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Drugged: The Science and Culture Behind Psychotropic Drugs | [Richard J. Miller]

Drugged: The Science and Culture Behind Psychotropic Drugs

In Drugged, Miller takes listeners on an eye-opening tour of psychotropic drugs, describing the various kinds, how they were discovered and developed, and how they have played multiple roles in virtually every culture. Drugged brims with surprises, revealing the fact that antidepressant drugs evolved from rocket fuel, highlighting the role of hallucinogens in the history of religion, and asking whether Prozac can help depressed cats. Entertaining and authoritative, Drugged is a truly fascinating book.
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Publisher's Summary

"Morphine," writes Richard J. Miller, "is the most significant chemical substance mankind has ever encountered." So ancient that remains of poppies have been found in Neolithic tombs, it is the most effective drug ever discovered for treating pain. "Whatever advances are made in medicine," Miller adds, "nothing could really be more important than that." And yet, when it comes to mind-altering substances, morphine is only a cc or two in a vast river that flows through human civilization, ranging from LSD to a morning cup of tea.

In Drugged, Miller takes listeners on an eye-opening tour of psychotropic drugs, describing the various kinds, how they were discovered and developed, and how they have played multiple roles in virtually every culture. The vast scope of chemicals that cross the blood-brain barrier boggle the very brain they reach: cannabis and cocaine, antipsychotics and antidepressants, alcohol, amphetamines, and Ecstasy - and much more.

Literate and wide-ranging, Miller weaves together science and history, telling the story of the undercover theft of 20,000 tea plants from China by a British spy, for example; the European discovery of coffee and chocolate; and how James Wolfgang von Goethe, the famous man of letters, first isolated the alkaloid we now know as caffeine.

Miller explains what scientists know - and don't - about the impact of each drug on the brain, down to the details of neurotransmitters and their receptors. He clarifies the differences between morphine and heroin, mescaline and LSD, and other similar substances. Drugged brims with surprises, revealing the fact that antidepressant drugs evolved from the rocket fuel that shot V2 rockets into London during World War II, highlighting the role of hallucinogens in the history of religion, and asking whether Prozac can help depressed cats.

Entertaining and authoritative, Drugged is a truly fascinating book.

©2014 Oxford University Press (P)2014 Audible Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (112 )
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3.9 (100 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Scott Scarborough, ON, Canada 06-28-14
    Scott Scarborough, ON, Canada 06-28-14 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Interesting reading but heavy on the biochemistry"
    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    I enjoyed this audiobook but have a background in the field. The author takes us throughout each of the various classes of mind and mood altering drugs, both prescription and illegal, offering a brief history of each, their uses, effects, efficacy etc. Most, if not all the drugs covered here will be familiar to most readers and there is lots of interesting details, trivia, and factoids. This isn't a book for anyone searching for the right "med" - rather, is more of a history of man's flirtation with and apparent need for, mind altering experiences. I was captivated throughout. My only criticism was that the author tends to delve a little too deep into the biochemistry of each drug which tends to overwhelm the reader at times. As well, I got the sense the title was the publisher's ploy to make this rather academic book more appealing to the lay reader. Still, for anyone with an interest in the history and science behind many of our modern drugs of choice to either treat or self-medicate psychiatric illnesses, this is the book for you.


    What does Roger Clark bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    No complaints about the narration. Could have been dry given the subject matter but to the credit of Clark.


    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Steinsaltz 10-07-14
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    "A good review; not very competent reader"

    The book is a fascinating blend of chemistry, biology, and psychology, with some dollops of social history of drugs, and science history.

    The reader was problematic. I'm tired of science books being recorded by readers who know how to adopt an authoritative tone, but can't be bothered to find out how even moderately technical words are pronounced. Not the worst I've heard, but it's very disruptive.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura Servage 06-28-15 Member Since 2013
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    8
    3
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    "Incomprehensible..."
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    I would recommend this book to someone with a strong background in the sciences. A layer person (like me) will quickly become frustrated by the dense technical language.


    Were the concepts of this book easy to follow, or were they too technical?

    Waaaay too technical.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Darren 06-21-15
    Darren 06-21-15 Member Since 2012
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    "To complex"

    This book is too technical. You need a pharmacology degree to understand half of this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jordan 06-17-15
    Jordan 06-17-15
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    1
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    "Heavy and technical"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    Anyone with a background in biology or a lot of knowledge in neurochemistry would get far more out of this book than a layman, which I am.


    Any additional comments?

    The author used the term "however" so many painful times I feel my blood pressure rise when I hear it now.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Simpson St. Albert, AB 05-25-15
    David Simpson St. Albert, AB 05-25-15 Member Since 2015

    David.Reinos

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    "A fascinating survey of science and history"

    Fascinating and dry in equal measures, be prepared for engrossing storytelling mixed with a healthy dose of textbook-dense chemistry and the biological implications. Definitely enjoyed it, but those looking for a narrative journey should be prepared for the heavy lectures interspersed within.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dr J.N.Robinson 05-15-15 Member Since 2013
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    "Good book"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Drugged: The Science and Culture Behind Psychotropic Drugs to be better than the print version?

    No I found certain aspects of the audio difficult


    What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

    I enjoyed the book it was informative and well researched, and it was generally well read. Unfortunately the English accent with Americanisms eg pronunciation of for example, beta, due, new and many other words made it distracting for me. There was mispronunciation of many medical terms, which could easily have been avoided, and which as a medical professional I found quite distracting and reduced credibility.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tanya 04-21-15
    Tanya 04-21-15 Listener Since 2009
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    15
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    "Prerequisite: College-level biology and chemistry"

    As a scientist studying molecular genetics in neurovascular disease, I found this an enjoyable listen. I liked both the storytelling and more scientific treatment of the matter. However, it is difficult to determine the target audience for which this book is intended. There are too many molecular names and undefined scientific terms (stoichometry for example) for a comfortable read by a lay person and quite a lot of over-definition for those familiar with the subject. In some cases the transitions from story to science feel rather abrupt. Even so, I'm looking forward to more books by this author as he continues to refine his writing style. The narrator did an excellent job with some rather tricky subject matter. American listeners familiar with the subject matter will find the differences in pronunciation a bit intriguing if not amusing. (en.dogenous, endo.genous; tomayto tomahto).

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tony Nastase 04-21-15 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Refreshingly in-depth"

    This is by far the most scientific audiobook I've found so far. If you're into medicinal chemistry or drug action, this is for you. It can get a bit technical at times, especially when describing chemical structures, which really require a visual. Otherwise, this had a great balance of historical anecdotes and scientific discovery. There were a few mispronunciations here or there but the narration was good overall and fit the context of the book

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dorothy Lamb Dallas Texas 04-19-15
    Dorothy Lamb Dallas Texas 04-19-15 Member Since 2014

    I love classics and non-fiction!

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    14
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    "Very interesting!"
    Would you listen to Drugged: The Science and Culture Behind Psychotropic Drugs again? Why?

    If you work in the medical field, or just have an interest in science pharmacology, or social history, you will find a wealth of exciting facts here. It's read well and was just very very interesting!


    What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

    How medications grow out of other medications - the evolution process.


    Any additional comments?

    Just that it's like a textbook, only written and read in such a way that even if you don't have a medical background you will enjoy the learning experience. It's not dry and boring, but relevant to current science and society.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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