Does Forming a Drug Tolerance Mean I’m Addicted?

a person sits sadly in a dim hallway wondering 'does forming a drug tolerance mean im addicted?"

Drug tolerance is a term that you may hear quite often if you live with addiction or are in recovery. Forming a drug tolerance is something that goes along with addiction. Still, it’s a concept that many people find they don’t know much about. You may be wondering, does forming a drug tolerance mean I’m addicted?

Northpoint Washington offers addiction treatment programs in Edmonds, Washington. Through a holistic approach to evidence-based treatment, we help individuals who struggle with addiction to learn how to lead a substance-free life. Call 888.450.2153 now to get help for yourself or a loved one.

What Is Drug Tolerance?

Drug tolerance is defined as what happens when a person no longer responds to a drug the same way. In other words, a higher dosage of the drug must be taken to get the desired effects. For many drugs, tolerance develops very quickly after regular use has begun. For others, it can take longer.

Is It Bad to Form a Drug Tolerance?

It is very dangerous to form a drug tolerance. This is because tolerance levels can change very quickly. For instance, may be able to begin recognizing an addiction to heroin because of your increased tolerance.

If you decide to stop using heroin, you’ll likely experience withdrawal symptoms and begin using again. If you use the same amount of heroin you previously used, you put yourself at risk of a heroin overdose. Increased tolerance levels generally put your health at risk as well. Taking larger amounts of any drug, including alcohol, can be detrimental to your health.

How Long Does It Take to Form a Drug Tolerance?

There is no standard amount of time that it takes to form a drug tolerance. There are many factors that play a role in this, including:

  • What type of drug is being used
  • How long the drug has been used
  • How often the person is using drugs
  • Various genetic factors for addiction
  • The individual’s personal history of addiction

For sporadic drug use, it can take a long time to develop a drug tolerance. Some people may never develop one. For frequent drug use, tolerance can develop in a matter of weeks or even days.

The Different Types of Drug Tolerance

There are a few different types of drug tolerance. These include the following:

Pharmacodynamic Tolerance

Opioid drugs lead to pharmacodynamic drug tolerance in the brain. This occurs because of the way these drugs interact with nerve receptors. This type of drug tolerance is the result of a particular drug’s consistent interaction with nerve receptors. The brain becomes used to the presence of the drug over time. This means that higher doses are needed to achieve the same effects.


Tachyphylaxis can take place very quickly after continued drug use. This type of drug tolerance can occur within hours. When people use hallucinogenic drugs, such as LSD, they will often develop tachyphylaxis. The next time they use it, they need a higher dose to get the same results.

Metabolic Tolerance

As the brain and body are repeatedly introduced to a specific drug, they adapt metabolically. This means that the rate of metabolizing the drug increases over time. In the case of metabolic tolerance, the brain is still profoundly affected. However, the body becomes used to it and learns how to get rid of it quickly. This results in the drug having a diminished effect on the brain.

The Correlation Between Drug Tolerance and Addiction

Forming a drug tolerance is often an indicator of addiction. When people use drugs regularly, their bodies become used to it. Therefore, higher and more frequent doses are needed to achieve the same effects they did in the beginning.

It’s important to keep in mind that forming a drug tolerance doesn’t always mean that someone is addicted. However, it’s a sign that should not be ignored. If you think you or someone you know may have an addiction, it is important to seek help from an experienced addiction treatment center.

Other Signs of Addiction

Are you still wondering, “Does drug tolerance mean I’m addicted?” Not always. There are other signs of addiction to recognize. These include:

  • Inability to limit drug use
  • Failure to meet obligations at home or work
  • Spending excessive amounts of time and money on drugs
  • Engaging in risky behavior to obtain or use drugs
  • Isolating oneself from family and friends

If you recognize any of these signs, it is important to seek help as soon as possible.

Call Northpoint Washington to Start Drug Addiction Treatment

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction to drugs, alcohol, or both, call Northpoint Washington now. We offer comprehensive inpatient programs that can help you get your life back on track. Our experienced counselors use evidence-based therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy to help guide our patients through the recovery process. Reach out today at 888.450.2153 or complete our online form to get your life back on track.