These three sets of brain scans from a young adult given a placebo (top) and two different doses of methylphenidate, or Ritalin (bottom), show the ability of Ritalin to block the transporter "gates" by which the brain chemical dopamine returns to its home cell after sending a pleasure signal. Red indicates more dopamine transporters available; blue is least transporters available. (Image courtesy Brookhaven National Laboratory
Examines the relationship between drugs, politics, and society in cross-cultural perspective; use of mind-altering and habit-forming substances by "traditional societies"; the development of a global trade in sugar, opium, and cocaine with the rise of capitalism; and the use and abuse of alcohol, LSD, and Prozac in the US. Finishes by looking at the war on drugs, shifting attitudes to tobacco, and by evaluating America's drug laws.