Drugged: The Science and Culture Behind Psychotropic Drugs

Drugged: The Science and Culture Behind Psychotropic Drugs

Richard J. Miller

Language: English

Pages: 376

ISBN: 0199957975

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

"Morphine," writes Richard J. Miller, "is the most significant chemical substance mankind has ever encountered." So ancient that remains of poppies have been found in Neolithic tombs, it is the most effective drug ever discovered for treating pain. "Whatever advances are made in medicine," Miller adds, "nothing could really be more important than that." And yet, when it comes to mind-altering substances, morphine is only a cc or two in a vast river that flows through human civilization, ranging LSD to a morning cup of tea.

In DRUGGED, Miller takes readers on an eye-opening tour of psychotropic drugs, describing the various kinds, how they were discovered and developed, and how they have played multiple roles in virtually every culture. The vast scope of chemicals that cross the blood-brain barrier boggle the very brain they reach: cannabis and cocaine, antipsychotics and antidepressants, alcohol, amphetamines, and Ecstasy-and much more. Literate and wide-ranging, Miller weaves together science and history, telling the story of the undercover theft of 20,000 tea plants from China by a British spy, for example, the European discovery of coffee and chocolate, and how James Wolfgang von Goethe, the famous man of letters, first isolated the alkaloid we now know as caffeine. Miller explains what scientists know-and don't-about the impact of each drug on the brain, down to the details of neurotransmitters and their receptors. He clarifies the differences between morphine and heroin, mescaline and LSD, and other similar substances. Drugged brims with surprises, revealing the fact that antidepressant drugs evolved from the rocket fuel that shot V2 rockets into London during World War II, highlighting the role of hallucinogens in the history of religion, and asking whether Prozac can help depressed cats.

Entertaining and authoritative, Drugged is a truly fascinating book.

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by different gene families, including α, β, γ, δ, ε, and σ subunits which can potentially make up GABA-A receptor channels. Altogether some 150,000 GABA-A receptor subtypes might theoretically exist. In practice, however, the available subunits assemble into a limited number of pentameric receptors with the general stoichiometry of 2 α, 2 β and 1 γ subunits; δ and ε subunits may substitute for the γ subunit, and the σ subunit may substitute for the β subunit.18 So, one question we might be

GABOXADOL Something that is frequently the case in neuropharmacology is that the development of a useful drug begins with a natural product, and the story of muscimol is an excellent example of this. When we consider the effects of Amanita muscaria, certain things might suggest to us that muscimol is actually an attractive candidate for modern drug development. After all, drugs like benzodiazepines and barbiturates that also activate GABA-A receptors have found widespread utility in treating

Smith, Kline and French (SKF) company. SKF had apparently come up with the compound independently, although it is very likely that they had heard one of Alles’ presentations. Actually, the first synthesis of amphetamine occurred in Germany in 1887, and of the closely related molecule methamphetamine (Figure 8.9) in Japan in 1920, but their psychoactive properties were not generally recognized until later. SKF’s original marketing ploy was to sell amphetamine as a volatile freebase dispensed from

stimulate certain nicotinic receptor subtypes might be produced and might produce very useful and selective effects. Under what circumstances might they be useful? Here one should consider the fact that there are several important neurodegenerative diseases in which deficits in cognitive function are a major symptom. This is certainly true for Alzheimer’s disease (AD).27,28 In AD one finds that certain proteins accumulate into large aggregates in the brain and this results in the death of

(Benadryl), 142, 143f DISC1 gene, 115, 147 distilled spirits, development of, 230–232 ditch weed, 244 Divertimento, Bartok, 204–205 Dobereiner, Johann, 288 Dodgson, Charles, 11 Dolophine, 100 Domagk, Gerhard, 91 Domenjoz, Robert, 138 Doniger, Wendy, 12 Doors of Perception, Huxley, 60 dopamine, 58f, 134, 195 dopamine receptors, antipsychotics blocking, 106 dopamine theory, schizophrenia, 103–105, 109–110 dopamine transporter (DAT), 141 Dow Chemical Company, 62 Doyle, Arthur Conan,

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