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What Is a Drug Half Life?

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Updated August 05, 2010

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Definition: A drug half life is the amount of time that it takes for half of the drug to be eliminated from the body. Typically, the shorter the drug half life, the more addictive the drug. Short-acting drugs, with a short half-life, such as crack cocaine, are very addictive, because the "high" comes on quickly and is over quickly, leading to cravings for more crack cocaine soon afterward. A similar pattern is observed in short-acting painkillers, which are more addictive than long-acting painkillers.
Pronunciation: drug haf lIf
Alternate Spellings: drug half-life
Examples:
When Gilbert started using crack cocaine, he quickly became addicted, because it had a shorter drug half life than the powder cocaine he had used previously.
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