Drink, Drugs and Dependence: From Science to Clinical Practice

Drink, Drugs and Dependence: From Science to Clinical Practice

McCathie, G N

Drink, Drugs and Dependence: From Science to Clinical Practice

This book aims to review current perspectives on drink and drug dependency, by systematically drawing together knowledge from both research and practising professionals in a variety of fields. Beginning with a discussion of the widespread use of drugs in modern society, it highlights addiction and general dependency in the light of the increasing demands placed on caring professionals and society as a whole. Throughout the text, academic knowledge is well-balanced with case studies, providing useful links between theory and practice. The text as a whole appears to be written for a variety of professionals, although at times discussion of the effects of certain drugs requires a degree of physiological knowledge. There are a number of chapters dedicated to the discussion of approaches to dependency and the impact of drug use on society which appear accessible to a wider variety of readers.

The first part of the text is dedicated to alcohol use, and a sequence of six chapters provides a useful framework in which the social, psychological and physiological aspects of the drug are discussed. The authors highlight clearly the major impact that alcohol use has on society, and resist focusing solely on the problems of illicit drug use. The allocation of a considerable part of the text to the discussion of alcohol is appropriate, given the considerable pressures placed on professionals across services as a result of its use. By giving full consideration to such issues, these chapters serve as a useful resource for professionals working among individuals with alcohol problems. Because the discussion runs over a number of chapters and is written by a variety of authors, a range of perspectives are presented. As with the other sections of the book, the discussion of the physiological aspects may appear less accessible, but does give a good explanation of the biological effects of alcohol and provides the context in which the physiological effects of other drugs in the text will be discussed.

In line with the inclusion of alcohol because of its widespread use, the second section of the text discusses smoking and dependency. The subject is not given the same length of discussion as alcohol, and from a forensic perspective is unlikely to have the same practical value. The selection of chapters covers the main issues relating to smoking. The first two chapters are fairly scientific, focusing largely on the physical effects of smoking and providing a physiological view. The final chapter on smoking looks at helping people to give up; it covers key points, but fairly briefly, and may be of limited value to practitioners. Overall, the section presents an overview of smoking and a good basis for understanding dependency as a whole. Professionals whose work is focused on smoking are likely to require a fuller discussion of the topic, and in particular more practical guidance for working with clients. However, this is likely to provide a useful starting point for further exploration of the topic.

The remainder of the text considers addiction in relation to more controlled drugs, with specific chapters dedicated to ecstasy, heroin, cocaine and benzodiazepines. A clear overview is given of each of these drugs; the discussion is fairly brief, and professionals working in these areas are likely to require a deeper review. The chapter on ecstasy pays particular attention to the context in which the drug is used and helps present a balanced review of the likely harm caused by its use and the current limitations on our understanding of possible longterm effects. Social and physiological issues relating to the drug’s use are drawn together, encouraging the reader to avoid viewing these areas in isolation.

The chapter on ‘Adolescent drug use and health’ is particularly informative. It brings together a number of issues relating to drug use and considers the possible harm and health implications of drug use from a range of different perspectives. The author discusses drug use in a number of contexts, ranging from adolescents and illicit drug use to the elderly and problems that can occur from prescribed medication. The reader is encouraged to consider the possible health implications of drug use from a wider perspective, and to move away from stereotyped views of the problems associated with drug use.

The later sections of the text focus on the management of substance abuse and provide discussion of treatment, policing and prevention. These again offer a useful insight into key issues. There is a good discussion on the treatment of addictions, identifying the main aims and approaches of treatment, assessment and important considerations relating to the effectiveness of interventions. The section provides a good overview of key areas for consideration when working with individuals with drug or alcohol problems, and may be particularly valuable for professionals working in the field in ensuring that a variety of issues relating to an individual’s problems are taken into consideration before deciding on appropriate interventions.

The sections on the policing and prevention of drug abuse are fairly brief, but provide a good overview of topics and a starting point for further reading. The chapter on policing places drug use in the context of the law and discusses various Acts intended to control the use of various substances. There is some discussion of the relationship between drug use and crime, although this again is limited in content. The final section looks at prevention, providing a useful overview of this topic. Key strategies are discussed, considering the role of the individual, communities, policy makers and professionals, and are brought together to highlight the main initiatives used to target drug abuse. As with other chapters, this serves as a good overview and gives the reader an awareness of various approaches to drug use and dependency.

Drink, Drugs, and Dependence draws together the main areas of knowledge from research and practice in order to provide a good outline of drink and drug dependency. It discusses a number of substances and considers the problems of drink and drug use across a range of settings. Chapters are written by a variety of authors and presented in a logical form and from a number of different perspectives. The discussion’s focus on the physiological effects of drug use gives a good foundation for understanding the nature of dependency and is well-balanced with social and psychological aspects, giving the reader a breadth of knowledge on the subject. The text is ambitious in attempting to discuss a wide variety of areas relating to drug use, so on occasion coverage of a topic is fairly limited and may warrant fuller discussion. The book provides a good overview of key issues and will be a useful starting point for many professionals in understanding topics associated with drink and drug dependency. The discussion of a wide range of issues from a range of differing perspectives will also make it a useful resource for individuals from wide variety of backgrounds.

Books received for review

Therapeutic Interventions for Forensic Mental Health Nurses. Alyson M Kettles, Phil Woods and Mick Collins (2002). Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Paperback ISBN 1-85302-949-1.

Children’s Testimony: A Handbook of Psychological Research and Forensic Practice. Edited by Helen L. Westcott, Graham M. Davies and Ray H. C. Bull (2002). Chichester: Wiley. ISBN 0-471-49173-X.

Psychology and Law 2nd edn. Andreas Kapardis (2003). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN (paperback) 0-521-53161-6, (hardback) 0-521-82530-X.

Early Prevention of Adult Antisocial Behaviour. David P Farrington and Jeremy W Coid (2003). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-65194-8 (hardback).

Youth Offending and Restorative justice: Implementing Reform in Youth justice. Adam Crawford and Tim Newburn (2003). Devon: Willan Publishing. ISBN (paperback) 1-84392-011-5, (hardback) 1-84392-012-3.

Copyright Pavilion Publishing (Brighton) Ltd. Feb 2004

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