Biochemical Substrates of Drug Abuse

  • Michael T. Bardo
  • Marcus E. Risner
Part of the Perspectives on Individual Differences book series (PIDF)


A variety of psychosocial factors are thought to predispose an individual to initiate the abuse of illicit drugs (Gorsuch & Butler, 1976). Once initiated, a number of psychopharmacological factors also come to play a role in the continuance of self-administration behavior. One important factor is the ability of the drug to produce a positive affective state or reinforcement upon its initial administration. For example. Haertzen, Kocher, & Miyasato (1983) found that the degree of reinforcement derived from the first drug experience was related directly to the magnitude of the subsequent drug habit. The relationship was true for several drugs including alcohol, barbiturates, minor tranquilizers, cocaine, stimulants, marijuana, solvents, hallucinogens, and opiates but was not true for caffeine (coffee) or nicotine (cigarettes). Thus, an understanding of the abuse potential of many psychoactive drugs requires an appreciation of the reinforcing value of the initial drug experience.


Drug Abuse Firing Rate Ventral Tegmental Area Opioid Peptide Presynaptic Terminal 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael T. Bardo
    • 1
  • Marcus E. Risner
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA
  2. 2.Addiction Research CenterNational Institute on Drug AbuseBaltimoreUSA

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