The DSM-IV, the fifth and most current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual is the leading source of information for understanding what marks and addiction and what doesn’t. Labeled as “substance use disorders”, addiction comes with a specific set of criteria which separates it from other disorders.
Opioid use disorder, according to the DSM, is defined by four categories including pharmacological indicators. One of the indicating facets of opioid addiction is tolerance. Tolerance as a development in opioid addiction is different from tolerance as a development in alcohol addiction. It is called differential tolerance. Generally, tolerance occurs when the body has adjusted to increasing amounts of opiate substances. As the body hits each new plateau, it becomes immune to the effects of the drug. However, in opiates, the body only becomes immune to opioids purposeful analgesic, or pain relieving, effects. Immunity is not granted against the harmful and potentially fatal side effects like respiratory depression.
Opioid Addiction and Overdose
Alcohol, on the other hand, can be consumed in alarmingly large quantities. An alcoholic will cease to get drunk. Despite the amount of alcohol in their bloodstream, tolerance prevents blacking out or even the judgment and motor impairments which come with intoxication. Tolerance is marked in opioid use disorder as the need to use more of the substance to achieve a ‘desired’ effect. That effect is either getting ‘high’ and experiencing euphoria, or avoiding withdrawals. Withdrawals occur as a result of tolerance and the consequential use of more drugs. The cycle of opioid addiction is relentless.
Unfortunately, the cycle of opioid addiction, and even chronic opioid use, can result in overdose. Accidental overdose is a leading cause of death, mostly including the use of opiate prescription drugs. People become vulnerable to overdose because of the delicate and imbalanced problem of tolerance. Even patients who use their prescriptions accordingly can develop a tolerance. As a result, doctors or the patients themselves will increase the dosage, to avoid feeling pain. If a patient should go into a hospital for a procedure and receive more opioids for treatment, they are at risk for overdose. It happens in thousands of homes every year.
Aurora Recovery Center offers detox, inpatient treatment programs and sober living accommodations for men and women seeking recovery from opiate addiction. For more information on our programs of treatment located in our beautiful lakefront facility in Manitoba, call 1-844-515-STOP.