Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Drug Sensitization

  • Androulla Ioannou
  • Xenia Anastassiou-HadjicharalambousEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_1035-1



An increase in drug effect upon continual exposure to a drug in the organism, which was previously exposed to the drug.


Drug sensitization is a process frequently encountered in the literature of the field of addictions and pharmacology, and it is an essential process towards the understanding of drug action and use.

Drug Sensitization in Substance Abusers

With repeated drug administration, gradual and incremental neuroadaptations are produced that make animals hypersensitive to the specific drugs. Even though users or abusers will be keeping the same dosage levels, drug effects will be greater and greater, therefore they would become intoxicated even in small doses. Using repeatedly a drug but with some pauses in between causes greater sensitization compared to taking a single dosage or even taking repetitively the drug. Moreover, sensitization is promoted if periods of use are alternated with periods of abstinence. When a person who is...

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Androulla Ioannou
    • 1
  • Xenia Anastassiou-Hadjicharalambous
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.University of NicosiaNicosiaCyprus

Section editors and affiliations

  • Menelaos Apostolou
    • 1
  1. 1.University of NicosiaNicosiaCyprus