Drugs and Behaviour

Humanities & Social Sciences
Course Code
PSYC 3341
Semester Length
Max Class Size
Method(s) Of Instruction
Typically Offered
To be determined


Course Description
This is an introductory course in psychopharmacology. Topics include the neurobiology of drug action with a focus on psychotropic drugs. The focus is on the pharmacology, metabolism, interactions, adverse effects and therapeutic uses of major psychoactive drug classes and natural health products. In addition, theories of substance abuse and harm reduction approaches in a modern cultural context are considered.
Course Content
  1. Neuronal structure and function
  2. Neurotransmitters and receptors
  3. Pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics
  4. Biology of psychological disorders
  5. Sedative hypnotics, anxiolytics and alcohol
  6. Psychostimulants, antidepressants and mood stabilizers
  7. Opiates
  8. Marijuana, hallucinogens, dissociative anaesthetics and inhalants
  9. Antipsychotics and anticholinergics
  10. Natural health products
  11. Theories of substance use, abuse, and dependence
  12. Harm reduction approaches to substance abuse
Learning Activities

The primary methods of instruction will be lecture and seminar. The course will also involve group activities, presentations, audiovisual media and guest lectures.

Means of Assessment

Evaluation will be carried out in accordance with Douglas College policy. Evaluation will be based on course objectives. The instructor will provide a written course outline with specific evaluation criteria at the beginning of semester.

An example of a possible evaluation scheme is as follows:

Reading quizzes - 5%

Research paper - 20%

Presentation - 15%

Exams - 3 at 20% each - 60%

Total - 100%

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the course, the student will be able to:


  1. Demonstrate an understanding of basic neural structure and function, with a particular focus on cellular level events such as neurotransmission.
  2. Describe and demonstrate critical thinking regarding the societal and political factors that define the legal status and social acceptability of various drugs.
  3. Identify the basic mechanisms of drug effects, including routes of administration, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics and impacts on neurophysiology.
  4. Identify the major classes of psychotropic drugs and describe their mode of action, effects and side effects.
  5. Explain the relationship between the mechanism of a drug and its use for recreational, circumstantial, or therapeutic purposes.
  6. Identify the major categories of therapeutic drugs and their relationship to psychological disorders.
  7. Analyze and critique theories of psychotropic drug use, abuse, and dependence within a biopsychosocial framework.
  8. Access and synthesize findings from drug research including explorations of pharmacodynamic mechanism, clinical trials and metanalyses of treatment efficacy.
Textbook Materials

Textbooks and Materials to be Purchased by Students:

Texts will be updated periodically. Examples of appropriate texts:

  • Meyer, J.S. & Quenzer, L.F. Drugs, the Brain, and Behavior. (current ed.) Oxford University Press.
  • Hart, C.L., Ksir, C.J., Hebb, A., Gilbert, R., & Black, S. Drugs, Behaviour, and Society.  (current Canadian ed.) McGraw-Hil Ryersonl.




No corequisite courses.


Courses listed here are equivalent to this course and cannot be taken for further credit:

  • No equivalency courses

Course Guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Course Transfers

These are for current course guidelines only. For a full list of archived courses please see

Institution Transfer Details for PSYC 3341
Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) KPU PSYC 3320 (3)
Langara College (LANG) LANG PSYC 2XXX (3)
Simon Fraser University (SFU) SFU PSYC 383 (3)
Thompson Rivers University (TRU) TRU PSYC 3560 (3)
University of British Columbia - Vancouver (UBCV) UBCV PSYC 2nd (3)
University of Northern BC (UNBC) UNBC PSYC 2XX (3)
University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) UFV PSYC 383 (3)
University of Victoria (UVIC) UVIC PSYC 345A (1.5)

Course Offerings

Summer 2023