What is Meant by Tolerance?
Dear Dr. Steve:
Over the course of the last 10
years I have noticed that my sister drinks more alcohol more often than back in the days
when we were in high school. In the old days I could keep up with her, but now, she drinks
me under the table. It seems that when I have had my fill for the night, shes barely
begun her drinking, although we will have drank the same amount. The following night,
while Im still hung over from the night before, shes ready to go back out
there. The most bizarre thing about all of this is that whereas I become incapacitated
after my third mixed drink, twice that amount barely seems to faze her. Am I just a wussy
or is there something superhuman about my sister.
not a wussy and your sister is not superhuman. Instead, it sounds like alcohol affects you
about the same way it affects most normal drinkers. At the same time, its
likely that your sister has developed an increased tolerance for alcohol.
means is that your sisters body has had to adapt to the chronic alcohol consumption
that your sister likely has consumed. Tolerance means that after continued consumption of
a constant amount of alcohol produces a lesser effect or increasing amounts of alcohol are
necessary to produce the same effect.
know, alcohol consumption interferes with many bodily functions and affects behavior.
However, after chronic alcohol consumption, the drinker often develops tolerance to at
least some of alcohol's effects. Tolerance develops when an individuals brain
functions adapt to compensate for the disruption caused by alcohol in both their behavior
and their bodily functions.
heavy drinkers display functional tolerance when they show few obvious signs of
intoxication even at high blood alcohol concentrations, which in others would be
incapacitating or even fatal. Because the drinker does not experience significant
behavioral impairment as a result of drinking, tolerance may be an explanation for why an
individual begins to consume increasingly more alcohol. This can result in physical
dependence and alcohol-related organ damage.
is a symptom of alcohol dependence. If you have any concerns about your sisters
drinking you should not ignore those concerns. Alcoholism is a progressive disease. You
can be assured that your sisters drinking problem, if indeed she has a drinking
problem, will only get worse with time.
1.) Consult with a qualified healthcare provider about alcoholism and drug addiction.
2.) Educate yourself about the disease of alcoholism and drug addiction.
3.) Develop a plan to help your sister address the issues surrounding her alcohol and
other drug use.
4.) Develop a plan of self-care for yourself to help you cope with the affects of your
wifes alcohol and other drug use.
5.) Contact your local chapter of Al-Anona support group for friends and family
members of people who abuse and are dependent on alcohol and other drugs.