In psychopharmacology, a dopamine reuptake inhibitor is a class of drug that is designed to inhibit the action of the dopamine transporter. The dopamine transporter is a protein that helps end the action of dopamine, a natural chemical that increases one's mood and feelings of pleasure. By inhibiting the dopamine transporter, a dopamine reuptake inhibitor increases the body's extracellular concentrations of dopamine, which in turn increases dopaminergic neurotransmission and creates feelings of pleasure or even euphoria.
A dopamine reuptake inhibitor has a number of medical applications. For instance, the drug methylphenidate is a popular dopamine reuptake inhibitor. Methylphenidate is a psychostimulant medication that is primarily prescribed to patients who suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). These medications are prescribed to patients for the purpose of treating conditions such as obesity, anxiety, depression and Parkinson's disease. These drugs are often used to augment other psychopharmacological medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitions (SSRIs), particularly for the treatment of psychological disorders, including depression and anxiety.
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All pharmaceutical drugs have an element of physiological toxicity. A dopamine reuptake inhibitor, although relatively safe and well tolerated, can produce side effects in patients. These side effects are classified as either psychological or physiological. Some of the psychological side effects experienced by patients include an altered state of subjective consciousness, euphoria, mood lift, improved memory, increased energy and insomnia. The physiological effects side effects include dilated pupils, nausea, jaw clenching and trembling.
These medications can produce intense feelings of pleasure, so they're often subject to substance abuse; cocaine and phencyclidine (PCP) are in this class of drugs. Cocaine is notoriously addictive, primarily because of the extreme euphoria associated with its ingestion. Likewise, PCP — also known as "angel dust" — is a psychostimulant that is commonly abused because of the feelings of pleasure that it produces.
If a patient of pharmaceutical medications such as methylphenidate or an addict of illicit substances such has cocaine ingests an amount of the drug that far exceeds the recommended safe dosage, then he or she could potentially suffer life-threatening consequences — which could lead to coma or death. Furthermore, if these drugs are overused by an individual, he or she could experience a condition known as stimulant pychosis. This condition is characterized by symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, paranoia and disordered thinking. There have been instances in which individuals have been sectioned in a secure unit — for mental illness — because of their abuse of dopamine reuptake inhibitors.