Second Edition

This book provides an explanation for why people use drugs, why some drug use in some circumstances by some people can be harmful, and what can be done to minimise drug-related harm.

The book's 15 chapters are grouped into four parts. Part 1 sets the scene, and introduces two key concepts, harm minimisation and public health. The value of an evidence-based approach to minimising drug-related harm is argued. How drug use can be understood is the subject of Part 2, with the 'public health model' of Miller & Hester (2003) used. Drug use and drug-related harm can be understood by considering the interaction of the drug, the person using the drug, and the circumstances in which the drug is used. Each element of the model – agent, host, environment - is accorded a chapter. Part 3 focuses on drug-related harm. Discussed are the nature of harm, why some people do but many people do not experience harm, and three approaches to minimising harm, demand reduction, supply control, and harm reduction. In part 4, to illustrate the concepts introduced in the first three parts, six drugs are discussed in depth: alcohol; tobacco; cannabis; heroin; amphetamine, methamphetamine, and ecstasy; and caffeine. Throughout the book, Australian statistics, research, case studies, and policies are featured.

First published in 2001, the book has proved a valuable text for tertiary-level students, and for open-minded other readers who are keen to know more about the topic. For this second (2006) edition, the original text has been comprehensively revised and updated, and a new chapter added