Psychopharmacology of Drug Abuse

(3 Credit Hours – Cost: $1,350)


Prerequisites: Minimum 12 credit hours of graduate level courses in addictions studies or psychology.

Course Description: This graduate level course teaches that an important psychological disorder is substance abuse. It causes many health and social problems. This course emphasizes the fact that it is treatable.

Addresses current issues in the treatment of substance abuse which include:

The rapidly expanding use of medications for detoxification, withdrawal, and long-term abstinence;
The use of sophisticated brain-imaging techniques to study brain function;
The creation of more effective tools to diagnose addiction and match clients to the most effective treatment;
an increased use of evidence based practices; increasing utilization of drug courts and coerced treatment;
The lack of sufficient treatment resources and the conflict between an abstinence-oriented approach and a harm-reduction approach.
The emphasis only cost effectiveness of treatment plans;
The emphasis on parameters of treatment effectiveness related to duration, type of therapy, customization for culture, gender, ethnic origin, and other specialized populations.
Examines the principles and goals of treatment,
The different treatment options available,
The continuum of treatment (detoxification, initial abstinence, long-term abstinence, and recovery),
Individual/group therapy,
Involvement of the family,
Adjunctive treatment services,
Drug specific treatments, and
Target populations.

Examines in detail, topics such as motivational interviewing, stages of change model, treatment in prisons, intervention strategies, and obstacles to effective treatment.

This course also examines medical intervention developments in detail including medications already approved, medications in development, and the new drug development process.

Course Outcome: After completing this course, candidates are expected to be able to understand:

  1. Use of Neuroimaging techniques used in diagnosis and follow up
  2. The different classes of drug and modes of abuse.
  3. The seven aspects of chemical and behavioural dependency treatment which dominate research, clinical practice, and discussion.
  4. The mechanisms of the rapidly expanding number of medications are used to treat detoxification and withdrawal, reduce craving, and promote abstinence.
  5. The increasing the use of brain imaging and other new diagnostic techniques, e.g., CAT, MRI, fMRI, PET, SPECT.
  6. The research on coercive treatment (e.g., drug courts) vs. voluntary treatment and the decrease in treatment facilities and resources.
  7. The conflict between abstinence-oriented recovery and harm reduction
  8. Treatment outcomes for drug and alcohol abuse can result in long-term abstinence along with health, social, and spiritual benefits.


Required Text*:

Essential Psychopharmacology: Neuroscientific Basis and Practical Application by Stephen M Stahl. 2008 Edition.

*Candidates are responsible to buy the required textbook for this course. You can find this book in major online bookstores such as, etc.

Supplementary Resources**:

Handbook of Psychopharmacology, Vol. 12: Drugs of Abuse, Leslie l. Iverson, 2000 Edition.
Drugs, the Brain, and Behaviour: The Pharmacology of Abuse and Dependence (Haworth Therapy for the Addictive Disorders) [Hardcover] John Brick , Carlton Erickson.
Kris C, Hart CL, Ray O (2006) Drugs, Society, and Human Behaviour , 12th Edition. McGraw-Hill: New York.

**These resources are not required, but may provide assistance in completing your assignments for this course.