"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.
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.
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.
No complaints about the narration. Could have been dry given the subject matter but to the credit of Clark.
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.
The author used the term "however" so many painful times I feel my blood pressure rise when I hear it now.
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
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.
Waaaay too technical.
Overall I really enjoyed this and learned a good bit. For those interested in neuroscience / psychiatry this is a very up to date text. There are great parts, interesting stories with history of drug development- but the total can be disjointed.
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.
No I found certain aspects of the audio difficult
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.
In this book, various illness and the drugs used to treat them are examined through scopes of the very large (personal relationships and societal attitudes) and the very small (deliciously awesome biochemistry). IMO, the section on schizophrenia was the best part of the book.
"Worth a listen if you have a special interest"
I enjoyed the book, very thorough and comprehensive look at psychotropic and mood altering drugs (illegal and prescribed). Annoyingly, the narrator mispronounces a lot of the scientific terminology which can be distracting, but the content of the book is rigorous and solid. I enjoyed the occasional anecdotes that related to certain drugs, as well as the historical context of their development and popular reception. You have to be paying attention to pick up the science but it is explained well.
"Too technical, doesn't work as an audiobook"
This book is unfortunately too technical to follow in audiobook format. Many, many sentences contain long chemical names. I have a degree in chemistry and I enjoy neurology etc audiobooks but I found this just to heavy to follow as an audiobook, with too much about chemical formuations and not enough "story" or general information, anecdotes etc to hold my interest.
The narrator sounds like a cross between Tom Baker and Brian Blessed and does a pretty good job considering the material he is reading.
Sorry, I can't recommend this, even as an avid scientist.
"Absolutely Brilliant Book..."
I have never enjoyed a book so much. Even topic and chapter was filled with so much information and being a person who loves the subject as well of being a science minded person I just found I was totally absorbed. I love how the book covered all the drugs including tea coffee and chocolate. I didn't expect them to be in here. With personal links to a fare few of the subject in this book I could really relate to the material and understand each of the situations. I thought the book flowed brilliantly and the narration was perfect. I wish I could find another book on this topic to listen to.
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