Overdosing on drugs or other types of chemicals occurs when a person takes more than a medically recommended dose, when someone is particularly sensitive to certain medications or substances, or when someone is attempting to abuse that substance to get high, either occasionally or as a result of a drug addiction. In particular, a person can overdose on illicit drugs when a person’s metabolism can’t detoxify the drug fast enough.
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This type of overexposure is otherwise considered to be a type of poisoning – the higher the dosage, or the greater the extent of time, the more dangerous this poisoning can be.
Drug Overdose: Why?
- Drug overdoses can involve people of any age, but it is most common in very young children (from crawling age to about 5 years) and among teenagers to those in their mid-30s.
- The cause of a drug overdose is either by accidental overuse or by intentional misuse.
- Adolescents and adults are more likely to overdose on one or more drugs in order to harm themselves. Attempting to harm oneself may represent a suicide attempt.
- People who purposefully overdose on medications frequently suffer from underlying mental health conditions.
Drug Overdose: What Should You Look Out For?
When someone overdoses on a drug, the effects may be a heightened level of the therapeutic effects seen with regular use. In addition, side effects can become more pronounced, and other effects can appear that wouldn’t normally occur with normal use. Some overdoses can actually worsen a chronic disease. For example, an asthma attack or chest pains may be triggered.