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Book Review: Drugs and Alcohol 101 by William and Debbie Shooter

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Drugs and Alcohol 101 bills itself as “Easy, Fun Reading, Nonjudgmental Guide for Teens, First Time Drivers, College Bound Students and Parents.” This fact-filled guide leads the reader through the maze of drug facts and fiction, types of drugs, effects of drugs, and the history and purpose of various drugs. Drugs covered include: tobacco, alcohol, Ritalin, OxyContin, heroin, marijuana, inhalants, crack, and LSD.

There are warnings about drug use and driving, a history of natural drugs, the influence of genetics, and overviews of some of the more popular illegal substances. The book begins with “History and Controversy of Drugs in the United States,” discussing, among other things, sports and drugs.

All of the information presented is easy to understand, and it would do parents well to read this book and be better prepared for what their children are facing. Having formerly worked in a crisis intervention center for teenagers, I didn’t think I would find any surprises in Drugs and Alcohol 101, but I was wrong. Discovering a new way to abuse alcohol did not make my day, but it did make me better informed.

Drugs and Alcohol 101 is divided into three sections, as well as introductory and reference material. The first handles drugs; the second, alcohol; and the third is about happiness. It might be useful to read the third section first, “Do You Need Drugs and Alcohol to Make You Happy?” It defines happiness and explores reasons for substance abuse. For readers who have picked up the book in hopes of learning the role of drugs and/or alcohol in his or her life, exploring attitudes is a good place to start.

The reference section starts with an illustration of the brain which is helpful in understanding the short chapters that follow, “Study of the Brain and Receptors,” “The Pathway to Pleasure,” “How Memory and the Brain Work,” and “How Emotions and Reactions Work.” This information helps explain how substances work on the physical level to produce their effects.

Many of the effects of substance abuse are explained throughout the book, and there is good information about the medical use of marijuana, including a chart with laws, fees, and possession limits in various states. In the final “References” section, the authors list suggested reading and websites. This information and references contained within Drugs and Alcohol 101 provide a good basis for school reports or papers on substance abuse and related issues.

Drugs and Alcohol 101 was not written for a teenage audience only; it contains material specific to caregivers and mentors and all of the information is useful to anyone interested in learning about or dealing with drug issues.

Bottom Line: Would I buy Drugs and Alcohol 101?  Yes, if I were again in a situation in which I worked with adolescents, or if my children or grandchildren required the information for any reason.

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