Do some people have a natural high tolerance to drugs?

Do some people have a natural high tolerance to drugs? Although it’s true that everyone’s body works a little differently, underlining the wonderful variety and complexity of human health and biology – can it really be true that some people naturally have a stronger resistance to substances than others?

In this article, we explore the question and the science behind a naturally high tolerance, whether there’s a genetic factor involved, as well as the environmental factors that could also play a part.


What is a Drug Tolerance?

Drug use is a very personal thing. No two people will have the exact same experience with drugs. Because of this, some people will find that they have a different tolerance to others.

What is meant by tolerance is how many drugs you need to take to see as though you are high.

So, for example, someone with a high tolerance could have lots of drugs before feeling any effect. While someone with a low tolerance could feel its effects just from one small use.

Many different factors lead to different tolerances, including:

  • Body weight.
  • Height.
  • Continued drug use.
  • Genetics.
  • General health.
  • Addiction recovery.

These factors can drastically alter your tolerance and, in some cases, reduce it. In the case of weight loss and addiction recovery, they can cause your tolerance to lower and even put you at risk of experiencing an overdose if you try to match what you were used to before your change.

While, for some, it may be tempting to gauge the extent of your personal tolerance to certain substances – it’s essential to refrain from doing so. The risks associated with such tests can be incredibly high and potentially life-threatening. This kind of experimentation disregards the inherent complexities of our body’s responses, which can lead to harmful, unintended consequences.


Signs of High Drug Tolerance

High drug tolerance may seem harmless initially, but if anything, it is a sign that something isn’t right. It can mean that your body has developed a dependence on drugs and now views you consuming them as normal.

There are some signs you can be on the lookout for to know if you have developed a high drug tolerance, which we have detailed below.

  • Drugs don’t work as well – the drug becomes less effective at producing the desired effect, or the desired effect is significantly reduced compared to previous times you used it.
  • Need for higher doses – people with high drug tolerance often need progressively larger doses of the drug to achieve the same level of high they are used to.
  • Fast-changing tolerance – high tolerance can develop quickly, requiring increased drug doses in a relatively short period.
  • More drug use – people with high tolerance tend to use more drugs to feel some kind of effect or to maintain the high they have already achieved.
  • Engaging in risky behaviours – a person with a high tolerance may engage in dangerous behaviours when using or when attempting to obtain more of the drug, even when these actions may have severe consequences.
  • Less of an effect – people with high drug tolerance may appear less intoxicated or impaired than expected, even when consuming larger amounts of the drug.
  • Psychological cravings – There may be intense cravings for the drug, leaving a person paranoid or even depressed if they can’t get any.
  • Change in physical appearance – although someone with a high tolerance may feel fine after taking a large dose of drugs, there may be noticeable changes in physical appearance. This can include weight loss or gain, changes in skin condition, or even alterations in the condition of their hair and teeth.


Factors That Influence a Person’s Drug Tolerance

As previously mentioned, many factors can affect a person’s drug tolerance. But how they do this is also important to know.

First, you have your physical size factors such as weight or height. The more mass a person has, the less of an impact drugs tend to have. This is also true for physically fit people with a high metabolism, as it gets the drugs out of your system faster.

Next are genetic factors, as some people have a family history of drug use. This can lead to being more or less susceptible to drug effects. With continued or frequent drug use, your body can get used to the drug levels. Once it gets used to them, you need more drugs to feel any effect.

Finally, with addiction recovery, if you go a long time without any drugs, especially after a medical detox, your body then has the ability to return to its base level. This means the tolerance you may have built up is likely much lower now.

High tolerance is not a good thing and can often be used to indicate something is wrong. In some people, high tolerance is due to mental health issues that they are trying to self-medicate.

A person with severe depression, for example, may not feel cocaine as much as someone without a mental illness.


Can Genetics Increase Drug Tolerance?

Genetic drug tolerance can come from many factors, including a high metabolism being passed down or an even bigger body size. But one of genetics’s biggest impacts on a person’s drug tolerance is that it helps to make up a person’s brain chemistry.

People experience a burst of dopamine, the feel-good chemical, when they use drugs. Now how much dopamine your brain can naturally produce is genetic. So, for example, those who pass down the genetics for ADHD are also passing down a dopamine deficiency.

So with this deficiency, they will likely have a lower tolerance as their brain will feel the effect.

If there is also a family history of heavy drug use, it is also possible to have a high tolerance passed down as the human body adapts to constant chemical usage.

You can think of a high tolerance this way.

Your brain is used to the drugs you are giving it. Because of this, it is adapting your brain chemistry around all these new chemicals introduced to it. High tolerance is a survival technique to keep your brain and body running.

Do Some People Have Natural High Tolerance To Drugs? - a woman taking pill-double exposure.

Types of Drugs and Tolerance

Different types of drugs can lead to different levels of tolerance being built up in different ways.

  • Opioid drugs, such as heroin, morphine, and even prescription painkillers like oxycodone, can lead to quick tolerance development. With repeated use, higher doses are required to achieve the same effects. This can be a problem if you are in need of painkillers because of surgery.
  • Benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, are prescribed for anxiety and sleep disorders. Tolerance to their sedative and anxiolytic effects can develop, necessitating higher doses to achieve the desired therapeutic effects. Resulting in chronic insomnia and severe anxiety.
  • Drugs like amphetamines and cocaine are stimulants. Tolerance to their euphoric and stimulating effects can develop with prolonged use, leading people to increase their doses to feel the high.
  • Drugs like LSD and magic mushrooms typically don’t produce tolerance to the same extent as other substances. Tolerance to their hallucinogenic effects can develop rapidly, but it diminishes quickly as well. This means that users may need to wait a few days before achieving the same intensity of effects.


Recover From Drug Addiction at Asana Lodge

If you are worried about your drug use and tolerance levels, then there is something you can do about it. You can get help or even just talk to someone about what you are feeling through narcotics anonymous.

Our friendly and understanding team of professionals can help you break free from the never-ending cycle of drug addiction once and for all. Reach out to us today at  01908 489 421, and our admissions team will talk you through the next steps.


Back to all posts