Medication toxicity occurs when too much of a prescription drug builds up in a person’s bloodstream. Drug toxicity can be dangerous, causing long-term health effects and even death. Medically supervised drug and alcohol detox ensures a person with drug toxicity remains safe and comfortable as the medication is eliminated from their system.
Call Oceanfront Recovery today at (877) 296-7477 for more information about safe detox in the case of toxicity.
What Causes Medication Toxicity?
Drug toxicity typically refers to a process that happens over time, not all at once. If a person is prescribed a dosage that is too high, or if they exceed the prescribed amount, the excess medication won’t metabolize quickly enough. Drug toxicity may also happen if the person is allergic to the medication.
Factors that can affect medication toxicity include:
- Kidney function
- Hydration levels
- Biology (genetics and chemical structure)
The line between a toxic dose and an effective dose of medication can be razor thin. Two people with the same general health issues, size, and medical history can take the exact same dosage, but one may have an adverse reaction while the other enjoys improvement in their condition. This is the reason why blood testing is required for some medications.
Drug Toxicity vs. Drug Overdose
Although drug toxicity can be acute as a result of overdose, the term typically refers to a chronic condition that happens accidentally over a period of time. The individual may not realize they are taking the wrong dosage or recognize the warning signs of toxicity until their health is compromised. The term is usually used in the context of prescribed medication, not a street drug.
Overdose may also happen accidentally, but it is the consequence of too much medication (or illicit drug) being taken all at once.
Symptoms of Medication Toxicity
Early symptoms of medication toxicity can be difficult to spot, especially if you are new to using a medication. You may assume you are feeling short-term side effects of the medication that will subside after your body adjusts.
Early warning signs of drug toxicity from many prescription medications include:
- Stomach pains
- Weakness in limbs or a general feeling of tiredness
As the toxicity level increases, symptoms will become more severe. They differ between drugs but may include:
- Hand tremors
- Slurred speech
- Poor muscle control (ataxia)
- Muscle pain, spasm, or twitching in the muscles
- Blurred vision
If you have begun taking a new medication or are experiencing any of the mild or severe symptoms listed above, consult with your health professional immediately.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Drug Toxicity
Acute toxicity is more easily diagnosed than chronic drug toxicity because of the sudden severity of symptoms. Blood tests to screen for medication levels in the bloodstream can show whether the levels are too high.
Identifying chronic toxicity can be more difficult, especially if the symptoms are mild. If there is not an adequate substitute for the medication, you may be asked to stop taking the drug until your body has completely detoxed from the substance. Then, your healthcare provider may allow you to try taking it again.
Treatment for medication toxicity depends on the type and severity of the symptoms. Stomach pumping, activated charcoal, and medications, including an antidote for the medication toxicity, may be applied. If symptoms are life-threatening, emergency care is needed.
Treatment may require the abrupt cessation of a medication, which can cause uncomfortable and potentially severe withdrawal symptoms. A medically supervised detox program can help clients who are detoxing stay safe and comfortable.
Oceanfront Recovery Offers Medically Supervised Detox
If you or someone you know is showing signs of medication toxicity, take action. Speak with the prescribing doctor or call 911 if it is an emergency. Contact Oceanfront Recovery at (877) 296-7477 for more information about how drug and alcohol detox can help with medication toxicity.