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Agonist Substitution

When naturally occurring neurotransmitters stimulate receptors, the process is referred to as agonism. An agonist can act directly, as when a ligand binds to a receptor and produces a biological effect, or it can act indirectly in producing the same effect of a neurotransmitter. Psychopharmacology has applied agonist substitution as a means of treatment for substance abuse. This entry describes the types of agonism in neurotransmission and then discusses the application of agonist substitution as a form of therapy for self-administered drugs.

Types of Agonism in Neurotransmission

Direct agonists are ligands that bind to postsynaptic receptors and mimic the actions of the neurotransmitter that would normally bind. For example, opiates, such as morphine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone, bind to the postsynaptic Mu subtype of opioid receptor in ...

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