Course Description

This course is designed to provide an overview of the genetic, molecular, neurocircuit, and psychosocial basis for the development of addiction. Students will study the neuropharmacology for the major drug classes (opioids, cannabis, stimulants, sedatives, nicotine, and alcohol) including mechanisms of action and their impacts on canonical midbrain reward circuitry. In addition to reviewing the deleterious effects of these substances and their impact on public health, the therapeutic potential of each agent will be explored. Students will learn about modern methods in addiction research through reading recently published research papers on addiction. This course is designed for students who are new to the addiction field and are seeking an in-depth overview of the topic. 

Learner Outcomes

When you complete the course successfully, you will be able to:

  • Identify the clinical features, diagnostic criteria, and health sequelae of substance use disorders (SUDs) and distinguish SUD from related terminology such as addiction, tolerance, withdrawal, etc.  
  • Identify the mechanisms of action of major drug classes including opioids, cannabis, stimulants, sedatives, nicotine, alcohol, and emerging drugs of concern.  
  • Identify genetic, molecular, psychosocial, and public health contributors to addiction pathogenesis.  
  • Apply learned knowledge of drug mechanisms to changes in gene expression, plasticity, and physiology of canonical mesolimbic reward circuits.  


This course applies toward the Biomedical Sciences Endeavor digital badge.

Textbook Information

There is no textbook for purchase required for this course.


There are no prerequisites for this course.

Follow the link to review FAES Tuition Refund Policy.

Thank you for your interest in this course. Unfortunately, the course you have selected is currently not open for enrollment. Please complete a Course Inquiry so that we may promptly notify you when enrollment opens.
Required fields are indicated by .