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Book Review   |    
Drugs, the Brain, and Behavior: The Pharmacology of Abuse and Dependence
Bruce Gaulin, M.S.Pharm.
Psychiatric Services 2000; doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.51.4.541
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by John Brick, Ph.D., and Carlton K. Erickson, Ph.D.; Binghamton, New York, Haworth Medical Press, 1998, $49.95

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In his preface, the senior author notes that this book was developed from his more than 12 years of teaching at the Rutgers University Summer Schools of Alcohol and Drug Studies as well as from graduate lectures elsewhere. The authors focus on the drugs that generated the most interest during these lectures.

The brief introduction defines the book's goal as providing a solid foundation of information about how drugs affect the brain and behavior. The reader is advised that although the book can be used as a quick reference for specific questions, it is best read sequentially, like a story. Indeed, most of the book does tell an unfolding story in which the chapters build on each other.

The first five chapters provide the foundation the authors intended. The opening chapter on the concept of drug action blends into the development of our current understanding of the relationship between brain function and behavior. Following logically are a chapter on pharmacokinetics, which includes much useful information about drugs of addiction, and chapters on aspects of neuroanatomy and neurophysiology that are important to an understanding of drug action.

The book then proceeds to cover several drugs of abuse, with chapters on alcohol, cocaine and other stimulants, opioids, and marijuana. Each chapter contains a wealth of information about the use and abuse of these drugs. The following three chapters review anxiolytic, antidepressant, and antipsychotic medications. Each begins with a quick overview of the disorders these drugs are used to treat and then describes the basic pharmacology. Unfortunately, these three chapters seem somewhat out of place in this otherwise excellent book about drug use and dependence.

Drugs, the Brain, and Behavior is suitable for nearly any professional in the mental health or addiction treatment fields. The authors make considerable effort to explain concepts in lay terms. Even so, newcomers to this area of study may find some of the nomenclature challenging. The book is particularly well suited to those working directly with substance abuse patients, such as counselors, nurses, psychologists, and social workers. It is not a manual explaining the intricacies of addiction medicine, but rather an overview that will give readers a better understanding of important concepts in this field.

Mr. Gaulin is clinical pharmacist at Worcester (Mass.) State Hospital.




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