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Rev Neurosci. 2012;23(5-6):769-80. doi: 10.1515/revneuro-2012-0078.

The role of setting for ketamine abuse: clinical and preclinical evidence.

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Department of Physiology and Pharmacology,Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy.


Drug abuse is often seen as a unitary phenomenon, partly as a result of the discovery over the past three decades of shared mechanisms of action for addictive substances. Yet the pattern of drug taking is often very different from drug to drug. This is particularly evident in the case of 'club drugs', such as ketamine. Although the number of ketamine abusers is relatively small in the general population, it is quite substantial in some settings. In particular, ketamine abuse is almost exclusively limited to clubs and large music parties, which suggests a major role of context in modulating the reward effects of this drug. This review focuses on recent preclinical and clinical findings, including previously unpublished data, that provide evidence that, even under controlled conditions, ketamine reward is a function of the setting of drug taking.

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