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February 1, 1930


JAMA. 1930;94(5):340. doi:10.1001/jama.1930.02710310036011

The problem of addiction to opium is an old one that has challenged the scientific acumen and investigative ingenuity of many persons.1 One of the most remarkable aspects is the well known tolerance that addicts develop to remarkably large doses of the opium alkaloids—doses far greater than the amounts that are speedily lethal for the unaddicted. Persons unaccustomed to the drugs usually succumb to a dose of from 3 to 6 grains of morphine (0.2 to 0.4 Gm.), with an unfavorable prognosis for any intake above 4 grains (0.26 Gm.). Yet the addict may consume ten or fifteen times this amount day after day without untoward results. What is the explanation of such a tolerance? Is there a relation between the capacity of the body to destroy the noxious agent and its power of developing tolerance to the drug after repeated dosage? This explanation has been ventured, notably by

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