It is often difficult to find a comprehensive overview of current addiction research that encompasses more than one perspective in an in-depth and carefully considered manner. However, Addictions: A Social Psychological Perspective, edited by C. E. Kopetz and C. W. Lejuez manages to do just this. The volume contains a broad spectrum of papers that gives insight into the contemporary challenges and developments in addiction from a social psychology perspective. Challenging the 'reductionist tradition of approaching addiction from a medical model' (2016, p. ix), these assorted texts firmly plant addiction discourse in its broad and complex interdisciplinary narrative. While I would not suggest that this book is for beginners interested in learning about addiction in a general sense, it is helpful for professionals and researchers in the field in bringing a synthesis of up-to-date scholarship on this topic.
The volume is broken down into three parts: Introduction, Basic Processes and Application Challenges. I think this way of synthesising the breadth of discussion works very well. N. Campbell's introductory paper on 'Allergies and Affinities: Social Psychology Pathways as Ways of Seeing Inside "Addiction"' provides a clear overview of what social psychology can specifically contribute to addiction research, drawing on the dynamic interplay between social behaviours and activities, and internal states.
I found the inclusion of 'Social Identity and Substance Use" The Role of Racial Ethnic Identity and Gender-Relevant Factors that Contribute to Substance Use among Diverse Populations' (Kaya, A., Iwamoto, D., Clinton, L., and Grivel, M.) to be of particular value to the discourse. The detailed analysis of research in this area has the ability of deciphering between erroneous generalised misconceptions and actual statistical figures to clarify the interaction between social and individual addiction constructs. What was also good to see in this volume was the inclusion of multiple kinds of group therapy approaches and the complex role of learning in addiction. This is an invaluable volume for those interested in the research emerging out of social psychology, as a key contributor to current addiction discourse.
© 2016 Anna Westin
Anna Westin, PhD candidate and visiting lecturer, Arts and Humanities, St. Mary's University, Twickenham, London