Syllabus for SOS-304



Drugs and Society examines the impact of substance use and abuse on the individual and on society. The course provides a balanced account of the physiological, psychological, and sociological aspects of this subject, interpreting its complex nature. Among the areas covered are current and historical approaches to treatment and prevention of substance abuse as well as the legal and ethical issues surrounding the topics.


After completing this course, you should be able to:

  1. Describe significant historical developments contributing to our current problems with drugs.
  2. Identify the nature of prevailing social attitudes and beliefs pertaining to the regulation of drugs.
  3. Explain the complex societal forces related to licit as well as illicit drug use.
  4. Describe the pharmacological bases of drug actions.
  5. Provide evidence of personal insight into ethical issues related to selected aspects of drug use.
  6. Analyze the nature and complexity of treatment and rehabilitative approaches.
  7. Identify alternatives to drug use.


You will need the following materials to do the work of the course. The required textbook is available from the University's textbook supplier, MBS Direct.

Required Textbook

ISBN-13: 978-0073380903


Drugs and Society is a three-credit online course, consisting of six modules. Modules include study materials and activities. They consist of weekly readings, six written assignments, 1 ungraded introduction discussion, and 5 graded online discussions. In addition, the course requires you to take a proctored midterm examination and to submit a Final Project in the form of a paper.

Consult the Course Calendar for assignment due dates.


For your formal work in the course, you are required to participate in online discussion forums, complete written assignments, take a proctored midterm examination, and complete a final project. See below for more details.

Consult the Course Calendar for assignment due dates.

Discussion Forums

In addition to posting an introduction to the class in Module 1, you are required to participate in five graded online discussions, each focusing on a contemporary drug-related issue.

Communication with the mentor and among fellow students is a critical component of online learning. Participation in online discussions involves two distinct assignments: an initial response to a discussion question and at least two subsequent comments on classmates' responses. Meaningful participation is relevant to the content, adds value, and advances the discussion. Comments such as "I agree" and "ditto" are not considered value-adding participation. Therefore, when you agree or disagree with a classmate, the reading, or your mentor, state and support your agreement or disagreement. You will be evaluated on the quality and quantity of your participation. Responses and comments should be properly proofread and edited, professional, and respectful.

Written Assignments

You are required to complete six written assignments. The written assignments are on a variety of topics associated with the course modules.

Questions are built around textbook readings. The questions are designed to determine your understanding of the course material as well as to provide you with an opportunity to present your personal observations and insights into the complex and often controversial nature of drug use in our society.

Carefully read the assignment questions before you begin each study assignment. Your responses should be well developed, conveying your thorough understanding of relevant course material. Formulate responses in your own words (do not merely copy answers from your reading materials). Formal footnotes are not necessary. However, you are expected to appropriately cite any text materials used in your response.

All written assignments offer a choice of questions. Note, however, that Assignments 4 and 6 contain one or more questions that you must answer. Before answering, review the relevant segments of course materials to be certain that you understand the material. In most cases, answers should be several pages or more. Single-space within paragraphs and double-space between paragraphs. Please identify every page by assignment number, question number, and page number. For example, for Assignment 1, Question 1, number your pages A1-Q1-p1, A1-Q1-p2, and so on. Note also that each question has multiple parts. Identify the number and part of the question as you answer.

Edit your assignment before submitting. Make certain that you have answered all required questions and every part of each question. Check your document for spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Make sure that all sentences are complete.

If you have any questions about the nature of a question and/or your response, contact your mentor. If you expect a delay in submitting an assignment, bring this to your mentor's attention immediately.

Please note that as part of Written Assignment 3 and 4 you are required to make preliminary submissions concerning your Final Project paper. You can get specific information about these submissions in the appropriate written assignment as well as in the Final Project area of the course Web site.

Prepare your written assignments using whatever word processing program you have on your computer. Include your name at the top of the paper, as well as the course name and code and the semester and year in which you are enrolled.

Before submitting your first assignment, check with your mentor to determine whether your word processing software is compatible with your mentor's software. If so, you can submit your work as you prepared it. If not, save your assignment as a rich-text (.rtf) file, using the Save As command of your software program. Rich text retains basic formatting and can be read by any other word processing program.

Midterm Examination

Drugs and Society requires you to take a closed-book, proctored midterm examination. It is two hours long and consists of sixty multiple-choice questions (worth 60 points) and two essays (worth 40 points). It covers all material assigned in Modules 1-3.  To prepare for the examination, review all relevant study assignments as well as material you covered in your relevant written assignments.

For the midterm, you are required to use the University's Online Proctor Service (OPS). Please refer to the "Examinations and Proctors" section of the Online Student Handbook (see General Information area of the course Web site) for further information about scheduling and taking online exams and for all exam policies and procedures. You are strongly advised to schedule your exam within the first week of the semester.

Online exams are administered through the course Web site. Consult the Course Calendar for the official dates of exam weeks.

Statement about Cheating

You are on your honor not to cheat during the exam. Cheating means:

If there is evidence that you have cheated or plagiarized in your exam, the exam will be declared invalid, and you will fail the course.

Final Project

You are required to submit at the end of the semester a paper in which you will discuss an issue and either devise a program or formulate an argument. You may select your issue from between two scenarios. This paper is worth 20 percent of your final grade for the course.

Please note that in addition to submitting the final project paper, you must make two preliminary submissions containing information about your project. For specific information about these two preliminary steps, see the Final Project area of the course Web site. This area of the Web site will also provide details about the final paper.

For details regarding the due date see the Course Calendar.


Your grade in the course will be determined as follows:

All activities will receive a numerical grade of 0–100. You will receive a score of 0 for any work not submitted. Your final grade in the course will be a letter grade. Letter grade equivalents for numerical grades are as follows:






























Below 60

To receive credit for the course, you must earn a letter grade of C or better (for an area of study course) or D or better (for a course not in your area of study), based on the weighted average of all assigned course work (e.g., exams, assignments, discussion postings, etc.).


First Steps to Success

To succeed in this course, take the following first steps:

Study Tips

Consider the following study tips for success:


Thomas Edison State University is committed to maintaining academic quality, excellence, and honesty. The University expects all members of its community to share the commitment to academic integrity, an essential component of a quality academic experience.

Students at Thomas Edison State University are expected to exhibit the highest level of academic citizenship. In particular, students are expected to read and follow all policies, procedures, and program information guidelines contained in publications; pursue their learning goals with honesty and integrity; demonstrate that they are progressing satisfactorily and in a timely fashion by meeting course deadlines and following outlined procedures; observe a code of mutual respect in dealing with mentors, staff, and other students; behave in a manner consistent with the standards and codes of the profession in which they are practicing; keep official records updated regarding changes in name, address, telephone number, or e-mail address; and meet financial obligations in a timely manner. Students not practicing good academic citizenship may be subject to disciplinary action including suspension, dismissal, or financial holds on records.

All members of the University community are responsible for reviewing the Academic Code of Conduct Policy in the University Catalog and online at

Academic Dishonesty

Thomas Edison State University expects all of its students to approach their education with academic integrity—the pursuit of scholarly activity free from fraud and deception. All mentors and administrative staff members at the University insist on strict standards of academic honesty in all courses. Academic dishonesty undermines this objective. Academic dishonesty can take the following forms:


Thomas Edison State University is committed to helping students understand the seriousness of plagiarism, which is defined as using the work and ideas of others without proper citation. The University takes a strong stance against plagiarism, and students found to be plagiarizing are subject to discipline under the academic code of conduct policy.

If you copy phrases, sentences, paragraphs, or whole documents word-for-word—or if you paraphrase by changing a word here and there—without identifying the author, or without identifying it as a direct quote, then you are plagiarizing. Please keep in mind that this type of identification applies to Internet sources as well as to print-based sources. Copying and pasting from the Internet, without using quotation marks and without acknowledging sources, constitutes plagiarism. (For information about how to cite Internet sources, see Online Student Handbook > Academic Standards > “Citing Sources.”)

Accidentally copying the words and ideas of another writer does not excuse the charge of plagiarism. It is easy to jot down notes and ideas from many sources and then write your own paper without knowing which words are your own and which are someone else’s. It is more difficult to keep track of each and every source. However, the conscientious writer who wishes to avoid plagiarizing never fails to keep careful track of sources.

Always be aware that if you write without acknowledging the sources of your ideas, you run the risk of being charged with plagiarism.

Clearly, plagiarism, no matter the degree of intent to deceive, defeats the purpose of education. If you plagiarize deliberately, you are not educating yourself, and you are wasting your time on courses meant to improve your skills. If you plagiarize through carelessness, you are deceiving yourself.

For examples of unintentional plagiarism, advice on when to quote and when to paraphrase, and information about writing assistance and originality report checking, click the links provided below.

Examples of Unintentional Plagiarism

When to Quote and When to Paraphrase

Writing Assistance at Smarthinking

Originality Report Checking at Turnitin

Disciplinary Process for Plagiarism

Acts of both intentional and unintentional plagiarism violate the Academic Code of Conduct.

If an incident of plagiarism is an isolated minor oversight or an obvious result of ignorance of proper citation requirements, the mentor may handle the matter as a learning exercise. Appropriate consequences may include the completion of tutorials, assignment rewrites, or any other reasonable learning tool in addition to a lower grade for the assignment or course. The mentor will notify the student and appropriate dean of the consequence by e-mail.

If the plagiarism appears intentional and/or is more than an isolated incident, the mentor will refer the matter to the appropriate dean, who will gather information about the violation(s) from the mentor and student, as necessary. The dean will review the matter and notify the student in writing of the specifics of the charge and the sanction to be imposed.

Possible sanctions include:

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