While recovering from a hangover, a friend recently told me she had the type of personality prone to addictive behaviour. I was reminded of Robert Burton's The Anatomy of Melancholy , written in the 18th century. On the slender basis of a few quotes from others - such as "If a drunken man get a childe, it will never likely have a good braine" and "Foolish, drunken, or haire-braine women, most part bring forth children like unto themselves" - Burton supports his thesis that "drunkenness runs in the family".
Addiction is complex, but I have no doubt that with the advent of genetic and molecular biological techniques, we understand much more about the biological predispositions to, and the influence of environmental factors on, addictive behaviour, than we did in Burton's day.
The complexity of the subject and the implications of addictive behaviours for society require a specialist journal that will highlight various biomedical issues around alcohol, tobacco and other substance misuse. Addiction Biology , which was founded in 1996, fits that remit and complements its sister journal, Addiction , which has been around for more than 115 years. The editor-in-chief of Addiction Biology , Timothy Peters, is a much-respected researcher who works at the National Addiction Centre of the Institute of Psychiatry in London.
The articles cover the pharmacology, toxicology, biochemistry and metabolism of addictive substances from a research and a clinical standpoint. The standard is generally good, although you get the feeling from time to time that an article might not have made the grade had it been sent to Addiction . The remits of Addiction and Addiction Biology are very similar, and it would be good if Addiction Biology could carve its own niche more clearly.
In addition to the research articles, there are invited critiques, book and media reviews and a calendar of events relating to the addiction field. There are also occasional special sections dedicated to symposia. The most recent was on the areca nut, which is chewed by more than 600 million people worldwide and can cause a dependency syndrome, damage oral health and induce diabetes mellitus or cardio-respiratory diseases.
The diversity and breadth of the invited review articles are particularly impressive. Recent ones have included the pharmacology of psilocybin (a hallucinogenic drug isolated from mushrooms) and the pharmacokinetics of ethanol, to name but two. The quality of research and review articles has earned the journals inclusion in Medline and the Science Citation Index.
There is no straight answer to the question of whether a person has an "addictive personality". But anyone wishing to contemplate the issues further should certainly read Addiction Biology . It is highly conversant with research and clinical topics and well in step with current debates about addiction.
Stevan R. Emmett is project leader, Synaptica Ltd. He was formerly researcher in pharmacology, University of Oxford.
Editor - Timothy J. Peters
ISBN - ISSN 1355 6215 Online ISSN 1369 1600
Publisher - Taylor and Francis (Four times a year)
Price - Institutions £343.00 Individuals £157.00