Opiates are extremely powerful and addictive drugs that intended to relieve pain. These drugs are derived from the poppy plant and have been used for centuries. Opium, heroin, and codeine are a few examples of opiate drugs, and when taken longer than prescribed, more often than prescribed, or in larger doses than prescribed, they can lead in addiction or tolerance. Many people believe that addiction and tolerance are the same things, but they are actually very different and result in different outcomes.
What is the Difference Between Tolerance and Addiction?
Tolerance — Tolerance, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), is defined as “when the person no longer responds to the drug in the way that the person initially responded. Stated another way, it takes a higher dose of the drug to achieve the same level of response achieved initially.” Forming a tolerance does not mean that you are addicted to the drug, but it does mean that your chances of becoming addicted to the drug are increased. When your body requires more and more of a drug over time to achieve the same effect, you may be on track to forming an addiction.
Addiction — Instead of a drug just involving your body in the situation by making it develop a tolerance, addiction involves your mind and psychological processes, too. The NIDA states that “addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain — they change its structure and how it works.” Addiction consumes your entire life; from your relationships, finances, work, mental health, school, and other components of your personal life.
Tolerance to Opiates
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), in 2014, 4.3 million Americans used painkillers non-medically in the last month. As a result, many Americans are forming tolerances. When being prescribed opiate drugs, it is extremely important to be aware of how long you should be taking the medication, how often you should be taking the medication, and in what dosages you should be taking the medication. This is because opiates contain strong reinforcing properties that quickly lead to tolerance, and that tolerance could result in addiction down the road.
What Should I Do If I’ve Developed an Opiate Tolerance?
You may have formed an opiate tolerance if you’ve experienced any of these signs:
- When you don’t feel the same high that you used to have when taking a certain amount of the drug
- You’ve started to take higher doses of the drug so you can feel the same effect
- You experience withdrawal symptoms (anxiety, muscle aches, insomnia, sweating, etc.) in absence of taking the drug
- You’ve started to mix substances to feel its effects more profoundly
You may now be wondering, does opiate tolerance go away? If you feel that you’ve developed an opiate tolerance, be aware that does NOT have to be permanent. Although, the only way that it can go away is by eliminating your use of the drug. The safest way to eliminate your use of the drug without experiencing the harsh withdrawal symptoms that come along with it is detoxification, or gradually “weaning off” of the substance. Choosing to detox in a place where you can be monitored by medical professionals may be the most effective way to eliminate the substance from your life because you will be in a safe environment in the hands of people who know what they are doing.
If you feel like you have developed an opiate tolerance, it is crucial to find help right away so that you do NOT develop an addiction. For more information on addiction prevention and treatment, contact SAFE Prevention today at 1-877-503-2608. At SAFE Prevention, you will be provided with the resources you need in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Call SAFE Prevention today to get started on your journey!