This is the 2007 version. Click here for the 2017 chapter 02 table of contents.


A second major catecholamine, norepinephrine (NOR-ep-in-EFF-rin) resembles adrenaline in its action. It is secreted into the bloodstream during moments of exertion or other stress. For example, inescapable footshock produces immediate boosts of norepinephrine in the blood of rats. Normally, adrenaline helps the fight or flight response of the sympathetic nervous system.

What does norepinephrine resemble? How does "speed" work?

Elevated levels of catecholamines produce activity and euphoria. Cocaine and amphetamines work not only by stimulating dopaminergic areas but also by blocking re-uptake of norepinephrine, causing it to accumulate and have an exaggerated excitatory effect.

Over the long term, elevated levels of dopamine and norepinephrine produce "burn-out." In extreme cases, stimulant abusers present symptoms closely resembling paranoid schizophrenia, such as suspicion, hostility, and hallucinations of voices or bugs under the skin.

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