Ch. 3: Course Summary

As we conclude our final course module, let’s take the chance to briefly review the vast array of information shared and learned, then identify some ideas for continuing to develop knowledge and skills for working in the substance use, substance misuse, and substance use disorders arena.

Course Overview

The original purpose of this course, evidenced by the title “Theories and Biological Basis of Substance Misuse,” was to explore the theories underlying our understanding of and intervention around substance misuse and to develop a basic understanding of some of the issues and specific substances commonly involved. Some of what you learned along the way included:

  • ethical and professional uses of person-first language related to substance use, misuse, and use disorders, and avoiding casual overuse of labeling language and words
  • how substance misuse and use disorders are defined and what recovery means
  • how different types of substances are classified
  • biological theories (basic neurobiology and neurotransmitters, genetics, and pharmacokinetics)
  • psychological theories (cognition, information processing, learning, social learning, psychodynamics, expectancies, and cravings)
  • social context and environments at the micro-, meso-, and macro-levels, including family, peers, school/workplace, neighborhood/community, and policy
  • social norms, stigma, and social theories
  • how an individual’s substance misuse affects others in the social and physical environment
  • integrating theories into a biopsychosocial framework that can inform prevention and the transtheoretical model of behavior change (TMBC)
  • alcohol
  • sedative-hypnotics and CNS depressants
  • cannabis and various hallucinogenic substances
  • stimulants, including amphetamines, methamphetamine, cocaine, caffeine, and nicotine
  • opioids
  • inhalants
  • anabolic steroids
  • over-the-counter and prescription drug misuse
  • mixing alcohol and other drugs, as well as polydrug misuse
  • pharmacotherapy approaches
  • detoxification
  • co-occurring mental and physical conditions, and other situational challenges.

This information represents a strong foundation for understanding and making a difference in substance use, substance misuse, and substance use disorder.

Future Directions

What comes next? For some, this degree of being informed is sufficiently satisfying. Others may wish to pursue further knowledge and skills. You now have the foundation for future study concerning topics related to:

  • screening for substance misuse and related or co-occurring problems
  • assessment and diagnosis of substance use disorders
  • intervention planning
  • delivering and implementing interventions, recovery services
  • prevention planning and intervention
  • evaluating intervention
  • policy related to substance misuse and recovery services

Whether this is the end of study for you (for now) or you plan to continue on in this arena of study and work, take pride in all that you have mastered through this course.


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SWK 5805: Theories and Biological Basis of Substance Misuse Copyright © by Dr. Audrey Begun is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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