Johny's Brain on Coke Essay

789 Words 4 Pages
The following is a hypothetical and extremely unrealistic dialogue between my hypothetical friend Johnny and me. The conversation takes place at a Wesleyan party and concerns Johnny's decision to snort cocaine. The reason I chose cocaine for the topic of this dialogue is because of its widespread prevalence on campus, as well as the fact that several friends of mine frequently do coke for recreational purposes.

Me. Hey Johnny, what you up to?

Johnny. Nothing much dude, just doin' some lines. You in?

Me. No Johnny, I think I'll have to pass.

Johnny. What's the problem, you broke?

Me. Well actually I've been taking this class called biopsych where I'm learning all this cool stuff about drugs and what they do to your brain,
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Johnny. Oh, I've heard of those!

Me. Good for you Johnny, good for you. As I was saying, when the calcium ions flood in, they cause these little sacs called vesicles which are filled with neurotransmitters to fuse with the membrane and release them into the area between the two neurons, called the synaptic cleft. The neurotransmitters then bind to receptors on the postsynaptic membrane of the other neuron. Once bound, these receptors, which are also ion channels, will open, allowing the inward flow of ions, which has the ability to create once again an action potential that will continue down the next neuron.

Johnny. That's great, I'm not sure I got all of it, but thanks for your enthusiasm...What does this have to do with coke again?

Me. I'm getting there Johnny my boy, patience is a virtue. You see, what cocaine does is it messes with your neurotransmitters. Do you know what an agonist or an antagonist is Johnny?

Johnny. Um, antagonists are in books and stuff...

Me. ...wow. Ok let me explain. Agonists are chemicals that enter the brain which have the ability to act like a neurotransmitter and bind to the receptors, triggering them. Antagonists are chemicals that prevent neurotransmitters from binding to receptors, so the receptors are not triggered.

Johnny. So is coke an agonist or an antagonist.

Me. That's a very good question Johnny. Technically cocaine is an agonist, because

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