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Master Course Outline
Physiological Actions of Alcohol and Other Drugs

Credits: 4
Clock Hours per Quarter: 40

AA Discipline:

Lecture Hours:40

Provides an understanding of the effects of psychoactive drugs on human physiology and behavior. Psychoactive substances will be discussed in their historical, social, and physiological contexts. Emphasis will be placed on drugs of abuse and their neurochemical principles. Designed primarily for entry level chemical dependency counselors needing to meet WAC guidelines, this course is also open to anyone wishing to expand their knowledge of physiological actions of abusive drugs.

Intended Learning Outcomes
  • Discuss historical factors of psychoactive drugs.
  • Describe the classification systems of psychoactive drugs.
  • Identify the basic kinetics (absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion) and dosing upon relevant anatomy and physiology.
  • Describe the interplay between heredity, environment, and the physiological actions of psychoactive drugs.
  • Identify the acute and chronic effects of each drug class as well as clinically relevant interactions between these classes.
  • Identify the stages of use from experimentation to chemical dependency.
  • Discuss the basic principles of prevention and treatment.
  • Develop an appreciation of other compulsive addictions such as compulsive gambling/eating disorders and the influence of heredity and environment.
  • Demonstrate and understanding of special issues around physiological actions of alcohol and other drugs including fetal alcohol syndrome/effect and HIV.
  • Discuss common dual disorders and medications prescribed for such disorders.

  • Course Topics
  • Historical perspectives, classifications of drugs
  • Psychoactive drugs and the brain, neurotransmitters, level of use and theories of addiction, bio-psycho-social influences
  • Classification and general effects of stimulants
  • Classification and general effects of opiates, sedatives, hypnotics
  • General effects of alcohol
  • General effects of psychedelics and marijuana
  • Prevention/intervention programs
  • Treatment
  • Mental Health, drugs, dual diagnosis, psychiatric medications

  • Syllabi Listing See ALL Quarters
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    Year Quarter

    Two Year Projected Schedule

    Year One* Year Two**

    *If fall quarter starts on an odd year (2003, 2005, etc.), it's Year One.
    If fall quarter starts on an even year (2002, 2004, etc.), it's Year Two.