What is “Building Tolerance”? Leave a comment

When you consider how you felt after your first cup of coffee and compare it to your current 100th cup of coffee, you will realize the difference between the first time the effect of the beverage kicked in and how fast it kicks in now, you will see that the effect of the drink is much slower, if at all, than it was before.


When you experience such a sentiment, it means that you have built a tolerance to caffeine. You usually build a tolerance to things that have the tendency to intoxicate you or affect your nervous system substantially, albeit for a short amount of time. There are mostly two types of tolerance: drugs and alcohol.


During the tolerance phase, the brain is unable to experience euphoria and the body no longer reacts negatively to the side effects of substance abuse.
People who are in rehab and recovering from addiction are much more vulnerable to drug overdose if they relapse. This is because their tolerance is diminished during the abstinence. The body is not used to the drugs the way it did before the abstinence started. So when the person takes the dose the same way that they used to before, they are highly likely to overdose.


The rate of intolerance and the length of time that it takes for the tolerance to build depends on various factors. Genetics can play an important role in the way the body reacts to the stimulants. Other than that there are some drugs that cause the person to develop tolerance much more quickly than other drugs. The environment the person is living in, and the one in which they consume the drugs also plays a part in the level of tolerance buildup.


What is drug tolerance?


This means that a person’s response to drugs has become minimized. A person who has built a drug tolerance has to now consume the drugs in much larger doses than they were consuming before so that they can feel the same effect that they were feeling when they would consume smaller doses. The drug tolerance should not be confused with addiction; it just means that the body has become insensitive to the effect produced by the drugs in a lower dose. People who are addicted one type of drugs build a tolerance towards it and they are forced to consume multiple drugs to achieve the same type of ecstasy.
It is just not the illicit drugs that would cause this effect. The prescription drugs should also be given part of the blame. Drugs such as opiates, sleeping pills, or any sort painkillers can force a person to build tolerance.
The drugs that you can easily build a tolerance to are:

1)  Heroin

2) Cocaine

3) Opioids

3) Prescribed painkillers


When our body adjusts to these drugs it means that it is producing more of those chemical, in response to drugs, which will help keep your internal system neutralized. For example, when you go on antidepressant you may get headaches for about three to four weeks but then they would go away, that is because your body has stopped fighting the effects of the drugs.


Types of drug addiction


Pharmacodynamic Tolerance


The feeling of intoxication results from the interaction of the drugs with the nerve receptors in the brain. The brain becomes used to the presence of the drug and its chemicals and then requires higher doses to feel the same effect that had been felt previously through lower doses. Opioids are one of the drug s that cause pharmacodynamic tolerance.

Metabolic Tolerance


This sort of tolerance occurs when the body digests the drugs at an accelerated pace. Though the brain is affected by the drug the same way as it used to, in contrast to the pharmacodynamic tolerance, the body, however, gets rid of the drugs much more quickly. Thus, the drug gives a diminished effect on the body prompting the user to take in more doses.



This is the type of tolerance that develops fairly quickly after the drug use has been repeated. Whereas the pharmacodynamic a metabolic tolerances occur in days or weeks, the tachyphylaxis occurs in a matter of hours of consumption.


Alcohol tolerance


Similar to drug tolerance, a person who has alcohol tolerance will not get drunk or feel as intoxicated by drinking the same amount as they used to before. This is why the person has to have more drinks to get the desired effects of the beverage. Such a person would be seen consuming hard liquor in larger doses.

The average person can metabolize a standard drink (0.6oz of ethanol) in 90 minutes. If the person overloads their body with drinks in a shorter span of time they are getting their liver to break down the alcohol much more rapidly. Since the liver becomes much more efficient in breaking down the alcohol, the person has to consume even more drinks to keep the feeling of intoxication.


Types of alcohol tolerance


Functional tolerance


Alcohol usually disrupts the functioning capabilities of the brain as soon as it enters the body, however, the brain to protect the body starts to adapt to alcohol in order to prevent any further disruption. When a person consumes lower levels of alcohol on a continuous basis the environmental cues and learning processes help with the emergence of functional tolerance. However, when a person starts consuming higher levels of alcohol, the functional tolerance starts developing without the help of any environmental cues.
People who turn high functioning alcoholics demonstrate very subliminal signs of being intoxicated; however, a look into their bloodstream will indicate that they have consumed high concentrations of alcohol.

Acute Tolerance


The functional tolerance takes its time in developing with days and weeks of exposure involved in getting the body used to the alcohol. Acute alcohol tolerance, on the other hand, can develop in a matter of just one hour.

Environment-dependent tolerance


The environment around a person can aid them in developing a tolerance to alcohol. Humans have demonstrated that they are much more tolerant when it comes to drinking in the same environment.

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