What does it mean to build a Tolerance to a Drug?

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Tolerance is an unfortunate fact of taking drugs. If you are addicted or dependent on a drug, a doctor might ask if you have a tolerance to a particular drug. It is important to know what a tolerance is and the problems associated with it. When you are tolerant to a drug, chances are you need professional help. Call 800-584-3274, to find the help that you need.

Definition of a Drug Tolerance

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, drug tolerance is defined as a state in which an organism no longer responds to a drug. A higher dose is required to achieve the same affect.

Many prescription and illicit drugs only work for a short amount of time. When they stop working, you need a larger dose to achieve the same affect. In the case of illicit drugs and prescription opiates, you need more and more of the drug to get you high.

You can be tolerant to a drug and not be dependent or addicted. You can also be dependent on a drug without having built a tolerance. Your body does not build up a tolerance to all drugs, although you do build a tolerance to many of the drugs abuse.

build a Tolerance

When you need more and more of a drug to get high, you have developed a tolerance.

Some drugs are very easy to build a tolerance. These drugs are:

  • Heroin
  • Cocaine
  • Opiates / opioids
  • Prescription painkillers
  • Methamphetamine
  • Amphetamines
  • Alcohol

Many of these drugs cause euphoria and feelings of excitement because they activate dopamine receptors in the brain. This constant activation causes physical and chemical changes in the brain’s structure.

Problems Associated with a Drug Tolerance

Needing more and more of a drug causes a variety of problems. In the case of prescription drugs it means that you and your doctor may need to evaluate and increase the dose.

These dose increases do not necessarily mean that you are addicted; many people need drug changes in the course of treatment. This is particularly true in the case of methadone maintenance.

Some problems might start due to a drug tolerance. One of the most severe problems is relapse related overdose. According to the National Library of Medicine, when you detox off a drug, your tolerance is lower. This can lead to overdose, if you take the same amount of the drug that you did before detox. These types of overdoses are caused by tolerance or lack of tolerance.

Understanding the Dangers of an Opioid Tolerance

There is also a form of tolerance related overdose. Certain drugs like heroin and alcohol have a threshold for use. If you are tolerant to the highest dose of heroin that you can safely take, you might take more than the threshold in order to feel the high. Unfortunately, in this case, the higher dose causes organ failure.

Needing more and more of the drug also leads to financial problems. If you are intent on using the drug and it no longer produces the high you enjoy, it can become extremely expensive. You find yourself buying more and more of the drug.

What you can do About a Drug Tolerance

The only way you can stop a tolerance to a drug that you are addicted to is through treatment and detoxification. In most cases, you need a treatment center to help you. To find a treatment center that will work for you, call 800-584-3274.


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