The Many Kinds of Tolerances
Addiction to drugs or alcohol usually involves a discussion about someone’s own tolerance. Tolerance is typically described as someone needing to drink more alcohol or use more of a drug in order to achieve the same level of effect as before. The body can become used to the effects of drugs or alcohol and demand that more be used at a time in order to get the desired feeling.
The reasons behind addressing tolerance are very important and can lead someone to a better understanding of the biological components that are at play in addiction. However, there isn’t just one kind of tolerance when it comes to addiction recovery. Tolerance is a varied topic that can take many forms and knowledge of these different forms can help inform someone of their own situation in recovery or what steps they may need to take next with their support systems or trained professionals.
Reversal of Tolerance
Reversal of tolerance is, in a sense, giving the body a break for a while from a particular substance. While using a substance can often cause someone to use more in order to achieve the desired effects, abstaining from usage can bring the amount that needs to be used back down a bit, depending on how it was used previously, at what intensity, and how long someone goes without using a particular substance. While this is a good thing, it also isn’t so simple. Reversing one’s tolerance isn’t going to reset someone’s relationship with an addictive substance.
Even if someone takes a break from a substance, they are going to reach that higher tolerance level much faster the second time, let alone third or fourth time. The tolerance that someone had built up over months (or years) previously before taking a break can then be reached weeks after re-engaging with the substance. While lessening one’s use is a good idea, it isn’t a foolproof way to avoid addiction or address one’s relationship with an addictive substance.
Due to having a similar sounding name, as well as a similar-looking effect on the surface, reverse tolerance can be a tricky thing to spot. However, it can cause a great deal of damage to one’s body if not acknowledged and addressed. Reverse tolerance can seem similar to the reversal of tolerance at first, as both have to do with being able to use less of a substance in order to achieve the desired effect as before.
However, this isn’t accomplished by taking a break from drugs or alcohol. Rather, if someone is consistently continuing to drink or use drugs yet needing less to achieve the drunk/high effects, it is indicative of a degree of internal damage, particularly in the liver. The liver is the organ responsible for breaking down many of the toxins that drugs or alcohol contain, but it can be overworked to the point of damage.
If the liver itself is damaged due to this, it won’t be breaking down the alcohol nearly as efficiently, resulting in someone requiring far fewer drinks to get drunk, despite having previously had a high tolerance. While the liver is adept at repairing itself, there are limits, and this may require medical attention to address appropriately.
Behavioral tolerance is the concept that someone can go from seeming highly intoxicated to almost perfectly sober in an instant. This phenomenon can occur when someone has been drinking, but then suddenly experiences a very serious or traumatic situation that needs to be addressed. The brain can temporarily give a person the feeling of “sobering up” during these extreme times.
However, this is something that can also be practiced and can make it very difficult to distinguish how drunk or high someone is if they have been drinking or using drugs for a long time. Behavioral tolerance is being able to almost feign sobriety in order to fool those around them. For some, this may take the form of trying to persuade law officials that someone hasn’t been drinking and driving, while others may learn to adopt this behavioral tolerance in order to keep their drinking or drug use a secret from their family or loved ones.
Behavioral tolerance, though, isn’t the same thing as sobriety by any means. Someone who has developed this behavioral tolerance will typically revert to their true, intoxicated state when they are out of view of whatever the perceived danger may have been, and at no point did the actual amount of addictive or mind-altering chemicals change in their bodies. They are exceptionally susceptible to the major health risks that come with prolonged drug and alcohol use, even if they may never seem like they are ever out of control from the outside.
Knowing these kinds of tolerances can help paint a more complete picture of someone’s relationship with drugs or alcohol, as well as help their families identify potential problems with a loved one’s drug or alcohol usage earlier on. Just because someone has a high tolerance doesn’t mean that drugs or alcohol aren’t still affecting them on a chemical level, and the increased amount that someone uses in order to achieve the desired effects can often intensify a developing addiction.
Addiction is a very complicated disease that affects each person on a chemical level. Addressing addiction takes time, as well as professionally trained support in order to overcome it. At Brighton Recovery Center, their vast array of different programs help each person get access to the kind of care that may be pertinent to them specifically. With a large, 6 building campus housing everything from residential treatment to intensive outpatient programs as well as a recreation center, Brighton brings a needed sense of community to the recovery process. Each person is encouraged to find their own tribe while pursuing their own goals and identities both inside the facility as well as beyond. For more information on the various programs available at Brighton Recovery Center and how they can help you, or to talk to a professional about the complex nature of addiction and addiction recovery, call Brighton Recovery Center today at (844) 479-7035.