Friday, July 26, 2013

Primer of Drug Action 12th Edition by Robert M. Julien

Primer of Drug Action 12th Edition, by Robert M. Julien, Claire D. Advokat and Joseph Comaty describes general principles of each class of psychoactive drugs and specific information about each drug within that class. It looks at mechanisms of action, theories about etiologies of major psychological disorders and rationale for drug treatment, and uses and limitations of psychopharmacology. It also includes basic explanations of pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics.

Author keeps pace with one of the most dynamic fields of scientific inquiry, giving students immediate access to the most current research and promising new directions in psychopharmacology. Rigorously updated throughout, the new edition again takes its place as the definitive guide to the drugs that affect the mind and behavior. As always, it is clear, comprehensive, objective, and authoritative, spanning a wide variety of drug types, including sedatives, depressants, stimulants, analgesics, psychedelic drugs, steroids, and drugs used to treat psychological disorders.

Drugs of compulsive use are emphasized. Each of the 20 chapters examines current and future directions in drug research (including drugs not yet available for clinical use). An interesting new chapter on herbal medications has been added. A brief glossary is included. This is a bold attempt to capture the explosion of knowledge about psychoactive substances. This is a good, comprehensive review that has organized and presented a massive amount of often disparate information into a comprehensible, easy to use book.

All 20 chapters in the new edition have been rewritten with an extensive overhaul of citations (about 40% new). Chapter 3, The Nervous System has a new and extensive anatomical art program. There are updated discussions of newly available drugs and increased coverage of new drugs such as anxiolytics, antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and antipsychotics with more discussion of herbal drugs, which are becoming increasingly prevalent.

There are updating and expansion of two chapters, child psychopharmacology and geriatric psychopharmacology, to include the growing information about the use of medications in these populations. Certain chapters are well illustrated, more so than others. However, it would be nice to have more tables for a quick reference. References in the book are pertinent and up-to-date.

What makes this book stand out from others is its presentation of a complex subject, particularly the discussion of the mechanisms of action of medications and drugs of abuse, in a very readable format and language. It is a good introduction to psychopharmacology and drugs of abuse, including alcohol. It is very useful for professionals in allied health sciences. The book can also be a good quick reference for the busy physician if more tables can be added to supplement the text.

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