By Avram Goldstein
Content material: medicines and the mind. Neurotransmitters : the brain's personal medicines -- Receptors : locks for the addictive keys -- Addictive habit -- discomfort and delight -- The seesaw mind : "highs" and variations -- Are addicts born or made? the medication and the addicts. Nicotine -- Alcohol and similar medicines -- Heroin, morphine, and different opiates -- Cocaine and amphetamines -- hashish (Marijuana) -- Caffeine -- Hallucinogens. medicinal drugs 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 recommendations for rational drug coverage
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Extra resources for Addiction : from biology to drug policy
A high-affinity ligand would typically occupy the sites at a concentration of 1 nanomole per liter or less. This corresponds to a single grain of salt dissolved in a 250-gallon tank of water! Differences in binding affinity are largely responsible for the fact that LSD—as an example—is psychoactive in remarkably tiny amounts, whereas the biologic activity of a drug like caffeine requires hundreds of times higher dosage. Sex-hormone receptors and insulin receptors were the first to be studied in this way, about 30 years ago.
In a ligand PET scan, the radioactivity of a bound radioligand can be detected through the skull. Thus, a computerized three-dimensional image is obtained, showing the receptor distribution. A glucose PET scan 42 | Drugs and the Brain measures the uptake of radiolabeled sugar by neurons. Sugar is taken up most rapidly by neurons that are most active (as they need sugar for energy) and that have an abundant blood supply. If an addictive drug stimulates a particular group of neurons, the local blood flow will increase, and radiolabeled sugar will rush into the cells, marking that region in the PET scan.
The enormous diversity of peptides and proteins that actually exist in the body represents only a small fraction of what is possible; and this small fraction has been selected by evolution over billions of years to serve all biologic needs. Although the peptide neurotransmitters are bigger than the compact ones, they usually do not lie stretched out like a string of beads but fold into a more compact shape. Thus, many of them are able to fit into receptor pockets very much like those that accommodate the compact neurotransmitters.
Addiction : from biology to drug policy by Avram Goldstein