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Due to our unique genetic makeup everyone reacts slightly differently to drugs but there are some simple rules you can follow to lessen your chances of overdosing.
There are no set doses
Age, weight, gender, ethnic background and even how tired you are all play a part in drug metabolism. You wouldn’t expect a frail elderly lady to win a shot competition against a fit young man. Your friend’s dose may not be the right one for you. Try titration dosing, it’s worth the effort. Doctors do it all the time: they start by prescribing a low dose and slowly increase it to find the sweet spot when the drug is most effective while minimising side-effects. The drug profiles will contain more specific information.
Find out why less is often more when dosing for pleasure
Be careful with suppliers
If you’re taking ecstasy for example, which comes in pills, the dosage per pill can vary wildly so it’s best to take a lower dose than usual to make sure you don’t accidentally overdose.
Stick to one dose. Either it’s not working or you just don’t realise you’re experiencing the effects. If it doesn’t work then it is most likely due to the drug being cut with potentially harmful products in which case you really don’t want to take any more of it and should consider changing supplier.
Read the British Medical Journal case report on the effects of the use of levamisole as an adulterant in cocaine (a de-wormer)
If you simply don’t realise that you’re high re-dosing can make you overdose. Even if it doesn’t it could tip you over the edge in a bad way, resulting in a bad trip and a terrible hangover. If other people have had the same batch, look around to see if they look high, if so it’s very unlikely that there was a lone pill in that batch that was bad.
Remember drugs aren’t instantaneous, re-dosing because you were too impatient is a sure-fire recipe for disaster.
Avoid mixing drugs
Just like your doctor takes great care when prescribing you multiple drugs to avoid ones that interact with each other in negative ways, so should you be careful of taking more than one recreational drug at a time. Bear in mind that not only could they react together in a bad way and produce more long term health consequences but this is also a way to overdose without realising. Have a look at our interactive drug interactions charts on the individual drug pages.
Also consider the prescription drugs you take as they could also interact and produce negative effects although this is sadly under-studied.