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on 2 June 2012
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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on 29 July 2012
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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on 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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on 4 June 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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on 3 September 2012
Forget the rest, this should be the starting point for everyone learning about drugs;as a GP specialising in substance misuse, this explodes all the myths better than any other book Ive read. If only the public knew all the misinformation the government feeds them.
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on 12 January 2016
Just for the record, I agree with the thrust of this book, and most of Professor Nutt's arguments.

That said, it needs to be made clear that this is a book that, in many ways, lays out an argument for legaliszation (and even acceptance) of drugs. It does not really discuss dissenting point of view. There is certainly a place for such a book, but readers should also familiarise themselves with the whole debate, not just Professor Nutt's view, if they want to come to an informed decision.

The informative parts of the book (such as information on various drugs) are very good. I cannot comment on the historical aspects, but the scientific stuff is interesting, seemingly accurate, and pitched at the correct level for a lay reader. All in all, this is an excellent source of information.

However, in many ways the information presented is quite selective. One specific factual criticism I have is the way the book deals with the link between cannabis use and schizophrenia/psychosis. The evidence for a causative link is REALLY downplayed, and some extremely weak evidence against such a link is presented as more decisive that it should be. An individual who chooses to smoke cannabis, as is their right, should be made aware of the risk of mental health problems, and downplaying it does them a disservice.

All in all though, this is a fantastic book for someone who wants to research recreational drugs and the debate surrounding them. Just don't let it be the only title on your reading list if you want a balanced picture.
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on 11 August 2012
Fantastic book. Easily accessible for any sort of reader, so don't be put off if you have no scientific background.

Section on the harms of alcohol is particularly enlightening.

Only criticism is that his prose is slightly dry- a minor point that is entirely forgivable given he is an academic rather than a journalist.
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on 26 June 2014
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 educate someone on drugs (especially children) PLEASE BE SURE YOUR FACTS ARE CORRECT, AND READ THIS BOOK

If someone is trying to educate you on drugs IT'S WORTH CHECKING THEIR FACTS BY READING THIS BOOK

If you don't do "drugs", but DO drink alcohol and/or smoke PLEASE READ THIS BOOK
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on 12 November 2012
This was an eye-opening book for me.

I could not imagine so much distortion between science and politics. It really made me think.

Explanations on the way drugs work seemed a bit simplistic, but that was probably due to my biology training. Everyone will understand and banefit from it.

Still, the book is absolutely irreplaceable of its analysis regarding policy making. It connects history, media, morals and politics and offers well-founded critique to modern legislation.

Besides all that the book gives good advice how to educate children about these substances and how better to understand addiction.

Wonderful read.
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on 6 October 2012
This book has been such a pleasure to read. It continues to be extremely interesting all the way through. It is not just a book which lists and describes drugs. It delves into the history of drug taking all over the world and how our views, methods and opinions have changed over the years. The chapters on addiction are particularly interesting and insightful. It doesn't matter if you are pro or anti drugs. That is not what this book is about. It is a factual book with no bias in either direction and I highly recommend it to anyone.
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