SS1834: Understanding Drugs in a Social Context

Credit Weighting: 5
No. of Students: Min 17, Max 35.
Pre-requisite(s): None
Co-requisite(s): None
Teaching Period(s): Semester 1.
Teaching Methods: 4 x 3hr(s) Lectures; 1 x 6hr(s) Workshops; 2 x 1hr(s) Tutorials; 4hr(s) Other (on-line discussion on Blackboard); Other (set reading material for discussion at tutorials; set course work)
Module Co-ordinator: Dr Ciara Staunton, Centre for Adult Continuing Education.
Lecturer(s): Staff, School of Applied Social Studies, HSE South Addiction Services staff.; Staff, Centre for Adult Continuing Education.
Module Objective: This module aims to equip students with basic knowledge and understanding of the most commonly misused substances and the difference between substance misuse and dependence. It will address the pharmacology of drugs, the human organism including biological impact, the impact on mood, behaviour and cognition. Students will engage with the controversy around the safe use of controlled and illegal substances. Students will learn about how important it is for communities to develop the capacity to solve local problems around alcohol and drugs issues.
Module Content: Students will examine information on all the major categories of psychopharmalogical substances licit and illicit (alcohol, antidepressants, anti-psychotics, benzodiazepines, hallucinogens, hypnotics, cannabis and cannbinoids, opiates, stimulants and new psychoactive substances). It will include routes of transmission, the impact and interactions of the most common substances misused on the physical and mental health, relationships, social and legal circumstances of those misusing substances. Students will be invited to consider substance use on a continuum of no use, to severe dependence and the impact it has on the individual, their families, communities and society. Students will critically examine historical and socio-cultural understandings, abstinence approaches, harm reduction safer injecting facilities and medical uses of controlled substances.
Learning Outcome: On successful completion of this module, students should be able to:
  • View substance use in society from historical, socio-cultural, biological, psychological and legal perspectives;
  • Articulate the terminology, categories and classifications of common substances that are misuses, both licit and illicit;
  • Describe the routes of transmission and effects and interactions of the various substances of misuse including alcohol;
  • Understand the interface between neuro-physiology and substance use; the biochemical mechanisms of various substances on the human organism, the various bio-psychological and medical implications including overdose and blood borne viruses;
  • Analyse the criteria for categorising substance misuse along a continuum as presented in the DSM-5 and ICD-10 nomenclature and the utility of these classifications in practice;
  • Know how to apply the principles and practices of harm reduction and other public health approaches to substance misuse and addiction.
Assessment: Total Marks 100: Continuous Assessment 100 marks (3,000 word assignment).
Compulsory Elements: Continuous Assessment.
Penalties (for late submission of course/project work etc.): Where work is submitted up to and including 7 days late, 5% of the total marks available shall be deducted from the mark achieved. Where work is submitted up to and including 14 days late, 10% of the total marks available shall be deducted from the mark achieved. Work submitted 15 days late or more shall be assigned a mark of zero.
Pass Standard and any Special Requirements for Passing Module: 40%.
End of Year Written Examination Profile: No Formal Written Examination.
Requirements for Supplemental Examination: Marks in passed element(s) of Continuous Assessment are carried forward, Failed element(s) of Continuous Assessment must be repeated (as prescribed by the module coordinator).

University College Cork

Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh

College Road, Cork T12 K8AF