drug tolerance

Drug Tolerance Definition

Though you may hear words like “tolerance,” “addiction,” and “dependence” used interchangeably, they mean different things medically. Learn how a high drug tolerance develops and whether you should be concerned if you have one.

What Is a Drug Tolerance?

Drug tolerance happens when a prescription or recreational drug becomes less effective over time. If you take drugs like OxyContin or Valium for an extended period, your brain will adapt to having the medication in your system, and you will need to increase your dosage to experience the same effects you did before. 

People who rely on prescription medications to manage conditions like pain and anxiety might not realize these substances have a high potential for addiction. Even if you use your meds under a doctor’s supervision, you can become tolerant once you have taken a drug enough times to become familiar with how it makes you feel. 

What Are the Stages of Addiction?

While having a drug tolerance does not mean you are addicted, developing a tolerance is often the first step on the path to a substance use disorder. 

Addiction’s progressive nature means the symptoms and consequences gradually become more advanced as people move through each phase. 

1. Initial Use

Though your substance use may be infrequent at this point, the earliest warning signs of a drug problem occur when you start taking drugs to substitute for healthy coping mechanisms. While your body adjusts to the presence of drugs, you may experience hangovers that make you feel too sick to go to work or complete other daily responsibilities. 

2. Tolerance

Once you have a tolerance, it will take larger doses to achieve your desired results. As their tolerance increases, people who use drugs recreationally might start combining medications or drinking alcohol to magnify the effects. 

3. Dependence

The dependence stage is a sign that addiction is taking hold. In this phase, your brain feels imbalanced without drugs, and trying to quit using will cause physical withdrawal symptoms like mood swings, insomnia, body aches, nausea and chills. 

4. Addiction

Once you have progressed through drug tolerance to dependence to full-fledged addiction, it will be extremely challenging to quit using drugs without professional help, even if your behavior is causing severe life consequences. Many men struggling with substance use disorders are in profound denial and resist help, no matter how badly they need it. 

Understanding Men’s Unique Needs

At The Last Resort Recovery, we offer men’s-only programming designed to address our male clients’ emotional needs and gender-related expectations. We understand that society conditions many men to ignore or push through issues like grief and trauma. Here, you will learn constructive ways to cope with these complex feelings, instead of trying to sweep them under the rug.  

By tailoring our programs specifically to men, we offer specialized treatment to those who need it most. At our Texas drug rehab center, you will find peer support, fellowship, and understanding from men who have had similar life experiences and overcome many of the same challenges. To learn more about our gender-specific addiction treatment, contact our admissions team.