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Ritalin, D2 Receptors, and Dopamine

Ritalin has been shown to block DAT, reducing the transport of dopamine away from the neurons in the striatum and increasing the level of dopamine in the striatum. This helps to explain why Ritalin is effective in treating ADHD. It also helps to explain why the drug is commonly abused. Studies have shown that by increasing the level of dopamine in the striatum, Ritalin increases the binding of dopamine to D2 receptors (which are known to be closely related to the reinforcing effects of drugs that are abused).

Ritalin and D2 Receptors: A Summary

Research has suggested that dopamine (and the D2 receptor in particular) is important for the reinforcing aspects of drug abuse. ADHD research has shown that dopamine changes in the brain may also be an important factor in the development of the condition. Because Ritalin increases dopamine (and binding to D2 receptors) in certain parts of the brain, it is effective for ADHD, but is capable of being abused.
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Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
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