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Week 3: Physiological Effects of Substances

April 4, 2021
Brenda I. Belcher

Week 3: Physiological Effects of Substances

This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs.

—The Museum of Broadcast Communications

What does it take to convince someone of the negative short- and long-term effects of substances so they will quit abusing them? In 1987, the Advertising Media Partnership for a Drug-Free America (PDFA) created its largest advertising campaign ever with this slogan and an iconic image of an egg frying in a pan. The creative image took only seconds to convey the dangerous physical effects of drugs. The fragility of the brain captured by the egg sizzling in oil, and the image of frying—which has become part of the slang for getting “high”—made a lasting impression on the target audience for the PDFA campaign.

The reality is that the physiological effects of substance abuse are not always obvious from the “outside.” One cannot see a brain “frying” like an egg in a pan. Fortunately, certain hallmarks of addiction, including tolerance and withdrawal, have been established that indicate to some extent whether someone is becoming or is in danger of becoming addicted. This week, you analyze the relationship between the hallmarks of addiction and the physiological effects of substances. You also evaluate the dangers of physiological effects of addictive substances and develop a communication strategy to warn against them.


The Museum of Broadcast Communications. (2013). Retrieved from

Learning Objectives

Students will:
  • Analyze relationship between hallmarks of addiction and physiological effects of addictive substances
  • Evaluate physiological dangers of addictive substances

Learning Resources

Note: To access this week’s required library resources, please click on the link to the Course Readings List, found in the Course Materials section of your Syllabus.

Required Readings

Gilpin, N. W., & Koob, G. F. (2008). Neurobiology of alcohol dependence. Alcohol Research & Health, 31(3), 185.

Focus on understanding the stages and of alcohol dependence.National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2010). Drugs, brains, and behavior: The science of addiction. Bethesda, MD: Author. Retrieved from the NIDA website: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/science-addictionFocus on the varied approaches to the prevention and treatment of addiction.National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2011). Drug facts: High school and youth trends. Bethesda, MD: Author. Retrieved from the NIDA website: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/high-school-youth-trendsDocument: Physiological Effects of Addictive Substances (PDF)

Optional Resources

Siegel, S. (2005). Drug tolerance, drug addiction, and drug anticipation. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 14(6,) 296–300.

Note: Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.

Capuzzi, D., & Stauffer, M. D. (2012). Foundations of addictions counseling (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

  • Chapter 2, “Substance Addictions”
    Focus on the role of tolerance and withdrawal in substance use.
  • Chapter 16, “Substance Abuse Prevention Programs for Children, Adolescents, and College Students”
    Focus on the particular characteristics of adolescents that might make them vulnerable to addictions. Also focus on successful programs already established and messages that have been crafted for adolescents.

Clark, T. T. (2010). Reviewing the connection between paradigms and theories to understand adolescent drug use. Journal of Child & Adolescent Substance Abuse, 19(1), 16–32. 

Focus on some of the theories for adolescent drug use and consider how these might inform information on dangers of substance abuse.Hall, A. J., Logan, J. E., Toblin, R. L., Kaplan, J. A., Kraner, J. C., Bixler, D., . . . Paulozzi, L. J. (2008). Patterns of abuse among unintentional pharmaceutical overdose fatalities. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 300(22).

Focus on unintentional deaths by drug overdose involving the abuse of prescription medication.Hendricks, P. S., Prochaska, J. J., Humfleet, G. L., & Hall, S. M. (2008). Evaluating the validities of different DSM-IV-based conceptual constructs of tobacco dependence. Addiction, 103(7), 1,215–1,223.

Focus on the measurements and findings of nicotine addiction. The article is based on DSM-IV, however the DSM-5 has not changed the conceptual constructs of tobacco dependence.

Discussion: Short- and Long-Term Dangers of Substances

Addiction may look different in different individuals. There are certain hallmarks of addiction, including tolerance and withdrawal, which have been established for recognizing when an individual crosses over from use, to abuse, to addiction. A distinct relationship exists between the hallmarks of addiction and the physiological effects of addictive substances.

In this Discussion, you will examine these hallmarks and the physiological effects of addictive substances as you provide an example that demonstrates their relationship.

To prepare for this Discussion:

  • Review Foundations of Addictions Counseling, Chapter 2, “Substance Addictions.”
  • Review the report, “Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction.”
  • Review the article “Neurobiology of Alcohol Dependence,”
  • Review the document titled, “Physiological Effects of Addictive Substances.”

By Day 4

Post your response to the following:

What is the relationship between hallmarks of addiction and physiological effects of addictive substances? Provide an example that best describes this relationship and explain why. Provide at least one citation to support your example.

Note: The confidentiality of the Discussion cannot be guaranteed. Therefore, please do not include identifying details of actual individuals or organizations in your responses.

Be specific and use the week’s Learning Resources in your response.

By Day 6

Respond to at least one colleague:

  • Offer another perspective based on your perspective on the hallmarks of addiction.
  • Confirm or expand on someone else’s post using specific examples or insights.

Submission and Grading Information

Grading Criteria

To access your rubric:Week 3 Discussion Rubric

Post by Day 4 and Respond by Day 6

To participate in this Discussion:Week 3 Discussion

Assignment: Creating Awareness of Risks

Although many new nationally known programs are available aimed at preventing substance abuse and addictions, many people develop addictions every year. The tendency to develop addiction varies with different ages, cultures, and other factors. One population that is most at risk of developing addictions is the high-school-age population. Studies have shown that adolescents perceive themselves as invulnerable to poor health (Santrock, 2010). In addition, physical development is taking place that makes them more at risk for substance abuse. The amygdala, for example, which is more driven by primitive impulses, is in a state of transition. Young adults do not have fully developed prefrontal cortexes, which are responsible for delaying gratification, controlling impulses, planning, prioritizing, and focusing, until later adolescence (Perkinson, 2012). This week, you will develop a communication tool to create awareness of the short- and long-term physiological dangers of substance addiction for this important-to-reach high-school-age population.

To prepare for this Assignment:

  • Review the article “Drug Facts: High School and Youth Trends”.
  • Become familiar with some graphic tools that may aid you in preparation of your poster.

By Day 7

Submit a visually interesting poster for a high-school-age population that includes the following:

  • Short- and long-term physiological effects of an addictive substance
  • A slogan or paragraph that translates facts into a compelling message for this population

Be specific and draw on the required readings for this week in the creation of your poster.

Note: Create your poster in whichever program works best for you, such as Microsoft Word, Microsoft Publisher (to create a PDF), or any open-source program you choose. You may also submit a photograph of your poster as a digital file, such as a jpeg or tiff file.


Perkinson, R. T. (2012). Chemical dependency counseling: A practical guide. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Santrock, J. W. (2010). Adolescence (13th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Submission and Grading Information

To submit your completed Assignment for review and grading, do the following:

  • Please save your Assignment using the naming convention “WK3Assgn+last name+first initial.(extension)” as the name.
  • Click the Week 3 Assignment Rubric to review the Grading Criteria for the Assignment.
  • Click the Week 3 Assignment link. You will also be able to “View Rubric” for grading criteria from this area.
  • Next, from the Attach File area, click on the Browse My Computer button. Find the document you saved as “WK3Assgn+last name+first initial.(extension)” and click Open.
  • If applicable: From the Plagiarism Tools area, click the checkbox for I agree to submit my paper(s) to the Global Reference Database.
  • Click on the Submit button to complete your submission.
Grading Criteria

To access your rubric:Week 3 Assignment Rubric

Check Your Assignment Draft for Authenticity

To check your Assignment draft for authenticity:Submit your Week 3 Assignment draft and review the originality report.

Submit Your Assignment by Day 7

To submit your Assignment:Week 3 Assignment

Week in Review

This week you analyzed and evaluated the hallmarks of addiction and the physiological dangers of addictive substances.

Next week you will examine and differentiate between addictions and compulsions. In addition, you will begin to learn how to assess for addictions through an intake process.

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