Brain and pharmaceutics

Stephan Anagnostaras stephan at
Tue Oct 15 03:47:28 EST 1996


You should pick up any book on drugs of Abuse (e.g., McKim) or the
standard Goodman & Gilman text.  In any case, here are a couple of quick

1. Amphetamine / Cocaine: CNS stimulants,  both are indirect dopamine agonists.
   AMPH causes a dumping of intracellular DA (not action potential dependent)
   COC reverses the DA reuptake pump
   Other stimulants also usually activate DA or NE systems, but often in
   a more indirect fashion. 

   Cocaine is also a local anesthetic, benzocaine, novacaine, and the
   rest are all derivatives.

2. Heroin / Morphine / Codeine / Dilaudid / Percodan / Percocet / Vicodin /

   All of these drugs are opioids/opiates, they act on the opiate receptor
   to produce analgesia. Some or all are very indirect dopamine agonists,
   as well.  Their addictive properties may or may not be directly related
   to their ability to produce analgesia, this issue is very complex. 
   The variation in addictive lability is largely determined by how quickly
   the drug enters the brain, or how well the receptor is activated, etc.
   Heroin is no different than the rest, it's about medium the addictive
   lability (e.g., Sublimaze is much stronger), oh yeah, except that it
   is illegal to prescribe :)

3. PCP: dissociative analgesic/ hallucinogen.  PCP is an glutamate-NMDA
   receptor antagonist.  It also is a dopamine agonist.  Ketamine is a
   similar drug.

4. Antidepressants: most of these drugs block reuptake of serotonin (5HT)
   and/or norepinephrine (NE) so they are very indirect monoamine agonists.
   SSRIs, such as Prozac (fluoexetine) block reuptake of 5HT selectively,
   and are as effective or more as the other drugs.  All of these drugs also
   affect other monoamine systems, but unlike DA agonists they do not seem
   to have the same abuse potential, and unlike NE agonists they do not
   produce heart disease. The exact reason monoamine agonists in general
   elevate mood is not clear.

5. Anxiolytics: Valium (diazepam), all of the drugs you listed with the
   "-azepam" are derivatives of Valium.  These drugs are weak GABA agonists.

6. Barbiturates: general anesthetics, sleeping pills, e.g., pentobarbital
   (Nembutal).  These drugs are strong GABA agonists.

7. Alcohol: alcohol is a tough one.  It is a weak GABA agonist, but may have
   other important effects on the plasma membrane which may be responsible
   for its effects.

8. Marijuana: really the only one of its type, THC is the active ingredient,
   and activates the THC receptor.

Good luck, that's all I can think of off the top of my head,


In article <steffi.0pv6 at>, steffi at (Stefanie A.
Potthoff) wrote:

> I need to know about the different effects that different
> types of psychopharmaceutics have on the brain.
> For example the effect that illegal drugs have on the brain
> (like heroin, amphetamine etc.) but also legal drugs
> like Medazepam or Diazepam (german names).
> (Please excuse any spelling errors ;-) ).
> Thanks in advance.
> ----------------------------------------------------------
>   Stefanie A. Potthoff       |    steffi at
> ----------------------------------------------------------
> "Freiheit ist wenn man seine eigenen Gedanken denken"
>         "Und sein eigenes Leben leben kann."
> ----------------------------------------------------------

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