamine use and kidney failure has two components: treating kidney damage and treating SUD. If the underlying cause of your kidney failure is left untreated, the health crisis may recur or have even more serious effects.

SOUTH treatment

Currently, there are medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat methamphetamine-related SUD. But for more moderate to severe cases of methamphetamine use, a doctor can prescribe naltrexone, sometimes used for alcohol use disorder, or bupropion, an antidepressant.

Because methamphetamine targets dopamine, a doctor can refer you to a therapist who can implement therapeutic techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

This talk therapy helps you overcome harmful cycles of thought and behavior. CBT helps you develop techniques for coping with stressors and regulating emotions in healthy and productive ways

Another treatment option to deter drug use may involve external motivational incentives, such as money, vouchers, or other rewards. The idea behind this approach is to replace the “reward” your brain may feel from meth use with safer incentives to reduce the drug’s appeal.

Learn more about what to expect from meth withdrawal therapy and treatment.

Kidney treatment

A suspected methamphetamine-related acute kidney problem should be treated immediately to prevent kidney failure.

In severe kidney failure, a doctor may use the following therapeutic approaches:

Methamphetamine is a drug that carries serious health complications and the risk of overdose.

Due to its toxic effects on the kidneys, methamphetamine can cause kidney failure, which means your kidneys cannot effectively remove waste products from the bloodstream. Left untreated, kidney failure can create permanent kidney damage or lead to death.

If you suspect symptoms of a methamphetamine overdose or kidney failure, it is important to seek emergency medical attention immediately. A doctor may be able to prevent the development of more serious health complications.

In addition to kidney treatment, a doctor may also refer you to a therapist to help you with SUD. You can use the Healthline FindCare tool or SAMHSA’s Resource Locator to search for mental health professionals and SUD support options in your area.