Once considered to be a moral failing and to reflect a lack of willpower, substance addiction is now—thanks to advances in scientific research—generally accepted as a medical disorder that affects the brain and behavior. This course is based on the recent National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) publication “Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction.” This publication provides a comprehensive overview of substance addiction, including factors that contribute to individual vulnerability, the effects of short- and long-term substance use on the brain, the neurological mechanisms that contribute to compulsive substance use despite severe adverse consequences, and a variety of very promising treatment approaches. To complete the course, participants access online content and read the web-based NIDA publication (PDF) before returning to the online content to answer questions about the three unique case vignettes, which apply the key learning themes to practice.
This course is designed for social workers and other behavioral health practitioners who are looking for the latest evidence-based research regarding the science of addiction.
After completing the course, readers will be able to do the following:
- Identify risk factors and protective factors related to addiction.
- Identify biological and environmental factors that increase vulnerability to developing addiction, as well as the reasons adolescents are more vulnerable to developing addiction than adults are.
- Identify specific regions of the brain affected by drug use, and describe how drug use interferes with normal brain functioning.
- Identify various adverse consequences of drug use at different developmental stages.
- Describe research-based substance use prevention programs and their applications.
- Identify several behavioral therapies for treating substance addiction.