Does Opiate Tolerance Lead to Addiction?

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With use over time, the user may notice he or she is not getting the same effect from the amount of opiate being used. This is best described as an opiate tolerance. The user will inherently begin to increase the amount of the opiate to achieve the same feeling or effect. According to a study done by Harvard University people who take opiates on a regular basis for a long period of time, cause nerve receptors in their brain which are likely to adapt and begin to resist the opiate, causing the need for higher doses. Opiate tolerance is described as an effect, albeit a dangerous one. It is that “euphoric” feeling that the user gets from the opiate which causes them to want to repeat that feeling more and more and in turn could lead them to a life of addiction and a very destructive path of their life.

The Difference between Tolerance and Addiction

Opiate addiction can develop in any person as a result of an increased tolerance of the opiate. The actions or signs that an opiate addicted person displays can be best described by some or maybe only one of the symptoms listed below:

  • Violent episodes of behavior
  • When confronted, they deny there is any problems with taking the opiate
  • Always trying to justify why they are taking the opiate
  • Hiding the use of the opiate from family and friends who don’t approve of them using it.
  • Neglecting themselves, not eating or foregoing all personal hygiene
  • Becoming more and more socially removed from work, family and friends, which tends to result in job loss and expelling from family life.

Psychological Dependence

opioid dependence

Tolerance can cause a person to take more opiates than they should.

In some instances, psychological dependence can develop even without an increased tolerance to an opiate. When this happens, the person feels a deep desire or need to take the opiate to get through the day even though he or she is perfectly able to function without taking it, they just have an intense craving for the opiate and feel that “high” that it gives them. Psychological addiction can be just as destructive to the person as an actual physical dependence can be.

Addiction is probably best described as a chronic, often relapsing, disease of the brain that causes a person to seek out and use drugs barring any of the consequences to them, their body or to those around them. We do know that when they using the opiate it is mostly on a voluntary basis. For some people, changes occur in their brain over time that have a tendency to challenge their self- control which will in turn hamper their ability to resist all impulses to stop using the drug.


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