Discussion Questions

A. Discuss how neuronal plasticity may be implicated in the development of substance use disorders. Include a discussion of epigenetic factors.

B. What roles might dopamine and corticotrophin releasing hormone play in the development of substance use disorders? Does their involvement in this condition have implications for interventions or therapies?

C. What type of events can cause the reinstatement (relapse) of an addiction in a person who seemed to have beaten the habit?

D. Discuss characteristics of addiction progression, beginning at the initial euphoria experienced by the user. Include a discussion as to why an individual may continue using a drug in spite of negative consequences.

E. Different approaches can be taken in treating addictions. What might be the most important factors to promote success to such treatments?

F. Smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol are obviously risky behaviours, yet they are legal and are not on any list of restricted substances. In contrast, opioid-based pain medications and many other compounds are strongly controlled. Do you believe that changes should be made with respect to drug legalization? Why?

G. For years there has been the contention that ‘gateway drugs’, such as cannabis, are the starting point for subsequent use of ‘harder’ drugs. Is this view based on scientific data, and if so, do these data support a causal connection between the use of gateway drugs and later addiction?

H. A great number of homeless people have a substance use disorder. About 30% of homeless people also are affected my mental disorders. Do you think that governments ought to do more for homeless people, such as providing them with housing rather than temporary shelters? In answering this question, consider that the cost of homelessness is enormous, stemming from ‘overuse’ of health-related services, interactions with the legal system (which includes the cost of incarceration and court appearances) and the cost of temporary shelters. In fact, these costs may exceed those of treating homeless people with housing, which may also allow them to regain their dignity which could be a step in facilitating a more productive life.