Addiction vs. Tolerance to Meth Explained

Written by Chloe Nicosia

A Closer Look at Addiction vs. Tolerance to Meth

A problem that addicts and the general public face as far as substance abuse is concerned is a lack of information about the science behind the disease. In the war on drugs, the most powerful tool is education. There is sometimes confusion between a tolerance to meth and an addiction. While the two are closely related, they are different. With as many as 1.2 reported meth users within the last year in 2012, understanding more about how addiction forms is important.

Definition of Addiction

Addiction is defined as a chronic brain disorder that affects the motivation, reward and memory circuits among others. It is a mental disorder since it alters the way an individual’s brain works. These changes are what lead to many of the behavioral, mental and social problems in the person’s life. An addicted person is unable to limit their use of a substance and experience cravings among other symptoms of withdrawal when meth isn’t used.

In short, addiction is a mental disorder and it does not need to be an addiction to a substance but it can be to an activity too among other things.

Tolerance to Meth

On the other hand, a tolerance to meth is the response that your body has to drugs and alcohol. Unlike addiction, a tolerance to meth is not a mental disorder but rather a condition caused by substance abuse.

A tolerance forms due to repeated use of a harmful substance such as meth. The effects that meth has on a person, the “high”, is not natural and the body tries to find a balance again. In an effort to counter meth, the body starts to lower its own functions and increase others to the extent that meth does not affect the person as much anymore. As a result, the person takes increasing amounts. This tolerance that forms continues to become greater as the body tries to lower the effects of meth while the use increases the dose.

Meth Addiction Symptoms

Medically, a tolerance is one of the symptoms of an addiction. It is one of the criteria for an addiction being diagnosed. The start of a tolerance also means that an addiction is likely to form since the body is already adjusting to meth and will soon become dependent on it if it hasn’t already.

Other meth addiction symptoms include the following:

  • One of the main signs of a meth addiction is meth dependence symptoms. These symptoms include depression, seizures, anxiety, cravings, meth mouth and extreme weight loss among others. Once meth dependence symptoms become apparent, an addiction has formed.
  • Much time is spent using meth and recovering from it.
  • Neglecting important responsibilities.
  • Health and mental problems caused by meth do not stop its use.
  • The use may have tried to stop their meth abuse but can’t stop.
  • Partaking in risky and illegal behavior to afford more of the drug.


Meth addiction is treatable. It begins with getting rid of the harmful toxins in the body and allowing the body to return to normal, known as detox. In rehab, addicts partake in a medical detox that introduces medications to help with the withdrawal symptoms.

Detox is not the end of treatment. Further therapy is needed to help the person find new balance in their life and avoid substance abuse in their future. To do this, they must learn new coping skills for the triggers that would normally set off substance abuse.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, get help right away. Make a phone call that will connect you to a professional drug treatment center. The call you make may save your life or the life of someone you love. Call us today at 1.800.429.7690.