Drug Tolerance & Drug Overdose

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  • 0:00 Drugs & Overdose
  • 0:33 Drug Tolerance
  • 1:53 Drug Overdose
  • 3:15 Other Problems
  • 4:02 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This video lesson explains drug tolerance and drug overdose as well as how they are very closely related. After the lesson, check your knowledge with a brief quiz.

Drugs & Overdose

Why is doing drugs a bad thing? That's an easy question, right? It causes your mind and body to deteriorate and can potentially kill you if you overdose. A person can overdose the very first time they lay their hands on a drug, and therefore they can perish. However, many times people overdose after they've been using drugs for a long time. Do you know why this occurs?

Well, there's definitely more than one reason, but part of the answer lies within the concept of drug tolerance. Let's go over it.

Drug Tolerance

Imagine that you all of a sudden find yourself living in the middle of a busy, loud, and gigantic city. New York, perhaps? Maybe London? Or is it Hong Kong? It doesn't matter. The noise here is really loud, and you're not used to it. It keeps you awake all night, and you develop puffy, red eyes and an irritating personality as a result of your insomnia.

However, over time you notice that you begin to adjust to and tolerate the noise more and more until one day, you are able to sleep soundly even in the middle of this busy city. Why? Your body has developed a sort of tolerance to the noise, and the only way you'd wake up now is if a really big noise, far greater than what your body is used to, wakes you up.

A similar thing happens when people use and abuse drugs. Over time, they develop tolerance to the drug. Drug tolerance is a situation where a person doesn't respond to a drug in the way they originally had at the same concentration, necessitating larger (or more concentrated) amounts of the drug to be administered in order to achieve the same prior effect upon the body. In other words, the person needs to take more of the drug to feel the same effect they once felt when they took smaller amounts of the drug.

Drug Overdose

Herein lies the problem that you've probably already picked up on. If the person has developed a tolerance to the drug and needs to take more and more of the drug, what are they at risk of? An overdose, of course! A drug overdose is a state where a toxic amount of a drug has been taken - one that can lead to death.

However, there is another side to this story. Say, for example, that a hardcore drug user has developed a high drug tolerance. He then stops using drugs for a moderate amount of time. Not knowing any better, later on he takes the same amount of drug he did the final time before he quit. Is he at greater or smaller risk for a drug overdose?

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