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From Chocolate to Morphine: Everything You Need to Know About Mind-Altering Drugs
by Andrew Weil & Winifred Rosen
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Co 
Year:
2004 
ISBN:
0618483799 
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.


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