Drugs and Addiction


Course Objective

Students will obtain insight in the neurobiological, clinical and
societal aspects of drug addiction and critically
discuss and evaluate a current hot topic in addiction

Course Content

How does the brain respond to drugs? Why do people become addicted? And
how does addiction impact your life?
Addiction is the most widely occurring psychiatric disorder, which
continues to extract enormous human and financial costs on our western
society. The central feature of drug addiction is compulsive drug use,
i.e. loss of control over apparently voluntary acts of drug seeking and
drug taking. Currently, the leading view on addiction is that repeated
drug consumption by vulnerable individuals (genotype) causes compulsive
drug-seeking behaviour (phenotype) due to long-lasting neurobiological
changes in the brain. Unfortunately, available treatments are as yet
inadequate for most people and the risk of relapse
to active drug use remains very high (80-90%), even after extended
periods of abstinence. Against this background, the course will allow
students to become familiar with the epidemiology, psychology,
neurobiology, psychopharmacology and therapy of addiction with
a focus on drug addiction as well as compulsive gambling. Political and
societal aspects
of addictive behaviour will also be addressed. Visits to treatment
centers are part of the course.

Teaching Methods

Lectures, workshops, site-visits and self-tuition

Method of Assessment

Individual essay which accounts for 70% of final mark and written mid-
term exam which accounts for 30% of final mark.


Primary literature: links to scientific papers will be provided in

Target Audience

3rd year bachelor Health Sciences and related bachelor programmes

Additional Information

Course coordinators:
Dr. L. Diergaarde, department of Anatomy and Neurosciences,
VU university medical center
Dr. T. Pattij, department of Anatomy and Neurosciences, VU university
medical center
Various teachers from within our university and guest lecturers from
other universities and institutes will provide lectures in the course.

Dit vak is onderdeel van een minor en heeft een maximaal aantal
deelnemers. Studenten die de hele minor doen, hebben voorrang.

Custom Course Registration

Due to limited number of places available for the site-visits to treatment centers, preregistration for participation in the site-visits may be required. Information for this registration procedure will be posted on Canvas.

Recommended background knowledge

Basic neuroscience knowledge

General Information

Course Code AB_1032
Credits 6 EC
Period P3
Course Level 300
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator dr. T. Pattij
Examiner dr. T. Pattij
Teaching Staff dr. T. Pattij
dr. L. Diergaarde

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Study Group, Computer lab, Lecture