Human behavioral pharmacology of stimulant drugs: An update and narrative review

Ashley Strzelecki, Jessica Weafer, William W. Stoops

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Stimulant use disorders present an enduring public health concern. Chronic stimulant use is associated with a range of health problems, with notable increases in stimulant overdose that disproportionately affect marginalized populations. With these persistent problems, it is important to understand the behavioral and pharmacological factors that contribute to stimulant use in humans. The purpose of this chapter is to provide an update and narrative review on recent human laboratory research that has evaluated the behavioral pharmacology of stimulant drugs. We focus on two prototypic stimulants: cocaine as a prototype monoamine reuptake inhibitor and d-amphetamine as a prototype monoamine releaser. As such, placebo controlled human laboratory studies that involved administration of doses of cocaine or d-amphetamine and were published in peer reviewed journals within the last 10 years (i.e., since 2011) are reviewed. Primary outcomes from these studies are subjective effects, reinforcing effects, cognitive/behavioral effects, and discriminative stimulus effects. Both cocaine and d-amphetamine produce classical stimulant-like behavioral effects (e.g., increase positive subjective effects, function as reinforcers), but there are notable gaps in the literature including understanding sex differences in response to stimulant drugs, cognitive-behavioral effects of stimulants, and influence of use history (e.g., relatively drug naïve vs drug experienced) on stimulant effects.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBehavioral Pharmacology of Drug Abuse
Subtitle of host publicationCurrent Status
EditorsJun-Xu Li
Number of pages27
StatePublished - Jan 2022

Publication series

NameAdvances in Pharmacology
ISSN (Print)1054-3589
ISSN (Electronic)1557-8925

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors declare no relevant conflicts of interest.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Inc.


  • Amphetamine
  • Cocaine
  • Cognitive/behavioral effects
  • Discriminative stimulus effects
  • Human
  • Reinforcing effects
  • Subjective effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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