I.     Course Prefix/Number: PSY 237

       Course Name: Psychopharmacology

       Credits: 3 (3 lecture; 0 lab)

II.    Prerequisite

HSV 122, PSY 101, or PSY 238 or concurrent enrollment.

III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course studies behavioral and cognitive effects of psychoactive drugs, including both illicit drugs and use of drugs in treating psychological disorders. Content includes psychology and physiology of addictions; information on drug use, misuse, abuse, and addiction; socially abused chemicals and historical background, pharmacology, psychological and physiological effects, medical uses, dependence patterns and toxicity.

IV.   Learning Objectives

  1. Explain the relationship between the psychology and physiology of addictions.
  2. Explain the fundamental workings of the human nervous system and the impact of drugs on the psychological and physiological processes.
  3. Identify the major drugs of potential abuse within the categories of stimulants, depressants, narcotics, hallucinogens, and cannabis.
  4. Explain the categorization of drugs.
  5. Explain the medical use of drugs including the degrees of possible physical and psychological dependence, tolerance, usual methods of administration, possible effects, and effects of overdose and withdrawal syndrome.
  6. Explain the differences in values, attitudes, beliefs, and behavior patterns of special populations concerning the psychology and physiology of substance abuse.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

  1. Drug Use: An Overview
  2. Drug Use as a Social Problem
  3. Drug Regulations
  4. The Nervous System
  5. The Action of Drugs
  6. Stimulants, Depressants
  7. The Action of Drugs
  8. Drugs for Mental Illness
  9. Alcohol in the Body, Alcohol and Society
  10. Nicotine, Caffeine, Over-The Counter Drugs
  11. Narcotics
  12. Hallucinogens, Cannabis and Hashish
  13. Steroids and Other Drugs In Sport
  14. Drug Education and Prevention
  15. Substance Abuse Treatment

VII.  Methods of Instruction

This course will include lectures, discussion, class conferences, assigned text readings, and individual student research.
Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

  1. Assigned reading
  2. Completion of exercises
  3. Writing - Students will be required to write for the class the equivalent of 12-15 typed pages of material that will be graded. This writing may take the form of a research or term paper, summaries of journal articles, and/or a series of shorter, analytical papers.
  4. Participation in class discussions
  5. Performance on exams and papers
  6. Oral presentations

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

Hanson, Glen R., Venturecci, Peter J. and Fleckenstein, Annette E. (2012). Drugs & Society. (11th ed.). Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett.

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

Grades will be determined by attendance; class participation and presentation; quizzes and exams; and/or research paper. Examinations will be given to determine competency in required skills.

XI.   Other Course Information

  1. Policies on attendance make-up exams, late assignments and important dates are at the discretion of the individual instructor.

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at

Electronic video and/or audio recording is not permitted during class unless the student obtains written permission from the instructor. In cases where recordings are allowed, such content is restricted to personal use only. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited. Personal use is defined as use by an individual student for the purpose of studying or completing course assignments.

For students who have been approved for audio and/or video recording of lectures and other classroom activities as a reasonable accommodation by Oakton’s Access Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC), applicable federal law requires instructors to permit those recordings. Such recordings are also limited to personal use. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited.

Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action through the Code of Student Conduct.