Drug Abuse and Behavioral Addiction

Florence University of the Arts - The American University of Florence

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Drug Abuse and Behavioral Addiction

  • Host University

    Florence University of the Arts - The American University of Florence

  • Location

    Florence, Italy

  • Area of Study


  • Language Level

    Taught In English

    Hours & Credits

  • Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    This course examines the practice and basic principles of addiction to drugs of abuse such as heroin, alcohol, tobacco, cannabis or cocaine. Course topics will cover the epidemiology of drug abuse, the experimental models used in brain research, and the pathological consequences of drug addiction (including heavy drinking and smoking). The course will extend the concept of addiction to pathological behaviors such as compulsive consumption of palatable food, physical exercise dependence, compulsive shopping, sexual hyperactivity, internet abuse, and gambling. The neurochemical mechanisms that are shared and lead from reward to positive reinforcement, loss of control, and dependence will be examined. The symptomatological and neurochemical similarities and differences between drug and behavioral addiction will be addressed, along with the self-destructive behaviors, tolerance, craving, and withdrawal symptoms that both types of dependence produce. The course traces also the basic aspects of human biology and physiology that are needed to fully comprehend the topics at hand, including the neuronal circuits and neurotransmitters that are altered by both natural and artificial rewards. Students will also learn how to analyze scientific data and correctly interpret the information that is published in peer-reviewed international scientific journals. Finally, students will gain an understanding of the social and ethical implications of drug and behavioral addiction and of the peculiar features of this problem in different countries, with an emphasis on the European and Italian approach as compared with other areas of the world.

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

Some courses may require additional fees.

Availability of courses is based on enrollment numbers. All students should seek pre-approval for alternate courses in the event of last minute class cancellations


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