People around the world consume a staggering range of legal and illegal psychoactive
substances on a daily basis. In fact, the range of substances people use is
so wide, it isn't practical, or even really possible, for us to
familiarize ourselves with each substance. However, there are some
substances that are more commonly used and personally and socially
problematic. It is important that clinical, school, and other counselors
familiarize themselves with commonly used substances, as many client's
struggle with substance use or are impacted by family members' use.
Substance use is a broad, highly complex issue. Throughout this course,
you will be asked to reflect on your personal reactions, values, and biases,
as counselors who are aware of their values are better able to work with
clients who identify with a diverse range of cultures.
As you read through the list of substances consider what it would be like to
work with a client with a long-term history of using a given
substance. As you browse the website, pay attention to which substances
you might be particularly likely to encounter in your future career and
to your personal reactions to each of the substances.
NIDA Exploration Questions:
What reactions did you have to the list of substances? Have
you used any of the substances, known anyone who struggled with
using these substances, or worked with people who were
struggling because of any of these substances?
How do you think your biases and reactions to the substances you
read about might impact your future work with clients?
Do you believe that the information on this website is factually accurate
and valid to your future work with clients? If you believe
so, what markers cued you to it being accurate and valid? If
you believe there are factual inaccuracies or that it is not
otherwise valid, what experiences of information support your
The Erowid Center website and organization are dedicated to providing
resources to people who identify with drug and substance culture. Visit
their website and read
descriptions of the substances that you saw on the NIDA Drugs of Abuse list. After comparing the sites,
dig a bit deeper on Erowid.
Try to find the histories of substances you are interested in, and make sure
to check out the Experience Vault. Explore a few new
substances, before responding to the reflection questions below.
Erowid Exploration Questions:
How were the descriptions of the risks and effects of
the substances similar across NIDA and Erowid?
How were they different across the sites?
Which of these sites would you be more likely to use in
the future if you needed information on a substance that a client
Do you believe that a client must cease using
substances in order to progress in counseling?
What Constitutes a Drug?
People have access to a wide range of plant based and synthetic substances,
some of which have been scheduled as drugs by the United States Drug
Enforcement Administration (DEA) The DEA defines a Schedule I Drug as "...substances or
chemicals... with no currently accepted medical use and a high
potential abuse". Read through the following research
articles regarding sweeteners, before responding to the following
Sweeteners are not the only things in our lives that can trick our brains
the same way as substances do. Check out this news article with preliminary data (from Wayne State) regarding
electronic devices stimulating pleasure neurotransmitters.
What Constitutes a Drug Exploration Questions
Based on what you read do you feel that sweeteners meet the US DEA
definition for a Schedule I drug? Why or why not?