In addiction terms, tolerance is the phenomenon where an individual needs more of a substance to achieve the same effect previously attained with a lower dose. It’s a concept commonly discussed in the addiction recovery community, especially in rehab and treatment contexts. Tolerance develops as the body becomes less responsive to a substance’s effects over time, necessitating higher doses for the same level of intoxication or relief from withdrawal symptoms. This can lead to a hazardous cycle of increased substance use.
The rate at which tolerance develops varies with the substance; for instance, opioids like heroin can cause rapid tolerance build-up, heightening the risk of overdose. Tolerance can also be substance-specific, meaning a person might have high tolerance for one substance (like alcohol) but low tolerance for another (such as opioids).
Tolerance and Dependence are two distinct phenomena often associated with prolonged substance abuse.
Tolerance develops when an individual habitually uses a substance, leading to the body adapting and becoming less responsive to its effects. As a result, the person may increase the dosage to attain the same effect, which can have detrimental consequences. On the other hand, Dependence arises when consistent high doses of a substance lead to a state where the individual feels unable to function without it. This dependence can be either physical or psychological, significantly impacting various aspects of the person’s life.
In addiction treatment, understanding an individual’s tolerance level is fundamental for healthcare professionals to devise an effective treatment plan, particularly in determining medication dosages for detoxification and maintenance. Recognising tolerance is also important for predicting recovery outcomes, as high tolerance can increase the risk of relapse due to the temptation of using larger amounts of substances to replicate the desired effects.
Tolerance and resistance are two distinct concepts in the context of drugs and medical treatment.
Tolerance occurs when a person requires increasingly larger doses of a drug to achieve the same effect due to repeated use. For example, with substances like morphine or alcohol, the body may metabolize the drug faster over time, often because liver enzymes become more active. Additionally, the number of cell receptors for the drug might decrease, or the bond between the drug and these receptors might weaken. It’s important to note that tolerance is different from dependence or addiction.
Resistance, on the other hand, refers to the ability of microorganisms (such as bacteria or viruses) or cancer cells to withstand the effects of antibiotics, antiviral drugs, or chemotherapy drugs. This occurs due to mutations in these organisms or cells, which may alter their structure or biochemical pathways, making them less susceptible to drugs. While such mutations are rare, resistant strains can become predominant if non-resistant ones are eliminated by the drug, especially if treatment is stopped prematurely or not administered correctly. This leads to a scenario where the few surviving resistant organisms or cells can multiply and pass on their resistant traits. Resistance highlights the importance of using drugs in a proper manner to avoid the proliferation of resistant strains.
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Founded in 2008, WeDoRecover has evolved from an advisory service for addiction treatment into a comprehensive provider of care, following its 2019 merger with Changes Addiction Rehab in Johannesburg. Specializing in connecting patients to top-tier addiction treatment centers in the UK, South Africa, and Thailand, WeDoRecover supports individuals globally, including those from the United Arab Emirates and Europe. Accepting both South African medical aid and international health insurance, the organization facilitates access to high-quality treatment for substance and alcohol use disorders, offering individualized care that addresses the physical, mental, and social needs of patients.
Our team, led by Gareth Carter, offers empathetic and professional support, guiding you through every step of the treatment process. Whether you're in South Africa or abroad, our acceptance of various insurance plans makes quality care accessible, providing a platform for lasting recovery and a healthier future.
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