Heroin Tolerance

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Tolerance to heroin

Heroin tolerance is is a complex process of neuroadaptation. It is defined by reduced response to one or more of heroin’s effects after repeated administration. Essentially, nerve cells (neurons) with opioid receptors become less sensitive to heroin, and more heroin is needed to achieve the same intensity of effects.

Heroin tolerance has two distinct categories; innate and acquired.

  1. Innate tolerance refers to a person’s genetic makeup at the initial dose.
  2. Acquired tolerance refers to the body’s response to heroin over time after repeated use. Scientific evidence shows that acquired tolerance to heroin is rapid and begins developing at the first dose.

Studies show that opioid receptors may take up to 15-days to reset after activation. Meaning that after a single activation of an opioid receptor it may take upwards of 15-days before it can be reactivated. As heroin users must use on average 4-times per day, it does not take very long before there is an insufficient number of receptors available to maintain the heroin addict’s needs.

how heroin works