By Avram Goldstein
Content material: medications and the mind. Neurotransmitters : the brain's personal medicines -- Receptors : locks for the addictive keys -- Addictive habit -- soreness and enjoyment -- The seesaw mind : "highs" and variations -- Are addicts born or made? the medicine and the addicts. Nicotine -- Alcohol and similar medications -- Heroin, morphine, and different opiates -- Cocaine and amphetamines -- hashish (Marijuana) -- Caffeine -- Hallucinogens. medications and society. Prevention : simply say no? -- Treating habit, combating relapse -- 3 classes from the road -- 3 classes from in another country -- Prohibition vs. legalization : a fake dichotomy -- New thoughts for rational drug coverage
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Additional resources for Addiction : from biology to drug policy
Its wide distribution in the brain and elsewhere suggests it has many other functions. Finally, a new and powerful technique is being widely applied for deleting a gene of known sequence in an animal, producing what is called a gene knockout. Provided that absence of the gene is not lethal, what happens when it is knocked out may let us infer its normal role. In some respects this is an improvement over using an antagonist to infer a normal function, because here one specific receptor (the product of a single gene) is deleted, whereas no antagonist is totally selective for a single receptor.
That can give insight into how addictive drugs disturb regulatory processes in the brain. Regulatory mechanisms enable an organism to adapt when a drug or hormone upsets the normal equilibrium. For example, if a person is treated for a long time with cortisol (a hormone product of the adrenal cortex), the normal production of ACTH (a necessary stimulant of the adrenal cortex) by the pituitary gland is suppressed, as though to compensate for the high cortisol level. Sometimes thyroid hormone is administered medically in order to shut down the normal stimulation of the thyroid by thyroid-stimulating hormone from the pituitary.
Labeling is accomplished by attaching a fluorescent chemical or a radioactive atom, or by using a labeled secondary antibody directed against the primary one. Ultraviolet light makes the fluorescent chemical glow, radioactivity produces a photographic image on a film. By this method one can actually see the packages of a particular neurotransmitter stored in the nerve endings. Summary Neurotransmitters have many important functions, and they play a significant role in addiction, because every addictive drug mimics or blocks some neurotransmitter.
Addiction : from biology to drug policy by Avram Goldstein