Methamphetamine, often abbreviated as “meth,” is a stimulant drug that can cause dependence. Meth primarily impacts the central nervous system (CNS), raising blood pressure and heart rate. The drug impacts your brain by increasing dopamine.

Meth can also cause kidney (renal) failure, a life threatening complication in which your kidneys can’t effectively process waste from your bloodstream. Kidney failure can lead to long-term health complications, including kidney disease and death, if not promptly treated.

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

Other names for meth

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

Both prescription and illegal drugs can have nephrotoxic effects, meaning they can damage the kidneys. Meth is one such substance that can cause nephrotoxicity, leading to possible kidney failure.

Your kidneys can no longer function as they should if you haverenal failure. This can lead to a dangerous build up of waste in the body that can be life threatening.

Renal failure may be either chronic (long term) or acute (sudden). Nephrotoxicity associated with drugs, such as meth, is a common cause of acute renal failure.

Acute renal failure from meth use may be linked specifically to the following kidney-related problems:

  • Renal tubular necrosis: A reduction in blood flow to the kidneys and is considered 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.

The risk of ren failure is one of the many negative health implications of meth.

Short-term effects

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

  • Increased body movements and physical activity.
  • Increased wakefulness and decreased sleep.
  • A rapid heart rate.
  • Breathing faster.
  • higher blood pressure.
  • The body temperature went up.
  • reduced appetite..

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

Experts believe that dopamine plays a key role in the development of SUD, despite the fact that it is still being studied.

Even in small amounts, meth can significantly and quickly increase dopamine levels. This can impact the “rewards” system in the brain, fostering an addiction to the substance.

Long-term use

In the long term, meth also poses severe health risks, including:

Also, injectable meth may increase your long-term risk of contracting serious infections. These include hepatitis types B and C, as well as HIV.

Learn more about the connection between IV drug use and viral infections like HCV.

A meth overdose is an emergency that requires immediate medical attention. Not only does meth overdose increase the risk of organ failure, including the kidneys, but it may also result in A heart attack., stroke, or death.

Possible signs of a meth overdose include:

If you or someone you know is experiencing a meth overdose, it is important to seek emergency medical help. Prompt treatment may reduce the risk of future health problems.

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

  • nausea or vomiting
  • reduced appetite..
  • Increased urination.
  • The urine is frothy or bubbly.
  • bloody or dark urine
  • It is extremely itchy.
  • breathing difficulties
  • muscle ache
  • insomnia
  • swelling in your legs or feet (edema)

An acute kidney injury may induce kidney failure in as little as 2 days. It’s essential not to assume these symptoms will resolve on their own. Blood, urine, and certain imaging tests can rule out kidney involvement due to drug use or another medical condition.

Not everyone who uses meth or experiences a meth overdose will have a serious problem with their kidneys. meth can cause a wide range of health problems, and it is never safe for your body as a whole.

Treatment for meth use and renal failure is twofold: treatment for kidney damage and treatment for a SUD. If the underlying cause of your kidney failure isn’t addressed, the health crisis may repeat or cause even worse effects.

SUD treatment

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

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

This talk therapy helps you work through harmful cycles of thinking and behavior. CBT helps you develop coping techniques to stressors and regulate emotions in healthy, 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 experience with meth use with safer incentives to reduce the drug’s appeal.

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

Kidney treatment

A suspected acute kidneys problem related to meth should be fixed immediately.

In cases of severe kidney failure, a doctor may use the following treatment approaches:

The risk of overdose is caused by meth.

The toxic effects of meth on the kidneys can cause failure of the organ. If left unaddressed, it can cause permanent damage to the kidneys or even death.

If you suspect a meth overdose, you should seek emergency medical help immediately. A doctor can prevent more severe health problems.

In addition to kidney treatment, a doctor may also help refer you to a therapist for help 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.