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Employment reduces chronic drug use, UH professors find

HOUSTON, Nov. 30, 2004 It's said that "idle hands are the devil's workshop." A pair of University of Houston professors studying employment and drug use now provide support for that proverb.

Led by Isaac D. Montoya, clinical professor at the UH College of Pharmacy, this National Institutes of Health (NIH) study found that employment reduces the chronic drug use of female welfare recipients.

"Our research yielded such significant results that we feel these findings ultimately can and should be extrapolated to additional populations," Montoya said. "In the U.S., alone, nearly 20 million Americans abuse drugs, with women being less likely to seek treatment than men. And the fact that risk factors and predictors vary across demographics underscores the need to target various sub-populations."

Awarded $4.3 million by the NIH's National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) for a five-year study, Montoya received the funds through the Houston "think tank" Affiliated Systems, where he is a senior research scientist. Assisted by Victoria L. Brown, an adjunct assistant professor at the UH College of Pharmacy and research scientist with Affiliated Systems, and Micah A. Riley, a research assistant with Affiliated Systems, Montoya found that welfare reform primarily designed to transition women from welfare to work also may be a significant factor in drug abuse prevention and education. A positive correlation was found between employment and the reduction of chronic drug use within welfare populations, providing definitive data that supports "work therapy" as a tertiary prevention model for drug addiction as an alternative or in addition to traditional therapy options like programs and meetings.

"The study demonstrates that welfare reform policy has an unintended benefit," Montoya said. "Employment promotes a healthy lifestyle by providing structure, income and benefits that increase self esteem and a sense of purpose. These e
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Contact: Lisa Merkl
lkmerkl@uh.edu
713-743-8192
University of Houston
30-Nov-2004


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