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From The CriticsReviewer: Christopher J. Graver, PhD, ABPP-CN(Madigan Healthcare System)
Description: Drug and alcohol use is fairly prevalent in certain populations with often underappreciated physiological consequences. It is important for practitioners to screen for drug and alcohol abuse and recognize the contributions these substances can make to the diagnostic and treatment conceptualization. This book provides just such information for a variety of substances and their medical consequences.
Purpose: The purpose is to provide a comprehensive reference on the medical consequences of the most commonly abused recreational drugs, including alcohol, prescription medications, and over-the-counter drugs (OTCs).
Audience: Any clinicians working with patients who abuse substances are the intended readers. Students of medicine, psychology, and the neurosciences will also find this of interest. The editor has a reputation as a leading authority in this field and has brought together other experts.
Features: The book covers most major drugs, including stimulants, inhalants, narcotics, hallucinogens, and steroids. OTC medications, such as antihistamines and ephedrine, are also covered as are commonly used substances, such as tobacco and caffeine. Each chapter begins with an overview, is divided into sections and subsections to clearly delineate the progression of the topic, and concludes with a summary section. The informative chapters include tables, figures, and illustrations when appropriate. Although a few chapters are dedicated to the neuropsychological, neurochemical, and neuroanatomical consequences of alcohol and drug use, the majority are focused on peripheral medical consequences. While the inclusion of neurological topics is welcomed, it is unclear why they are dealt with separately. Much more complete coverage would have been achieved by integrating a neuropsychological section into each of the medical chapters, as many of the substances discussed in the later chapters are absent from the initial neurological chapters. The other weakness is the lack of updating in some chapters. For example, one section on the neuropsychological effects of cocaine contains no references more recent than 1999 and another section refers to a "recent study" dating to 1995 (13 years might be "recent" in geological time, but not in today's biomedical pursuits).
Assessment: This is a handy reference to have on hand. Although the content and references really should be more up to date in this second edition, the book remains the single best resource for information on the medical consequences of drug and alcohol abuse. The well organized layout makes any topic easy to reference in just a few minutes. Clinicians should keep this readily available.