HLT 104: Substance Abuse

Course Description

This course will investigate the disease of addiction. Students will be introduced to drug schedules and classifications. The impact of drug use, abuse, and dependence across the lifespan as well as the risk factors that lead to increased vulnerability to drug use and dependence will be explored. Students will develop a basic understanding of how and why drugs of abuse impact the brain and body and will be able to identify signs of drug intoxication, overdose, and withdrawal, and the potential health complications for a variety of classes of substances, including alcohol, benzodiazepines (e.g., Valium®, Xanax®, Klonopin®), and opiates (e.g., Vicodin®, Percocet®, OxyContin®).


  • None

Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

Students who successfully complete this course will be able to:

  1. Explain the biopsychosocial disease process of addiction and critically compare it to the moral model of addiction.
  2. Recognize the DSM5 diagnostic criteria for substance abuse and substance dependence and understand that substance use disorders, like all conditions exist on a continuum.
  3. Experience 12-step self help meetings and be familiar with the basic tenets of Alcoholics/Narcotics Anonymous.
  4. Identify drugs of abuse by category/classification and schedule and be familiar with the history of drug regulation.
  5. Identify major risk factors across the lifespan, including in the geriatric years, for developing a substance use disorder. Students will understand the special concerns related to geriatric substance use disorders including increased fall risks, potential exacerbation of cognitive deficits, risk for nutritional deficits, and potential medication/substance interactions.
  6. Be familiar with conditions, such as aging, loss and grief, injury and illness, mental illness, that are likely to co-occur with and/or precipitate substance use disorders.
  7. Identify the parts of a neuron and explain their basic functions.
  8. Name key neurotransmitters (e.g., dopamine and serotonin) and explain their role in addiction.
  9. Possess a rudimentary understanding of the Central Nervous System and neurotransmission.
  10. Understand the acute and chronic effects on the brain and multiple systems in the body, of the following types/categories of substances: alcohol, nicotine, sedative/hypnotics, narcotics, hallucinogen/designer, marijuana, stimulants.
  11. Identify signs of drug intoxication, overdose, and withdrawal and be aware of the immediate risk factors associated with intoxication, overdose, and withdrawal of alcohol, nicotine, sedative/hypnotics, narcotics, hallucinogen/designer, marijuana, stimulants.
  12. Understand the role of replacement therapies (e.g., methadone and naltrexone) and other prescribed medication (e.g., anxiolytics, anti depressants, etc.) in the continuum of care and treatment.

General Education Outcomes (GEOs)

Please check the applicable GEOs for this course, if any, by outcomes at GEO Category Search, or by subject area at GEO Discipline Search.

Course Activities and Grading


Discussions (Weeks 1-8)


Quizzes (Weeks 1-8)


Self Help Meeting Reports (Week 2)


Written Assignments (Weeks 3, 5, 6 & 7)




Required Textbooks

Available through Charter Oak State College's online bookstore

  • Hanson, G. R., P.J. Venturelli & A.E. Fleckstein. Drugs and Society - Access Code. 13th ed. Jones and Bartlett, 2018. ISBN-10: 1-284-11087-7 or ISBN-13: 978-1-284-11087-6

Course Schedule

WeekSLOsReadings and ExercisesAssignments



Topics: Empiricism, theories of addiction, 12 Step self-help, diagnosis using the DSM5, risk factors, disease progression

  • Read assigned chapters
  • Engage all course content
  • Quiz
  • Discussion - Examining Our Beliefs and Assumptions



Topics: Drug regulation and schedules, history of regulation, neurons, neurotransmission

  • Read assigned chapters
  • Engage all course content
  • Quiz
  • 12 Step Paper
  • Discussion - What causes addiction?



Topic: How and Why Drugs Work

  • Read assigned chapter
  • Engage all course content
  • Quiz
  • Constant Craving - reflection
  • Discussion- Emerging Topics



Topic: Depressants

  • Readings:
    • Chapter 6 Depressants
    • 4 PowerPoint
    • 4. NIDA RX Abuse Depressants
    • Listen: Risks Of Popular Anxiety Drugs Often Overshadowed
    • 4. Club Drugs DrugFacts
    • Watch - Ativan Withdrawal - this is a dramatic, but not uncommon presentation of Ativan withdrawal for an older woman
    • Watch - Substance Abuse in the Elderly To access this video, enter this username and password:
      • Username: charteroak
        Password: hlt104
      Video description: Faced with complex regimens of medication and diminished tolerances for alcohol, many elderly Americans run the risk of falling into the trap of substance abuse. In this program from The Doctor Is In, senior citizens discuss how they deal with these challenges, while Dr. James Campbell, director of the geriatric center at MetroHealth Medical Center, and Carol Colleran Egan, director of older adult services for Hanley-Hazelden Center, present some innovative programs created especially for elderly people. A Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center Production. Video length: 30 minutes
  • Read assigned chapter
  • Engage all course content
  • Quiz
  • Discussion - Depressant Use by the Elderly



Topic: Alcohol

  • Read assigned chapters
  • Engage all course content
  • Quiz
  • Discussion -Fetal Alcohol Syndrome



Topic: Opiates

  • Read assigned chapter
  • Engage all course content
  • Quiz
  • Reflection - Pick one element from this week’s course content and describe what you learned and why it is important.



Topic: Stimulants and Nicotine

  • Read assigned chapter
  • Engage all course content
  • Quiz
  • Reflection - How should eCigarettes be regulated?
  • Discussion - The Struggle with Nicotine



Topics: Hallucinogens & Marijuana

  • Readings:
    • Chapters 12 and 13
    • 8.PowerPoint
    • 8. Bath Salts Drug Facts
    • 8. Hallucinogen Drug Facts
    • 8 Marijuana Drug Facts
    • 8.Synthetic Cannabinoids Drug Facts
    • Watch - Horrible Salvia Trip
  • Read assigned chapter
  • Engage all course content
  • Quiz
  • Discussion - Peyote and
  • Complete the Course Evaluation (this prompt will be included in the last week of all courses)

COSC Accessibility Statement

Charter Oak State College encourages students with disabilities, including non-visible disabilities such as chronic diseases, learning disabilities, head injury, attention deficit/hyperactive disorder, or psychiatric disabilities, to discuss appropriate accommodations with the Office of Accessibility Services at OAS@charteroak.edu.

COSC Policies, Course Policies, Academic Support Services and Resources

Students are responsible for knowing all Charter Oak State College (COSC) institutional policies, course-specific policies, procedures, and available academic support services and resources. Please see COSC Policies for COSC institutional policies, and see also specific policies related to this course. See COSC Resources for information regarding available academic support services and resources.