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Neurobiology of Addiction, MSBS 5135S


Course Director:   Dr. Anthony Tobia

Dept. of Psychiatry



I.            Course Overview


This 2-credit course provides an overview of the principles of substance‐related disorders and the mechanisms that underlie addiction. Students will be introduced to the epidemiology and developmental course of addiction, risk and protective influences that act on the course of addiction and its adverse health consequences. Both genetic and environmental underpinnings will be discussed. Effective interventions and treatment modalities will also be briefly discussed. Finally, while the emphasis of the course is on addiction to substances (alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs), the emerging class of non‐substance addictive behaviors (sex addiction, internet/gaming, and pathological gambling) will also be presented. What distinguishes this course from other post-baccalaureate curricula is that we supplement traditional classroom didactic with a discussion of selected media and anime.


II.           Learning Objectives


Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:


• Recognize the role of the CAGE questions in screening for at-risk drinking

• Differentiate between elevated liver enzymes due to chronic alcohol ingestion versus viral etiology

• Identify standard drink equivalents

• Identify physical sequelae of liver failure

• Recognize benzodiazepine overdose and its recommended treatment

• Identify the mechanism of action of Disulfiram

• Distinguish between alcohol withdrawal delirium and alcoholic hallucinosis

• Recognize acute intoxication syndromes of alcohol and substances of abuse

• Identify the acute withdrawal syndromes of alcohol and substances of abuse

• Recognize the signs of opioid intoxication and withdrawal

• Recognize the signs of inhalant intoxication

• Recognize the signs of stimulant intoxication and withdrawal

• Recognize the signs of hallucinogen intoxication

• Discuss how sex addiction and gambling disorder are related to addiction medicine


III.          Course Structure


This course will meet weekly on [day and time TBD] during the Fall Semester. The course will use a combination of lectures, discussions, and analyses of cases studies.


IV.         Course Text:


Kaplan and Sadock, Synopsis of Psychiatry, 9th ed., 2003, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins


V.          Course Topics:


Alcohol Use Disorder


Alcohol-Induced Disorders



Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Cocaine-Induced Disorders

Amphetamines & Synthetic Mephadrone

Heroin-Induced Disorders

LSD Use Disorder



DMT, NMDA & other Club Drugs

PCP Use Disorder

Sex Addiction

Cannabis Use Disorder

Inhalant Use Disorder



Nicotine Use Disorder

Caffeine Use Disorder

Gambling Disorder


VI.            Assessment and Grading: A, B+, B, C+, C and F


VII            Assessment and Grading


The final grade will be determined by an average of mid-term and (noncomprehensive) final exams. Students will also be given the opportunity to earn extra credit by tweeting clinically relevant topics with the hashtag to be determined.


Students are required to take all regularly scheduled examinations. Excused absences from these exams, due of illness or family emergency may be granted only by the MS/MBS Program Director.


In the event of illness or emergency, students should contact the MS/MBS Program Director as soon as possible. If an excuse is granted, the Program Director will notify the course director. Make-up examinations will be given only to students whose absence from an examination is judged by the Program Director to be for valid cause.

Otherwise the exam score will be recorded as zero.


Planned absences such as Medical School Interviews, religious observations, etc that conflict with an exam must be scheduled at least one week prior to the exam and are granted at the course director's discretion.


Make-up exams will be made available to students granted an excused absence.


VIII            Course Evaluation: This course will be evaluated by online survey as administered by the MBS/MSBS program.