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Schizophr Bull. 1990;16(1):97-110.

Dopaminergic mechanisms in idiopathic and drug-induced psychoses.

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  • 1Hillside Hospital, Glen Oaks, NY 11004.


Stimulant drugs such as cocaine and amphetamine are among the most commonly abused substances by schizophrenic patients. This may be due in part to aspects of the illness and treatment side effects that impel patients to use dopamine agonist drugs. Dopaminergic neural systems have been shown to mediate both stimulant drug effects and schizophrenia. Because of the hypothesized overlap in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia and the neurobiological effects of chronic stimulant use, the potential for serious complication of the primary disease by substance abuse exists. This article reviews the neurobiological mechanisms of behavioral sensitization and neurotoxicity associated with chronic stimulant administration in the context of pathophysiological theories of schizophrenia. Discussion focuses on the potential impact of stimulant use on the disease process as well as the manifest phenomenology and course of schizophrenia.

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