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Drugs & Alcohol in Schools:

Understanding Substance Use & Abuse


Instructor Name:

Dr. Karen Lea



Office Hours:

8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST Monday - Friday




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)


Drugs & Alcohol in Schools: Understanding Substance Use & Abuse


Virtual Education Software, inc. 2001, Revised 2008, Revised 2010, Revised 2013, Revised 2016, Revised 2019, Revised 2022


Dr. Karen Lea



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%, 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 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.  Your final grade for the course will be determined by calculating an average score of all exams.  This score will be printed on your final certificate.  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 before you complete all questions, your information will be lost. You are expected to complete the entire exam in one sitting.



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 karen_lea@virtualeduc.com 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 www.virtualeduc.com and also the Help section of your course.


If you need personal assistance then email support@virtualeduc.com 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: www.virtualeduc.com 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)

Addiction Center. (2021). Teenage substance abuse prevention. https://www.addictioncenter.com/teenage-drug-abuse/teenage-substance-abuse-prevention/

Addictions and Recovery. (2021). The genetics of addiction. http://www.addictionsandrecovery.org/is-addiction-a-disease.htm

American Society of Addiction Medicine. (2016). Opioid Addiction 2016 Facts & Figures. http://www.asam.org/docs/default-source/advocacy/opioid-addiction-disease-facts-figures.pdf

CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]. (2018). Prescription opioids. https://www.cdc.gov/opioids/basics/epidemic.html#:~:text=Over%2075%25%20of%20the%20nearly,death%20rates%20remained%20the%20same

CDC. (2021b). Marijuana and public health. https://www.cdc.gov/marijuana/health-effects/teens.html#:~:text=Howmanyteensusemarijuana,inthepast20days

Center on Addiction. (2018). What is vaping? https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/vaping-devices-electronic-cigarettes

FDA [U.S. Food & Drug Administration]. (2020). Newly signed legislation raises federal minimum age of sale of tobacco products to 21. https://www.fda.gov/tobacco-products/retail-sales-tobacco-products/tobacco-21#:~:text=On%20Dec.,from%2018%20to%2021%20years

FDA. (2021). Tobacco 21. https://www.fda.gov/tobacco-products/retail-sales-tobacco-products/tobacco-21

Gentzke, A. S., Wang, T. W., Jamal, A., Park-Lee, E., Ren, C., Cullen, K. A., & Neff, L. (2020). Tobacco product use among middle and high school students - United States, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/pdfs/mm6950a1-H.pdf

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), https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3543069/

Haelle, T. (2016). So does using marijuana in pregnancy hurt a baby or not? Forbes. http://www.forbes.com/sites/tarahaelle/2016/09/09/so-does-marijuana-use-in-pregnancy-hurt-a-baby-or-not/#7cf111a40656

Hanson, G. and Venturelli, J. (2022). Drugs and society (14th ed.). Jones and Bartlett.

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. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.alcohol.2012.12.016

Know the Risks. (2022). Know the risks. https://e-cigarettes.surgeongeneral.gov/knowtherisks.html#:~:text=Youngpeople'sbrainsbuildsynapses,otherdrugssuchascocaine

Martinelli, K. (2018). Teen vaping: What you need to know. Child Mind Institute. https://childmind.org/article/teen-vaping-what-you-need-to-know/

Mayo Clinic. (2020). Marijuana. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-marijuana/art-20364974

Meier, M. H., Caspi, A., Ambler, A., Harrington, H., Houts, R., Keefe, R. S. E., McDonald, K., Ward, A., Poulton, R, & 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. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1206820109

Narconon. (2016, October 26). How much of a problem are drugs in schools today. http://www.narconon.org/blog/narconon/how-much-of-a-problem-are-drugs-in-schools-today/

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2021). Underage drinking. https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/underagedrinking/Underage_Fact.pdf

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2022). What is a standard drink? https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohols-effects-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/what-standard-drink

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2017). Marijuana: Facts for teens. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana-facts-teens

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Is there a difference between physical dependence and addiction? https://www.addictioncenter.com/addiction/addiction-vs-dependence/

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Prescription opioids and heroin. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/relationship-between-prescription-drug-heroin-abuse/prescription-opioid-use-risk-factor-heroin-use

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Who uses anabolic steroids? https://nida.nih.gov/research-topics/anabolic-steroids

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). DrugFacts – Monitoring the future survey: High school and youth trends. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/monitoring-future-survey-high-school-youth-trends

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). Marijuana. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2021). Drugs, brains, and behavior: The science of addiction. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2021). Marijuana: Facts parents need to know. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana-facts-parents-need-to-know/letter-to-parents

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2021). Percentage of adolescents reporting drug use decreased significantly in 2021 as the COFID-19 pandemic endured. https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/2021/12/percentage-of-adolescents-reporting-drug-use-decreased-significantly-in-2021-as-the-covid-19-pandemic-endured

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2021). Preventing drug use among children and adolescents (In Brief). https://www.samhsa.gov/resource/ebp/preventing-drug-use-among-children-adolescents-research-based-guide-parents-educators

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2021). Prevention research branch (PRB). https://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/organization/divisions/division-epidemiology-services-prevention-research-despr/prevention-research-branch-prb

Pacific Northwest Adult & Teen Challenge. (2016). Our approach. https://teenchallengepnw.com/addiction_recovery/our_approach/

Physician’s Weekly. (2018). Is vaping dangerous? What the science shows. https://www.physiciansweekly.com/is-vaping-dangerous-what-the-science-shows/

Russell, P. (2014). Study sheds light on marijuana and paranoia. WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/brain/news/20140717/marijuana-paranoia#1

SAMHSA [Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration]. (Updated 2022). Rise in prescription drug misuse and abuse impacting teens. https://www.samhsa.gov/homelessness-programs-resources/hpr-resources/rise-prescription-drug-misuse-abuse-impacting-teens

Scholastic. (2021). Drugs + your brain. https://www.scholastic.com/drugs-and-your-body/brain.htm#:~:text=Over%20time%2C%20drugs%20change%20the,poor%20grades%20and%20lower%20IQs

Scholastic. (2021). Genetics and addiction. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2008/06/genes-addict

The Recovery Village. (2021). Guide to teen gateway drugs. https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/teen-addiction/drug/gateway-drugs/


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.


9/8/23 JN