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Addiction: Drugs and Behavior

Look Inside the Brain and Learn How One Drug can Heal Some and be Deadly to Others.
4.5 (8 ratings)
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288 students enrolled
Last updated 7/2016
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  • 1 hour on-demand video
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  • Certificate of Completion
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What Will I Learn?
Understand where drugs came from.
Learn how to classify drugs.
Explain the biological basis of drugs’ effects on the nervous system.
Identify how drugs affect individuals, relationships, families and society.
Understand how and why different treatments work.
View Curriculum
  • Just be open and willing to learn.

Welcome to Drugs and Behavior. This class will give you with an in-depth look at how opioid drugs can profoundly change an individual’s behavior and how that affects relationships and society. This class will dispel the mystery of how drugs act in the brain and use a personal story to show a real life example of addiction and recovery.

Look Inside the Brain and Learn How One Drug can Heal Some and be Deadly to Others.

·       Track history of where drugs came from.

·       Learn how to classify drugs.

·       Explain the biological basis of drugs’ effects on the nervous system.

·       Identify how drugs affect individuals, relationships, families and society.

·       Understand how and why different treatments work.

Opioids, the brain, and society.

Opioid drug use has gained increased attention in the past decade due to a startling increase in overdose deaths. However, opioids have been used to treat pain and misused recreationally for centuries. What has changed? How can the same drug be both life-saving yet deadly?


Understanding the biological basis of how these drugs act informs us about why they can be a beneficial pain-reliever, but also create powerful dependence. Knowing the biology can give us a better understanding about the psychology of dependence which can ultimately help to identify what causes addiction and how we can treat it. The information provided by a neuroscience researcher, interleaved with the personal story of an addiction survivor will highlight the interconnection between an individual’s brain and society as a whole.

This class is a great platform for understanding the how’s and why’s of opioid drugs. Law enforcement officers, family members, friends of drug users, social workers, educators, and medical professionals who may regularly encounter drug abusers can learn to identify users and potential short term and long term effects of drug use. Those who are fighting drug dependence or have a loved one who is struggling, can learn about how different treatments work so that they can make an informed decision on what is right for them.


The biology portion of the class focuses on giving a fundamental understanding of opioids action in the nervous system by explaining known pathways in the brain, without too much detail or scientific jargon. These sections are also aided with animated visuals which help to illustrate the concepts.

The importance of the science comes to life through Chrystina’s story which gives real life examples of how biology and psychology lead to real-life problems with drug abuse. Giving opioid addiction a face helps to drive home the fact that drug addiction can happen to anyone, but importantly, with the right support and treatment, anyone can become a survivor.

Who is the target audience?
  • Anyone using drugs, questioning drug users, and/or anyone looking to identify those who are using drugs.
  • Anyone looking to be inspired by someone who survived drug addiction.
  • Anyone who is looking for ideas on how to prevent drug use and treatments for those who couldn’t prevent drug use from starting.
  • Anyone interested in a general understanding about the history of drugs, classification of drugs, and/or the impact of drugs on relationships and society.
  • Those who are in professional fields relating to nursing, physical education, health sciences, psychology, social work and sociology.
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Curriculum For This Course
Expand All 25 Lectures Collapse All 25 Lectures 50:06
Section 1: Introduction to Drugs & Behavior
3 Lectures 04:29

This lecture offers an introduction to Section 1 and sets up what will be covered in this course including the background about the instructor and what brings her here today.

Preview 01:21

This lecture provides the course goals, how weaving a documentary into the course is unique, and who should/should not take this course.

Preview 02:42

This lecture offers a review of what Section 1 covered.

Preview 00:26
Section 2: History
3 Lectures 04:06

This lecture sets up what Section 2 will be about.

Preview 00:31

This lecture provides a brief historical timeline of where drugs came from, focusing on opioids, and what drugs have more recently become popular.

Preview 03:03

This lecture reviews what was covered in Section 2.

Preview 00:32
Section 3: Drug Classifications
4 Lectures 06:39

This lecture introduces Section 3 and offers what will be learned.

Preview 00:17

This lecture offers how and why drugs are classified. One of its main points addresses the importance of classifying drugs.

Preview 02:37

In this lecture, students will meet Chrystina who was addicted to heroin for 12 years and is now a survivor.

Introduction to a Heroin Survivor

This lecture offers a summary of what was covered in Section 3.

Conclusion to Section 3
Section 4: How Drugs Effect Our Body
5 Lectures 13:10

This lecture offers an introduction to Section 4.

Introduction to Section 4

This lecture provides the biological basis for addiction. Topics in this lecture focus on how nerve cells communicate with each other and our vital organs.

The Nervous System

This lecture focuses on the short and long term effects of drug addiction.

Short Term and Long Term Effects

This lecture discusses what physical and psychological dependence is about.

Physical and Psychological Dependence

This lecture concludes Section 4 with a summary.

Conclusion to Section 4
Section 5: Effect of Drugs on Individual, Relationships, Families and Society
4 Lectures 09:35

This lecture introduces Section 5.

Introduction to Section 5

This lecture offers the difference between drug use and drug abuse then shows clips from Chrystina's documentary showing how her behavior changed as a result of drug abuse.

Drug Use and Drug Abuse

In this lecture, the impact of drug abuse on the individual, relationships, families and society is addressed.

Effect of Drugs on Individual, Relationships, Families and Society

This lecture summarizes what was covered in Section 5.

Conclusion to Section 5
Section 6: Treatments
5 Lectures 10:03

This lecture offers an introduction to Section 6.

Introduction to Section 6

This lecture talks about pharmacological treatments available for treating opioid dependence.

Pharmacological Treatments

This lecture addresses environmental and social factors that lead to drug abuse.

Psychological Treatments

This lecture offers alternative treatments for drug abuse.

Alternative Treatments

This lecture summarizes what was offered in Section 6.

Conclusion to Section 6
Section 7: Conclusion of Course
1 Lecture 02:04

This comprehensive lecture summarizes the course.

Section 7: Conclusion of Course
About the Instructor
4.5 Average rating
8 Reviews
288 Students
1 Course
PhD in Neuroscience

My name is Angy Kallarackal. I have long been interested in how chemicals, those that are in our bodies and those that we ingest, change our behavior. I received a PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Maryland where I studied the short-term and long-term effects of antidepressants on animal brains. I am currently a research fellow at the University of Utah, studying genes that affect responses to nicotine and I teach Drugs and Behavior in the Psychology department.

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