Addiction: From Biology to Drug Policy

Addiction: From Biology to Drug Policy

Addiction: From Biology to Drug Policy

Addiction: From Biology to Drug Policy

Synopsis

Drug addiction is a brain disease--that's the modern view and it is fully expressed in this up-to-date book. Among the many volumes on drugs written for lay readers, this one is unique in the breadth of its coverage and the depth of its science. The first part gives a clear scientific account of the nature of addiction, stressing neurobiology and addictive behavior and describing the "highs" that drugs can produce. The second section covers the seven families of addictive drugs, with emphasis on their actions in the brain and on psychological aspects: nicotine, alcohol, heroin and other opiates, cocaine and amphetamines, marijuana, caffeine, and hallucinogens like LSD. The third section deals with laws and drug control policies. Throughout, the author gives many interesting personal accounts of addiction research, to which he has highlighted new research on the genetics and neurobiology of susceptibility to addiction.

Excerpt

This book grew out of my experiences during 25 years of laboratory and clinical research and teaching about the addictive drugs. The more I learned, and the more drug addiction became a subject of national concern, the more I realized how great was the gap between our growing scientific knowledge and the ever more heated debates about drug policy. A book directed primarily at intelligent nonexperts might close this gap by translating what scientists have discovered about drug addiction into easily understood concepts. I believe it will be of interest, too, to students and practitioners of medicine, psychiatry, nursing, pharmacy, and other health professions, who deal with addicts as part of their daily work. Finally, it will provide teachers with solid factual information to help educate a new generation about this much-neglected societal problem.

The subject of drug addiction can be divided into three broad areas—how the drugs act on the brain, how each drug causes the medical disorder we call addiction, and what impact the addictive drugs have on society. Accordingly, the book is divided into three parts. I attempt to explain what we know about drug addiction in each of these three areas, how we know what we know, and what we can (and cannot) do about the drug problem.

I present the uncertainties of our present knowledge as well as the surely established facts. I avoid technical jargon; but where a technical term is essential, I define it at first use and also provide a reference to that definition in the index. I try to make the biomedical science interesting to the nonexpert by speaking whenever possible from my own point of view as experimenter and by attempting to convey the spirit of adventure as the scientist experiences it. When I write autobiographically, therefore, it is not to claim undue credit . . .

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