Alcohol and Drug Abuse - A Psycho-social and Spiritual Approach to Prevention
Abdu’l-Missagh Ghadirian

Alcohol and Drug Abuse - A Psycho-social and Spiritual Approach to Prevention

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Why do people use drugs? What are drugs a substitute for? Who is most vulnerable to substance abuse? What is the solution?

Today the list of abused drugs is so long it is nearly limitless, the routes of administration ensure an addiction risk unheard of in earlier eras, and the population at risk is greatly expanded, particularly among youth and the disadvantaged. The globalization of drug trafficking and the global shift in attitudes towards more acceptance of drug abuse have contributed to the epidemic now facing the world.

But illegal drug use is not ‘victimless’ and the consequences are borne not only by the drug users. Families, communities and even entire nations are harmed substantially by the so-called personal choice to use illicit drugs. Whether those consequences are crimes or overdoses, lowered workplace productivity or educational failure, these negative consequences of addictive drug use are universally shared.

Originally published in 1985 as In Search of Nirvana and updated in 1989,Alcohol and Drug Abuse: A Psychosocial and Spiritual Approach to Prevention takes account of the extensive research on the issue in the last twenty years. It focuses on primary prevention and explores the roles and responsibilities of individuals, families and society in addressing the worldwide crisis in drug abuse. Both prevention and recovery have profoundly spiritual dimensions, and Dr Ghadirian explores these in the light of the Bahá’í teachings.


‘In this wonderful book Dr Ghadirian . . . zeroes in on the spiritual pathology of addiction . . . he brings a fresh perspective to one of the world’s biggest, most modern and most challenging epidemics: the use of illegal drugs.
Robert L. DuPont, M.D.,
First Director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse(NIDA), author of The Selfish Brain - Learning From Addiction 

Dr. Ghadirian’s wide-ranging, highly engaging book will be useful to everyone. He is a psychiatrist with extensive experience in substance abuse. An Emeritus Physician at the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal, he is recognized as an international authority and has been invited to speak to professional conferences about this subject at the United Nations and in several countries, including China.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is personally or professionally concerned about the prevention and treatment of alcohol abuse and other forms of substance abuse.

Dr. Ghadirian gives a vivid overview of the scope and depth of these challenges from diverse perspectives: medical, social, cultural, psychological and spiritual. 

The book is highly readable and invites further exploration into the roots of our personal and collective attitudes about the use and abuse of addictive substances.

As a family physician, I found its specific practical approaches to individuals and families to be convincing and encouraging. The recommendations are based on the most recent studies in neuroscience. I was particularly intrigued with the insightful explorations of the diverse creative ways, on the individual and collective levels, that have been shown to be effective to intervene to protect children and youth from acquiring addictions to various harmful substances.

As a public health professional concerned with the wellbeing of whole populations, I found its global perspectives highly informative, especially its specific references to relevant substance abuse prevention programs of the United Nations and the World Health Organization, such as the WHO Convention on Tobacco Control.

A human rights-based framework is a potent one for further development of global and national public health law. When one realizes that the illegal drug industry is comparable in size to the legal one, the need for effective international legal instruments bears greater reflection, especially in the context of restricting suppliers from providing children access to harmful substances. Banning advertising and substantially raising taxes on the sale of alcohol and tobacco products are two proven ways to reduce the risk of children and youth ever beginning to consume either tobacco or alcohol abuse. In the United States, an estimated ten percent of pregnant women continue to smoke tobacco during pregnancy, exposing the vulnerable embryo and fetus to toxic substances in utero.

Yet by far the most creative and encouraging aspects of the book are the discussions of how to remove the root causes that fuel the growing demand for alcohol and other drugs. In these provocative and credible chapters, I found innumerable practical examples of ways to reduce the risks of falling into addictions that reminded me of individuals I have encountered in my personal and professional experiences.

I wholeheartedly encourage you to read this book, to share it with family, friends, and colleagues, and to apply its insights to your personal and professional lives.
Review by Elizabeth L. Bowen, MD, EdD
Assistant Professor of Preventive Medicine, Community Health, and Family Medicine, Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia
Past-President, Physicians for Social Responsibility, USA

About the Author

Dr Abdu’l-Missagh Ghadirian served the Institution of the Learned for nearly 30 years in different capacities including many years as a member of the Continental Board of Counsellors in the Americas and is currently a member of the Canadian Baha’i community. 

He is a Professor Emeritus of McGill University, Faculty of Medicine, and a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.  As author, educator and researcher, he has published extensively on psychosocial and spiritual issues and spoken at many universities and public events around the world. Among his publications in recent years are Creative Dimensions of Suffering (2009) and Steadfastness in the Covenant: Responding to Tests and Tribulations (2014).  His current interest is the exploration of the interrelationship between religion and science in the advancement of civilization.

The cover, designed by Rene Steiner, has received an American Design Award in the Book Cover Design category.

Pages: 180
Dimensions: 216 x 138 mm
Weight: 245 g
ISBN: 978-0-85398-516-7

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