Drug tolerance is a term used to describe a decreased response to a drug, requiring an increase in dosage to achieve the desired effect. Drug tolerance may develop when a patient takes certain drugs, such as the narcotics and tranquilizers, for a long time. The individual who takes these drugs at home increases the dose when the expected drug effect does not occur. The development of drug tolerance is a sign of drug dependence. Drug tolerance may also occur in the hospitalized patient. When the patient receives a narcotic for more than 10 to 14 days, the nurse suspects drug tolerance (and possibly drug dependence). The patient may also begin to ask for the drug at more frequent intervals.
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