Drug Addiction, Abuse, And Tolerance; Eliminating The Confusion

Rohan Mathew

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For most people, drug abuse is all about the use of illegal drugs like cocaine, heroin, hemp, and cannabis. But that’s just a fragment of the whole. Drug abuse is a broad topic with a lot of confusing terminologies and phenomena. And in this article, I will eliminate the confusion around the three terms; drug addiction, abuse, and tolerance. Meanwhile, if you have a loved one struggling with an addiction, I recommend this drug rehab center. Without much ado, let’s get to it.

What Is Drug Abuse?

So, what really is drug abuse? Simply put, drug abuse is the administration of either a legal or illegal substance in a way that’s against the prescriptions of medical personnel. It could be you taking more or less of the prescribed dose of a prescribed drug. Or rather, it could be someone else taking the drugs not prescribed to them by a medical expert. Another way of abusing drugs is the use of illegal substances like hemp, weed, or cannabis.

Whichever way it may turn out to be, drug abusers abuse drugs majorly to escape horrible reality. This escape could be from negative emotions and feelings, or negative thoughts. Continuous abuse of drugs may cause drug addiction.

What Is Drug Addiction?

Drug addiction is a medical condition that affects the way your brain works and disrupts your behavioral patterns. Simply put, drug addiction is when you’re unable to control or resist the urge to use a substance. Most addicts are unable to stop even when the drugs are causing emotional, mental, economic, and relationship problems in their lives. And it can get worse.

Take for instance, in 2018 alone, addiction to opioids is responsible for two-third of the total death caused by overdose in the United States. And it’s not just opioids alone. Being addicted to anti-anxiety medications, narcotic pain-relief medications, or even nicotine or alcohol can be more disastrous than opioid addictions.

Failure to get help from a rehab center or a medical person can transform drug addiction into drug tolerance, which is even worse.

What Is Drug Tolerance?

AKA physical dependence on drugs, drug tolerance is the body’s dependence on the drugs you’re addicted to. It is a massive change in the body system that puts your biological health at the mercy of an abused substance. Think of it as physical conditioning.

Take for instance the addiction to sleeping pills. After getting addicted to taking these pills, over time, it becomes impossible for you to sleep at will until you take your usual dose of sleeping pills. Another example is opioid tolerance. Once your addiction to opioids becomes physical dependence, you’re likely to always feel physical pains until you take your dose.

But how do you know whether you’re addicted to a substance or have developed physical dependence for a substance?

Tolerance Or Addiction; At What Stage Are You?

Confirming whether what you have for a substance is addiction or tolerance is like figuring out whether you’re in love or in lust with someone. They are just two similar experiences. If you’re still unsure of your experience, even with the explanations so far on how addiction is different from tolerance, the best option is to visit a professional rehab house for a session.


Breaking free from substance addiction or seeing your body through healing from drug tolerance is not a walk in the park. It takes sheer discipline, a lot of sacrifices, and the readiness to put in the work. But at the end of the day, you’ll have yourself to thank. Let me know if you have further questions in the comments below.