Could a chemical compound change a human body in a way that a regular quantity of that compound is needed to stay alive after the first dose?

The short answer would be yes, there exist already such chemicals (and are more common than I thought, in example alchol), however those chemicals requires an extended period of time in wich are abused.

Similiary there are substances that replaces human biologic mechanisms and though after a "long training" time those substances may cause the body to stop production of important substances (alchol is one, but also insuline, benzos, opiates).

To get inspiration I also asked a similar question on Health SE

However all those substances takes a long period of time before having effect, so is there any real drug/medicine from wich I can take inspiration that needs a long detox period (with medical assistance) even after the assumption of a relatively small dose?

Such drug/medicine would be required in example to control special agents, instead of poison them and givin them the antidote, a secret agency may simply just give a known substance once, after that they need that substance to avoid death.

The fictional drug should be based on some mechanism already present in real medicines so that it have a real plausible explaination.

The afore mentioned substances may have lethal withdrawal, however a medical assisted detox period is enough to avoid death, in my case I want avoiding death is not trivial and the most easy way is just keeping on regular doses.

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    $\begingroup$ Oxygen and water only. Theoretically, benzodiapines or opiate withdrawal can kill without medical assistance, but even then it's highly unlikely. $\endgroup$ – Ginden May 10 '16 at 12:02
  • $\begingroup$ Please keep in mind that WB SE is dedicated to fictional worlds. Questions asking specifically about our real Earth are (almost exclusively) off-topic. However, asking us to develop a substance that meets your criteria would be on-topic. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre May 10 '16 at 12:14
  • $\begingroup$ ah thanks. I was undecided if to use WB or Healt SE infact, I just selected this one because I've seen other questions about drugs here. Do you suggest to edit this question and cross-post a similiar question on health? $\endgroup$ – CoffeDeveloper May 10 '16 at 12:20
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    $\begingroup$ Please don't cross-post. You can, however, flag this question for moderator attention to get it migrated over there. If your interest is in creating a drug for your world that does this, I would suggest leaving it here and editing it to reflect that desire. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre May 10 '16 at 13:37
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    $\begingroup$ You don't have to look far for such a drug, alcoholics can die from withdrawal (not after just one dose though). $\endgroup$ – Babika Babaka May 11 '16 at 8:06


The effect is probably not as direct as you are looking for, but any substance with strong antibiotic properties (especially if it strongly affects white blood cell creation in the bone marrow) will leave a longtime regular user with a weakened immune system that may well lead to death from an infection.

Hormone replacement drugs

Another option I could see is long term use of specific hormones or regulatory chemicals to push the body to greater performance. Over time, the body itself would produce less and less of the hormones in an attempt to restore the natural balance, until it's all artificial hormones.

If their use is then stopped, the body's own system may not take over in time to prevent a collapse of the metabolic and/or nervous system. The responsible glands may even have atrophied, making death a certainty.

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  • $\begingroup$ thanks and +1, I suspected antibiotics would be a possible answer, though it is sufficient to avoid being in contact with microorganisms to avoid the infection. $\endgroup$ – CoffeDeveloper May 10 '16 at 12:21
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for editing your answer after I edited my question, I was googling around and found an enourmous amount of drugs with lethal withdrawal O_O. $\endgroup$ – CoffeDeveloper May 10 '16 at 13:00
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    $\begingroup$ I bet the drug companies put those effects waaayyyyy down in the fine print. "You will die if you stop buying our product". $\endgroup$ – Cyrus May 10 '16 at 13:04
  • $\begingroup$ Infact my intent was (also) to track down those substances :D (for personal curiosity XD I have no intention to make articles on that), I bet also who know nice answers to this question will probably not answer them XD. $\endgroup$ – CoffeDeveloper May 10 '16 at 13:07

It would be simple enough to create a drug (or more likely a compound of drugs) that has two effects.

The first would be to nuke your bodies production of an important hormone or vitamin or similar. For example lets say it makes it impossible for you to take in vitamin C.

The second effect would be a temporary fix to the first that allows vitamin C to be taken in but only while it remains in your system.

Now unless the first problem is somehow fixed you need the second effect to survive, and that's a permanent change.

Fail to take the drug and your body stops working. Keep taking it though and you feel fine.

If this is designed to control people then you don't need any further explanation. If you do need it then you can say that the first step is a side effect that is either rare or unavoidable for something that you do need to take.

For example on an alien planet you might need to take immunoboosters to not die from the local microorganisms but those have the unfortunate side effect of meaning your body can't X any more. So now you need to take Y for life or die - but you died anyway if you didn't take the drugs so it's still worth doing.

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