Drug Use And Chronic Kidney Disease…What You Need To Know


  • Research has shown that a high number of people suffering from chronic kidney disease that engage in illicit drug intake have a higher risk of kidney disease progression and early death.
  • One of the factors that can lead to early death is smoking tobacco
  • Drinking alcohol puts the individual at a lower risk of early death

Based on recent studies carried out on chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients, substance abuse or persistent consumption of hard illicit drugs play a critical role in Chronic Kidney Disease progression and early death. The results of these findings will be published in the new issue of the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (CJASN).

The United States has a relatively high number of patients suffering from CKD. These patients have higher risks of cardiovascular disease, end-stage kidney disease and early death due to unhealthy habits. For better chances of survival, it’s important to pay attention to the lifestyle and habits that could impair kidney function and worsen the condition.

Joshua Bundy PhD, MPH and Jiang He, MD, PhD (Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine) together with their team studied the effects of tobacco, alcohol and illicit drug use in CKD patients using information from the Chronic Renal Insufficiency Cohort Study. A research-based study which involved 3939 patients suffering from CKD in the United States.

At the beginning of the study and during annual follow-up visits, the participants supplied information regarding tobacco smoking, alcohol intake, use of marijuana and other hard illicit drug usage such as cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine

1287 participants experienced CKD progression while 1001 participants died within a relative median follow-up of 5.5 years. Percentages of 13%, 20%, 33%, and 12% were reported for tobacco smoking, alcohol intake, marijuana and illicit drug use respectively


  •  86% of the participants posed a higher risk of death due to persistent tobacco smoking  when compared with non-smoking- participants during follow up
  • 27% of the participants had a lower risk of dying due to persistent alcohol intake when compared to non-drinking participants.
  •  According to data received during follow-up, persistent marijuana use was not significantly linked with CKD progression or death when compared with participants that abstained from marijuana
  • 25% of the participants suffered a higher risk of CKD progression while 41% posed a higher risk of death due to persistent hard illicit drug use when compared with participants that abstained

The current increase in the use and abuse of heroin in the United States is quite alarming. Although in most parts of the United States the use of hard drugs such as marijuana has been legalized for medicinal and recreational purposes It is also important to draw attention to the long-term health consequences of these substances particularly among patients suffering from chronic conditions like CKD who are most likely to be at a loss.