Just perusing the table of contents in “Buzzed” is a sharp reminder of the huge role drugs play in American culture.
Twelve hefty chapters present the pharmacopeia in nonjudgmental alphabetical order — alcohol, caffeine, ecstasy, hallucinogens, herbal drugs, inhalants, marijuana, nicotine, opiates, sedatives, steroids, stimulants — each followed by a lively list of slang and street names (many familiar and probably getting out of date even as you read).
The authors, all professors at Duke University, first published this compendium in 1998, and early editions had the Nancy Reagan-inspired pun “just say know” on the cover.
That’s gone in this “fully updated” fourth edition, though an essay with that title, written by two of the authors’ interns, remains, saying the book aims to give kids straight information on drugs with no scare tactics or scolding.
That it does, though the book is probably going to appeal mostly to concerned parents. Updated through the years with such listings as Rohypnol and Red Bull, a synthetic marijuana called Spice, designer stimulants called bath salts, e-cigarettes and ginkgo biloba, it comes in at nearly 400 fact-packed pages.
Some factoids: There’s more caffeine in grocery-store coffee than in high-priced cafe blends; cocaine users outnumber meth users five to one; one effect of heroin withdrawal is diarrhea; the brain has a specific receptor for cannabis.
PCP, meanwhile, can make you feel as if you’re drunk, on amphetamines and using hallucinogens all at the same time.
Every chapter tells you what the drug or class of drugs does, how it enters and leaves the body, and its short-term and long-term effects, with additional history or discussion as warranted — including such information as how to “keep yourself safe.”