PSYCHOPHARMACOLOGY (Drugs & Psychology) BPS302

Discover how drugs and other substances alter the body and mind

This extremely interesting course teaches students about psychopharmacology - the ways in which licit and illicit drugs affect people by altering bodily sensations, levels of consciousness, thoughts, feelings, and behaviour.

The history of drugs can be traced back to the beginnings of the human race. Records suggest that alcohol was made, drunk and used to excess as far back as earliest civilisations. Tobacco, cannabis, opium and other substances derived from plants have been chewed and smoked for at least as long as alcohol has been consumed but most likely earlier. Coffee has been served in the Middle East throughout the area's history.

This course unveils the use and effects of a variety of drugs on the individual and society. Learn about addiction, dependence, abuse, tolerance and withdrawal.




Become proficient in understanding drug use and abuse

This course is an ideal introduction to the effects of different groups of substances on the mind and behaviour. From hallucinogens to hypnotics and stimulants to antidepressants, a wide range of drugs is discussed including those found in everyday consumables (like caffeine and nicotine) and those which are acquired legally through prescription medications or over the counter drugs. Students will learn about what these substances do, both in the short term and long term, and some ways to help people overcome dependency.


Learn about the effect of drugs on human behaviour

Understand the terminology associated with substance use and the impact factors of drug taking behaviour. Consider different categories of drugs, and associated side-effects. Discover the physical and mental pitfalls of using mind-altering drugs.


The course is divided into eleven lessons as follows:

  1. Introduction: A history of the use and misuse of drugs in society
  2. Effects of drugs on the individual and society
  3. Legally restricted drugs: Stimulants and narcotics
  4. Legally restricted drugs: Hallucinogens and marijuana
  5. Legally restricted drugs: Steroids
  6. Legal drugs: Alcohol
  7. Legal drugs: Tobacco, caffeine and solvents
  8. Prescription and over-the-counter drugs
  9. Sedatives and anti-anxiety drugs
  10. Prescription drugs for schizophrenia and affective disorders
  11. Treatment and preventative education


Duration: 100 hours



  • To understand the origins and changed in drug use in society;
  • To identify patterns of drug-taking behaviour;
  • To identify social, psychological and physical consequences of drug-taking on the individual;
  • To understand the effects of stimulants and narcotics on the individual;
  • To understand the effects of hallucinogens and marijuana on the individual;
  • To understand the effects of anabolic steroids on the individual;
  • To determine health and behavioural outcomes of alcohol use and mis-use;
  • To determine health and behavioural outcomes of nicotine, caffeine and solvent use and misuse;
  • To understand the effects of the major categories of OTC drugs and prescription regulations;
  • To understand the effects of sedatives and anti-anxiety drugs on the brain and behaviour;
  • To understand the effects of different types of anti-psychotic and anti-depressant drugs on the brain and behaviour;
  • To describe different methods of treatment and prevention of drug-abuse and to discuss ways of educating the public as to the outcomes of taking drugs.



  • Explain through case studies the difference between drug abuse and drug misuse;
  • Explain through examples the difference between recreational and instrumental drug-taking;
  • Describe major changes in drug taking behaviour from the nineteenth century to the twentieth century;
  • Investigate why some people are more likely than others to engage in drug abuse behaviour;
  • Contrast the difference of attitudes to drug taking between cultures;
  • Differentiate between drug tolerance and behavioural tolerance;
  • Differentiate between physical and psychological drug dependence;
  • Describe factors contributing to physiological effects of a drug on the body;
  • Learn how psychoactive drugs affect neurotransmitters;
  • Consider how personal expectations influence the effects of drug taking;
  • Learn how cocaine affects the mind and body;
  • List side effects of long and short-term amphetamine use;
  • Explain how to treat cocaine and amphetamine users;
  • Explain how heroin affects the mind and body;
  • Describe how narcotics been used successfully in medicine;
  • Describe how opiates affect the brain;
  • Discuss the effectiveness of the main approaches to treating heroin abuse;
  • Discuss the negative effects regular marijuana use has on quality of life;
  • Discuss the use of steroids in sport and drug control of athletes;
  • Identify health behavioural, and lifestyle outcomes of alcohol use and misuse;
  • Develop a case study of a person being treated with anti-anxiety drugs;
  • Consider how anti-psychotic drugs work in the brain;
  • Identify the main three types of anti-depressants;
  • Identify drugs used to alleviate panic attacks and bipolar disorder;
  • Consider dilemmas faced when trying to test out new drugs for schizophrenia;
  • Discuss the 'bio-psychosocial' approach to treatment of drug abuse;
  • Describe the stage theory of treatment and recovery.

How Some Chemicals can Affect People


Alcoholism is a primary chronic disease, which is thought to be influenced by genetic, psychosocial and environmental factors.  It is often progressive and can be fatal.  Alcoholism can be characterised by periods of impaired control over drinking, preoccupation with alcohol, use of alcohol despite adverse consequences and distortions in thinking, including denial.  It is a chronic, progressive and incurable disease that is characterised by a loss of control over alcohol.
Alcoholism is thought to be progressive.  Its progressive nature follows the following phases –
  • Pre-alcoholic phase – Social to heavy drinking, sometimes in secret.
  • Initial phase – Occasionally relief drinking, increase in alcohol tolerance, memory blackouts, decreased ability to stop drinking, remorse, loss of other interests.
  • Crucial phase – efforts to stop continually fail, work and money troubles, avoidance of family and friends, unreasonable resentments, neglecting food, loss of ordinary will power, decreased alcohol tolerance.
  • Chronic phase – Impaired thinking, unable to initiate action, obsession with drinking, indefinable fears.
  • Another side effect of alcohol abuse is Korsakoff’s Syndrome – Memory loss due to alcohol abuse. The person’s short term memory may be normal, but they may have severe problems recalling a simple story, listing unrelated words etc.  This may also be accompanied by neurological problems e.g. uncoordinated movements, loss of feeling in the fingers and toes etc. 


Staying in control

It is important that people stay in control of their drinking, rather than the other way round. Alcohol gets into the bloodstream within minutes of drinking it and is carried to all parts of the body.  The effects can take hours to wear off and vary depending on –

  • How much the person is drinking.
  • How quickly the person is drinking.
  • What they have been drinking – strong (e.g. spirits) and fizzy drinks (e.g. cider) are absorbed quicker.
  • How used the person is to drinking alcohol.
  • Their weight and size.  Smaller or lighter people will find that alcohol is concentrated into a smaller body volume.  Therefore, alcohol will affect children/young adults more quickly.  Women tend to be more affected by alcohol than men because they are generally smaller, their bodies contain less water and their metabolism is different.  Younger people can become intoxicated quite quickly and things can get out of hand. 
  • Alcohol affects reaction times, physical co-ordination and decision-making. People are more likely to have accidents, get into arguments, or take stupid risks if they are drunk.  They can feel sick, blackout or lose consciousness.  Also, alcohol poisoning can be fatal.
  • Drinking and taking illegal drugs at the same time is also very dangerous, increasing the likelihood of a serious drug overdose.


How This Course Could Help You

This course will be of particular value to people with an interest in:

  • Counselling
  • Addictions counselling
  • Psychotherapy
  • Psychology
  • Social work
  • Nursing
  • Caring roles
  • Health professions


Just go to the top of this page for pricing and enrolment options. If you have any questions you can contact us now, by:
Phone (UK) 01384 44272, (International) +44 (0) 1384 442752, or

Email us at [email protected]