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Module Specifications

Archived Version 2012 - 2013

Module Title Drugs in Society
Module Code NS141
School School of Nursing and Human Sciences

Online Module Resources

Module Co-ordinatorDr Mark PhilbinOffice NumberH245b
NFQ level 8 Credit Rating 5
Pre-requisite None
Co-requisite None
Compatibles None
Incompatibles None

In contemporary societies, drugs are used for the sake of pleasure, custom, self-regulation, treatment, enhancement, dependence and profit. Controversies abound in relation to what counts as proper and improper drug use as well as how drugs should be controlled and supplied. Within this module, these various uses and controversies are explored along with their health implications.

Learning Outcomes

1. Identify the principal ways in which drugs are used in contemporary societies
2. Explore controversies about the proper and improper uses of drugs
3. Consider the significance of drug use for fundamental ideas about what it means to be a person
4. Examine debates about the control, prohibition, marketing and supply of drugs
5. Evaluate the health implications of various patterns of drug use

Workload Full-time hours per semester
Type Hours Description
Lecture18Participation in lecture-discussion
Debate18Preparations for speaking in a debate
Debate12Participation in class debates on controversial issues related to drugs
Online activity12Moodle-based reflections following from the class debates
Seminars12Led by persons with first-hand experience of drug use: as users, relatives or helpers
Assignment Completion30Preparation of an essay relating to a specific drug
Independent Study23For general reading and Moodle use
Total Workload: 125

All module information is indicative and subject to change. For further information,students are advised to refer to the University's Marks and Standards and Programme Specific Regulations at: http://www.dcu.ie/registry/examinations/index.shtml

Indicative Content and Learning Activities

Uses and misuses of drugs
Examining the history, uses, misuses, effects and health implications of a range of licit and illicit drugs

Benefit, danger and drugs
Focusing on how to judge claims about the benefits and dangers of drugs.

Becoming a 'problem drug user'
Exploring how persons come to be 'problem drug users' with particular reference to concepts of deviance and identity.

Normalisation and drug use
Addressing the argument that illicit drug use is an everyday and accepted reality in the lives of many persons.

Medicalisation, medication and illness identities.
Considering the significance of medications in expanding the province of medicine and in establishing illness identities.

Drugs and human enhancement
Exploring performance enhancement and "becoming more than oneself" through the use of drugs.

Freedom, responsibility and drug use
Examining the libertarian case for ownership of one's own body and the associated claim that drug-taking is fundamentally a matter for personal choice.

Prohibition and harm minimisation
Comparing prohibition and harm minimisation in terms of their implications for policy and treatment.

Life with drugs
With first-hand accounts by persons who have used drugs in some sense or are significantly affected by their use, various dimensions of living with drugs are the focus for reflection.

Global trade in drugs
Examining the global drugs trade with reference to both organised crime and multinational pharmaceuticals companies.

Recovery and drug use
Exploring notions of personal change and how persons constructively alter their relationships with drugs.

Assessment Breakdown
Continuous Assessment100% Examination Weight%
Course Work Breakdown
TypeDescription% of totalAssessment Date
Reassessment Requirement
Resit arrangements are explained by the following categories;
1 = A resit is available for all components of the module
2 = No resit is available for 100% continuous assessment module
3 = No resit is available for the continuous assessment component
Indicative Reading List

  • Paul Manning (Editor): 0, Drugs And Popular Culture, 9781843922100
  • Paul O'Mahony: 0, The Irish war on drugs, 9780719077906
  • Angus Bancroft: 2009, Drugs, intoxication and society, Polity, Cambridge, 9780745635460
  • Marina Barnard, Fergal Keane (Foreword): 0, Drug Addiction and Families, 9781843104032
  • Philip Bean,: 0, Legalising drugs, 9781847423757
  • Philip Bean,: 0, Drugs and Crime, 9781843923312
  • Howard S. Becker: 0, Outsiders, 9780684836355
  • Allen Buchanan,: 0, Better than Human: The Promise and Perils of Enhancing Ourselves, 9780199797875
  • Tom Carnwath and Ian Smith: 0, Heroin century, 9780415278997
  • Norman K. Denzin,: 0, The Alcoholic Society, 1560006692
  • Paul Griffiths (Foreword), Jane Fountain (Editor), Dirk J. Korf (Editor): 0, Drugs in Society, 9781846190933
  • Glen R. Hanson, Peter J. Venturelli, Annette E. Fleckenstein,: 0, Drugs And Society, 9781449613693
  • John Harris,: 0, Enhancing Evolution: The Ethical Case for Making Better People, 9780691148168
  • David Healy: 2004, Let them eat Prozac, New York University Press, New York, 0814736696
  • Mike Jay,: 0, High Society, 9780500251720
  • David A. Karp: 2006, Is it me or my meds?, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 9780674021822
  • Peter D. Kramer: 1993, Listening to Prozac, Penguin, New York, N.Y., U.S.A., 0670841838
  • Rik Loose,: 0, Subject of Addiction, 1855752999
  • G. Alan Marlatt (Editor), Katie Witkiewitz (Editor): 0, Addictive Behaviors, 9781433804021
  • McKeganey, NP: 2011, Controversies in Drugs Policy and Practice, Palgrave Macmillan, Houndmills,
  • Dawn Moore,: 0, Criminal Artefacts: Governing Drugs and Users, 9780774813877
  • David Nutt,: 0, Drugs Without the Hot Air, 9781906860165
  • edited by Adriana Petryna, Andrew Lakoff, and Arthur Kleinman: 2006, Global pharmaceuticals, Duke University Press, Durham, 0822337290
  • Tim Pilcher,: 0, e, the incredibly strange history of ecstasy, 9780762431847
  • Sue Pryce,: 0, Fixing Drugs, 9780230359710
  • Julian Savulescu, Nick Bostrom,: 0, Human Enhancement, 9780199594962
  • Dominic Streatfeild: 2002, Cocaine, Virgin, London, 9780753506271
  • Thomas Szasz: 1996, Our right to drugs, Syracuse Unversity Press, Syracuse, NY, 9780815603337
  • Robert Whitaker,: 0, Anatomy of an Epidemic, 9780307452429
  • Andy Wilson,: 0, Northern Soul, 9781843922087
Other Resources

Programme or List of Programmes
BHSBachelor of Science in Health & Society
BPYBSc (Honours) in Psychology