Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

POPLHLTH 773 - Pharmacotherapeutic Responses to Addiction

15 Points

Not offered in 2019


This course provides an advanced overview of the pharmacological management of alcohol and drug problems, including overdose and withdrawal from alcohol, sedatives, opioids, cannabis and stimulants as well as the long term management of dependence on opioids, tobacco, and alcohol. Management within special groups and conditions (youth, pregnancy, coexisting) will be covered.


Prerequisite: POPLHLTH 738

Course aims

Goals of the course

The course aims to provide an advanced understanding of the pharmacological management of alcohol and drug dependence, overdose and withdrawal. Students will be able to apply this understanding to specific case based situations.

Learning outcomes

At the completion of the course, the student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the pharmacological management of overdose and withdrawal for the main drugs of abuse.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the rationale for using certain pharmacotherapies, in particular the evidential base for the maintenance treatment of dependence.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the unique needs, with respect to drug treatment, of certain groups and conditions, such as youth, pregnancy and co-existing psychiatric and physical disorders.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the principles of case management.
  • Apply this knowledge to case based scenarios/case studies.

Content outline

Topics will include:

  • Pharmacological management of overdose and withdrawal for each major drug of abuse or drug group (alcohol, opioids, sedatives, stimulants, cannabis).
  • Agonist maintenance treatment and relapse prevention.
  • Pharmacological management of addiction in special groups and conditions: youth, pregnancy, co-existing problems.
  • Principles of case management.

Learning and teaching

This 15 point course is delivered via four block teaching days, located at the Tamaki Campus. Classes are small and opportunities exist for students to interact to enhance learning. All supporting material will be available online, including lectures and most reading material. Some assessment tasks will be undertaken online. Therefore it is essential that students have ready access to a personal computer that will enable them to access the Universities Learning Management system. Teaching assumes a large component of self-directed learning, and it is expected that students will seek out information in addition to that presented to them in the form of readings. For each topic a series of revision questions will be made available.

Campus teaching dates

This course is held at Tāmaki Campus. Please see your timetable on SSO or Building 730 Reception noticeboard on the day for the room details.

Learning resources

There is no set text for this course; prescribed readings will be set for each section. However, the following texts are highly recommended.

  • Ward, J., Mattick, R.P., Hall, W.(Eds) (1998). Methadone Maintenance Treatment and Other Opioid Replacement Therapies, Harwood Academic Publishers. ISBN. 90-5702-239-7
  • Hulse, G., White J., Cape Gavin (Eds) (2002). Management of Alcohol and Drug Problems. OxfordUniversity Press. ISBN. 0-19-5513312
  • Other readings and resources will be made available online via the Universities Learning Management


Assessment 1: Case based problems worth 20%
A series of short scenarios will be posted on course builder. Students will be required to lead the
initial response for one case and then submit it for peer review by a small group (x4) of
students. Each student will be assessed on their initial response to the one case (10%) and
contribution to at least three other cases (10%).

Assessment 2: Case study - 4,000 words worth 40%
Students will write a comprehensive case study of a client that has received a pharmacological
treatment for their drug dependence (nicotine, alcohol, opioids) or for the management of
withdrawal from a drug of abuse. While issues concerning assessment and general management
(including outcome) will be required in order to contextualise the case, the focus of the work
will need to be on the pharmacological management of their withdrawal and/or dependence and
the principles of case management applied in this one case.

Examination: 2 hour short answer/essay exam worth 40%

Programme and course advice

This course can be taken as part of the Post Graduate Diploma in Health Sciences specialising in Alcohol and Drug Studies, or The MHSc specialising in Addiction and Mental Health. It will be assumed that students will be working clinically with clients in mental health and/or addiction contexts. The course POPLHLTH 738: Biology of Addiction is highly recommended as a pre- or co-requisite, but Is not
mandatory. The latter course is offered alternate years.

Teaching staff

Course Director

Course Administrator