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Online course

Understanding Drugs and Addiction

How do addictions develop? How are they best treated and prevented? Explore these key questions with this free online course.

What’s the difference between a free course and an upgraded course?

Free:

  • Access to the course for its duration + 14 days, regardless of when you join (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • No access to course tests
  • No certificate

Upgraded:

  • Unlimited access to the course, for as long as it exists on FutureLearn (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • Access to course tests
  • A Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course

Find out more

Understanding Drugs and Addiction

Why join the course?

We are all touched by addiction – personally, within our circle of family and friends, and within our community. Addiction and its related harms can be crippling for those affected and the people around them.

But how does addiction develop? What can we do to treat it? And what can we do to prevent it?

Explore how addiction develops

In this free online course, we’ll explore how addiction develops, looking at the environmental, genetic and personal risks involved.

We’ll examine what happens when a drug enters your body and your brain, how your brain changes, and how this process can make recovering from addiction such a challenge.

You’ll learn how we can best treat addiction, and how national and international policies help limit the harms from addiction.

Meet experts in addiction science and treatment

King’s College London is a world leader in the science and treatment of addiction. Educators on this course are drawn from a variety of disciplines throughout the university, and work together to understand and respond to addiction.

Each week, we’ll be joined by some of the world’s leading scientists, who will present cutting edge neuroscientific research - research that will lead to a greater understanding of how addiction develops and how we can treat it most effectively.

By understanding addiction, we can shed light on the greater issues of self-control and choice. Indeed, we will develop a greater understanding of ourselves.

Skip to 0 minutes and 8 secondsCan I ask you three questions? How does a like become a love? How does a taste become a need? How does desire become compulsion? We are all touched in some way by addiction whether personally, socially within our circle of family and friends, or within our community. Addiction, and its related harms, can be crippling for those affected, and for the people around them. But how does addiction develop? What can we do to treat it? And what can we do to prevent it? In this course we explore how addiction develops. We look at the risks in the environment,

Skip to 0 minutes and 50 secondsin our personalities, in our genes: we look at the risks for developing addiction. We examine what happens when a drug enters you body and your brain, and how the reward centre of your brain becomes activated. We look at how your brain changes in response to drugs. And we look at how this process can make recovering from addiction such a challenge.

Skip to 1 minute and 20 secondsOur team will describe how we can best treat addiction, and how governments, nationally and internationally, can help limit the harms from addiction. King’s College London are world leaders in the science and treatment of addiction. Lecturers on this course are drawn from a variety of disciplines thoughout King’s College; a team who work together to understand and respond to addiction. Each week our teaching is supplemented by some of the world’s leading scientists who will present their own cutting edge neuroscientific research into addiction, research that will lead to a greater understanding of how addiction develops and how we can treat it most effectively. By understanding addiction, we can shed light on the greater issues of self control and choice.

Skip to 2 minutes and 17 secondsIndeed, by understanding addiction, we can develop a greater understanding of ourselves. My name is Dr Kyle Dyer, I’m a psychopharmacologist at King’s College London and, on behalf of the team, I look forward to meeting you on our course.

What topics will you cover?

  • The nature of addiction and its diagnostic criteria.
  • The pharmacology and neuroanatomy of addiction and dependence.
  • Biological, genetic and environmental factors associated with the development of addiction.
  • The consequences of addiction, including the complex relationship between mental health, drug abuse and addiction.
  • The nature and range of treatment approaches and options available for addiction.
  • The role of international and national policy in responding to addiction.
  • First-hand account of an adult’s experience of addiction.
  • Current research studies and techniques in addiction science.
  • Future directions and challenges in addiction science, policy and treatment.

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...

  • Discuss the nomenclature, nature and diagnostic criteria for addiction.
  • Describe the psychopharmacological basis of drug action, neurotransmission, tolerance and dependence, including the neuroanatomical structures relevant for addiction and the role of neuroimaging in understanding drug action and neuroadaptation.
  • Explain the genetic, individual and environmental factors associated with addiction, including gene * environment interactions
  • Summarise the psychosocial and health-related harms of addiction, including the effect of drug abuse and addiction upon foetal and child development.
  • Describe the relationship between mental health problems, drug abuse and addiction, the link between cannabis and the onset of psychosis and the issues around dual diagnosis.
  • Describe the general nature and range of treatment approaches for addiction.
  • Explain the rationale for pharmacotherapeutic treatment approaches for addiction and the role of social setting and support in recovery.
  • Discuss the economic benefit of effective addiction treatment.
  • Describe the general nature of the role of policy in responding to drug related harm.
  • Explain the role of policy on availability, accessibility and marketing upon drug prevalence.
  • Debate the issues surrounding the legalisation or criminalisation of drugs of abuse.

Who is the course for?

No specialist knowledge or previous experience is required.

Who will you learn with?

Kyle Dyer

Dr Kyle Dyer is Director of Distance Learning at the IoPPN, Kings College London and studies the acute effects of drugs of abuse. 'Follow' to see my comments in your activity feed and twitter @MahliD

Who developed the course?

King’s College London is ranked in the world’s top 20 universities. Based in the heart of London, it is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge, learning and understanding in the service of society.

What’s the difference between a free course and an upgraded course?

Free:

  • Access to the course for its duration + 14 days, regardless of when you join (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • No access to course tests
  • No certificate

Upgraded:

  • Unlimited access to the course, for as long as it exists on FutureLearn (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • Access to course tests
  • A Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course

Find out more

Get extra benefits, upgrade this course. For $89 you'll get:

Unlimited access

Upgrading will mean you get unlimited access to the course.

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  • Take the course at your own pace
  • Refer to the material at any point in future

If you’re taking a course for free you have access to the course for its duration + 14 days, regardless of when you join. If you upgrade the course you have access for as long as the course exists on FutureLearn.

Access to tests

When you upgrade you’ll have access to any tests during the course.

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  • Validate your learning
  • Ensure you have mastered the material
  • Qualify for a certificate

To receive a Certificate of Achievement you need to take any tests and score over 70%. You don’t get access to tests if you choose to take a course for free.

Certificate of Achievement

Upgrading means you’ll receive a Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course.

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  • Prove your success when applying for jobs or courses
  • Celebrate your hard work
  • Display on your LinkedIn or CV
  • Includes free shipping

To receive a Certificate of Achievement you need to mark 90% of the steps on the course as complete, and score over 70% on any course tests.