Psychopharmacology (Drugs and Psychology)

Course CodeBPS302
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Study Psychopharmacology and Learn More About Substance Use in Society 

People take drugs for all sorts of reasons, and often they may even be unaware of the consequences. Sometimes what begins as harmless fun can become a serious behavioural problem. In rare cases people may die from intoxication having only consumed a substance once.

Sometimes people develop a dependency on a particular drug, sometimes people abuse a drug occasionally or regularly, and sometimes people experience side-effects or withdrawal symptoms when they take or stop taking a drug.

Would you like to learn more about this fascinating subject? 

The course covers many topics over the course of eleven lessons, including -
  • legal and illegal drugs
  • amphetamines, steroids, LSD and more
  • the effect of drugs on the nervous system
  • the effect of drugs on society
  • hallucinogens
  • marijuana
  • legal drugs, such as caffeine and alcohol
  • over the counter drugs
  • sedatives, anti anxiety drugs and much more....


Lesson Structure

There are 11 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • Scope and nature of drugs; legal and illegal
    • Amphetamine
    • Cocaine
    • Crack
    • LSD
    • Ritalin
    • Steroids
    • How heroin is used
    • Medical consequences of chronic heroin abuse
    • Names used for heroin
  2. Effects of drugs on the individual and society
    • Community acceptance
    • Terminology
    • Why people use drugs
    • Addiction; how drugs work in the brain
    • Central nervous system
    • Physiological and psychological effects of drugs
    • Alcohol effects
    • Sedative effects
    • Stimulant effects
    • Hallucinogenics
    • Psychological effects of drugs
  3. Legally restricted drugs: Stimulants and narcotics
    • Stimulants
    • Symptoms of abuse
    • How cocaine is abused
    • How does cocaine effect the brain
    • What adverse effects does cocaine have on health
    • Added danger; cocaethylene
    • Treatment options
    • Scope of cocaine abuse
    • Narcotics
    • Abuse symptoms
    • Forms and dangers
    • Designer drugs
    • Ecstasy pill
  4. Legally restricted drugs: Hallucinogens and marijuana
    • Effects of hallucinogens
    • Symptoms of abuse
    • LSD
    • Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder
    • Marijuana
    • Effects of marijuana on the brain
    • Symptoms of abuse, forms of marijuana and dangers
    • Phencylidine (PCP)
    • Symptoms of abuse, forms of PCP and dangers
  5. Legally restricted drugs: Steroids
    • Steroids
    • Symptoms of abuse, forms of steroids and dangers
  6. Legal drugs: Alcohol
    • Symptoms of abuse and dangers with alcohol
    • Alcoholism
    • Staying in control with alcohol
    • Alcohol amnestic syndrome (Korsakoff's syndrome)
    • Treating Korsakoff's syndrome)
    • Alcohol and the developing brain
  7. Legal drugs: Tobacco, caffeine and solvents
    • Nicotine addiction
    • Effects of nicotine on the circulatory system
    • Caffeine
    • Caffeine addiction
    • Solvents (volatile solvent abuse): symptoms and dangers
  8. Prescription and over-the-counter drugs
    • Prescription drugs (Over the counter or OTC)
    • Groups of prescription drugs
    • Misuse of OTC drugs
    • Opioids
    • Treatments for opioid addiction
    • CNS depressants
    • Stimulants
    • Stimulant abuse and treatment for stimulant addiction
  9. Sedatives and anti-anxiety drugs
    • Anti anxiety drugs
    • Barbiturates
    • Benzodiazepines
    • Depressants
    • Rohypnol
  10. Prescription drugs for schizophrenia and affective disorders
    • Schizophrenia
    • Onset of schizophrenia
    • Symptoms of schizophrenia
    • Treatment for schizophrenia
    • Anti psychotic drugs
    • Patient support system
    • Depression
    • Depressive disorders
    • Type of depression
    • Unipolar disorder
    • Bipolar disorder
    • Causes of depression
    • Anti depressants
  11. Treatment and preventative education
    • Drug addiction
    • Behavioural and psychosocial treatments for drug addiction
    • Treatments for heroin addiction
    • Behavioural therapies for heroin addiction
    • Detoxification


  • Discuss the origins and changed in drug use in society;
  • Identify patterns of drug-taking behaviour;
  • Identify social, psychological and physical consequences of drug-taking on the individual;
  • Describe the effects of stimulants and narcotics on the individual;
  • Describe the effects of hallucinogens and marijuana on the individual;
  • Describe the effects of anabolic steroids on the individual;
  • Determine health and behavioural outcomes of alcohol use and mis-use;
  • Determine health and behavioural outcomes of nicotine, caffeine and solvent use and misuse;
  • Explain the effects of the major categories of OTC drugs and prescription regulations;
  • Explain the effects of sedatives and anti-anxiety drugs on the brain and behaviour;
  • Explain the effects of different types of anti-psychotic and anti-depressant drugs on the brain and behaviour;
  • 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.

What You Will Do

  • 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.

Sample Course Notes - What are Anti depressants?

Antidepressants are just one of many types of drugs that may affect the psychology of a person. Some are used to intentionally affect a person's psychology. Others are used for some other affect altogether (eg. chemotherapy for cancer patients); and the psychological affect is an unwanted but unavoidable side effect.
Anti depressants are used to relieve the symptoms of depression. They were first developed in the 1950s and have been used regularly since then. There are several different types, but primarily "tricyclic" antidepressants and the newer "SSRIs" (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors). These two types account for 95% of antidepressants prescribed. There is a newer group called "SNRIs" (Serotonin and Noradrenalin Reuptake Inhibitors), but these are not yet so widely-used.   
There are almost thirty different kinds of antidepressants available today. They all work by altering the way in which certain chemicals work in our brains. These chemicals are made by our body and are called neuro-transmitters. 
Neuro-transmitters are the chemicals which transmit signals between the cells in our brains. In depression, some of the neurotransmitter systems, particularly those of Serotonin and Noradrenalin, don't seem to be working properly. We think that antidepressants work by increasing the activity of these chemicals in our brains. 
Antidepressants are used to treat moderate to severe depressive illnesses. They are also used to help the symptoms of severe anxiety, panic attacks and obsessional problems. They may also be used to help people with chronic pain, eating disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder. Studies have found that after 3 months of antidepressant treatment between 50% and 65% of the people who take them will be much improved. This compares with 25 - 30% of people given an inactive "dummy" pill, or placebo. It may seem surprising that people given placebo tablets improve, but this happens with all tablets that affect how we feel - the effect is similar with painkillers.
Antidepressants do seem to be helpful but, like many other medicines, some of the benefit is due to the placebo effect. 


Benefits of Studying This Course

This course will be of particular interest to people working in, or hoping to work in:

  • Counselling
  • Addictions counselling
  • Psychotherapy
  • Psychology
  • Social work
  • Nursing
  • Caring roles
  • Health professions
  • Youth workers
  • Legal professionals
Anyone who is interested in learning more about drugs and their impact on humans and society as a whole. Psychopharmacology is a fascinating field of study and a useful course to many careers.
Psychopharmacology is the study of drugs and psychology. This course will give you an insight into legal and illegal drugs and the impact on the nervous system. 
Study this course in the comfort of your own home with support from our highly qualified and friendly tutors.

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