Drugs, Alcohol & Behavior

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This course is no longer being offered.

Course Description

Drugs and alcohol have been part of the human experience since prehistory. Why are drugs and alcohol so thoroughly entrenched in human society? How do different drug classes affect human behavior? Why do some people abuse drugs, while others never become addicted? Human’s use of drugs and alcohol has been documented throughout history, from the early beginnings of fermented beverages in the Stone Age to the current opioid crisis. This course will provide an introduction to the causes and treatment of substance use disorders and provide students with an overview of the function of drugs in human life, the effects of various drug classes on behavior, and the hallmarks and symptoms of drug abuse. Additional topics of discussion will include the effects of drugs on the brain and how one can change from occasional use to being addicted.

Students will learn about current research, treatments and in some cases advocacy efforts to reduce substance abuse. This class will be framed through the socioecological framework where individual behavior and addiction will be placed within the context of an individual’s interpersonal, organizational, community and environmental context. Main topics of interest for this course include an introduction to the science of addiction, the history of drug use and addiction, drug use and the brain, drug use and behavior, risk factors for drug use, treatments, and conclude with an introduction to some regulatory and advocacy efforts to reduce substance abuse. Student’s performance will be evaluated on the following items: attendance, in-class assignments, and homework and group presentations.

By the end of this course, students will have gained a better understanding of the following:

• How drugs affect behavior
• The risk factors that influence the development of alcohol and drug abuse behaviors
• The available treatments for individuals suffering from substance use disorders
• How different societies and cultures regulate, perceive and control drugs and alcohol

Prerequisites: This course provides a foundation for further study in the field of psychology, sociology, public health, and medicine as it provides an introduction to substance abuse pulling from content within these four fields. An introductory level knowledge of psychology is preferred by not necessary.


Course Information

  • Course Code: CEBI0957
  • Length: 2 weeks

Program Information


Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences, offering over 200 non-credit courses, one- to four-weeks long, taught on Brown’s campus. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2019.

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