Illicit drug use is a key contemporary concern both for our country and globally. Opinions about the dangers of illicit drug use vary as widely as the drugs which are used - but few are in doubt that the number of people using drugs has increased hugely over the last twenty years and that it is therefore an issue that requires detailed examination. Drugs are also of course always a political ‘hot potato’ and the laws and policies related to illicit drug use are never without controversy. This course is designed to provide students with a critical understanding of contemporary drug misuse and its impact; treatment and prevention services; and related international and national laws and policies.
|A||Spring Term 2020-21|
Illicit drug use is a key contemporary concern both for our country and globally. Opinions about the dangers of illicit drug use vary as widely as the drugs which are used - but few are in doubt that the number of people using drugs has increased hugely over the last twenty years and the variety of substances used in increasing almost on a daily basis. Drugs are also of course always a political ‘hot potato’ – particularly the link between drugs and crime - and the laws and policies related to illicit drug use are never without controversy. This course is designed to provide you with a critical understanding of contemporary drug misuse and its impact; treatment and prevention services; and related international and national laws and policies. You will learn about:
Debates around illicit drug use are politically, emotionally and scientifically influenced and and often controversial. You will be able engage with these ideas being sensitive at all times to other people's perspectives. You will be able to critically engage with international and national drug policy debates comparing and contrasting the approaches taken in the UK to those in other countries and make reasoned and evidenced assessments as to which approaches work most effectively. You will interrogate the causalities of drug use applying structural and individual explanations and learn to appreciate the need for imagination and flexibility in the corresponding policy and practice solutions. You will be able to will critically assess sources of competing and countervailing qualitative and quantitative evidence around theories of causalities and policy and practice and develop rigorous and well-evidenced arguments as to the strength of that evidence.In seminar discussions, You will be able to critically assess sources of competing and countervailing evidence around competing approaches to problematic drug use particularly in terms of harm reduction and recovery and the political, social and clinical influences on policy and practice stemming from these diverse perspectives.Your critical engagement will allow you to see beyond simplistic paradigms relating to drug policy and practice and you will develop your own assessment of what constitutes best practice - including practices of criminal justice agents and institutions in their treatment of drug users.
Week 2: Illicit drugs: prevalence and explanation
Seminar: Discussion of module and stories of drug use
Week 3: Exploring vulnerability and drug use
Seminar: Case studies of drug users
Week 4: The impact of drug use on family, community and society
Seminar: The normalisation debate
Week 5: Drug Policy Part 1
Seminar: The role of the media as a barrier to effective drug policy
Week 6: Drug Policy Part 2
Seminar: Comparing different countries’ drug policies
Week 7: The changing nature and function of (illicit) drugs
Seminar: New patterns of intoxication and new drugs of choice?
Week 8: Prevention and harm reduction
Seminar: The case for Drug Consumption Rooms
Week 9: Treatment interventions
Seminar: Sinned against not sinning: the role of stigma in preventing recovery from drug use
Week 10: Drug Users and the Criminal Justice System
Seminar: Ex-prisoners recovering from addiction: Blueprints for the treatment and throughcare of prisoners with histories of drug and alcohol dependence
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The assessment for this module is a 4000 word essay which should comprise a full examination of a misused drug of your choice in terms of production, usage, effects, impacts, harms, current responses and alternative responses. You are free to give the essay your own title. You have the freedom in your essay to focus on the UK or to be more international in your approach as for some drugs one or other of these options will be more appropriate.
Support will be offered throughout the module to ensure you are well placed to complete the assessment. The week 6 seminar of the Spring term will provide an opportunity to discuss the essay questions. Students can submit essay plans up to two weeks after the end of the Spring term. Support for the assessment is also offered through the Discussion Space which will be available during Weeks 6-10 of the Spring term and over the Easter vacation.
You will receive will receive written prompt feedback using a Marking Matrix within four weeks of the submission of your assessment.