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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


Drugs & Society

Drugs, Society and Criminal Justice (3rd Edition) by Charles F. Levinthal (Prentice Hall)

Unique in approach, Drugs, Society and Criminal Justice (3rd Edition), by Charles F. Levinthal, Hofstra University, examines drug use, drug misuse, and drug abuse from a criminal justice perspective. Building on sociological theory, it explores the social problems associated with drug use and the theoretical reasons for drug use and abuse. Moving beyond a sociological focus, it delves into the complex relationship between drug-taking behavior and crime. Discussion-starting features spotlight prominent figures, drug trafficking realities, and life-saving information as the book explores how drug use and abuse impact the criminal justice system.

This is the only general textbook on drug use and abuse with a specific orientation toward crime and criminal justice concerns. It is an adaptation of Levinthals Drugs, Behavior, and Modern Society, 5th edition, the third edition of this successful, widely-regarded, highly readable and pedagogy-oriented textbook. It is oriented to the psychological and sociological aspects of drug-taking behavior in contemporary life.

The goal is to introduce the basic facts and major issues concerning drug-taking behavior in a straightforward, comprehensive, up-to-date, and reader-friendly manner. The only requirement is a sense of curiosity about the range of chemical substances that affect our minds and our bodies and an interest in the challenges these substances bring to the public health and public safety of our society as well as to our daily lives.

Portrait features shine the spotlight on a contemporary or historical figure who has had an impact on issues of drug abuse and the criminal justice system related to illicit drugs.

Drugs in Focus features provide historical, contemporary, and future-oriented 'side-bar' discussion-provoking topics.

New to the 3rd edition of Drugs, Society and Criminal Justice:

  • The chapter on Drugs and Crime and the chapter on Drugs and the Criminal Justice System, now shifted to earlier placements in the text (Chapters 5 and 6), thus providing a clearer focus on issues of drug taking behavior as they pertain to the criminal justice system.
  • Information about recent legislative and regulatory developments having an impact on drug-taking behavior. Examples include the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009 (giving the FDA authority to regulate the sale and manufacture of tobacco products) and Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (allowing reimbursements for substance abuse treatment to be on a par with the treatment of physical disorders).
  • New updated Portraits of individuals who have impacted or been impacted by drug use and abuse in America. Examples include From Oxy to Heroin: The Life and Death of Erik (Chapter 1), Ryan Haight and the Ryan Haight Act of 2008 (Chapter 2), and Dr. A. Thomas McLellan Reframing National Drug Policy (Chapter 16).
  • New Drugs . . . in Focus features, including Understanding Drug Names (Chapter 1), Measuring the Impact of Drugs on our Society (Chapter 2), and Abraham, Depression, and those little blue pills (Chapter 3).
  • New text discussion on odds ratios with regard to risk and protective factors (Chapter 4), changes in mandatory minimum sentence guidelines and implementation of the RICO statute in the prosecution of drug traffickers (Chapter 6), and the nonmedical use of stimulant medications in baseball (Chapter 12).
  • Drug Trafficking Update features with the latest information about trends in the international drug trade as they impact upon drug-taking behavior in America. Sources include the 2009 and 2010 Drug Threat Assessment Reports, published by the Drug Intelligence Center, U.S. Department of Justice.
  • Updated statistical information from the 2009 Monitoring the Future survey of drug use among secondary school and college students as well as young adults. There is also information from the 2008 Drug Abuse Warning Network survey and 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
  • Expanded discussion of concepts, such as odds ratios in the understanding of risk factors and protective factors for drums taking behavior (Chapter 4), sensitivity and specificity in the understanding of drug testing (Chapter 12), and criteria for evaluations of substance abuse prevention and treatment interventions (Chapter 16).
  • Inclusion of current information about Salvia divinorum abuse among high school students. According to the 2009 Monitoring the Future survey, six percent of high school seniors reported using Salvia in the past year. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has considered recommending that Salvia, presently a legal commodity, be classified as a Schedule I controlled substance.

As readers proceed through Drugs, Society and Criminal Justice, a central theme is apparent: The array of social problems associated with drug-taking behavior in America today extends beyond the use of illicit street drugs such as heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, hallucinogens, and marijuana (Chapters 7-10). It is important also to address the problems associated with legally available drugs such as alcohol and nicotine (Chapters 13-15), as well as a variety of depressants (Chapter 11), performance-enhancing drugs (Chapter 12), and (when used for nonmedical purposes) prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) drugs such as Adderall, Ritalin, Vicodin, and OxyContin (Chapters 1, 7, and 8).

Drugs, Society and Criminal Justice addresses the entire range of drugs used and abused in contemporary society. The complex relationship between drug-taking behavior and crime as well as the challenges of contending with drug-taking behavior within a system of criminal justice are covered in Chapters 5 and 6, respectively.

In the third edition, a particular emphasis has been placed on the impact that new laws and regulations have had on drug-taking behavior and drug policy in the United States. The effects have been significant for millions of Americans. As a result of the Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008, there are strict regulations over access to prescription drugs via the Internet. It is far more difficult now to obtain prescription drugs through unregulated and unsupervised online services. As a result of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now has regulatory authority over the manufacture and sales of tobacco products. As a result of the Parity Act of 2009, drug-abuse treatment expenses are now reimbursed on a par with the reimbursement of expenses for the treatment of physical disorders. As a result of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, the gap has been reduced between the federal penalties for the possession of powder cocaine and possession of crack cocaine.

I found the text to be engrossing and packed with information presented in a factual and balanced view. The author, Dr. Levinthal, has the ability to present complex material in an easy-to-read style that makes it quite digestible and understandable to the reader. Frank E. Norton, Bowie State University

Drugs, Society and Criminal Justice is the most up-to-date material of any drugs and alcohol textbook. The sixteen Portrait features, which take readers into the lives of individuals who have either influenced our current thinking about drugs and society or have been influenced by circumstances of drug use and abuse offer an engaging insight into the impact of drug-taking behavior on history and on contemporary life in America and put a human face on the discussion of drugs, society, and criminal justice. They remind readers that throughout Drugs, Society and Criminal Justice they are dealing with issues that affect real people in all walks of life, both past and present.




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