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Illegal Drugs: A Complete Guide to their History, Chemistry, Use, and Abuse [Paperback]

Paul Gahlinger
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)

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Book Description

December 30, 2003 0452285054 978-0452285057 Updated

Does Ecstasy cause brain damage? Why is crack more addictive than cocaine? What questions regarding drugs are legal to ask in a job interview? When does marijuana possession carry a greater prison sentence than murder?

Illegal Drugs is the first comprehensive reference to offer timely, pertinent information on every drug currently prohibited by law in the United States.  It includes their histories, chemical properties and effects, medical uses and recreational abuses, and associated health problems, as well as addiction and treatment information.

Additional survey chapters discuss general and historical information on illegal drug use, the effect of drugs on the brain, the war on drugs, drugs in the workplace, the economy and culture of illegal drugs, and information on thirty-three psychoactive drugs that are legal in the United States, from caffeine, alcohol and tobacco to betel nuts and kava kava.

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Illegal Drugs: A Complete Guide to their History, Chemistry, Use, and Abuse + Drugs And Society, 11th Edition
Price for both: $127.80

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Editorial Reviews


a ton of information ... for anyone who wants the facts, I’d say this is the one book to find them. -- Bookviews --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

 Dr. Paul Gahlinger has been involved in drug research since 1984 and is a professor of medicine at the University of Utah.  He is a certified substance abuse medical review officer, an FAA aviation medical examiner, and a consultant for NASA at the Kennedy Space Center, and a passionate spokesperson on drug issues.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Plume; Updated edition (December 30, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452285054
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452285057
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 6.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #225,796 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Accurate, But Sometimes a Little Annoying March 1, 2002
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm not going to throw rocks at this book, because there is an incredible dearth of good information on this subject, and in the information in this book is excellent. But when Gahlinger says "complete," he is not kidding. This is a great resource for the sophisticated student of the subject, with history, sociology and legal issues as well as medical info, and lots of coverage of obscure drugs. For people whose interest in the subject which is either more casual or practical (e.g. "Is this stuff dangerous?" or "What's my kid getting into?") the book may be a little overwhelming.
I cannot stress how thoroughly superior this book is to Andrew Weil's "From Chocolate to Morphine."
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, readable review of the drug world September 4, 2006
By David
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is among the most readable reference books written. The history and relationships of abusable drugs are covered. Then, commonly abused drugs receive individual attention. The information seems accurate and factual, and the author is a University-based M.D.

Unfortunately, he doesn't always note the source of some quotes clearly in the text. This leaves one wondering, at times, if the quote was intended to demonstrate a truth or a misconception -- especially if the topic in question is controversial. There are only occasional, minor references to sensationalistic stories that leave one wondering if they're true.

The author's bias (having read 2/3rds of the book so far), seems to be that the "War on Drugs" has not worked, but he's not a promoter of drug use, noting frequently the enormously harmful effects of drugs on both individuals and society. He describes both the positive and negative uses of drugs.

While this book contains a great deal of medical info, it is written for an educated layman and is not filled with the arcane technical writing and jargon of typical medical texts. Highly recommended overall.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Accurate, No-nonsense Information January 28, 2002
In the vein of Andrew Weil and Winifred Rosen's From Chocolate to Morphine, Gahlinger's Illegal Drugs exemplifies a complete, `safety-first' approach to discussing illicit drugs and drug use in this country. Gahlinger goes beyond simply explaining the effects of various drugs on the body and mind; he explores the non-physical -but equally important- aspects of drug use/abuse, including extensive information on the legal consequences of involvement with drugs, drug testing in the workplace, economics of the drug trade, and the origins of U.S. drug policy. Perhaps most outstanding aspect of Gahlinger's book is his thorough, no-nonsense instructions for detecting a drug overdose and seeking efficient, timely medical care for the victim- knowledge that could, one day, be the deciding factor between the death or recovery of a friend or loved one. The accurate, rational information contained in Gahlinger's Illegal Drugs is an invaluable gift for any young adult today.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended!! December 13, 2004
After researching through the internet, many journals and other books, this is by far the most complete up-to date book out there on drugs. It includes how drugs effect the brain. It includes how the drugs were first introduced and how they evolved into other durgs. My favorite part about this author is that he sticks to the fact that everything has a purpose and everything can be abused. I think that the authors main intent of this book is safety. Also, another point to make is that this book does not focus only on illegal drugs as the title mentions. It talks about legal drugs that can lead to addiction as well. I could go on and on about how informative this book is. I recommend this book to anyone.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An easily accessed encyclopedia of basic information April 11, 2002
Illegal Drugs: A Complete Guide To Their History, Chemistry, Use And Abuse by Dr. Paul M. Gahlinger (Professor of Medicine, University of Utah) is a comprehensive, easily accessed encyclopedia of basic information surveying the vast variety of addictive, incapacitating, and/or deadly chemicals that have plagued human societies. From opiates to amphetamines, anti-drug laws and drug testing to legal psychoactive drugs such as alcohol, Illegal Drugs provides a wealth of information in a direct and easy-to-look-up matter, further aided by the extensive index. Written in terms the non-specialist general reader can easily understand Illegal Drugs is as complete and thorough a reference as one can find without consulting college-level textbooks or professional medical references. Highly recommended for personal, professional, academic, health agency, and community library pharmaceutical reference collections.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A decent overview April 10, 2006
It was a very resouceful book, very realistic and culturally aware book. This educated author is not your average Ph. D. author with typical and surface deep information. Paul Gahlinger is a medical doctor as well, and his knowledge was put to good use in this informative book. While no book is perfect, Dr. Gahlinger gives thorough and honest information about drugs and the drug culture.

Other titles by this author include Health for Pilots: A Complete Guide to FAA Medical Certification and Self-Care and Northern Manitoba from Forest to Tundra : A Canoeing Guide and Wilderness Companion.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most information and interesting September 20, 2005
By B-Frizz
This is by far one of the most intersting and information books that I have seen on illegal drugs (and a few that are legal). For any that have a desire to learn more about drugs, this is the book for you.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Just what I need for class
My professor is awesome and this is a really good book to keep for personal knowledge. I would recommend purchasing
Published 3 months ago by dee
5.0 out of 5 stars In depth and accurate
Very informative and well organized. A lot of good information. For anyone who is completely unfamiliar or the very experienced alike.
Published 4 months ago by Sean Strickland
5.0 out of 5 stars Commplete and Thorough
Dr. Gahlinger’s book is as complete as any book on drugs can be. It covers all of the aspects of the drug trade in the United States. Read more
Published 5 months ago by scientist99
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative
Very well written and very informative. The layout is easy to navigate and read. A must have for anyone experimenting or who needs to help their friends if they are experimenting!
Published 6 months ago by Christina N. Klyce
5.0 out of 5 stars Overall Good Book
William Reader
Book Review

Illegal Drugs was written by Paul Gahlinger, for he wanted to provide in-depth knowledge about illegal drugs. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Arlette Molina
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of illegal drugs.
Illegal drugs was a great way to start out the year. It was not only informative but also interesting. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Christopher
4.0 out of 5 stars entertaining and informative
I found this book to be a very well written and informative guide to the world of illegal drugs, giving more information on ones we already know and telling us about ones we've... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Golden Wyrm
5.0 out of 5 stars Information on drugs
I thought this book was very helpful in teaching me about the history of illegal drugs and adverse affect on the body. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Dante
5.0 out of 5 stars Book Review
Book review
The reason the author wrote this book was to educate people on the effects illegal drugs. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Gavin Loo
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading...
The author wrote this book for the purpose of spreading knowledge on drugs. He wanted readers to not only be aware of the dangers behind drugs, but the effects they have on users. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Serena Fritz-Cope
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