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Drugs - Without the Hot Air: Minimising the Harms of Legal and Illegal Drugs [Paperback]

David Nutt
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
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Book Description

31 May 2012
Prof David Nutt was appointed chairman of the UK Government's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), in 2008. In 2009 he published an editorial in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, comparing the harms caused by horse-riding with the effect of taking ecstasy or cannabis. As a result of this and other comments on the harms caused by legal and illegal drugs, he was sacked by the then Home Secretary. In "Drugs - without the hot air", Prof Nutt puts the case for an evidence-based scientific approach to drugs. In straightforward languages for the lay person, he explains what drugs are, how they affect the body and the mind, and why people take them and get addicted to them. He shows how we can quantify the overall harms of a drug, addressing issues from direct danger of death, through to environmental, financial and family factors, to obtain a true indication of the overall effect of a drug. Then, working from the facts, he recommends how society ought to address drugs and drug-taking, to minimize the harms at every level. * How do drugs act on the mind and body? * Which is the worst drug of all? * What is addiction? How do drugs become addictive? How can addiction be treated? * Why did Native Indians never get addicted to smoking but we do? * Drugs of the future: alcohol substitutes. * cognition enhancers for memory intellect. * Why did Queen Victoria take cannabis and cocaine? * Does making drugs illegal work? If not, should drugs be sold in supermarkets instead? * Psychedelics for creativity: should scientists take LSD? (Kary Mullis and Francis Crick did.) * Performance drugs in sport. * Where to find help if you need it. * What should I tell my children about drugs? And when? * How much does the War on Drugs cost? What unintended consequences does it have? Is it effective? * Not all drugs harm equally. We need to quantify the harms of each and every drug. Then we can make informed decisions regarding our choice of lifestyle, and policymakers can take a rational approach to legislation on alcohol, cocaine, heroin, tobacco etc. A potential deep rift between governments' need to appear tough on drugs on the one hand, and a rational evidence-based approach to drugs legislation and treatment, could have very damaging consequences.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: UIT Cambridge (31 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906860165
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906860165
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 13 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,391 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


"the most sensible book about drugs you'll read this year" ... "Nutt is both committed to rigorous, evidence-based policy and to clear, no-nonsense prose that makes complex subjects comprehensible" ... "a book that everyone should read." Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing, June 2012 "Finally, Drug Education Gets Real" ... "There's an inherent danger in any sector of education: if the teachings fail to measure up to the truth, then we'll be paving the way for a deep distrust and a greater apathy. With this in mind, it is of tremendous enthusiasm that we welcome Professor Nutt's book: Drugs - Without the Hot Air" ... Huffington Post, 31-May-2012 "Drug bans hamper brain research, says neuroscientist" ... "Bans on drugs like ecstasy, magic mushrooms and LSD have hampered scientific research on the brain and stalled the progress of medicine as much as George Bush's ban on stem cell research did, a leading British drug expert said on Thursday." ... Reuters, LONDON

About the Author

David Nutt is professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College, London. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, Royal College of Psychiatrists and the Academy of Medical Sciences, the president of the British Neuroscience Association and vice-president of the European Brain Council. He was Chair of the ACMD's Technical Committee for seven years, and became chairman of the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs in 2010.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
59 of 61 people found the following review helpful
Its not often that books come along written by professional people who really know their stuff, that are readable and accessible by the ordinary person who reads books.

What is fascinating about this book is not only that it explores in pretty good detail the social and pharmacological areas of drug taking, but that it confidently exposes the political dimension as well, and, in particular, the deep divide between the overt aims of the ant-drug legislation - reducing harm to society caused by recreational drug abuse - and the covert aims - essentially remaining electable in a media spun hysteria of moral indignation.

And so we discover that the knee jerk political response are probably the cause of at least more than a little of the harm,that drug taking does..

If you are concerned about drugs, or are thinking of taking them, or indeed - let's be honest, you DO take them, this is essential reading. The very real dangers are frankly discussed, and the very unreal dangers are debunked.

I can give no higher praise than to say that if I ruled the world,. Mt Nutt would be put in charge of framing a rational policy to deal with binge drinking and recreational drug abuse. His solutions might shock and cause moral indignation, but I am sure they would be effective in reducing the social and individual harm associated with these activities.

Sadly in a world where policy is based, not on facts and explaining them to the public, but by knee jerk response to media generated perceptions, there is little hope of this ever happening.

But if you have got as far as reading this review, this is a subject you are patently interested in, this book has to be some kind of milestone in our understanding of the relationship between individuals, the drugs they take, and the society and politics of our time. It's an absolute must-read.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fair and honest 31 May 2012
In 2008 Nutt was appointed president of the government's Advisory Council on the unlawful use of drugs (ACMD). A year later he published a controversial article in a magazine that compares the risks of horse riding to taking ecstasy. As a result (and also because of other comments about the damage caused by drugs - legal and illegal)he was fired by the Home Secretary.
His book "Drugs - without the hot air", published during the controversy that emerged from his dismissal, explains that all drugs - from tobacco to heroin - are harmful.

Likewise, it shows the government's hypocrisy: while on one hand they try to take a hard line on drugs, on the other hand they try to legalise them.

He explains in depth how drugs affect us and why we take them, and how society should face drugs and their consumption to minimise the damage.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Drop the taboos and start to be rational. 1 Aug 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Prof. Nutt firstly gives us an introduction to who he is and his motivations for writing the book, he then goes on to explain the comparative techniques and the resulting order of harmfulness of drugs. Over the next chapters drugs (both legal and illegal) are looked at in more depth, history of the drug is given along with several case studies. The benefits of the drugs (i.e. medicinal potential) are also briefly examined.

Every factual claim made is backed up by evidence as you would expect from a scientist. He also suggests at ways legislation could be improved but does not come up with one strict plan, rather several ideas.

You should read this book if you want to be informed about anything to do with drugs.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent read. 29 July 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Professor Nutt is an expert authority in the area of recreational drug use and addiction and in his book provides accessible information to a lay audience. It is a pity that the UK governments have not utilised this expertise to develop an evidence based approach to drug policies. The book is well written and perfectly pitched for its target audience. I suggest that it would be a useful book for any secondary school library which would help provide useful information about recreational substances to young people, enabling them to make better informed choices about sustance use and lifestyle. I hope that the book finds a wider audiance and through that enables greater public debate about the current and future roles of recreational and life enhancing substances. Over all, a great book and a great read.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sensible, informative and easy to read 4 Jun 2012
Government policy on drugs is nonsense and this book explains not just how it is nonsense but also how we got into this ridiculous situation. The facts are not always clear in the drugs debate, if only because government policy, driven largely by reaction to biased media reporting, makes research almost impossible. However, there is a great deal we do know.

This book explains the basics of how we are affected by drugs, both legal and illegal, and the different ways they do harm. Then it goes on to evaluate sensibly a range of options for minimising that harm, including different treatments to help addicts quit or manage their condition, and practical ways to reduce demand and supply. Current government policy, both in terms of law and government spending, is clearly non-optimal and Nutt explores the complex historical, geographical, economic and cultural factors which have go us here, and where we need to change to make sensible progress.

Finally, there is some excellent advice which everybody should read before they start taking drugs of any kind.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read. Undeniable facts that unfortunately many people are...
If you are interested in drugs PLEASE READ THIS BOOK

If you know someone who is interested in drugs PLEASE ADVISE THEM TO READ THIS BOOK

If you are going to... Read more
Published 16 days ago by Joe Murawski
5.0 out of 5 stars Very nice book
An extremely nice book that gives a hole new perspecitve to the view of drugs and how they affect us.
Published 1 month ago by Leo
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book by a man who needs a lot more recognition!
Iv always liked david nutt, he seem like a very sensible unbiased person, he speaks sense and sadly the government are too bloody stupid to listen to him,

If you are... Read more
Published 3 months ago by D3RF
5.0 out of 5 stars just get it
Fantastic, no-bs book. Suitable for concerned parents and teens of all stripes. It'd be hard to recommend this book more.
Published 3 months ago by J R Wilson
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book
Interesting and I use it for my interventions. Good read interesting Information and packed with knowledge. Advised to buy it
Published 3 months ago by Menace
5.0 out of 5 stars All you need to know about drugs
A thoroughly well researched informative book based on the author's experience and research.
A very forward thinking challenge to current laws which are not helpful in... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Monty
5.0 out of 5 stars A muse tsensvits read for everyone
This book is a must read for everyone ,drug takers,non drug takers ,parent ,teenagers .A easy book to understand and take in. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Ricky
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read
What a relief to read a book that is written by a scieintist that knows what he is talking about. This should be on all schools reading lists.
Published 4 months ago by S. L. Stewart
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and factual from the guy who was sacked by the government...
It seems a very long time ago since I purchased this product and to be honest I cannot say that it has stayed in the memory especially, but I don't recall any issues with it.
Published 4 months ago by Stuart King
5.0 out of 5 stars Independent and unbiased info
Highly intelligible and accessible information- you don't need to be a scientist to understand it. An invaluable guide for anyone who wants the truth about recreational drugs.
Published 5 months ago by P. Taberner
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