Drugs: psychotropic medication

Scholey, Andrew, Parrot, Andy and Kennedy, David (2007) Drugs: psychotropic medication. In: Cambridge Handbook of Psychology, Health and Medicine. Cambridge University Press, pp. 685-687. ISBN 978-0521605106

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511543579.164


Psychopharmacology offers a range of psychotropic medications to the medical practitioner. The decision to administer such medicines should be made in the context of evidence-based, realistic risk–benefits assessment and sound clinical judgement. With many psychotropics there is a potential for dependence. This can be manifest in two ways; tolerance, where an increased dose is required to produce the same effect, and withdrawal where negative psychological and/or physical consequences are associated with drug discontinuation. Such effects have been characterized in detail from studies of opiate addiction (see ‘Drug dependency: opiates and stimulants’). The following sections summarizes specific health aspects of selected ‘recreational’ and prescription psychotropic agents.

Cigarette smoking leads to around 130 000 deaths annually in the UK. Part of the addictive potential of cigarettes lies in the delivery system; inhaled tobacco smoke generates a nicotine ‘hit’ within 10 seconds of inhalation, although nicotine dependence is also evident from other routes such as chewing tobacco. The behavioural effects are due to nicotine binding nicotinic acetylcholine receptors and in regular smokers cholinergic neuroadaptations probably underlie nicotine cravings during abstinence. These are transiently relieved by nicotine administration: indeed there is now strong evidence that while the regular smoker relieves negative effects of nicotine withdrawal they do not gain anything positive (Parrott et al., 2004). Historically it was believed that smoking relieved stress: however there is now strong evidence that nicotine dependence itself causes stress (Parrott, 1999).

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: B200 Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmacy
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Psychology
Depositing User: Becky Skoyles
Date Deposited: 11 Dec 2018 12:28
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2019 17:21
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/37183

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