Substance Abuse

By Swoboda, Ewa | Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, April 2006 | Go to article overview

Substance Abuse


Swoboda, Ewa, Canadian Journal of Psychiatry


Substance Abuse Clinical Work with Substance-Abusing Clients Shulamith Lala Ashenberg Straussner, editor. New York (NY): The Guilford Press; 2004. 494 p. US$55.00.

Reviewer rating: Excellent

Working with substance-abusing clients is not an easy task, it is a challenge that can be successfully addressed with specific knowledge, skills, realistic expectations, and awareness of one's own countertransference reactions (p 304).

This short quote from Clinical Work with Substance-Abusing Clients describes the essence of this book remarkably well.

Recent years have brought many new publications about issues relevant to substance abuse and its treatments. They present the topic from various angles and perspectives as the field rapidly develops and new trends in treatment constantly emerge.

The book, edited by Dr Straussner and published in 2004, is a comprehensive, informative, and well-written review. It targets mostly front-line addiction and mental health clinicians, such as social workers, clinical psychologists, family therapists, psychiatric nurses, addiction counsellors, general psychiatrists, psychiatry residents, and medical students. It can also be used by other health professionals, including family physicians who deal with substance abusing patients only occasionally, or by those simply interested in addictions. The strength of this text is its versatility: beginners will see this publication as a rich source of information with numerous clinical vignettes, while experienced readers will find it a good refresher and update.

Dr Straussner is a respected scholar and lecturer in the field of substance abuse and has authored many publications and books related to the topic. Her thorough understanding of the field of addictions comes from years of work as a clinician and lecturer, as well as service on various boards and advisory panels. The contributors to this publication include many renowned writers, such as Insoo Kim Berg and Audrey Freshman.

The first edition was published in 1993 and the new 2004 edition provides an updated review of crucial issues in substance abuse, shedding new light on previous perspectives and treatment approaches. The material is well organized and clearly written. The main focus is practical aspects of working in different areas of addiction. The concise and straightforward manner in which information is presented allows the editor to make the book simple and readable while covering an extensive range of theoretical material. The book can be read in its entirety by students and newcomers to the field or selectively by those interested in particular chapters. Its concise style and simple format should encourage teachers to use it as a scholastic textbook.

The book consists of 6 main parts. …

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