It is a common misconception that tolerance, dependence, and addiction describe the same condition. However, each of these terms describes different ways in which drugs affect someone’s body and brain.
At Fort Behavioral Health, our team of therapists and addiction specialists provides a wide array of treatment options, including our residential treatment program for tolerance, dependence, or addiction. If you are struggling with any type of substance abuse, we can help you begin to recover, no matter the severity of the use. First, however, it is important to understand the differences between tolerance, dependence, and addiction.
What Is Tolerance?
Tolerance occurs when a person’s physical response to a substance, such as drugs or alcohol, lessens over time. Therefore, it takes a higher dose of the substance to reach the same effect as when they were first used. Over time, people build a tolerance for the drug’s effect in search of the original high they once got from it.
Developing tolerance differs between substances used and is therefore categorized as short-term, long-term, or learned. For example, cocaine tolerance occurs over short periods, whereas tolerance to prescription drugs usually occurs over long periods. Learned tolerance results from “practicing” frequent exposure to substances, such as alcohol, and describes how people who use alcohol for long periods do not appear to be intoxicated.
What Is Dependence?
Drug dependency occurs when a person stops using a drug and their body experiences withdrawal. Withdrawal involves experiencing physical and mental symptoms when quitting drugs or alcohol, and experiencing withdrawal can come from various substances ranging from caffeine to heroin. Prescription medications used every day over time can also lead to dependence. Weaning, or gradually quitting the substance, is an effective way to avoid withdrawal symptoms. However, a person who is dependent on a substance is not necessarily addicted to the substance.
What Is Addiction?
Addiction is a disease, whereas dependence and tolerance are not. Conversely, tolerance, dependence, and addiction all occur from repeatedly taking substances. Addiction, or substance use disorder, is when a person continues using drugs or alcohol and cannot stop using them despite the negative impacts it causes in all aspects of their life: at school, at work, or at home.
Although the symptoms of addiction vary depend on the substance, there are common effects of addiction. If you are stuck in the endless cycle of addiction, you surely know that you need comprehensive professional care, such as the treatment programs at Fort Behavioral Health. However, it is more difficult to identify codependency and drug addiction in a loved one.
Does My Loved One Need Addiction Treatment?
Perhaps there’s a friend or family member that you suspect may have issues with codependency and drug addiction. Typical signs of drug addiction include:
- Legal or financial issues
- No interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Lack of personal hygiene
- Failure to maintain work, school, or family responsibilities
If someone you care about may need some help to get back on the right track, reach out to our Fort Behavioral Health team today. We specialize in giving people the tools they need for genuine, long-lasting recovery.
Begin Your Road to Recovery at Fort Behavioral Health
Understanding addiction is imperative to overcoming the disease. The development of an addiction is a different path for every individual suffering from a substance use disorder. Tolerance does not indicate an addiction, and neither does dependence. Chronic and long-term use of substances is unnecessary for tolerance, dependence, or even addiction to develop. The birth of addiction depends on various factors, including the substance used, psychological, mental, and physical health, and many other contributing factors that vary for each individual.
If you or someone you know struggles with codependency and drug addiction, call us today at 844.332.1807 or visit us online.