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Public Health Perspectives On U.S. Drug Policy

3rd term
Health Policy and Management
3 credits
Academic Year:
2022 - 2023
Instruction Method:
Asynchronous Online with Some Synchronous Online
Auditors Allowed:
Yes, with instructor consent
Undergrads Allowed:
Grading Restriction:
Letter Grade or Pass/Fail
Course Instructors:
Alene Kennedy-Hendricks

Introduction to Online Learning is required prior to participating in any of the School's Internet-based courses.


The U.S. is facing a historically lethal overdose crisis that has shown no signs of abating. Reversals of gains in life expectancy have been attributed in part to addiction and overdose. Given the public health magnitude of the crisis, it is imperative that students understand the policy landscape surrounding substance use, addiction, and overdose. In this course, students will have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the policy issues affecting the health and well-being of people who use substance or have a substance use disorder.

Presents a critical examination of U.S. drug policy through a public health lens. Course topics include: policy mechanisms for reducing drug-related harm; implications of various drug control policies on population health and wellbeing; drug control enforcement and the role of the criminal justice system; stigma and the politics of drug policy; the organization and financing of services for people who use substances, including treatment of substance use disorders; and policies and services targeting special populations.

Learning Objectives:

Upon successfully completing this course, students will be able to:

  1. Identify the main policy mechanisms for reducing drug-related harm
  2. Evaluate the impacts of different U.S. drug policies on public health
  3. Situate U.S. drug policy in an international context
  4. Diagnose gaps in and failures of U.S. drug policy in maximizing health
  5. Propose solutions to addressing U.S. drug policy gaps, failures, and inequalities
  6. Discriminate the differential effects of U.S. drug policy on vulnerable populations in the U.S.
Methods of Assessment:

This course is evaluated as follows:

  • 35% policy memo
  • 35% op-ed assignment
  • 15% Livetalk attendance/participation
  • 15% Discussion Board

Enrollment Restriction:

Undergraduate students are not permitted in this course

Instructor Consent:

No consent required

Jointly Offered With: