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Full Review
From Chocolate to Morphine: Everything You Need to Know About Mind-Altering Drugs
by Andrew Weil & Winifred Rosen
Houghton Mifflin Co 
Reviewed by Midevil, 12/20/2005

As the title states, the latest edition of From Chocolate to Morphine is an easy to read and informative guide to drugs of all kinds. From beginning to end, the authors maintain the approach of providing the facts about drugs while explaining relevant terms and presenting first hand experiences of drug use. Each chapter deals with an issue (such as reasoning behind drug use) or specific drug categories like stimulants or psychedelics. Each section provides tips about drug use and a detailed list of further reading. An appendix of accounts, glossary, and index are also included.

Information on various drugs briefly covers history, how the drugs are harvested or manufactured, which kind of experiences they offer, side effects, and suggestions for dealing with them. Facts are separated from misinformation and myths that have been spread about drug use. Political motivations behind making certain drugs illegal are also explored. The authors don’t hesitate to argue that the war on drugs creates a large part of the problem of addiction, but at the same time, the addictive nature of the human and the individual’s context are also highlighted. One of the more interesting aspects of the work is the regional comparisons of drug use and how each culture applies it (ie: coca leaves and cocaine). As an aside, alternatives to substances, like meditation, are mentioned, but only briefly. Abstinence is also promoted. Photos of some of the more exotic or lesser known drugs would have enhanced the guide.

The book is a decent read for those who are curious about drugs or those that want basic information that isn’t politically charged propaganda. Drugs, regardless of legal status, can be abused or handled in moderation, depending on the person and motivation. Whether the reader is already experienced or merely curious, reading about different social scenes, substances, and experiences that you haven’t encountered is engaging. The guide is an educational start on the subject.


  1. So, Weil & Rosen’s book “From Chocolate to Mophine” is out in a new
    edition. Someone told me that the new edition had none of the many
    illustrations that made the earlier versions fun to look through, and I
    saw it tonight in a store and was disappointed to see this is true. The
    prior editions had pictures on nearly every page, including vintage
    pharmaceutical ads, Doonesbury cartoons, etc. The text of the book is
    good, but extremely basic. I suspect it would bore most people reading
    WP. Its the sort of book I’d like to see as a textbook for highschool
    drug education classes after the drug war ends, or something I’d give to
    an older adult who doesn’t know anything about drugs (its 2 intended

    I dont know what new info the book has, but I’d probably recommend the
    older version for people here, because the illustrations were the best
    part for people who already know the material.

    Comment by Murple — 12/21/2005 @ 1:09 am

  2. A fantastic, although basic, general introduction to psychoactive drugs. I can’t find anything bad to point out, but the book is pretty simple “noobie” type stuff. Chronic “Erowid heds” will probably learn little new information that they probably haven’t read or heard before. However, the book’s simplicity might be its highest virtue. This book shouldn’t really be over the head of anyone, and I recommend it to EVERYONE with some kind of interest in drugs. This is the kind of book you could give your mother as a Christmas present and not have her offended. The unbiased way it points out both the positive and negative aspects of drug use and the way Weil talks about how altered consciousness as a normal human (and even animal)drive and not exclusive to drug use makes it a perfect text in my opinion for pointing out the dangers of drug usage to teens in a drug education class without insulting their intelligence and the inevitiable loss of trust that follows. Fuck DARE in the ass, just give every student a copy of From Chocolate to Morphine as required reading.

    If anyone labels this book too “pro drug” than they are hopeless zealots…

    Comment by monoamine — 1/4/2006 @ 8:31 am

  3. I have the first edition and it looks nice than the second one I have seen at a colleague of mine. I do not agree with all the ideas there, but most of them have a certain truth in them and people should take into consideration that every pleasure becomes an addiction.

    Comment by drug rehab program — 9/4/2007 @ 11:04 am

  4. I own this book and is always picked up and read by friends when they visit. A very good read

    Comment by John — 3/22/2008 @ 4:07 pm

  5. This is a fantastic book. A major theme in this book is that no drugs are inherently good or bad. Only the relationships that people develop with drugs could be considered good or bad. It gives a neutral, scientific overview of drugs and their effects on people. This book is a great departure from typical fear-based anti-drug literature, and I wish that this approach was more common in drug education.

    Comment by Addiction Interventionist — 1/8/2009 @ 7:48 pm

  6. i got a lot out of this book, I at one point of my life was heavily involved with drugs and the subculture associated with that. And even though I am abstinent now I really enjoyed it and found it educational. It really offered a new perspective on everything I had done when I was younger. I would recommend it.

    Comment by Outpatient Rehab — 9/15/2009 @ 12:54 pm

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