The twentieth century saw a remarkable upsurge of research on drugs, with major advances in the treatment of bacterial and viral infections, heart disease, stomach ulcers, cancer, and mental illnesses. These, along with the introduction of the oral contraceptive, have altered all of our lives. There has also been an increase in the recreational use and abuse of drugs in the Western world.
This Very Short Introduction, in its second edition, gives a non-technical account of how drugs work in the body. Reviewing both legal (alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine) and illegal drugs, Les Iversen discusses why some are addictive, and whether drug laws need reform.
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Les Iversen is a Visiting Professor in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Oxford. He was director of the MRC Neurochemical Pharmacology Unit in Cambridge (1970-1983) and then Vice-President of Neuroscience for the American pharmaceutical company Merck Inc (1983-1995). He is best known for his work on the role of monoamine transport mechanisms in the inactivation of monoamines in the brain, and as targets for psychoactive drugs. His previous books include The Science of Marijuana, 2nd Edition (OUP USA, 2007) and Speed, Ecstacy, Ritalin: The Science of Amphetamines (OUP, 2008).
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS; REFERENCES; FURTHER READING; INDEX