Tolerance and Physical Dependence

  • William R. Martin
Part of the Readings from the Encyclopedia of Neuroscience book series (REN)


Tolerance and physical dependence are complex biological responses to the chronic administration of drugs and are probably intimately related to basic neurophysiological processes such as habituation and accomodation. Chemical stimuli and receptive mechanisms were probably among the first sensory mechanisms to evolve to assist in satisfying food needs and in avoiding toxic chemicals. To facilitate acquisitive and avoidance movements, negative feedback mechanisms probably developed at a very early stage of evolution. Further, a large portion, perhaps all, of the communication between neurons in the central nervous system is conducted using chemical (neurotransmitters, modulators, and hormones) stimuli and receptors. Finally, virtually all drugs that induce tolerance and dependence exert their actions, either directly or indirectly, by altering neurotransmitter-receptor interactions (Table 1).


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Further reading

  1. Jaffe JH (1980): Drug addiction and drug abuse. In: The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics, 6th ed, Gilman AG, Goodman LS, Gilman A, eds. New York: MacmillanGoogle Scholar
  2. Jones RT (1980): Human effects: An overview. NID A Research Monograph 31, 54–80Google Scholar
  3. Kalant H, LeBlanc AE, Gibbins RJ (1971): Tolerance to, and dependence on, some non-opiate psychotropic drugs. Pharmacol Rev 23(3): 135–191Google Scholar
  4. Martin WR (1982): Hypnotics. In: Psychotropic Agents Part III, Hoffmeister F, Stille G, eds. Berlin: Springer-VerlagGoogle Scholar
  5. Martin WR, Sloan JW (1977): Neuropharmacology and neurochemistry of subjective effects, analgesia, tolerance, and dependence produced by narcotic analgesics. In: Drug Addiction I, Martin WR, ed. Berlin: Springer-VerlagCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Wikler A (1968): The Addictive States. Baltimore: Williams & WilkinsGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • William R. Martin

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