Course Description

This course is designed as an overview of the physical, emotional and social effects of drugs on the user and their significant others. The focus of the course is on drugs that act on the reward circuit of the brain. Current theories derived from research on the brain, research on addiction and current views regarding the treatment of chemical dependency will be discussed.

Course Objectives

Students will learn:

  • Concepts of basic pharmacology.

  • The role of the nervous system in drug use.

  • Historical and current research on the reward circuit and its role in chemical dependency.

  • The role of genetics in chemical dependency.

  • Theories on why people use drugs and/or become dependent on them.

  • The role of social factors such as poverty and oppression on drug use.

  • The impact of drug addiction on families

  • The concept of prevention as it applies to drug use.

  • Resources for finding information on all aspects of drug use and abuse (including treatment resources, internet resources, information resources).

Required Texts

Carroll, C. (2000). Drugs in Modern Society (Fifth Edition). Madison, WI: Brown & Benchmark.


Dash, L. Rosa Lee: A Mother and Her Family in Urban America.


Suggested Texts


Miller, W. & Rollnick, S. (1991). Motivational Interviewing: Preparing People to Change Addictive Behavior.  New York: Guilford Press.



Motivational Enhancement Therapy. (Project Match Monograph Series, Volume 2), NIH Publication No. 94-3723. Order free of charge from:

          National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

          6000Executive Boulevard

          Rockville, Maryland 20893-7003







1. Class attendance and participation are expected

2. There will be five projects covering each of the major sections of the course:

  • Exam on pharmacology
  • Exam on the Nervous System and the Reward Circuit
  • Exam on drugs of abuse. This project will require gathering information from the World Wide Web.
  • Exam on Genetics and Family Issues
  • Exam on Treatment and Prevention

Of the five projects, the lowest grade will be dropped. Those maintaining an A average for the first four assignments will not be required to complete #V. No make up exams will be given, if an assignment is not completed or not turned in on the due date, it will be considered the dropped grade. Students may choose to have a traditional exam or a take home.

A formal presentation to the class may be substituted for one of the assignments.

3. Research Project

A final research paper will be required. The research paper will consist of 6 to 8 typed pages, written in APA (American Psychological Association) format. The paper can be written on any topic related to the course. Three references outside of the text will be required.

4. Self Help Meeting

Students will be required to attend a self help meeting and to write a report on the meeting, using the format provided.

All assignments are to be typed, double spaced and in a standard 12 point font (if using a computer). Assignments are expected to be free of spelling errors and checked for grammar.

An orientation to the computer lab and library will be provided to assist students with information on writing a research paper. Draft copies of all written materials may be handed in two weeks prior to the assignment due date for review and feedback. A special workshop session will be held on how to write the paper using the APA style for students who would like to learn more about this requirement.

Any students with special learning needs should inform the instructor

All information gained in class discussion and assignments is considered confidential and students are expected to adhere to the Federal Confidentiality Regulations (CFR 42) regarding drug and alcohol abuse.





Attendance & Participation

q Attendance at all classes

q Appropriate participation in class discussion


Self Help Meeting

q Attend meeting

q Written report of its relevance and effectiveness

q Your reactions



Written Assignments

And Exams

Four grades @ 15 % each.

q Relevance of material and quality of writing

q Turned in on due date

q APA format

q Typed, double spaced

q Use of Journal (Refereed) References

q Use of appropriate materials from the WWW

q No spelling or grammatical errors


Research Paper

q Relevance of material and quality of writing

q Turned in on due date

q APA format

q Typed, double spaced

q Use of Journal (Refereed) References

q Use of appropriate materials from the WWW

q No spelling or grammatical errors