Addiction is a concept that has been around for hundreds of years, but we still struggle to define and understand the word. When the American Psychiatric Association (APA) released a new diagnostic manual (DSM-5) in 2013, they incorporated the term addiction, which did not appear in previous versions of the influential text. However, the APA also acknowledged that the term can be stigmatizing and that its definition is uncertain. As we move into the next era of understanding about addiction, we need to continue refining our knowledge of this deadly disease.

In this book, we want to bring to life the core concepts at the heart of addiction. You may have friends or family members struggling with an addiction, or you yourself may have problems with addiction. You might be interested in working to help people in recovery, or you are simply curious to know more about this issue. Whatever the case, this book will introduce key terminology and research to help you define, discuss, diagnose, and deal with this problem.

The material is organized so that each chapter focuses on a different theme related to addiction. Within each chapter are multiple sub-parts where you will find an introductory reading, a video, an article, an activity, questions for discussion, and a short quiz. Some sections also include slide presentations for you to view.

We encourage you to take each section in order, as information in the early chapters will be useful to better understand later chapters:

Chapter One: What is Addiction?

Chapter Two: Why Do People Use? 

Chapter Three: An Overview of Pharmacology

Chapter Four: Special Considerations

Chapter Five: Adolescents and Addiction

Chapter Six: Addiction and the Family

Chapter Seven: Biopsychosocial Issues

Chapter Eight: Assessment & Treatment

Chapter Nine: Pathways to Recovery

Notably, this book is entirely open-source. The information in the book is a collection of original material and other open resources. That means any parts of it can be used freely and modified as needed. Attribution is appreciated, and we have made every attempt to give credit to authors of source material whenever possible. Our hope is that students, educators, treatment professionals, and others interested in the material will use it for their own benefit.

Special thanks to our colleagues and mentors at College of DuPage for helping to make this project a reality: Brian Caputo, Denise Cote,  Karin Evans, Lara Tompkins, Mark Curtis-Chavez, Marianne Hunnicutt, and Andrea Polites.


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Foundations of Addiction Studies Copyright © by Jason Florin and Julie Trytek is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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