Social psychology is sometimes criticized for not being sufficiently ‘relevant’ to everyday life. The Applying Social Psychology series challenges this criticism. It is organized around applied topics rather than theoretical issues, and is designed to complement the highly successful Mapping Social Psychology series edited by Tony Manstead. Social psychologists, and others who take a social-psychological perspective, have conducted research on a wide range of interesting and important applied topics such as consumer behaviour, work, politics, the media, crime and environmental issues. Each book in the new series takes a different applied topic and reviews relevant social-psychological ideas and research. The books are texts rather than research monographs. They are pitched at final year undergraduate level, but will also be suitable for students on Masters level courses as well as researchers and practitioners working in the relevant fields. Although the series has an applied emphasis, theoretical issues are not neglected. Indeed, the series aims to demonstrate that theory-based applications of social psychology can contribute to our understanding of important applied topics.
This book, by Sussman and Ames, is the first in the series and, in its scholarship and clarity, it sets the standard for the others. In it, the authors tackle the complex problem of drug abuse, which has significant costs to individuals and to society. Starting with the question ‘What is drug abuse?’, they discuss definitions of abuse, dependence and disease, and consider drug abuse in the context of other problem behaviours. Predictors of drug abuse are examined, including intra- and extra-personal factors, and this leads to a discussion of integrative theories. The authors draw on a wide range of ideas and theories from social psychology and other fields and disciplines. They go on to argue that drug abuse arises from numerous factors interacting in complex ways, and tease out some of the multiple pathways involved. Attention then turns towards current approaches to prevention and treatment, and an examination of the evidence for their effectiveness. The book ends with a discussion of future directions, which raises a number of challenging