Mindy Miserendino

Course Name

Psychopharmacology (Neuroscience major)

Course Number

PS 353-AB

Document Type


Original Publication Date

December 2016

Publication Date



Current treatments for drug addiction involve classical pharmacological therapy, involving the use of competitive or noncompetitive agonists (full, partial, or inverse) and antagonists. Drugs of abuse enter the brain after crossing the blood-brain barrier rapidly and binding to the proper receptor(s). They are able to do so because they are small and lipid soluble, and produce reinforcing effects by increasing levels of dopamine in brain areas associated with reward. This occurs in specific systems associated with addiction. In the mesolimbic system, neuron cell bodies originate in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and project to the nucleus accumbens (NAc), amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex. Dopamine is subsequently released, which contributes to the development of addiction. Illicit drug use has cost over $11 billion in health care and $193 billion overall in the United States. Heroin, cocaine, and prescription opioid abuse has become more prevalent in recent years, causing over 6,000 deaths in the U.S. annually (NIDA 2015). Recent literature has begun to conceptualize drugs of abuse as toxins, which has led to new approaches in drug research for the treatment of substance abuse.


2nd Prize Winner in the 2017 Writing Across the Curriculum contest at Sacred Heart University.

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