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Tolerance to meth

Is tolerance different than addiction? Yes. Drug addiction is the compulsive use of a substance, despite its negative or dangerous effects. Although tolerance and addiction can co-occur they are very different conditions, requiring different approaches to correct.

In this article, we take a close look at what meth tolerance is, how long it takes to develop tolerance and if you can lower tolerance, or not. Then, we invite questions about meth tolerance or helping meth addiction (which we answer) at the end of this article.

Is your body meth-tolerant?

Do you take meth (methamphetamine) medicinally or recreationally? Have you noticed you are taking more meth in order for it to work? If so, you may have developed a tolerance to meth. Does this mean you need to worry about meth addiction?… and how is increased tolerance to meth different than meth dependence or addiction?

Developing tolerance to meth

If you take meth daily as either a prescription treatment or to get high, it is expected that your body may build up a both physical dependence on methamphetamine or  tolerance to the drug. This means that you have to up your doses or take meth more often in order to feel any effects. It is hard to accurately measure if a person develops a tolerance to meth or if meth triggers a physical dependence to higher levels of dopamine in the body. But how do you know if you’re developing tolerance to meth effects or becoming physically dependent on meth, or not?

Meth Tolerance Symptoms

Tolerance is characterized by a need for a larger dose of a medication to maintain the original effect. Drug tolerance can involve both psychological drug tolerance and physiological factors. There are two common meth tolerance symptoms that can indicate a developed tolerance to meth. Meth tolerance is defined by by either or all of the following:

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1. A need for increased amounts of meth to achieve intoxication or the desired effect. You have to increase doses amount or frequency in order to maintain effective craving management and pain relief.

2. Diminished effect on the user with continued use of the same amount of meth. In other words, when you take the prescribed amount of meth, no therapeutic effects occur. Likewise, if you are taking meth recreationally, increased tolerance would manifest as no euphoric effect.

If you are finding that these meth tolerance symptoms apply to you, this doesn’t necessarily mean you are addicted to meth. Instead, these are only indicators that the effects of meth no longer work for you. While tolerance, dependence, and addiction can be present simultaneously, each condition is a separate and different entity. However, research suggests that methamphetamine is the most addictive drug in today’s market and any indication of tolerance or dependence is best brought to the attention of a medical professional as soon as possible.

Meth tolerance: How long?

How strongly an individual feels the effects of meth, and how long they last, depend on several factors: the individual physical and psychological characteristics, the user’s environment, how the drug is taken (whether swallowed, snorted, smoked or injected), the quality and purity of the drug, and the combined effects of any other drug the user has taken.

Meth tolerance is different for everyone. But, because of the potency of this psychostimulant and the relatively short time it remains in the system, you can develop a tolerance to meth within a few uses. If you are using meth recreationally, the pathway to tolerance may be significantly shorter, within hours. If your meth tolerance continues to increase or if you already have a high tolerance to meth, you may want to seek assistance from a medical professional.

High tolerance to meth

Medicinally, methamphetamine is used in the treatment of narcolepsy, attention deficit disorder (ADD), and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Typical doses are 10 mg/day or up to 40 mg daily and a course of greater than six weeks is not recommended. If you are exceeding this dose per day under prescription, you have a high tolerance to meth. But keep in mind that at times, doctors may prescribe higher doses than normally considered. Therefore, these numbers are a rough estimate for high tolerance.

How to lower tolerance to meth

You can lower your tolerance to meth but it is important to note that you cannot lower tolerance to your original base level. In other words, there will always be a level of maintained tolerance as long as you are taking meth. If you want to lower your tolerance, the best way to do so is to seek a doctor’s supervision.

Additionally, some people may have a naturally high tolerance to meth because they have naturally high levels of dopamine occurring in the body and have a more difficult time lowering their tolerance to the medication. This can be difficult because when you stop taking meth or lower your does the presence of the symptoms it was treating may arise. Or withdrawal from meth can occur. Keep a line of open communication with your doctor during times when you want to make meth more effective. MDs can help you figure out the best possible situation for your cravings and pain and examine possible alternatives.

Building up tolerance to meth questions

Risk of addiction during meth use is high and it is important to be vigilant. Tolerance means that your body has adapted to the presence of medication and does not react to its chemical cues. That can render meth ineffective or lower its therapeutic effects.

Reference Sources: National Institute of Drug Abuse
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration

Photo credit: NASA

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10 Responses to “Tolerance to meth
7:26 pm November 2nd, 2014

Can someone who is used to taking a lot of meth develop enough tolerance to drive safely while under the influence of meth?

6:58 pm November 19th, 2014

Hello Katie. Thanks for your question! We are of the opinion that driving while using psychoactive drugs will always be impaired driving. Check out this NHTSA page for more: http://www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/research/job185drugs/methamphetamine.htm

5:55 am March 16th, 2016

I used to take meth recreationally and now stopped. I haven’t used it too often (at the most it was used once in a week or 3 times a week).
I definitely know that I developed high tolerance to meth because I started taking it in bigger doses (injecting). And also it didn’t give the same effect.
Since I decided to quit meth and I’m now in recovery (willingly), I wanted to know if I could lose that tolerance completely or how can I figure the time when the tolerance is no longer exist?
Could it happen after 6 months, 1 year? Longer than that?

Thank you

6:11 pm March 20th, 2016

Assuming this article is about other amphetamines as well such as those prescribed by doctors like Adderall, Vyvanse, ect for ADHD. While they are very similar meth is not prescribed, at least not these days. Methamphetamine is chemically different than those and it is misleading to refer to all amphetamines as meth.

1:02 pm March 23rd, 2016

Hi Steve. Tolerance starts to drop when use is discontinued. It happens gradually, but with a different pace in different individuals. So, after being clean for a longer period of time, a person will require the amount of first-time meth user to feel the wanted effects. Lowered tolerance is one of the reasons why people overdose once they have been sober for a while – they go back to use the amount of the drug they used to take when their addiction (and tolerance levels) were at a peak.

10:20 pm July 31st, 2016

i have injected about 2 yrs but not very often. im happy with injecting just once a day and it doesnt have to be everyday…i can go weeks without it. Normally I’d do around 40-45cc. But the past 2 months I havent wanted to do that much. So i dropped it to 25cc. Ive done this 4 times in the past 2 months. Everytime I have done this I immediately vomit. This has never happened before. I will vomit for hours after the one tiny shot. Why is this do u think?

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
12:52 pm August 10th, 2016

Hi Crystal. It seems to me that vomiting is a side effect of injecting meth due to low tolerance.

2:06 pm September 18th, 2016

I know of a young man who is on a meth program, supposedly. He gets a vial a day,, is this usual?

3:26 pm November 25th, 2016

I have been injecting crystal for the past 2 years and have maintained a good diet and life. Recently my health has plummeted.i get alot of uti/kidney infections. Recently i smoked crack after doing crystal rapid head rush almost made me pass out.rapid heartbeat as well. Why is this? Is my stuff cut with something thats causing these effects? Or is this normal

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
3:17 pm November 29th, 2016

Hi Kayla. Meth can affect every part of the human body and the consequences of meth abuse can be harsh to your health. You may read here to find out what are the negative effects of long-term meth use: http://addictionblog.org/tag/long-term-effects-of-meth/

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