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Pharmacology and pathophysiology 

Pharmacology and pathophysiology
Chapter:
Pharmacology and pathophysiology
DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198714750.003.0003
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date: 16 June 2019

Chapter 3 of Addiction Medicine outlines the pharmacology of the most commonly used psychoactive substances. There is a summary of the pharmacological effects of these substances and their pharmacodynamics. The chapter encompasses the pharmacology of alcohol, sedative-hypnotics (including benzodiazepines and z-drugs), opioids, amphetamine-type substances, cocaine, caffeine, nicotine, hallucinogens (such as LSD and mescaline), empathogens, inhalants, and anabolic steroids. The psychoactive substances with dependence-inducing (addictive) potential have certain characteristics which distinguish them from other substances. These and the primary targets of action and effects are summarized, as are the rates of absorption, distribution within the body, metabolism, and excretion. Knowledge of the pharmacological effects and duration of action provides an understanding of how clinical syndromes related to psychoactive substance use develop their characteristic features. The neurobiological mechanisms of, and genetic influences on, the development of substance dependence are outlined.

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