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.