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Antagonist Medications

  • By: Kelly M. Banna
  • In: Encyclopedia of Drug Policy
  • Edited by: Mark A. R. Kleiman & James E. Hawdon
  • Subject:Public Policy, Drug Crimes

Antagonist medications are those that inhibit or block communication between neurons by altering the action of neurotransmitters or other drugs at the postsynaptic receptor. They are characterized in several ways, namely the type of receptor at which they work and their site of action. These mechanisms of action, along with an introduction to their clinical usage, are discussed below.

Mechanism of Action

All psychotropic drugs are characterized by the type of neurotransmitter system on which they work. For example, drugs that decrease activity at dopamine receptors are known as dopamine antagonists; those that decrease activity at serotonin receptors are known as serotonin antagonists, and so on.

Further, antagonists can be broadly divided into two categories—those that bind to and work directly at the postsynaptic receptor, and those ...

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