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Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction: What Science Says

8: Cocaine and neurotransmission

Cocaine and Neurotransmission

Drugs of abuse are able to interfere with this normal communication process in the brain. Cocaine, for example, blocks the removal of dopamine from the synapse by binding to the dopamine transporters. As shown in this image, this results in a buildup of dopamine in the synapse. In turn, this causes a continuous stimulation of receiving neurons, probably responsible for the euphoria reported by cocaine abusers.

This page was last updated January 2007

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National Institute of Drug Abuse (2007). 8: Cocaine and neurotransmission. In Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction: What Science Says. Retrieved from http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/teaching-packets/understanding-drug-abuse-addiction/section-i/8-cocaine-neurotransmission

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