Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Alison Battersby is a consultant addiction psychiatrist working Plymouth. She is actively engaged in work on national policy with the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Academic Secretary of her Faculty and an elected member of the executive committee. Her current interest is in recovery and she sits on Recovery Group UK.
This is an authoritative work that covers the breadth of addiction. It is divided into five main parts: foundations of addiction, assessment of addiction, substances of abuse, special populations and treatments for addictions. It is a book that is worth reading for anyone working in the field of addiction and therein almost lies a problem. It is always difficult for an edited book to read as a cohesive work and this is no different. Some chapters –, e.g. “Historical and social context of psychoactive substance use disorders” – will hold the interest of a lay reader. The chapter on opioids seems pitched at readers with less knowledge than those reading the chapter on cocaine and stimulants. The chapter “Neurobiology of substance dependence: implications for treatment” was excellent, unsurprising when you see the authors, and certainly taxed my little grey cells. My only other minor criticism would be that occasionally the same information is repeated in more than one chapter, such as methods to evade positive results on urine testing.
However, these comments in no way detract from what is a magnificent book. I would particularly wish to point readers in the direction of Part IV, Special populations. This is probably the most comprehensive review of this area that I have seen in a comprehensive textbook available at this price. Addiction is covered from the workplace, in the context of law, in older adults, those with HIV or psychiatric disorders, through to gambling, pain, minority populations and women. The chapter on co‐occurring disorders is particularly good at summarising where the evidence – and sometimes lack of it – is in this somewhat contentious area. The discussion about sequential, parallel and integrated treatment models which cause such controversy is thoroughly debated.
Part V, which looks at treatments for addictions, again covers the breadth of the field and is another comprehensive review of the area, with separate chapters for different therapies, including working with adolescents. The name Thomas R. Kosten appears in “Psychopharmacological treatments” and this unsurprisingly results in another excellent chapter. It is exciting and cutting edge with discussion of cocaine vaccine, but also a much welcomed discussion on the interface with psychiatric comorbidity such as attention‐deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Potential development in the treatment of alcohol disorders are discussed in good detail.
So, should you read this book? Undoubtedly, the answer has to be a resounding yes. The key is to view it as a mezze and assemble your own meal, depending on your level of expertise and interests. It would be very difficult for someone to not find chapters that interest them but in some ways what is excellent about this book is those subjects that do not routinely cross your path in clinical practice. There are certainly areas where I will review my practice: I was unaware of the pharmacotherapies available for oniomania or compulsive buying! In summary, that is not a bad recommendation for a book.