Why Do I Have to Keep Using More to Get High?
When using drugs or alcohol, you may start to find that you need to keep using more to get high than you did when you first started. When a couple of glasses of wine used to get you plenty drunk, you’re finding that you need a full bottle or even more. This is called building tolerance and can cause some damaging effects to the body, including leading to addiction and death.
Using More to Get High: Building Tolerance
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, tolerance occurs when the person no longer responds to the drug in the way that person initially responded. Stated another way, it takes a higher dose of the drug to achieve the same level of response achieved initially. For example, in the case of heroin or morphine, tolerance develops rapidly to the analgesic effects of the drug. The development of tolerance is not addiction, although many drugs that produce tolerance also have addictive potential.
Tolerance can build for many things, not just drugs or alcohol. Understanding these correlations can better help someone understand how it can relate to drugs. Tolerance can occur with spicy foods, warm or cold weather, exercise routines or getting into a cold body of water. The more time and exposure your body has to this thing, the more it is able to eventually withstand against it and be more comfortable with it. However, the damages or effects can still happen, no matter how much tolerance has built.
For example, you may have a built a tolerance for spicy food but it doesn’t change what may happen to your stomach or intestines that you’re not seeing. You may also not feel the need to wear gloves anymore in cold weather, but the risk for frostbite still remains. You may feel that you don’t feel the effects of drugs or alcohol until much more is consumed, but the damaging effects inside the body are still taking place every step of the way.
Tolerance Leads to Dependency
Once tolerance has built up to a high level, dependency will form, one of the reasons people start using more to get high. The more often there are drugs or alcohol in your body at greater volumes, the more your body depends on the substances to be present. Your brain might make changes, such as no longer producing its own dopamine, hormones or opioid receptors due to the large presence being supplied. This is when addiction takes hold, affecting brain chemistry and the body’s reaction to the lack of substance.
Dependency Leads to Addiction
When the brain and the body have reached dependency mode, it requires the substance or else extremely uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms will occur. These can include:
- Abdominal cramps
- Intense cravings
All of these debilitating withdrawal symptoms go away once the body is supplied with a substance again. They also subside in a few days to a few weeks (depending on the length and severity of the addiction), which can be helped through with medical detox. However, the intense cravings make it almost difficult to stop using, which is one of the hallmarks of addiction.
Addiction Leads to Overdose and Death
A person in the cycle of addiction keeps using substances in order to keep their withdrawal symptoms at bay and provide their brain and body with the chemicals it thinks it requires. Due to dependency and tolerance building, it requires more and more in order to fulfill this need. This can cause a person to overdose, and in many cases, overdoses are fatal. The sooner a person is able to stop using at the early signs of addiction, the better chances they will have to live a life free of drugs and alcohol and avoid overdose or death.
Signs of Addiction
Some signs of addiction include:
- High tolerance and dependency
- Not being able to control or stop use
- Using at inappropriate times, such as in the morning or during work
- Suffering negative consequences due to the addiction, such as legal issues or loss of job
- Hiding how much substance abuse is happening and isolating oneself
About Cliffside Malibu
Tolerance building is one of the very first steps toward addiction. While not everyone who builds a tolerance becomes addicted, it is still a slippery slope to try to balance on. If you find that you have to keep using more to get high, your tolerance is building and you are now on track to possibly face a debilitating and life-threatening addiction. Help is available, and the sooner you reach out, the better your chances will be.
Since no two addictions are the same, Cliffside Malibu offers an individualized treatment plan for each and every client. Treatment plans are created based on a client’s current stage of the change within the Transtheoretical Model: Precontemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action, or Maintenance. This model helps ensure that all patients receive the best treatment path possible based on their own specific need. Moving our clients through this model to completion successfully is our goal each and every single day.
Cliffside Malibu’s policy is to ensure that all people who choose treatment with us receives the best care possible. We strive to provide a continuum of care including medically supervised detox, residential treatment, day treatment, and outpatient services. Our program includes not only evidence-based behavioral therapy but family therapy and holistic therapy, as well. Whether an individual is suffering from substance abuse and/or alcohol addiction, our programs are designed and structured to be a supportive environment in order to maintain sobriety.
In addition to world-class treatment, Cliffside Malibu offers luxury accommodations, a serene environment, five-star dining, and plentiful amenities. We understand that addiction treatment is a rigorous process. Therefore, we provide for your comfort and relaxation at every turn, allowing you to rejuvenate, to meet the demands of treatment with your greatest energy and attention.
For more information on Cliffside Malibu, visit cliffsidemalibu.com