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Drug Addiction: How Drugs Affect Kidneys

One of the most under looked aspects of drug addiction is the relationship between drugs and kidneys and the long-term harmful effects.    Many people do not know this, but every drug you put into your body will go through your kidneys—-this includes prescribed drugs and illicit ones alike. Ultimately, if you do not take a drug according to your health provider’s guidance, it can result in kidney injuries. All types of drug usage can lead to kidney complications, but excessive alcohol consumption is the most prevalent.    In today’s blog, we will discuss the correlation between drug usage and your kidney’s health as it pertains to all drugs, especially alcohol.   

An Introduction to How Alcohol Impacts the Kidneys’ Function

It is common knowledge that too much alcohol can have adverse effects on a person’s health, including kidney damage. Although a couple of drinks every now and then will not impact a person’s health, excessive alcohol consumption and addiction can impact kidneys or worsen existing kidney disease.    So, why is this important to look out for? To begin with, kidneys are responsible for several vital functions in the body. Kidneys are responsible for filtering out dangerous substances and toxins from our bodies and blood. Furthermore, they are also responsible for maintaining healthy water levels in the body. When any of these functions are impacted, the whole body can suffer.    Moreover, this substance can decrease the kidney’s ability to filter out harmful substances, including alcohol itself. It can also cause changes in the kidneys that decrease filtering capabilities, causing them to work extra hard. This can cause toxins to build up in the blood. Alcohol’s dehydrating effects can affect the kidney’s ability to retain normal water levels in the body.    Additionally, chronic alcohol abuse can also increase the risk of high blood pressure. As if that is not enough reason to prevent addiction, high blood pressure in itself can increase the risk of developing kidney disease. It is crucial to note that our kidneys do more than just excrete waste because they are also responsible for producing hormones that affect the function of other organs.    Although excessive consumption of alcohol can have adverse impacts on kidneys, there is also a correlation between other illicit drugs and kidneys. Continue reading to learn more.   

Effects of Other Drugs on Kidneys

One of the most common effects on kidneys as a result of drug abuse is lesions. Other chronic disorders that can result from drug addiction include kidney cancer, complete renal failure, and reduced kidney function. Below is a list of the other drugs that can impact kidney functioning:  

1. Tobacco Products

The nicotine found in tobacco products can wreak havoc on your kidneys’ health. Nicotine usage increases blood pressure, accelerating kidney damage. Furthermore, this substance can impact a person’s kidneys if they already live with other health conditions, such as type 1 diabetes.    Smoking is associated with many complications that can impact kidney functioning, such as:  
  • Increased rate of kidney disease in people with medical conditions, such as hypertension
  • Narrowing of one’s renal arteries
  • Imbalance of fluids and electrolytes in one’s system
  • Kidney inflammation

2. Cocaine

Cocaine is a central nervous system stimulant that has been proven to have significant detrimental effects on kidney functioning. People who use this illicit substance frequently can develop a condition known as rhabdomyolysis, which is when muscle tissue breaks down and enters the bloodstream. This condition is infamous for resulting in kidney failure.   Moreover, usage of this drug can also lead to renal infarctions, which is dead tissue on the kidneys. Repeated use is associated with cardiovascular issues, such as atherosclerosis in the walls of the renal arteries, which is known as plaque buildup. Unfortunately, this can cause disruptions in kidney functioning, long-term kidney damage, sharp abdominal pain, nausea, and frequent vomiting.   

3. Opiates

Opiate drugs consist of various analgesic (also known as pain-relieving) prescription drugs as well as several illicit ones, such as heroin. These are high-profile drugs that many people abuse in the United States, and this abuse can lead to several health problems. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 128 people in the United States die every day after overdosing on opioids. Users of this drug either consume it orally, ground up and mixed with liquid and injected, or even snorted. There is always a high risk associated with injecting any drug when people share needles because they may develop a blood-borne virus.   Furthermore, those who abuse opiates via injection are at substantial risk of contracting HIV-associated nephropathy, a kidney disease that usually impacts individuals who are intravenous drug users and have HIV. Sadly, this condition can progress to end-stage kidney failure and death.    Remember, even though drug usage may make you feel good, this feeling is nothing more than a temporary high. Using illicit substances is not worth the long-term problems they can cause to your health.   

Understanding the Consequences of Kidney Damage

Once a person begins to feel the effects of drug usage on the kidneys, they may be unable to excrete waste or regulate hormones. Severely damaged kidneys can lead to dialysis, which is when patients are hooked up to a dialysis machine at the hospital. This machine takes care of the body’s natural process by filtering out waste through the system.    This is a situation everyone should want to avoid because it is time and energy consuming and prevents a person from living a normal life. Moreover, dialysis cannot be performed indefinitely, and a kidney transplant procedure may be inevitable. Not only will it be difficult to find the perfect match, but this procedure is also dangerous and expensive.   

How Can I Prevent Kidney Damage?

Fortunately, kidney damage as a result of chronic drug usage or drinking is preventable. The first step is seeking professional treatment for alcohol or drug addiction. You have many options available to overcome drug or alcohol use disorder, including staying at an inpatient treatment facility that offers holistic treatment options.   

Ardu Recovery is Here to Help

Drugs and kidneys are more interlinked than one might imagine, but the effects of drug addiction can impact a person in many other ways, including emotionally and mentally. At Ardu Recovery Center, we believe that holistic treatment is the best option for addressing all types of addiction. We pride ourselves on offering mental health and addiction treatment using a variety of detox methods, including both traditional medical approaches and innovative holistic treatment.    Please reach out to us with any questions you may have. We are located in scenic Provo, Utah.