Antipsychotics and Drug Addiction

Kermit Cole
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Dopamine supersensitivity as a result of sustained antipsychotic treatment can lead to compulsive drug seeking and drug-taking behavior, according to the theory offered by a member of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Montreal. The paper proposes that supersensitivity “can enhance the rewarding and incentive motivational effects of drugs and reward cues,” thus helping to explain why patients with a schizophrenia diagnosis so often present with a co-morbid drug problem. The paper can be found online in Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry.

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected]

1 COMMENT

  1. I don’t really understand this theory. The supposed supersensitivity thing relates to brain compensating for the dopamine blocking caused by drugs. It doesn’t mean that the dopamine systems become more active than normal when on neuroleptics. If neuroleptics cause use of drugs such as nicotine, I’d guess that it may be because neuroleptics make you feel like shit and people may use drugs to counter the dulling effects of neuroleptics, to get at least some reward, focus, etc.