There are people who mistakenly believe that terms like tolerance, dependence, and addiction all mean the same thing. The truth is that addiction is incurable whereas tolerance and dependence are the controllable side effects of drug use. It is important to know the differences between these three terms so that you know what you do and do not have in control.

Tolerance is when you do not feel a drug’s euphoric effects after repeated use. Patients with chronic pain develop tolerance to prescription medication without being addicted. Acute tolerance is repeated exposure to drugs during a short period of time like you can feel a euphoric high from cocaine and increased heart rate and blood pressure after one dose but not feel an increased effect after the second dose. That is what causes people to increase their doses to achieve that high. Chronic tolerance is constant exposure over a period of weeks or months like abusing opioids. Learned tolerance is from frequent exposure to certain drugs like having a tolerance towards frequent use of alcohol but do not develop a tolerance to other drugs. Abusers may develop a tolerance towards the high of illicit drugs and opioids but are not tolerant to the side effects of respiratory depression which leads to frequent hospitalizations or even death.

Dependence is different than addiction in that it is a physical condition where the body is adapted to the abusive drugs and will experience withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop. Dependence is not a permanent condition in that it is medically treatable if you separate yourself from the drug slowly to help readjust yourself back to normal. When you got to a detox center, medical professionals can slowly taper your off dangerous drugs and replace them with safer drugs that have the same effects like methadone or buprenorphine.

Addiction is a chronic brain disease where you may be aware of these dangerous consequences but you cannot help but still continue to use. Addiction is different than dependence in which you can feel dependent on having to drink coffee every morning to help wake you up but if they ran out of coffee at the store or your local cafe was closed, you are not going to commit a crime to get hold of caffeine. By knowing how serious addiction is compared to dependence, you can get into treatment now before addiction ruins your life.

Located in downtown Midland, The Springboard Center’s mission is to offer programs and services to treat alcohol and drug addiction treatment using an evidence based curriculum, 12 step programs, diet, nutrition, exercise, emotional, mental and spiritual development for a long recovery. For more information, please call us at 432-620-0255 as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.