Lifelong Learning for a Brighter World

young female addictions health worker smiling at camera holding a folder with a focus group in the background young female addictions health worker smiling at camera holding a folder with a focus group in the background

Professional Addiction Studies

Building holistic skills for health professionals.

Program is offered entirely online!

ADD 202 - Pharmacology- Fall 2019

Academic Credit Value:
3 units
Course Delivery Mode:
Hours of Study:
42 hours
Course Prerequisite(s):
Admission to the Professional Addiction Studies Program
Course Anti-requisite(s):
Instructor Name:
Course Dates:
10/07/2019 - 12/15/2019

Required Course Materials:
Csiernik, R. (2014). Just Say Know: A Counsellor’s Guide to Psychoactive Drugs. Toronto: Canadian Scholars Press Inc.
Optional Course Materials:
Course Description:

This course provides an in-depth examination of the unique attributes of each of the four groupings of psychoactive agents: depressants (including opioids), stimulants, hallucinogens and psychotherapeutic agents, including psychoactive affects and the effects of the withdrawal process. The relationship between psychoactive drug pharmacology and how drugs are classified as licit or illicit will also be examined.

Learning Outcomes:

Upon completion of this course, students will:

1. Define and classify the process of addiction using pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic processes
2. Describe the central and peripheral nervous systems and their functions
3. Identify effects of CNS depressants (including opioids), CNS stimulants, CNS hallucinogens, psycho-therapeutic agents on health and behaviour
4. Recognize the impact of psychoactive drugs on sleep for physical and the sleep cycle
5. Distinguish between the different families of psychoactive drugs and identify signs of use, intoxication and withdrawal
6. Describe withdrawal management approaches and examine the various substances used in medication-assisted therapy (e.g. methadone, suboxone, Antabuse, etc.)

Course Evaluation

The final grade is calculated based on the following components:

Discussions (15%)
Quizzes (30%)
Assignment 1: Pharmacokinetics Scavenger Hunt (15%)
Assignment 2: Psychoactive Drugs (20%)
Assignment 3: Withdrawal Management (20%)

Course Format:

This course is designed to present the fundamental concepts and theories in Pharmacology and promote the application to the workplace and professional practice. Course activities will include instructor presentations, required readings and experiential learning activities (i.e. case studies, group discussions, projects, etc.).

Assignment Submission:
Course assignments are submitted to the appropriate A2L Assignment folder by the specified due date
Late Coursework:
Late assignments will be subject to a 2% per day late penalty (includes weekends and holidays) for up to seven (7) days. After this date, no assignments will be accepted and a grade of zero (0) will be applied.  Extensions for course work must be approved by the instructor before the due date (see Academic Regulations below), and will be granted for illness or emergencies only. Students may be asked to submit supporting documentation for an extension request. 

Policy & Procedures:

Academic Regulations (Attendance, Coursework, Tests/Exams):

In accordance to McMaster University’s General Academic Regulations, “it is imperative that students make every effort to meet the originally scheduled course requirements and it is a student’s responsibility to write examinations as scheduled.” Therefore, all students are expected to attend and complete the specific course requirements (i.e. attendance, assignments, and tests/exams) listed in the course outline on or by the date specified.
Students who need to discuss possible extension or interrupted study, as a result of medical, personal or family reasons, must contact the Program Manager prior to the originally scheduled due date. Failure to contact the Program Manager, or denial of an extended due date, will result in the late policy being applied and no further consideration will be granted. 

*Note: Supporting documentation will be required but will not ensure approval of accommodation(s).

Academic Integrity

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity. Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: “Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty”), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in-group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.
Academic Accommodations:
Students with disabilities who require academic accommodations must contact the Student Accessibility Centre (SAS) to meet with an appropriate Disability Services Coordinator. To contact SAS, phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652, or email For further information, consult McMaster University’s Policy for Academic Accommodation for Students with Disabilities.
On-line Elements:
In this course, we will be using on-line elements, which may include email, Avenue to Learn, WebEX, and external web sites.  Students should be aware that, when they access the electronic components of this course, private information such as first and last names, user names for the McMaster e-mail accounts, and program affiliation may become apparent to all other students in the same course. The available information is dependent on the technology used. Continuation in this course will be deemed consent to this disclosure. If you have any questions or concerns about such disclosure please discuss this with the course instructor.

In this course, we will be using a web-based service ( to reveal plagiarism. Students will be expected to submit their work electronically to and in hard copy so that it can be checked for academic dishonesty. Students who do not wish to submit their work to must still submit a copy to the instructor. No penalty will be assigned to a student who does not submit work to All submitted work is subject to normal verification that standards of academic integrity have been upheld (e.g., on-line search, etc.). To see the Policy, please go to McMaster Academic Integrity Policy.

Course Changes:
The instructor reserves the right to modify elements of the course and will notify students accordingly.
Course Withdrawal Policy:
Policies related to dropping a course and course withdrawals are posted to the Centre for Continuing Education’s program webpage, FAQs & Policies (
Storm Closure Policy:

In the event of inclement weather, the Centre for Continuing Education will abide by the University’s Storm Closure Policy:, and will only close if the University is closed.  All in-class courses, exams and room bookings by internal and external clients will be cancelled if the Centre for Continuing Education is closed.  On-line courses will take place as scheduled.

Grading Scale:



Equivalent Grade Point

Equivalent Percentages








































Course Schedule:

Module Topics


1 - Pharmacological Factors of Addiction

2 - Drugs and the Nervous System

Discussion 1

3 - Pharmacokinetics & Pharmacodynamics

Quiz 1

4 - Sedatives, Inhalants, and Alcohol

Assignment 1:
Pharmacokinetics Scavenger Hunt

5 – Opioids

Discussion 2

6 - Stimulants

Assignment 2:

Psychoactive Drugs

7 - Hallucinogens

Quiz 2

8 - Anxiety and Mood Disorders

9 – Psychotic Disorders

10 - The Drug Withdrawal Process

Quiz 3

Assignment 3:
Withdrawal Management