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UHV professor's book offers look at alcohol, drug problems and solutions

Jan. 8, 2011 at 7:05 p.m.
Updated Jan. 7, 2011 at 7:08 p.m.

UHV psychology professor and author for textbook about drugs and alcoholUHV psychology professor and author for textbook about drugs and alcohol

A University of Houston-Victoria associate professor mixes biology, psychosociology and the law behind making drugs and alcohol in a newly published textbook.

Elizabeth "Libby" Rhoades, who teaches psychology at UHV, authored the 421-page book, "Drugs and Alcohol in the 21st Century: Theory, Behavior and Policy," along with Dwight Vick, an assistant professor of public policy at West Texas A&M University.

The book examines the use of intoxicants, stretching back to early humans' use of mind-altering substances "to touch the face of one's god." Since then, drugs and alcohol have been sought to sleep, awaken or simply function; heighten a festive mood or relieve tension; accelerate weight loss; or decrease pain.

"With this subject, strong personal views can get in the way of looking at the big picture. How people view addiction makes a difference in how or if they advocate treatment," Rhoades said.

Politics and morality play a large role in how the U.S. deals with drug and alcohol issues, she said. Current drug laws are tied to Americans' puritanical roots.

"The current view is that it's misbehavior, which is why we have more of our population in jail than any other industrialized nation," Rhoades said. "But we believe the key is in stemming the demand side of substance abuse by offering something like free or sliding-scale drug treatment on demand. The most expensive drug treatment is cheaper than the least expensive prison."

Rhoades works with adolescents and noticed there is a shortage of treatment resources. In recent years, insurance companies have dropped drug treatment options.

"There really needs to be more focus on what we can do to stop people from trying alcohol and drugs at early ages, as they are more likely to end up in trouble," she said.

Rhoades said the book is a way for people in law enforcement, emergency management, education and social work to look at the big picture of this issue which is so prevalent in their jobs.



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