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University of Northern Iowa                                                  SPRING 2008
Department of Social Work

3 credits
Prerequisites: Junior Standing

Katherine van Wormer, MSSW, Ph.D.      E-mail:
Office Hrs: M—11:00-11:50 & 2:00-3:00 Website:
and W – 1:00-2:00 p.m.
36 Sabin Hall   Phone: 273-6379

The purpose of this course is to introduce students to practice and policy aspects of
addictions counseling. From a strengths perspective, biological, psychological, social,
and spiritual factors will be considered as they relate to substance abuse issues.

Course Objectives

1. To acquire an understanding of addiction as a chronic problem and chronic disease. To
recognize that relapse is not a failure but an expected phase of the withdrawal process. To
develop a familiarity with the ecological model as a framework that identifies
biopsychosocial components in addiction.

2. To develop familiarity with the major treatment modalities used today and to recognize
that approaches should be individualized for clients.

3. To learn to focus on the here-and-now but never to the neglect of the past.

4. To recognize high possibility of recovery, though not cure, for addiction.

5. To acquire knowledge of alcoholism and drug dependency as a family disease so that
interventions may include family members for best results. To discuss the role of the
school in identifying and treating children in alcoholic homes.

6. To be familiar with the basic philosophy and principles of Alcoholics Anonymous and
Al Anon, and the harm reduction model.

7. To acquire knowledge of physiological aspects of addiction with special emphasis on
―the addicted brain.‖

8. To develop a realistic appreciation for the field of addictions counseling as a viable

area of employment.

9. To develop a familiarity with the Code of Ethics adopted by the Iowa Board of
Substance Abuse Certification. To know stringent requirements for confidentiality in this

10. To view the use of substances in cultural and international perspective. To be aware
of special treatment needs of diverse populations in American society.

Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) provides protection from
discrimination for qualified individuals with disabilities. Students with a disability, who
require assistance, will need to contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS) for
coordination of academic accommodations. The ODS is located at 103 Student Health

For more information visit or phone 319/273-2676.

Counseling Center
UNI offers free and confidential counseling to enrolled students. The counseling center is
located at 103 Student Health Center. For more information visit or call 273-2676.

Grievances and Appeals
Students with grievances or appeals are referred to ―Policies & Regulations Affecting
Students 1994-1996 – The University of Northern Iowa‖ distributed to all students. A
copy is also available in the Social Work office, Sabin 21.
Policy on Sexual Harassment
References to Plagiarism Policy

               Course Assignments and Requirements

This course is concerned with why, how, how much, where, and when of alcohol and
other drug consumption and treatment. The inquiring, attentive student should emerge
from the course with more questions than answers but a determination to keep seeking
knowledge on the nature of addiction and unique individual and cultural differences. For
classroom learning to take place, there must be class discussion and tolerance for our

Likewise, there should be empathy and understanding for the personal pain that will be
engendered in many of us coming as we may from alcoholic homes or presently involved
in a close relationship with an alcoholic/addict. For many students, this course, because
of the dynamic and meaningful content, will serve as a turning point in some unexpected
way. Students can be tremendously helpful to other students in sharing their feelings and

sudden overwhelming realizations.

Oral presentations will be on a special topic related to substance abuse for example,
steroid use, anorexia, nicotine addiction, obsessive compulsive disorder. The presentation
will be assigned when the subject matter is covered in class. Presentations are to be
approximately 5-20 minutes per person in length. Usually 4-5 persons report as a group
on a similar topic such as criminal justice and substance abuse, eating disorders,
shopping, gambling addictions, steroids, etc. Reports are graded in terms of preparation,
originality and contribution to the learning experience. Please use note cards and/or
overheads, video excerpts, posters, etc. Do not read your report. Turn in the last card with
your name and references on it. The card will later be returned with your grade. Topics
will be cleared with the instructor in advance.

Graduate students will complete the course requirements and additionally, after
consultation with the professor, will submit a graduate research paper 5-10 pages in
length on a specialized topic not covered in class, for example, the relationship between
ADHD and addiction. Alternatively, a graduate student may present a mini-workshop on
a subject of expertise like using the DSM-IV.

Course Grading

Course Requirements
1. Midterm exam (essay) 1/3
2. Final exam (essay) 1/3
3. Oral presentation 1/6
4. Class Preparation 1/6
Includes attendance and reading as demonstrated in response to questions
on the text. Sample: Why is the word illness used instead of disease?

93-100 = A 73-76 = C
90-92 = A- 70-72 = C-
87-89 = B+ 67-69 = D+
83-86 = B 63-66 = D
80-82 = B- 60-62 = D-
77-79 = C+ 0-59 = F

Graduate students: The grade on the independent project counts 1/6 instead of the class
preparation grade.

van Wormer, K. & Davis, D.R. (2007). Addiction Treatment: A Strengths Perspective.
(2nd ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Co.

Power Point can be downloaded on my website ( under books.
Sample exam questions can be retrieved for each chapter at

under social work books, Addiction Treatment.

Course Outline/Readings/Due Dates

The oral reports are scheduled about the time when those subjects are covered in the
reading so Eating Disorders should be covered around week 9.

Weeks 1 and 2
Preface. Note that the book is divided into the three parts of the biopsychosocial model.
Chapter 1, Introduction: Nature of Addiction.

This chapter introduces the strengths perspective and harm reduction model, defines
terms and controversies in the field, applies the strengths perspective to diverse models.

Week 3.
Chapter 2. Historical Perspectives. Find the three basic themes developed in this chapter
related to mood altering substances, legal and illegal, across the centuries.
Chapter 3. Strengths-Based Helping Strategies. Note comparisons of strengths-based and
traditional approaches, also the fundamentals of motivational interviewing.

Week 4
Chapter 4, Substance Misuse, Dependence and the Body. This is the first of the two
extensive biological chapters. That addiction is a brain disease is a major theme. The
various drugs – alcohol, meth, cocaine, etc.

Week 5 until the Midterm
Chapter 5, Interventions Related to Biology. This chapter discusses medications and
holistic approaches for various addictions including nicotine addiction and eating
disorders. Assessment and use of group therapy techniques for the first phase of treatment
are highlighted.


Week 7-8
Chapter 6, Addiction Across the Life Span. Topics covered: Adolescence and youth
substance use, drug survey results, college binge drinking; special issues related to
treatment of the elderly. Prevention and spiritual healing are major themes.
Week 9
Chapter 7, Eating Disorders, Gambling, Shopping, and Other Behavioral Addictions. The
title speaks for itself.
Week 9
Chapter 8, Substance Misuse with a Co-Occurring Disorder or Disability. The major
disorders are described in this chapter in terms of their link with substance misuse.
Week 10

Chapter 9, Family Risks and Resiliencies. Topics: family adaptation to addiction and
family counseling based on the stages of change; the Rename, Reframe, Reclaim model
for healing of family members.
Week 11
Chapter 10, Racial, Ethnic, and Cultural Issues. Interventions with various diverse
cultural groups are discussed.
Week 11
Chapter 11, Gender and Sexual Orientation Differences. Topics covered: biological and
psychosocial differences in male and female addictions; working with gays, bisexuals,
lesbians, and transgendered persons.
Week 12
Chapter 12, Mutual-Help Groups. Learn the power of 12 Step groups, basic beliefs and
controversies. Study the 12 Steps of AA. Compare with the 9 Steps offered as an
alternative at What is missing here and why?
Week 12 - final
Chapter 13. Public Policy. Note especially discussion of the war on drugs as a war on
minorities, and women in poverty, conspiracy laws, and federal laws related to
confidentiality. Be prepared to argue for or against decriminalization.

FINAL TEST -- Section 1 – May 7th at 10:00

                 Section 2 -- May 5th at 10:00

Extra Credit: Visit an AA, NA, OA, Al Anon or other 12 Step group. Make sure the
group is open to visitors unless you are a member. Worth two points toward the final
grade. Write up a brief summary after your visit. You can also watch and write a review
of the videos/DVDS: Walk the Line, 28 Days, Traffic, Angela’s Ashes. Or view these
amazing classics: Days of Wine and Roses, The Lost Weekend. Or read Angela’s Ashes
or one of the books in the references list. Interview a practicing substance abuse
counselor about which model or models are used and other relevant points of interest.

           RESOURCE BIBLIOGRAPHY, books at UNI library

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Behavioral Health Management
International Journal of Addictions
International Journal of Eating Disorders
Journal of Addictive Diseases
Journal of Drug Education
Journal of Drug Issues
Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services
Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions
Journal of Studies of Alcohol

Iowa Board of Certification—
Iowa Substance Abuse Library 1-800-247-0614
National Clearinghouse 1-800-729-6686


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