Increasing abuse of psychostimulants is alarming. New findings confirm the mechanisms behind cocaine and amphetamine addiction

by Hurd Y, Lindefors N
Klinisk neurovetenskap,
Karolinska institutet, Stockholm.
Lakartidningen 1999 Apr 14; 96(15):1814-6, 1819-21


Amphetamine and cocaine are highly addictive psychostimulant drugs with potent actions on affect and motor activity. Psychostimulants exert their effects by interaction with monoamine transport carriers on cell membranes. Dopamine pathways extending from the brain stem to the basal ganglia, limbic structures, and cerebral cortex are generally considered to constitute the neuroanatomical substrates underlying motivation, reward, and motor function. Repeated use of psychostimulants is characterised by both tolerance (e.g., euphoria) and sensitisation (e.g., motor activation), and abstinence by craving and anhedonia. Neuronal systems, molecular alterations, and treatment regimens associated with psychostimulants are currently the subjects of discussion.