Abstract and Keywords
Drugs of abuse represent a spectrum of chemically diverse compounds that are used via various routes of drug administration depending on the drug and its preparation. Although the exact molecular mechanisms by which these agents act to produce their intoxicating effects are not completely understood, many drugs of abuse are known to bind to specific neuronal membrane proteins that produce effects on cellular signaling and ultimately on behavior. With repeated administration of a drug, individuals often develop tolerance, and discontinuation of drug use following chronic administration typically results in withdrawal symptoms. This chapter describes the mechanism of action for the following classes of drugs of abuse: alcohol, cannabinoids, hallucinogens, inhalants, nicotine, opioids, sedative hypnotics, and stimulants. In addition, mechanisms of tolerance and withdrawal are discussed.
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