Drugs & Alcohol in Schools:

Understanding Substance Use & Abuse


Instructor Name:               Dr. Karen Lea

Phone:                              509-891-7219

Office Hours:                    8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST Monday - Friday


Address:                           Virtual Education Software

                                         23403 E Mission Avenue, Suite 220F

                                         Liberty Lake, WA 99019

Technical Support:  



Welcome to Drugs & Alcohol in Schools, an interactive computer-based instruction course, designed to give you a more comprehensive understanding of alcohol, drugs, and their influences in your classroom. Drugs & Alcohol in Schools provides a contextual framework for understanding what students may be experiencing through their own substance use or the impact of substance use around them.  The course provides a basic historical perspective of substance use along with descriptions of biological, psychological, and social factors that comprise the disease of addiction.  This program will help you better understand a multitude of complex dynamics that contribute to this biological and social phenomenon.


This computer-based instruction course is a self-supporting program that provides instruction, structured practice, and evaluation all on your home or school computer.  Technical support information can be found in the Help section of your course.


Course Materials (Online)

Title:                Drugs & Alcohol in Schools: Understanding Substance Use & Abuse

Instructor:        Dr. Karen Lea

Publisher:         Virtual Education Software, inc. 2001, Revised 2008, Revised 2010, Revised 2013, Revised 2016, Revised 2019


Academic Integrity Statement

The structure and format of most distance-learning courses presume a high level of personal and academic integrity in completion and submission of coursework. Individuals enrolled in a distance-learning course are expected to adhere to the following standards of academic conduct.


Academic Work

Academic work submitted by the individual (such as papers, assignments, reports, tests) shall be the student’s own work or appropriately attributed in part or in whole to its correct source. Submission of commercially prepared (or group prepared) materials as if they are one’s own work is unacceptable.


Aiding Honesty in Others

 The individual will encourage honesty in others by refraining from providing materials or information to another person with knowledge these materials or information will be used improperly.


Violations of these academic standards will result in the assignment of a failing grade and subsequent loss of credit for the course.


Level of Application

This course is designed to be an informational course, with application in work or work-related settings.  The intervention strategies were designed to be used in the remediation of alcohol and drug-related behavioral problems with students ranging in age from approximately 10 to 18 years. Some alterations may be needed if working with younger children.


Expected Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of this course students will be able to:

·         Understand the history of alcohol and drugs in society and their impact on current beliefs in our culture

·         Develop a basic understanding of the “biopsychosocial” nature of addiction

·         Understand the disease concept of addiction

·         Identify different drugs and their effects on the body

·         Understand the effects of substance abuse on child development and family systems

·         Develop a foundation of understanding of prevention, intervention and supports


Course Description

Addiction is defined as a “biopsychosocial” disease. Drugs & Alcohol in Schools will explore each of these three elements individually, and then, discuss their interactions and impact on the substance using person.  The information will be further processed in order to more readily translate that information into practical application in the classroom.  To establish a broader context for understanding substances and their addictive qualities, the course will begin with the “social” component of the “biopsychosocial” disease.  This provides a backdrop that looks at the history of drugs and alcohol in society and what current societal perceptions prevail. 


The second chapter of this course will address the biological and physiological basis of addiction.  Starting with general drug classifications, we will study specific drugs and their effects.  While understanding the properties of the drugs, we will further examine what happens to the basic physiology when chemicals are introduced.  Finally, after understanding physiological reactions, we will explore how use progresses into addiction and the evolution of addiction as a “disease.”


The triad is complete as we examine the psychological factors impacting the disease.  The main focus of this chapter is a brief study of child development and the impact on stages of development if the child begins using substances.  Development will be discussed also in terms of impact due to parental use of chemicals.  From these issues, we will further explore family roles and rules that emerge in the family system.


Since the course is designed to increase your understanding and awareness of drugs and addiction, the final chapter builds upon what you have learned and offers options for how to respond.  These options look at how to most effectively and appropriately manage the effects of substance use as it impacts your students and classroom.  A review of various support groups and resources that are available is included.


Student Expectations 

As a student you will be expected to:

·         Complete all four information sections showing a competent understanding of the material presented in each section.

·         Complete all four section examinations, showing a competent understanding of the material presented.  You must obtain an overall score of 70% or higher, with no individual exam score below 50%, and successfully complete ALL writing assignments to pass this course.  *Please note: Minimum exam score requirements may vary by college or university; therefore, you should refer to your course addendum to determine what your minimum exam score requirements are.

·         Complete a review of any section on which your examination score was below 50%.

·         Retake any examination, after completing an information review, to increase that examination score to a minimum of 50%, making sure to also be achieving an overall exam score of a minimum 70% (maximum of three attempts). *Please note: Minimum exam score requirements may vary by college or university; therefore, you should refer to your course addendum to determine what your minimum exam score requirements are.

·         Complete all course journal article and essay writing assignments with the minimum word count shown for each writing assignment.

·         Complete a course evaluation form at the end of the course.




Chapter 1: Introduction

            Instructor Video          



            What Are We Facing?

            Common Terms

            Use, Abuse & Addiction

Chapter 2: A Journey Into the Mind

            Instructor Video


            The Disease of Addiction


            Neural System

            Neurons, Axons and Dendrites


            Quest for Pleasure

            Brain Circuits in Youth

Chapter 3: Substances & Their Effects

            Instructor Video


            Alcohol in the Body



            Inhalants & Hallucinogens



            Performance Enhancing Drugs

            Over the Counter & Prescription Drugs

Chapter 4: Wrapping It Up

      Instructor Video

            What Now?

            What Else Can I Do?




At the end of each chapter, you will be expected to complete an examination designed to assess your knowledge. You may take these exams a total of three times. Your last score will save, not the highest score. After your third attempt, each examination will lock and not allow further access.  The average from your exam scores will be printed on your certificate.  However, this is not your final grade since your required writing assignments have not been reviewed.  Exceptionally written or poorly written required writing assignments, or violation of the academic integrity policy in the course syllabus, will affect your grade.  As this is a self-paced computerized instruction program, you may review course information as often as necessary. You will not be able to exit any examinations until you have answered all questions. If you try to exit the exam section before you complete all questions, your information will be lost. You are expected to complete the entire exam in one sitting.


Writing Assignments

All assignments are reviewed and may impact your final grade.  Exceptionally or poorly written assignments, or violation of the Academic Integrity Policy (see course syllabus for policy), will affect your grade. Fifty percent of your grade is determined by your writing assignments, and your overall exam score determines the other fifty percent.  Refer to the Essay Grading Guidelines which were sent as an attachment with your original course link. You should also refer to the Course Syllabus Addendum which was sent as an attachment with your original course link, to determine if you have any writing assignments in addition to the Critical Thinking Questions (CTQ) and Journal Article Summations (JAS).  If you do, the Essay Grading Guidelines will also apply.

Your writing assignments must meet the minimum word count and are not to include the question or your final citations as part of your word count.  In other words, the question and citations are not to be used as a means to meet the minimum word count.


Critical Thinking Questions

There are four CTQs that you are required to complete. You  will need to write a minimum of 500 words (maximum 1,000) per essay. You  should explain how the information that you gained from the course will be applied and clearly convey a strong understanding of the course content as it relates to each CTQ.  To view the questions, click on REQUIRED ESSAY and choose the CTQ that you are ready to complete; this will bring up a screen where you may enter your essay.  Prior to course submission, you may go back at any point to edit your essay, but you must be certain to click SAVE once you are done with your edits.


You must click SAVE before you write another essay or move on to another part of the course.

Journal Article Summations

You are required to write, in your own words, a summary on a total of three peer-reviewed or scholarly journal articles (one article per JAS), written by an author with a Ph.D., Ed.D. or similar, on the topic outlined within each JAS section in the “Required Essays” portion of the course  (blogs, abstracts, news articles or similar are not acceptable). Your article choice must relate specifically to the discussion topic listed in each individual JAS. You will choose a total of three relevant articles (one article per JAS) and write a thorough summary of the information presented in each article (you must write a minimum of  200 words with a 400 word maximum per JAS). Be sure to provide the URL or the journal name, volume, date, and any other critical information to allow the facilitator to access and review each article. 


To write your summary, click on REQUIRED ESSAYS and choose the JAS that you would like to complete. A writing program will automatically launch where you can write your summary. When you are ready to stop, click SAVE.  Prior to course submission you may go back at any point to edit your summaries but you must be certain to click SAVE once you are done with your edits. For more information on the features of this assignment, please consult the HELP menu.

You must click SAVE before you write another summary or move on to another part of the course.


Instructor Description

Karen Lea holds a Ph.D. in education, has TEFL certification, and is Project Management Professional certified.  Dr. Lea has fifteen years’ experience teaching at the K–12 level and another seventeen years’ experience teaching education and leadership courses at the undergraduate and post-graduate levels.  Currently she is an Assessment Developer at Western Governor's University.  Dr. Lea has been professionally published over fifteen times and has served on more than a dozen panels and boards, including serving on the NCATE (CAEP) Board of Examiners.


Contacting the Instructor

You may contact the instructor by emailing or by calling (509) 891-7219 Monday through Friday. Calls made during office hours will be answered within 24 hours. Phone conferences will be limited to ten minutes per student, per day, given that this is a self-paced instructional program. Please do not contact the instructor about technical problems, course glitches, or other issues that involve the operation of the course.


Technical Questions

If you have questions or problems related to the operation of this course, please try everything twice. If the problem persists please check our support pages for FAQs and known issues at and also the Help section of your course.


If you need personal assistance then email or call (509) 891-7219.  When contacting technical support, please know your course version number (it is located at the bottom left side of the Welcome Screen) and your operating system, and be seated in front of the computer at the time of your call. 


Minimum Computer Requirements

Please refer to VESi’s website: or contact VESi if you have further questions about the compatibility of your operating system.


Refer to the addendum regarding Grading Criteria, Course Completion Information, Items to be Submitted and how to submit your completed information. The addendum will also note any additional course assignments that you may be required to complete that are not listed in this syllabus.


Bibliography (Suggested readings)


Addictions and Recovery. (2018). The genetics of addiction.

American Society of Addiction Medicine. (2016). Opioid Addiction 2016 Facts & Figures.

Bradley, Ramsey. (2015). Teen drug education and awareness program. Amazon Publishing Group—Create Space. A comprehensive guide to setting up a school program (grades 4–12).

Brown, W. K. (2011). Drugs and school performance (drugs 101). Amazon Digital Services. Information on drug and alcohol impact on school grades and performance. (grades 7–12).

CDC. (2018). Prescription opioids. Retrieved from

Center on Addiction. (2018). What is vaping? Retrieved from

Chambers, James. Teen on drugs. (2016). Amazon Publishing Group—Create Space. The secrets of knowing whether your child is using drugs and what to do. (grades 6–12).

Martinelli, K. (2018). Teen vaping: What you need to know. Child Mind Institute. Retrieved from

Dillon, P. (2011). Teenagers, alcohol, and drugs. London, United Kingdom: Allen & Unwin. An overall understanding of the impact of drugs and alcohol (grades 4–12).

Goriounova, N. A., & Mansvelder, H. D. (2012). Short- and long-term consequences of nicotine exposure during adolescence for prefrontal cortex neuronal network function. Cold Springs Harbor Perspectives in Medicine, 2(12),

Haelle, T. (2016). So does using marijuana in pregnancy hurt a baby or not? Forbes.

Hanson, G. and Venturelli, J. (2012). Drugs and society. Burlington, MA: Jones and Bartlett. Investigates the biological impact of drugs on the body (grades 7–12).

Irwin, C. Leveritt, M., Shum, D., & Debrow, B. (2012). The effects of dehydration, moderate alcohol consumption, and rehydration on cognitive functions. ALCOHOL: An International Biomedical Journal, 47(3), 203–213.

Jacobs, W., Goodwon, P., & Barry, A. (2016). The role of gender in adolescents’ social networks and alcohol, tobacco, and drug use: A systematic review. Journal of School Health, 85(5), 322–333.

Krause, N., Pargament, K., Irsonson, G., & Hill, P. (2016) Religious involvement, financial strain, and poly-drug use: Exploring the moderating role of meaning in life. Substance Use & Misuse, 1–8.

Kuhar, M. (2015). The addicted brain. Pearson FT Press. What science has learned about addictions. (grades k–12).

Kuhn, C.  (2014). Buzzed: Straight facts about drugs. New York, NY: WW Norton Publishing. Guide to understanding drugs and the effects on the body. (grades 5–12). (212) 354-5500.

Latta, S. (2014). Investigate steroids and performance drugs. New York, NY: Enslow. Explores the dangerous myths about steroids. (grades 6–12). 800-398-2504.

Maisto, S. (2015). Drug use and abuse. Independence, KY: Cengage Learning. An interdisciplinary approach to understanding drugs (grades k–12).

Mayo Clinic. (2016). Marijuana.

Meier, M. H., Caspi, A., Ambler, A., Harrington, H., Houts, R., Keefe, . . . Moffitt, T. E. (2012). Persistent cannabis users show neuropsychological decline from childhood to midlife. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109(40), 15970–15980.

Narconon. (2016, October 26). How much of a problem are drugs in schools today.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). DrugFacts – Monitoring the future survey: High school and youth trends.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2016). Underage drinking.

NIDA. (2003). Preventing drug use among children and adolescents (In Brief). Retrieved from

NIDA. (2016). Drug facts: Monitoring the future survey: High school and youth trends. Retrieved from, January 2019.

NIDA. (2016). Principles of Substance Abuse Prevention for Early Childhood. Retrieved December 19, 2016, from

NIDA. (2018, December 17). Monitoring the Future survey: High school and youth trends. Retrieved from

NIDA (2018). Drugs, brains, and behavior: The science of addiction. Retrieved from

NIDA. (2017). Marijuana: Facts for teens. Retrieved from

NIDA. (2018). Marijuana. Retrieved from

NIDA. (2018). Marijuana: Facts parents need to know. Retrieved from

NIDA. (2018). Prescription opioids and heroin. Retrieved from

Padon, A. A., Rimal, R. N., Jernigan, D., Siegel, M., & Dejong, W. (2016). Tapping into motivations for drinking among youth: Normative beliefs about alcohol use among underage drinkers in the United States. Journal of Health Communication, 21(10), 1979–1087.

Physician’s Weekly. (2018). Is vaping dangerous? What the science shows. Retrieved from

Russell, P. (2014). Study sheds light on marijuana and paranoia. WebMD.

Salerno, J., & Ghioni, N. (2016). Teen speak: A guide to real talk. Amazon Books. Straight talk from teens on sex, drugs, and other risky behaviors. (grades 6–12).

Stoddard, S. A. (2016). The role of social context and future orientation in adolescent alcohol and marijuana use and intentions: Expanding the reasoned action model. Journal of Adolescent Health, 58(2), S14.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2014). Results from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of national findings. NSDUH Series H-48, HHS Publication No. (SMA) 14-4863. Rockville, MD: Author.

Williams, L. R., Ayers, S., Baldwin, A., & Marsiglia, F. F. (2016). Delaying youth substance-use initiation: A cluster randomized controlled trial of complementary youth and parenting interventions. Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research, 7(1), 177–200.

Wilson, R., & Kolander, C. (2010). Drug abuse prevention. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett. Helps to develop effective drug prevention programs. (grades 4–12).

Winnett, E., & Chatterjee, S. (2013). No thanks!: Saying no to alcohol and drugs. Red River, TX: Counseling With Heart. How to avoid peer pressure in the area of drugs. (grades 3–6).


Course content is updated every three years. Due to this update timeline, some URL links may no longer be active or may have changed. Please type the title of the organization into the command line of any Internet browser search window and you will be able to find whether the URL link is still active or any new link to the corresponding organization's web home page.


3/13/19 JN