Drug Tolerance vs. Drug Dependence vs. Drug Addiction

In March 2, 2021
Drug Tolerance vs. Drug Dependence vs. Drug Addiction
Drug Tolerance vs. Drug Dependence vs. Drug Addiction

Drug Tolerance vs. Drug Dependence vs. Drug Addiction

As you do your research into learning more about substance abuse, you may find terms such as drug tolerance, drug dependence, and drug addiction. In order to understand addiction as a whole, it helps to know what each of these phrases means and how they interconnect with each other. Keep reading to learn more about drug tolerance vs drug dependence vs drug addiction and how they are all connected.

Drug Tolerance

When an individual begins using dangerous prescription drugs, the drugs release a large amount of dopamine from the brain. Dopamine is the body’s feel-good hormone, and can naturally be released through pleasurable activities. These include eating a great meal, looking at a beautiful view, or winning a competition. When drugs release dopamine in large amounts, it will cause a euphoric high for the user.

However, once the euphoric high is over, the individual is left with extremely low amounts of dopamine. This will cause feelings of depression and anxiety, and will also cause withdrawal symptoms. It will also cause the user to want to use again to try to achieve the same euphoric high.

After a single use, the body will already need more than the original amount to achieve the same high. This is called drug tolerance. The number of substances needed to achieve the same dopamine rush grows and grows — which is also known as the tolerance building and building.

Signs of Drug Tolerance

  • The condition you were taking prescription drugs for worsens because the medication is losing its effect
  • Taking more than is prescribed, or requesting a higher dose from your doctor
  • Purchasing more alcohol or more drugs
  • Using substances more and more frequently

Drug Dependence

Once the body’s drug tolerance has grown, the brain will become dependent on it. In the case of prescription opioids addiction, the body stops producing its own natural opioids because drugs are supplying the body with them. The body and brain are rewired to “need” the drug in order to feel good. This is called drug dependence.

Signs of Drug Dependence

  • Physical symptoms of withdrawal when not using the drug, such as:
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Anxiety
  • High blood pressure
  • Start using drugs on a regular basis rather than recreationally
  • You develop anxiety around how to obtain more drugs
  • Loss of interest in hobbies, family, friends, and daily responsibilities

Drug Addiction

Once the body has become tolerant of the drug and dependent on the drug, drug addiction has officially taken hold. At this point, it can be difficult to function without the drug, cravings are extremely high, and negative consequences can start coming about. Forming a drug addiction is extremely dangerous, as it can lead to a deadly overdose. The sooner that treatment is introduced, the better the chances are for long-term recovery.

Signs of Drug Addiction

  • Inability to stop or slow use
  • Physical changes, such as:
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Marks on the body, such as track marks or pick marks
  • Dry skin
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Unkempt appearance
  • Too much or too little sleep
  • Decline in performance at school or work
  • Drug-seeking behavior such as more than one prescription, more than one doctor, or more than one pharmacy

Treating Drug Tolerance, Drug Dependence, and Drug Addiction

Treating drug tolerance, drug dependence, and drug addiction are all very important to ensure the individual does not progress to the overdose stage. Overdoses are often fatal — Over 81,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States in the 12 months ending in May 2020, the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a 12-month period, according to recent provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Treatment for drug tolerance, drug dependence and drug addiction is three-pronged:

  1. Medicated-Assisted Detox. The first step in undoing drug tolerance, drug dependence and drug addiction is to safely detox. The best and safest way to do so is by medicated-assisted detox under the supervision of medical professionals. Withdrawal symptoms can be very uncomfortable and can quickly lead to relapse, and slowly tapering off with medication can be a great option to avoid relapse and give the best start possible.
  2. Therapy. By getting to the bottom of the underlying causes of addiction and working through your triggers, you can learn the tools required for managing your cravings and how to live a life without drugs.
  3. Aftercare. After detox and the initial therapy period is over, aftercare is vital for maintaining long-term sobriety. Aftercare involves continuing with therapy, leaning on your support system, and keeping up with medicated-assisted treatment (if needed).

About Seasons in Malibu

Drug tolerance, drug dependence, and drug addiction are all intertwined, and they all lead to one place: a fatal overdose. The only way to avoid a fatal overdose is by getting treatment at one of the top-rated drug rehabs in Malibu. Whether you are tolerant, dependent, or in the throes of addiction, we can help you. Treatment at Seasons in Malibu is systemic, integrative and client-centered. Our philosophy is grounded in the understanding that in order for the client to heal, the entire system needs the opportunity to heal along with them.

It is a priority for us that our life-changing drug and alcohol treatment be available to the people who need it. We are fully familiar with how much strength and courage it takes to pick up the phone and ask for help. Our counselors are invested in your well-being and are ready around-the-clock to guide you or a trusted friend or family member through the initial steps of overcoming drug or alcohol addiction.

With our superior team of clinicians, we are able to succinctly pinpoint those areas of focus that will give the client the most advanced opportunity for success. Our approach towards healing is collaborative, comprehensive and committed.

For more information, visit seasonsmalibu.com