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To Read: “Addiction Inbox” Anthology (Review)

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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Addiction remains a topic riddled with bad science commentary and outdated beliefs, mainly because no one wants to talk about it. One of my favorite drug and addiction writers Dirk Hansen has tied his posts, those covered in his Addiction Inbox blog, together in an anthology — a fascinating and detailed one, about questions and common misunderstandings rooted in current science. The book is named after his blog and is thus also titled Addiction Inbox.

The collection is fast-paced and interesting, jumping from one nugget to the next, tackling the public’s sweeping questions affixed to addiction today: how do gambling and shoplifting fit into the addiction model? Is there such thing as marijuana withdrawal? What’s up with bath salts? The questions posed and Hansen’s subsequent explorations are concise, supported by evidence, and brave in scope.

The author relates the real life to the scientific, noting his own struggles with addiction, yet doesn’t get bogged down in personal tales. Rather, the writings use life tidbits as a jumping off points for scientific explanation and an overarching discussion of addiction’s media landscape.

A sampling of included posts (there are 73 posts in the volume, I counted):
Impulsivity and Addiction
Heroin in Vietnam: The Robins Study Reexamined
The Biology of Stimulants, or Why You Can’t Stay High All the Time

The posts, too, deftly touch on topics upon which I normally write, those affecting addicts in further marginalized communities — drug treatment in prisons, America’s needle exchange and research’s impact on addiction stigma among them. It’s hard info-packed science with a reader-centric eye, a refreshing read from pseudoscience and memoir-based addiction commentary. Buy it.

Cassie Rodenberg About the Author: I write on culture, poverty, addiction, and mental illness: I explore things we like to ignore. I also teach public school in New York City's South Bronx. Follow on Twitter @cassierodenberg.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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