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Leslie L. Iversen

, Susan D. Iversen

, Floyd E. Bloom

, and Robert H. Roth

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date: 24 January 2022

This chapter focuses on the three most common illicit psychostimulants, as opposed to the legal compounds caffeine (coffee and tea) (see Chapter 16) and nicotine (Chapter 26). Cocaine, amphetamines, and Ecstasy share many common features with regard to their mode of action and psychopharmacology. All three act by stimulating monoamine mechanisms in brain indirectly by promoting the release of these neurotransmitters (amphetamines and Ecstasy) or by slowing their inactivation through reuptake mechanisms (cocaine). Amphetamines and Ecstasy also share a common molecular structure—a benzene ring with a phenylethylamine side chain.

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