Dependence Vs. Tolerance
If you have ever been prescribed pain medication your physician may have discussed the dangers of becoming dependent. Drug dependency is different from developing a drug tolerance. When it concerns the drugs ability to maintain a therapeutic effect, the tolerance level is under question. If the physician is concerned about the psychological or physical dependence that a drug can create, drug dependency and addiction is a serious concern.
Patients who develop drug dependency most often are dependent on pain relieving medications. If a pain medication is used for too long a dependency can commonly develop. This dependency is usually caused by a psychological need or physical yearning for the drug if it is not taken regularly. Withdraw symptoms can be very unbearable for people who suffer with drug dependency. Usually a patient who is dependent will not experience any relief from withdraw symptoms unless a dose of the drug is administered.
Patients who become tolerant to a specific dose or type of medication no longer experience a therapeutic effect from taking the medication. This can happen if the body adapts to the prescribed level of drug. Body tissues contain receptor sites that can become tolerant of a drug. When this happens the only way to reverse the tolerance is to increase the concentration of the drug. However, the dose may have to be increased regularly.
Drug tolerance has a metabolic effect on the body. When a drug becomes tolerant it is sometimes refereed as to as having pharmacologic intolerance. If a person is exposed to a drug for an extended length of time then the drug is often excreted from the body quickly. Usually this causes a lower concentration of the drug in plasma.