Explain the effect of conditioned drug tolerance and why it may important in cases of drug overdose.

Essay by mohit007University, Bachelor'sA+, February 2005

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Explain the effect of conditioned drug tolerance and why it may be important in cases of drug overdose.

Before one can go onto explain the effects of conditioned drug tolerance and its importance in drug overdose, it is vital that key terms are clarified and how they interact with each other. Drug tolerance, can therefore be defined as a "state of decreased sensitivity to a drug that develops as a result of exposure" (Pinel 2000), and it can be demonstrated in two different ways: by showing that a given dose of the drug has less effect than it had before drug exposure or by showing that it takes more of the drug to produce the same effect. This in turn can lead to consequences such as increased exposure to one drug, can produce tolerance to other drugs that may act in the same way, and also that tolerance often develops to some effects of a drug but not to others.

In other words, if a person does not understand that tolerance to one drug differs for different drugs and that they cause diverse effects then this would lead to severe consequences, such as drug overdose.

It is important that to note that learning is vital to drug tolerance, and it is "likely that Pavlovian conditioning contributes to tolerance to any drug" (Siegel, 1982). Pavlovian conditioning is a form of classical conditioning which demonstrates the process of associative learning that occurs in a variety of organisms allowing them to adapt to their environment by making these learnt associations between environmental cues and physiological responses (Kalat, 2001).

This theory was used by Siegel (1984) in relation to drug tolerance by using various animal studies, and through this he received some heavy criticism (1984). Siegel's (1976) theory can also be applied to...