By Avram Goldstein
Content material: medicines and the mind. Neurotransmitters : the brain's personal medications -- Receptors : locks for the addictive keys -- Addictive habit -- discomfort and enjoyment -- The seesaw mind : "highs" and diversifications -- Are addicts born or made? the medication and the addicts. Nicotine -- Alcohol and comparable medicines -- Heroin, morphine, and different opiates -- Cocaine and amphetamines -- hashish (Marijuana) -- Caffeine -- Hallucinogens. medicinal drugs and society. Prevention : simply say no? -- Treating dependancy, fighting relapse -- 3 classes from the road -- 3 classes from out of the country -- Prohibition vs. legalization : a fake dichotomy -- New innovations for rational drug coverage
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Extra resources for Addiction : from biology to drug policy
A plasmid is a kind of artificial gene, which contains all the instructions for multiplying inside cells. Each plasmid incorporates just one of the thousands of cDNA molecules in the mixture. So, among all the plasmids will be just one or a few that contain the cDNA encoding the receptor we are seeking. The plasmids are put into bacteria, and the bacteria multiply, so the plasmids multiply too. Next, the plasmid DNA is transferred into mammalian cells. These cells are allowed to grow on a gelatin surface in dishes, so that each cell, as it multiplies, gives rise to a discrete colony containing thousands of cells.
Applied to a thin slice of brain tissue, an antibody will adhere only where it finds the substance against which it was made. All that is needed is a way to label the antibody, in order to make it visible under the microscope. Labeling is accomplished by attaching a fluorescent chemical or a radioactive atom, or by using a labeled secondary antibody directed against the primary one. Ultraviolet light makes the fluorescent chemical glow, radioactivity produces a photographic image on a film. By this method one can actually see the packages of a particular neurotransmitter stored in the nerve endings.
Sometimes, however, the neurotransmitter is a prominent component of a known circuit with well established function. Its presence in the hippocampus, for instance, would suggest a role in memory processing; in brainstem and spinal cord, a role in pain regulation; in the visual, auditory, and olfactory systems a role in their well defined functions; in the cerebellum, a role in coordinating voluntary movements. Of greatest interest for addiction would be the presence of a neurotransmitter in the midbrain reward pathway (see chapter 4), where dopamine neurons are thought to play a key role in mediating pleasurable (hedonic) effects.