This is a course about addiction to drugs and other behaviors. It will describe what happens in the brain and how this information helps us deal with and overcome addiction. It will also discuss other topics such as government policy and our vulnerability to take drugs.
The Background and Overview of Drug Use Upon completion of this module, learners will be able to: define drug abuse, addiction, and dependence; describe what the behavior of addiction looks like; review some of the history of drug use, compare the statistics of addiction, recognize the ten classes of addicting drugs; and explore other types of addictions including gambling, food, Internet, sex, etc.
Drugs & How the Brain Works Upon completion of this module, learners will be able to: Recognize the processes that control the fate of drugs in the body; identify how drugs are detected in the body; examine how the brain works by employing neurotransmission; and explore the role of neurotransmission in the brain and how drugs work by altering neurotransmission.
Classes of Drugs, Part 1 Upon completion of this module, learners will be able to: Identify what a receptor is; draw a connection between chemical neurotransmitters and drugs; recognize why addicts take drugs; and describe what alcohol, nicotine, THC, opiates, sedatives, hallucinogens, and cocaine do in the brain.
Classes of Drugs, Part 2 & Animal Models Upon completion of this module, learners will be able to: Become familiar with the last three classes of abusable drugs: the inhalants, caffeine and others; review the 10 classes of abused and addicting drugs, their effects, and toxicities; recognize the importance of using animals in research on addicting drugs; compare two important animal models, self-administration and conditioned place preference (CPP); and recognize how both animal drug self-administration and conditioned place preference (CPP) are used to understand how drugs work in the brain and how they are used to screen for and develop new treatments and medications.
Neurotransmission & Brain Imaging Upon completion of this module, learners will be able to: Recognize dopamine as a major neurotransmitter, specifically how it is involved in both drug and natural rewards; associate low levels of D2 dopamine receptors in the brain with greater vulnerability to addiction; define neuroplasticity and discuss its importance to the brain; examine how drugs alter neurotransmission and signal transduction; and describe how signal transduction and epigenetic mechanisms alter the protein composition and function of the brain.
Vulnerability: Drug Use, Abuse, & Prevention Upon completion of this module, learners will be able to: Define and identify the different types of risk factors; explain how co-morbid (coexisting) medical/mental problems can lead to self-medication and drug abuse; identify the most important risk factors and explain why these are more significant risks than others; explain why the judgment of an addict gets worse with drug use, identify protective factors; and define prevention and point out why it is important.
Treatment, Policy, & Decriminalization Upon completion of this module, learners will be able to: See the impact of stigma on drug users; describe the kinds of treatment that are available; differentiate between legalization and decriminalization, and its impact on society; and recognize the impact of various kinds of policies on public health, including the policy of harm reduction.
MOOCs stand for Massive Open Online Courses. These arefree online courses from universities around the world (eg. StanfordHarvardMIT) offered to anyone with an internet connection.
How do I register?
To register for a course, click on "Go to Class" button on the course page. This will take you to the providers website where you can register for the course.
How do these MOOCs or free online courses work?
MOOCs are designed for an online audience, teaching primarily through short (5-20 min.) pre recorded video lectures, that you watch on weekly schedule when convenient for you. They also have student discussion forums, homework/assignments, and online quizzes or exams.
I place a high value on this class for knowing how the brain works on a reward level and the complexities of the changes in the brain brought about by addicting substances. I postulate then that the neuroplastic brain through proper stimulation physically can improve as well and this motivates me to upgrade the quality of my food and mental intake. I want to be brimming with the dopamine brought on by healthy choices. The professor is superior in every way. I want to thank him very much for his invaluable work in the development of the PET scan and his clear and compelling presentation of his knowledge in this tightly organized course. Best to you! Lynn Delaney
The course explains very clearly, for non-experts, how drugs work in the brain. I love that the material is presented in a calm and non-judgmental way. The course helps one to step back from the apparent chaos that addiction can create, and to think about it and act in a constructive manner.
Kathryn Kang is taking this course right now, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
The instructor carefully explains many things about drug-taking that would otherwise be difficult for a learner to understand. His attitude is non-judgmental, and empathetic. I especially recommend this course to anyone who is a parent of an addicted person, and who wants to help and support that person in an informed manner.
Emiel De Jongecompleted this course, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
The course was very informational. The educator knows what he is talking about. The subject is very interesting and the educator knows how to make abstract information interesting. All with all a great course.
Poor course. Content is shallow, despite the Professor's impressive credentials. He seems more concerned about telling people not to take drugs than in getting into the science. Quizzes are ridiculously easy.
Anne Hotchkissaudited this course, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.
I was disappointed with the content and delivery of the material. I found the material disjointed... part of the course was a VERY basic survey of the various classes of drugs with their definitions, then we were shown the chemistry of these substances and how they interact with the brain. Perhaps I assumed too much... that the course would cover our current understanding of addiction, i.e., the long-term effects of addiction on the brain, genetic pre-disposition, comparative relapse and recovery statistics per class of drug, etc. I was hoping for state-of-the-art science/data, rather than what appeared to be simply a rehash of the classes of drugs followed by their basic chemical reactions in the brain. If I wanted only that information, I could have looked it up on Google in an hour. Unfortunately, I found the professor dronish and as unsatisfying as the material. Thank you, Anne