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Alcohol Dependence and Drug Addiction -Tolerance

by James Heller 18. May 2010 13:48
Tolerance, as it relates to alcohol dependence and drug addiction, is often misunderstood by many in the general public.  In the manner that drug and alcohol tolerance functions, it can be a safety mechanism to the body and, at the same time, deadly.  This makes awareness of the subject critical for anyone who engages in alcohol abuse or drug abuse, as well as those in recovery.

It can easily be assumed that tolerance means that an individual can drink more alcohol without getting drunk, or handle drug use in a seemingly controlled manner.  With this assumption comes the belief that these “abilities” are an example of the natural differences that exist from one individual to another.  While this is partially true, the nature of alcohol and drug tolerance is much more complicated.

Alcohol tolerance is the example with which most people can relate.  Consider the amount of alcohol you need to drink before you feel the effects, or “buzzed”.  Let’s say this is 2 beers.  If you drink 2 beers every day, over time you will feel less of an effect.  If you want to feel the same effect, you must drink more alcohol.  The amount of alcohol needed for the same feeling will continue to increase as you add more alcohol.  

The same concept works with drugs.  Alcohol abuse or drug abuse can result from tolerance since individuals will chase that feeling by drinking or using more on each occasion.  If the cycle continues with regular daily alcohol or drug intake, the body can become physically dependent and alcoholism or drug addiction is the result.  

On this road to addiction that we just followed, the brain has protected the body from overdose, with tolerance, by adjusting to the higher levels of substance use.  This benefit of drug tolerance can become a dangerous consequence, though, for recovering individuals who relapse.  The addicted brain still needs a large amount of drugs for an effect, but the body returns to a lower tolerance of what is essentially a poison.

At the time of first use on a relapse, the brain will dictate the most recent amount of drugs used to get a desired effect.  If the formerly recovering addict is not careful, this amount can easily cause a drug overdose or even be fatal.  Many drug addicts are not aware of this fact, and will even ignore warnings from fellow drug users because they don’t realize the consequences they face.

While alcoholics are less likely to overdose on alcohol during first use on a relapse, they may experience what is known as a lack of tolerance.  At this point, a drunken feeling may result from only 1 drink.  Lack of tolerance can actually occur with anyone who drinks alcohol, but it is typically coupled with alcohol dependence.  Of course, that 1 drink will still not be enough to satisfy alcoholics and they can become a danger to themselves through inebriation and alcohol’s effect on the body.

This information is good to share with teens, friends in recovery, or anyone you may know who engages in alcohol abuse or drug abuse.  Too many see tolerance as a benefit both early in substance use and in addiction.  Tolerance is explained in effective alcohol and drug treatment as part of addiction education groups to prevent accidental overdoses among those who may relapse.  Bringing this awareness to the general public may save even more lives.

Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles provides youth alcohol and drug treatment and addiction education.  We specialize in treatment for mental health and substance use disorders, and have two primary medical care clinics in the San Fernando Valley and Antelope Valley.  If you or a loved one needs help with alcohol dependence, drug addiction, or co-occurring mental health disorders, please call us now at 888-777-8565 or contact us here.

Southern California Locations for Alcohol and Drug Treatment
Tarzana Treatment Centers has locations all over Southern California in Los Angeles County. Other than our central location in Tarzana, we have facilities in Lancaster in the Antelope Valley, Long Beach, and in Northridge and Reseda in the San Fernando Valley.

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Prescription Drug Tolerance

by James Heller 28. August 2009 14:17
The human body is an amazing organism.  Despite what we put into it, our body adjusts to almost anything and helps us deal with an amazing array of substances, both good and not so good, that we ingest.  Diet is continually underrated as far as its effects on our daily lives.  I believe that is because we see individuals eat a wonderfully healthy diet and they seem to thrive day in and day out, and yet we also observe others who do not follow a healthy dietary regimen, and yet they seem to not differ significantly in their daily lives from the individuals who observe a healthier regimen.  Of course if we follow two individuals for a long period of time, say over 10 years, perform studies such as blood levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, etc., while one individual follows a healthy diet and the other does not, we would see the 'healthy dieter' most likely have normal blood levels for these measures, and the unhealthy dieter perhaps not so normal, or at least deviating from what is considered normal. 
 
This brings us to prescription drug tolerance.  As with diet, our bodies will adjust to foreign substances, including prescription medications, and seek to remain as normal as possible.  The more we ingest of a certain substance, like Vicodin and Xanax, the more our bodies adjust to it, and become more adept breaking it down for excretion.  The main 'detoxifier' in our bodies is our liver.  We manufacture enzymes to help us break down ingested substances.  When we take in an over abundance of a certain drug, our bodies adjust and manufacture more of the enzyme needed to break it down, and thus a certain tolerance occurs.  As our bodies become more efficient in this biochemical breakdown, we then need to take in more of the certain drug to achieve the same effects as we experienced at the time we first took this prescription drug.  This can lead to more 'drug seeking' behavior as we strive to obtain more and more of the targeted drug, whether by legal or illegal means. 
 
The bottom line to this would be to only take any prescription drug for the condition it is prescribed for, and when the condition is relieved, stop any drug use associated with the condition.  You will live a much healthier life in the short and long run if you do not build up a tolerance for any prescription drugs. 

Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles provides medical detoxification as part of our commitment to integrated behavioral healthcare in alcohol and drug treatment.  If you or a loved one is in need of prescription drug detox, or detox from alcohol or other drugs, please call us now at 888-777-8565 or contact us here.

Southern California Locations for Alcohol and Drug Treatment
Tarzana Treatment Centers has locations all over Southern California in Los Angeles County. Other than our central location in Tarzana, we have facilities in Lancaster in the Antelope Valley, Long Beach, and in Northridge and Reseda in the San Fernando Valley.

Prescription Drug Tolerance

by James Heller 13. July 2009 07:42
Although the cause of Michael Jackson’s death is still a mystery, news stories since his passing are opening the door to discussions about prescription drug addiction.  Speculation about possible prescription drug abuse by the King of Pop has fueled investigations by news sources around the world.  

Prescription drug tolerance is a natural occurrence where the body adjusts to a drug and requires more of it to get the same effect.  So when people use sedatives like Xanax and Valium or pain killers like Vicodin and Oxycontin continuously over time, they will inevitably use more to get the effect they desire.  

Understanding this, doctors may prescribe higher doses until they judge that it is no longer healthy for their patients.  Unfortunately for the patients, tolerance continues to develop and they may find it justifiable to obtain drugs through illegal means.  They may even choose to switch to illegal drugs that are more powerful than their prescription drugs.

Cross addiction with drugs like heroin is common in these cases.  None of these drugs are intended for long-term use.  So when tolerance develops it is an indication of addiction, a disease that does not discriminate between drugs to satisfy its needs.  

Parents should take special note of this information considering the rising trend of adolescent prescription drug abuse and addiction.  Teens may be prescribed these drugs at an early age, leaving them at risk for future drug addiction and alcoholism problems.  It is also a good idea to be aware of your teen’s friends who take these drugs, as sharing them is common.

If you find that prescription drug tolerance has occurred with you, please call Tarzana Treatment Centers at 888-777-8565 or contact us here.

Southern California Locations for Alcohol and Drug Treatment
Tarzana Treatment Centers has alcohol and drug treatment locations all over Southern California in Los Angeles County and Orange County. Other than our central location in Tarzana, we have facilities in Lancaster in the Antelope Valley, Long Beach, in Northridge and Reseda in the San Fernando Valley, and in Santa Ana.