Once tolerance sets in, dependence can form. If someone uses a drug often enough, the brain will become accustomed to it. In an attempt to return to baseline, it will compensate for the difference, raising a function that the drug lowered, like heart rate, or reducing a function that the drug boosted, like mood. This means that when the drug wears off, the person’s heart could start to race, they could become irritable or depressed, or experience any number of other reactions called withdrawal. “A person is not dependent on a drug unless they experience some kind of negative outcome upon stopping their use,” said Reiman. “For example, if I am prescribed Vicodin for pain and I use it as directed, that does not make me dependent. “If I try to cut down or stop my intake and have negative consequences — cravings, irritability, upset stomach, chills, etc. — that could be a sign that my use has become dependence. “This can happen to people who take prescription medication for a long time, ev
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