The Encyclopedia of Addictive Drugs will save readers many hours of time that would otherwise be spent tracking down basic facts in science journals and libraries. This book is useful to a wide variety of persons—from a student doing a term paper to reporters preparing a story, from parents reading that story to a narcotics law enforcement officer needing extra information for a public presentation.
In writing this book the approach has been multidisciplinary, meaning that perspectives from several fields of research have been pulled together. The same substance may mean different things to a chemist, a biologist, a physician, or an anthropologist. Thousands of scientific reports were sifted for information and concepts that will be meaningful to readers seeking basic information about specific substances and about drugs in general.
The core of this book is an alphabetical listing of substances. Some are not ordinarily thought of as drugs, but all have been misused in ways indistinguishable from drug abuse. While information in the individual listings and elsewhere may refer to various physical effects, such information does not constitute medical advice. Anyone with a medical difficulty needs to consult a medical practitioner, not this book.
In addition to meaty information about what drugs do, this book includes trivia that might interest, for example, a student preparing a report or a homework assignment. For instance, some individual listings of drugs mention little-known military usage that might intrigue teens interested in the armed forces. Some experiments are mentioned not because they are necessary to know about, but because they might add depth to a term paper or inspire a student to pursue a new angle. Material about effects on pregnancy is inherently important but might also have special interest for female readers.
In addition to alphabetical listings of substances, this book includes a section about drug types in which substances are arranged in general categories, such as stimulants, with further grouping by classes of stimulants (amphetamine, anorectic, cocaine, pyridine alkaloid). Such an arranging of drugs puts them in a broader context of information. A chemist knows that a certain element has particular characteristics because of its place in the periodic table, and a biologist knows that a certain organism will have particular characteristics because of its species classification. A reader of this book can automatically glean information about an individual substance because of the way it is classified. For example, everything said in this book about stimulants applies to the class of stimulants known as amphetamines; everything said about amphetamines applies to the particular drug methamphetamine. (Substances printed in bold have main entries in this book's alphabetical section.) A reader familiar with basics about stimulants and who only needs a few specifics about methamphetamine can quickly find those details. A reader who needs to understand more about the general nature of stimulants can find that background information as well. Persons desiring to go deeper than the summaries of scientific information in alphabetical entries can consult reliable sources listed at the end of each entry. Many of those sources list still more references.
This book concludes with a guide to finding general information about drugs. Here readers are directed not only to ostensibly neutral sources of information but also to sources taking explicit and differing stances on various aspects of drug use.
The index lists street names and other alternate names (used in various communities at various times), giving page numbers where information can be found about those drugs.
Descriptions of individual drugs in the alphabetical section of this book present the scientific consensus about those substances, based mainly upon reports from refereed science journals. A refereed journal is one that does not merely accept an author's word but instead has the articles critiqued and approved by assorted experts prior to publication. Articles in such journals are fundamental sources of scientific information. Although findings reported in this book come from scientific investigations around the world, not everyone agrees with what scientists discover about drugs. Sometimes scientists themselves disagree with one another. The history of science is filled with detection of errors, and future research will no doubt provide new understandings of these drugs. This book, however, presents scientific consensus concerning these drugs as the twenty-first century begins.
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