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Book Review

Substance Abuse Disorders: Evidence and Experience

Richard J. Frances, MD

Published: April 15, 2012

Substance Abuse Disorders: Evidence and Experience

edited by Hamid Ghodse, Helen Herrman, Mario Maj, and Norman Sartorius. In book series: Evidence and Experience in Psychiatry. Wiley-Blackwell, New York, New York, 2011, 307 pages, $90.95 (hardcover).

Substance-related disorders, including tobacco abuse and dependence, are among the world’s leading causes of morbidity and mortality, yet are underdiagnosed and undertreated. This book provides a comprehensive review of substance abuse disorders by many of the world’s leading experts in the field, and its contributors have a truly broad international representation. Substance problems are approached through a global analysis of epidemiology, prevention, and treatment and management of drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and tobacco abuse. The text succinctly presents and comments on the globally reviewed research and scientific data and the implications of applying evidence to public policy and clinical practice with regard to abusable substances. At 300 pages, it can only summarize and highlight data. Interested readers will get an introduction to a field with a vast research literature and many longer and more comprehensive textbooks. It is becoming increasingly apparent that an international perspective has special value as globalization of economics, politics, and medicine can lead to both problems and benefits.

This is a book that literally reviews itself as well as providing a worldwide database and a literature search using data obtained in part through the efforts of the World Health Organization. The book has 3 sections, 1 each for tobacco, alcohol, and drugs, with reviews of epidemiology, treatment, management, and prevention. The chapters are clearly and authoritatively written, and each section is followed by commentaries that add the experience of experts to the evidence presented in the chapters. Commentaries are written by such luminaries as Pedro Ruiz, MD; Griffith Edwards, MD; and Nady el Guebaly, MD, to name a few.

The addiction field is still young, and though a vast amount of research has been done, relative to the huge impact on world health we need to learn much more about ways to effectively prevent, diagnose, and treat substance-related problems. Unfortunately, we do not yet have enough research to provide adequately a basis for differential therapeutics in the addiction field. Considering the vast size of the problem, interest by the pharmaceutical industry in drug development for substance problems has been disappointing. This book does emphasize (1) the need to apply what we already do know, (2) the importance of evidence-based research to better public policies aimed at prevention, and (3) treatment methods that could be applied worldwide.

Richard J. Frances, MD

Author affiliation: New York University Medical School, New York.

Potential conflicts of interest: Dr Frances provides expert testimony for a variety of cases and received small book royalties.

Volume: 73

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