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A Primer of Drug Action: A Concise, Non-Technical Guide to the Actions, Uses, and Side Effects of Psychoactive Drugs Paperback – April 1, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Holt Paperbacks; Rev Upd edition (April 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080507158X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805071580
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #904,744 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A complete, unbiased, and professional review of psychoactive drugs."—American Journal of Psychiatry

"A concise, easily readable guide to actions, uses, and side effects of psychoactive drugs . . . This book covers general principles of each class of psychoactive drugs and specific information about each drug within that class. It looks at mechanisms of action, theories about etiologies of major psychological disorders and rationale for drug treatment, and uses and limitations of psychopharmacology. It also includes basic explanations of pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. Drugs of compulsive use are emphasized. Each of the 20 chapters examines current and future directions in drug research (including drugs not yet available for clinical use). An interesting new chapter on herbal medications has been added. A brief glossary is included. This is a bold attempt to capture the explosion of knowledge about psychoactive substances . . . This is a good, comprehensive review that has organized and presented a massive amount of often disparate information into a comprehensible, easy to use book."—Nancy Schell, MD (Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center), Doody Review Services

"Since the primer's first edition 20 years ago, much has been learned about psychoactive drugs, their use in the treatment of mental disorders, and their potential for misuse. Chapters cover principles of drug action, properties of specific drugs, pharmacotherapy for various disorders, and societal issues. The primer's goal is to present information in clear language, free of jargon, for students and general readers, though scholarly syntax is the norm throughout."— Book News

"This in-depth survey of the effects of psychoactive drugs on the brain and behavior includes an expanded discussion of drug action and new discoveries in psychopharmacology since 1975. Surprisingly simple language lend insights to details on the actions, uses and side effects of these drugs. A valuable . . . reference addition."— Midwest Book Review

About the Author

Robert M. Julien, M.D., Ph.D., is staff anesthesiologist at St. Vincent Hospital and Medical Center in Portland, Oregon.

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Customer Reviews

This is the third edition of this book that I own.
M. Wolf
I strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in getting real facts about psychoactive drugs.
D. A Flory
It is an easy read; Julien's writing is incredibly clear.
MacKenzie

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By MacKenzie on March 14, 2005
Format: Paperback
The 10th Edition of Robert M. Julien's Primer of Drug Action is excellent both as a reference and as a primary text on psychoactive drugs.

The book is designed for readers with a passing knowledge of synaptic transmission and basic neuroanatomy. As such, his explanations of these foundation topics are lacking, but a text like Neuroscience: Exploring the Brain or a similar introductory text would give a clearer, more drawn out explanation for the beginning student.

Using the book as a reference guide is simple because the index is detailed and simple to navigate. Quickly finding the chemical structure or learning about some of the side effects of one of any number of drugs shouldn't be a problem. While this book is likely outside the realm of helpful for the casual browser, it is still a useful guide, particularly to, say, a student with a chemistry background.

I cannot stress how excellent this text is as a primary source. It is an easy read; Julien's writing is incredibly clear. He writes with an almost tongue-in-cheek kind of humor that make the writing come to life much more than the majority of science books.

The book can be read out of order without any losses to the information contained therein because each chapter is capable of standing alone. The diagrams are large and clearly labeled and explained. The glossary could benefit from work, as it is brief, but I've found Julien's writing to be clear enough to keep me from using it particularly often.

In the end, Julien knows what he's talking about and over the course of ten editions of this book, has crafted a tight resource for any chemist, neuroscientist or curious soul who wants to know more about psychoactive drugs and the brain.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Avery Boyce on January 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
I became aware of this book because it was used as the textbook for a recent upper level biopsychology seminar. It was one of the best books I have ever had to use for a class, and I believe is an extremely valuable reference for anyone with interest in the way drugs affect the brain. The writing is clear, concise, informative, interesting, and complete. Each chapter gives an overview of the family of drugs and then goes into detail on a few of the most common examples. Everything from delivery to half-life to molecular action to side effects is covered. Many of my friends went out and bought the book after looking at my copy to learn about either their recreational habits or prescription drugs. A background in biology would be useful for understanding all of the information, but there are also appendices which explain the basics.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By M. Wolf VINE VOICE on September 4, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the third edition of this book that I own. As a dual diagnosis counselor I have found this book to be an invaluable resource. The psychopharmacology of both drugs of abuse and mental health medications are explained in a detailed manner that is very accessible. I find it a valuable resource in helping me educate clients about drug action.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By D. A Flory on April 22, 2004
Format: Paperback
I strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in getting real facts about psychoactive drugs. Don't be fooled by the low price or the fact that it is "nontechnical." (All that means is that psychiatrists can read it without digging though their biochem notes!)
This is a real medical-grade book that gives a very complete and easy-to-understand introduction to the drugs used to treat psychiatric disorders.
Don't waste time with popular books that either claim psychoactive drugs will solve all our problems, or alternately, that they are useless brain-damaging poisons.
*A Primer...* is the most honest, readable introduction to the psychotherapeutics I know of. It is essential reading for the informed patient or caregiver.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By M. J. Pratum on March 29, 2006
Format: Paperback
This book is an excellent synthesis of pharmacology and research based comments on drug pharmacology. To the point, not a bunch of extra gobbeltigook text to wade through like in Uppers, Downers and Allarounders. I work in the addiction field and this book covers the topic well in terms of neurochemistry as well as effects of drugs and their effects and legitmate uses, as well as some history on them. It also covers pharmacological treatment of drug addictions, again something that I use in my field. I use this book as a reference in my work. The references cited in the book are extensive and they are noted (numerically) after each statement in the text, which I prefer. I have often looked up the references for more information, although usually this text provides the information I need without a bunch of parenthetical B.S.

The reason I did not rate this book 5 stars is because I have a paperback version and the binding fell apart. I feel a paperback should not fall apart unless I got it used at a garage sale. So I am looking to see if they have a hard bound version of this book.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By dan snyder on July 21, 2000
Format: Paperback
I first read a friend's copy of this book, which he had used as a text in a psychopharmacology course. i soon acquired my own copy, and a number of my friends have read it--it's a very accessible introduction to mind-affecting drugs, with generally good pointers into more specific literature. Julien's strengths are in the area of legitimate, prescription use; i feel that the recreational sections are somewhat less complete. the chapter on psychedelics is, unfortunately, nigh-on-useless--errors and omissions here mar an otherwise excellent book. this book has been an indespensible reference for me.
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