Criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)—the text used to diagnose mental health disorders—lists “tolerance” as a symptom for Alcohol Use Disorder and other Substance Use Disorders. But what exactly is tolerance?
Put simply, tolerance is when a person stops responding to a drug the way they did at the beginning. When you regularly use a substance over a period of time, the body becomes accustomed to it, and you need more to feel its effects. This is the body’s attempt to create homeostasis.
Tolerance on its own does not necessarily constitute an addiction, but if it occurs with other symptoms, it can be a sign of a problem. Many people who develop a tolerance take higher doses of the substance in an attempt to recreate the original feeling. This is part of the cycle of addiction.
Addiction is a chronic brain disease wherein a person continues to seek more of the substance despite adverse consequences. Tolerance plays a big role. The more a person uses a particular drug, the more their tolerance will build and they will need more of the substance to feel the same effect.
Tolerance may also mean you are more likely to experience withdrawal if you stop using the substance. If you have developed a tolerance to a substance, your body most likely has come to rely on it and will experience symptoms if you take it away.
If you are looking to quit using a substance and think you’ve developed a tolerance, seeking out medical detox is important. In some cases, detoxing without medical supervision can be dangerous.
If you are struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder, there is help available. Amatus Recovery Centers offers high-quality treatment for addiction and mental health disorders in facilities across the country. Our detox programs, and other levels of care, will help you get off substances safely while you learn to live life sober. Call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.