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49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified 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
on September 4, 2006
Format: PaperbackVerified 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
Format: Paperback
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
on December 13, 2004
Format: Paperback
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
on April 12, 2002
Format: Paperback
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
on April 10, 2006
Format: Paperback
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
on September 20, 2005
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 2007
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This is a great, informative book about both illegal and legal drugs from A to Z. It also goes into depths about the whole drug war. After reading it, I can see what a scam the 'War on Drugs' was and still is today. It is all about the media twisting our thoughts into what they and people in power want us to believe. Reading this book encouraged me to learn more about the subject. It turns out that the whole war on drugs was largely started due to Harry Anslinger, the first Drug Czar, being a racist. He hated Chinese immigrants who used opium, Mexicans who used marijuana, and African Americans who used cocaine. Of course, Caucasian Americans also used these drugs, but that's not the demographic he focused on.

I actually used to believe all the crap that the government feeds us about how bad drugs are and how they destroy communities and what not. This may be true for a small percentage of cases, but you have to ask yourself, what about the 200,000 people that die every year from alcohol and the over 400,000 that die every year from tobacco, and those drugs are legal. Furthermore, even if illegal drugs are "bad" (by the way, combined, they only kill 5,000-8,000 people per year according to this book), who has the right to tell anybody what they can put in their own bodies? Who has the right to lock somebody up when the only person they endanger is their self? Illegal drugs, just like legal drugs, have potential for abuse and because of this, they should be treated as a health epidemic and not a crime. The government should spend their money teaching people about drugs instead of throwing them in jail. And when I say teaching people about drugs, I don't mean inflate the facts and lie to people, I mean actually tell the truths and let them make their own decisions.

A century ago, people would probably have cringed at the idea of our government exercising so much authority over us. The bottom line is that the whole thing is unconstitutional; not that that seems to make a difference in this day and age. People need to read books like this one and learn how we are being manipulated and having our personal liberties eroded before it goes too far. Just look at the Patriot Act and this whole North American Union concept.

Buy this book, read it, and let the facts speak for themselves.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 8, 2007
Format: Paperback
The subject of illegal drug abuse in the US and all around the world is explored in this book. The book provides thorough information about chemical charateristics, type of drug, street names, origin, the ethnic group or race the drug is associated with, synthetic forms of the drug as well as an interesting history of the particular drug and their use dated back centuries ago!

Overall I found this book an informative, engaging read and would strongly recommend it to anyone!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 3, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This is a book everyone needs to read. I got it for my paper on neurotransmiters( A grade). It is so entertaining that I had to buy it. At first I borow it from the library but I got so much into the diferent drugs that I forgot about my paper. Any parent with teenkids this is a must to have book. Money well spent.
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