Tolerance, Physical Dependence, And Addiction Explained
The words "addiction," "tolerance," and "physical dependence" are often used interchangeably when it comes to drug or alcohol use. They don't necessarily mean the exact same thing. What we say can impact how we view ourselves. These words can have an impact on how we seek help from our health care providers. So what is the difference between addiction, tolerance, and physical dependence?
Addiction is a long-term brain disease. When addiction is related to drugs or alcohol, the condition is also called a substance use disorder. Addiction has no cure, but it can be managed with treatment. Any substance that has a harmful effect on the body is considered to be a drug. It could include prescription drugs, over-the-counter products, street drugs, alcohol, even nicotine.
According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, more than 20,000,000 Americans over 12 years old have a substance abuse disorder. The most common causes of addiction are marijuana and prescription pain relief. Addiction is considered "highly treatable." But it can take a few tries for the therapy to be fully effective. The disease is known to have a 40%-60% relapse rate.
People who are addicted to a substance use it even if it has no medical benefit. People who are addicted to a substance use it regardless of its consequences. Addictions are more likely to result in serious harm, including suicide, unlike tolerance and physical dependence.
Many drugs can cause addiction, but the addictive drugs used most often include:
- Marijuana (cannabis)
- Both prescription and nonprescription opioids, such as heroin and fentanyl.
- Methyphenidate stimulants (Concerta and Ritalin).
- Central nervous system (CNS), tranquilizers also called sedatives like phenobarbital and alprazolam.
- Dextromethorphan can be found in prescription cough suppressants
Addiction Is a Disease; Tolerance and Dependence Aren't Tolerance
Tolerance to substances can make them less effective. A sedative that you use to help with sleep may not work well for you at first. However, tolerance can be developed over time. This means that you may need to consume a larger amount of alcohol in order to achieve the same result. The same thing happens with alcohol. When you first start drinking alcohol, it may have taken only a few drinks for you to feel drunk. You may find that you need to drink more alcohol for the same effects over time.
It is not uncommon to become tolerant of a drug, particularly if it has been used for some time. Some people may become addicted to tolerance, but that isn't the same as addiction. Being drug-tolerant doesn't necessarily mean you will become addicted. This could mean you should be aware of the warning signs.
Talk to your doctor if your tolerance develops to any of your medications or other substances. Prescription medication may be changed by your doctor. This could cause your body to react in an unexpected way. Your doctor might be able help reduce the side effects of prescription medications.
Physical dependence on a drug is also different from addiction. But physical dependence can lead to addiction.
Physical dependence is different from tolerance which measures how much you take in to get the desired effect. You would probably experience severe symptoms if you suddenly stopped using the drug.
Caffeine is one common example of a substance that can cause dependence. It could be possible that your morning coffee is the only thing you need to get you going. If you skip your morning coffee, it is possible to experience physical withdrawal symptoms like fatigue, fatigue and difficulty concentrating.
Another common substance that can cause dependence is nicotine, and especially pain relievers (especially narcotics). Stopping abruptly can cause withdrawal symptoms that can become severe. If you don't have immediate needs, it will be easier to gradually reduce your usage. If you were addicted to the substance, just cutting down wouldn't ordinarily work. You would have to battle the symptoms and urges.
If you are dependent on medication or another substance, talk to your doctor. You can work together to decrease your dependency.
Signs of dependence or tolerance
It is possible to become addicted after a transition from dependence or tolerance to addiction. However, it can be difficult to see the signs. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Prescription medications such as anxiety medication or pain relief are taken when they're not needed.
- To achieve the same effect, you will need to take higher doses of this drug more frequently.
- It is easy to think of taking drugs all the time. Make sure that you are aware of where and how you can obtain more.
- The drug is not disclosed to you or any effects.
- To get your drug, you lie and steal.
- It is possible to take serious risks such as driving under the influence.
- Without severe withdrawal symptoms, you can't miss a dose.
- Things you once enjoyed are no longer interesting.
- It is difficult to get and stay at school or work.
While anyone can become addicted, there are some who are more at risk than others. The most common risk factors for addiction include:
Genetics. Addiction can run in families, particularly if it is your sibling or parent who has it.
Depression, posttraumatic disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can all be caused by depression. These conditions and others can lead to someone using substances to treat their illness.
Do not use drugs before you are 18. People who start to use drugs when they are young, while their brain is still forming, can become addicted more easily.
High-addictive drugs. Drugs such as cocaine, opioids, and stimulants can cause addiction faster.
Peer pressure. Peer pressure. Young people may feel pressured by their peers to use addictive drugs to make it in society.
Family environment that is difficult. Unsupervised children may resort to using drugs to fit in or deal with bad feelings.
Myths About Addiction
People used to believe that addiction only happened in certain areas, like in inner cities, or among specific groups of people, like those who were down and out. But addictions can happen anywhere, from college campuses to rural and suburban towns. And anyone can become addicted, from people experiencing homelessness to business executives. People can become addicted slowly by trying different kinds of drugs. You can also develop addictions quickly like the one that is currently ravaging America's opioid crisis. It is so severe that the U.S. declared a national emergency in public health.
It is also a myth that you need to seek out help. People have believed for a long time that they must hit rock bottom before getting help. But, it is not true. Anyone with an addiction can get help at any point if they feel it's the right time. You have many choices for getting help. Rehab alone isn't the solution.
Finally, there's the myth that if you relapse after beating your addiction, you have failed. Sometimes you may need repeat treatment or multiple treatments, just like other illnesses. A relapse is not a sign that you are failing. You just need to get more help.
If You Have an Addiction
If you believe you have an addiction, it's never too late to look for help. You can treat it. Talk to your doctor. Working with a health care professional will allow you to explore the options to treat your addiction.
There is no one-size-fits-all path to addiction treatment. With regular visits from a doctor and support group, some people can live at home. For others, they may require a stay at a rehabilitation centre. Sometimes, multiple types of treatment are necessary to achieve success. It is important not to lose heart.