Goal of Class
• The search for and understanding of the
common underlying psychopathologies or
causes, in the brain, mind, and culture, that
predispose some individuals to drug use
and abuse (Keller, 1992).
Course Map
• Part I (midterm 1)
– History and Policy of Drug Use
– Neuropsychopharmacology
• Neurotransmitters; Expectancy; Placebo
– Addiction
• Part II (midterm 2)
– Specific drugs and drug categories
• Stimulants; Opiates; Hallucinogens; Marijuana;
Antidepressants; Alcohol
• Part III
– Student presentations
Learning Tips
• Be skeptical and critical.
• Look for both sides of every story.
• Think big (holistic).
• Think small (reductionistic).
• Connect the dots.
• Remember that correlation  causation.
• Be an active learner
• Pharmakon is Greek for drug.
– Pharmacology is the study of drugs.
• Psyche is Greek for mind.
– Psychopharmacology is the study of drug effects on
mental states and behavior.
• Neuro is Greek for nerve.
– Neuropharmacology is the study of drug effects on the
nervous system.
• Cognitio is Latin for knowing.
– Cognitive Neuropharmacology is the study of drug
effects on the nervous system that relate to cognition.
Concerns in Cognitive Science
• Perception
• Consciousness
• Attention
• Emotion
• Learning
• Language
• Memory
• Decision-making
What do drugs have to do with
these things?
How, where, and why are drugs used?
How do they work?
What sorts of effects do they have?
What role do expectations play in those effects?
What sorts of long-term effects do they have (e.g. damage)?
Why do some people become addicted to drugs?
How has society responded to drugs and addiction?
What forces shape drug policy (e.g. scientific, economic, political)
What Makes a Drug Legal or Illegal?
• The distinction we sometimes make is between
– drugs that give pleasure directly (recreational use)
– drugs that give people the ability to function in society
(which can indirectly lead to pleasure) (instrumental
• How are drugs (legal/illegal) misused and/or
– misuse: inappropriate application
– abuse: use that produces physical, mental, or social
Why some do and some don’t
• Risk factors
– Genetic
– Socioeconomic status
– Psychosocial
• Deviant subcultures
• Approval/disapproval of friends and parents
• Availability
• Judgment of risks involved
• Inclination toward other drug use or delinquent
Why some do and some don’t
• Protective factors
Positive home environment
Peer relationships
Positive attitudes and beliefs
What is a “drug”?
– “Anything you take with the intention of changing how
your body acts.”
– “A substance used in the diagnosis, treatment, or
prevention of a disease or as a component of a
– “A chemical substance that affects the central nervous
system, causing changes in behavior and often
– …”excluding those nutrients considered to be related to normal
Drug Effects
Drugs are chemicals with
real biochemical
consequences that affect
A depressed individual
takes an antidepressant
and the depression lifts.
What are the brain
mechanisms that
produce that effect?
Drug Effects (Cont.)
• How we think about
drugs can alter these
drug-brain dynamics
– A depressed individual
takes a sugar pill
thinking it’s an
antidepressant and the
depression lifts.
– What are the cognitive
mechanisms that
produce that effect?
Drug Effects (Cont.)
• What our society and
culture say about
drugs alters the
– Pro- and anti-drug
– Role of media
– Role models
Drugs as a Tripartite Phenomenon
• Chemical substances that act upon and can cause
temporary or lasting changes in biological (e.g. neural)
• Psychoactive agents, having effects on emotion,
cognition, and behavior
• Sociocultural artifacts that influence individual and
societal behavior via their role in rituals, media, language,
Drugs Operate in Tripartite Context
• Biological (e.g. drug interactions, physiological
arousal/sedation, genetics, gender)
• Psychological (e.g. mood, cognitive expectations,
• Social/Cultural (e.g. cultural setting, group beliefs)
» Evolutionary??
» Economic??
The Biopsychosocial Approach
The biological, psychological, and social
environments are interrelated and interdependent
are affected by
are part of
...the BPS environment.
Your Drug Knowledge
• How much chocolate would you have to eat to get the same high as
one marijuana joint?
– 25 lbs
• What drugs are most often used by children under fourteen?
– Chemical solvents (benzene, propane, those found in glue and paint).
20% of 8th graders have used them.
• Is caffeine addictive?
– Yes/No
• What popular rave drug is known to cause brain damage?
– Ecstasy (methylenedioxymethamphetamine: MDMA)
• Are herbal remedies sold at health food stores “drugs”?
– Yes/no
Your Drug Insight
Are drugs inherently good or bad?
What are factors that encourage one to take drugs (legal or illegal) today?
What makes them ‘bad’?
What are some benefits?
Is altering the body and mind morally wrong?
Is drug taking a failure of character?
Is there “Better living through chemistry?”
Why do you take drugs? to cope? to make up for chemical deficits?
Do legal drugs ‘cure’ diseases? create them? redefine them?
The expectation that a drug (legal or illegal) will change us. But, do they?
at what price?
Whom do we blame for addiction?
- friends
- family
- society
- uncertainty - stress
Are there drugs that you associate with specific people/groups (economic,
ethnic, etc)?
Policy of the US: “To create a drug free America” by 1995; by 2002; by
Do we still want a “drug free America?”