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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Nishad J. Nadkarni, MD (Rush University Medical Center)
Description: This book attempts to integrate current neurobiological thinking about substance abuse and dependence with a rational attempt to determine drug policy on a societal level.
Purpose: The field of addictionology is rife with subjective opinion and "soft" data, which often is the traditional basis for formulating costly interventions for drug addiction. The stated purpose of this book is to objectify these data and present a more scientific approach to the problem.
Audience: The author feels this book is written at a level appropriate for mental health practitioners, both medically and nonmedically trained, who deal with addicts on a regular basis. However, a significant level of oversimplification makes it unlikely that this target audience will be reached adequately.
Features: As a second edition, this work is supported by current references although they are somewhat general in nature and scanty in quantity. A number of line drawings and schematic diagrams are useful in clarifying difficult concepts of neurotransmission. Overall, a somewhat "splashy" and sensationalistic appearance, both visually and in terms of writing style, detracts from the potential seriousness of the subject matter.
Assessment: Unfortunately, this book generally falls significantly short of its stated objectives. Specifically, overinclusion of impressionistic and biased opinion on the part of the author does not lend credence to the goal of rational policy making. Equally problematic is the oversimplification of the scientific data on neurobiology that is presented in the first two sections of the book. Several other writings in this field are much less biased and offer a more clear presentation of fact.