Methods for Enhancing Education

These are a few suggestions for methods on how to enhance education on alcohol and drugs at your medical school.

  • See the AMSP sample syllabus for alcohol-related elective courses for medical students. [Jump to]
  • See the AMSP film list for videos you may find useful in educating on substance-related topics. [Jump to]
  • Examine the AMSP suggestions for enhancing education. [Jump to]
  • Use the manual about Motivational Interviewing with patients who have alcohol or drug problems. [Jump to]
See the AMSP sample syllabus for alcohol-related elective courses for medical students
University of California, San Diego
School of Medicine Elective, Spring 2004
Susan Tapert, Ph.D. & Marc A. Schuckit, M.D.
Location: VA Medical Center (La Jolla) Room 2438
Time: Tuesdays, 12:30 – 1:30
Date Topic Lecturer
1 Mar 30, 2004 Overview
Prevalence and diagnostic criteria for substance use disorders.
Marc A. Schuckit, M.D.
Susan F. Tapert, Ph.D.
2 Apr 6, 2004 Screening for Alcohol and Drug Use Disorders **
Simple and effective tools for assessing alcohol and drug use problems and disorders in clinical settings.
Susan F. Tapert, Ph.D.
3 Apr 13, 2004 Rehabilitation and Self-Help in Treating Alcohol and Drug Use Disorders **
A range of approaches for treating individuals with alcohol and other drug use disorders, including how doctors can use AA in practice.
Susan F. Tapert, Ph.D.
4 Apr 20, 2004 Medical Consequences **
Medical problems caused or exacerbated by alcohol and other drugs reviewed by body system.
Marc A. Schuckit, M.D.
5 Apr 27, 2004 Detoxification **
Withdrawal symptoms and medical management for alcohol and other drugs.
Marc A. Schuckit, M.D.
6 May 4, 2004 Comorbidity of Substance Use Disorders with Other Psychiatric Disorders **
Prevalence of psychiatric disorders among individuals with substance use disorders and techniques for accurate assessment.
Susan F. Tapert, Ph.D.
7 May 11, 2004 Medications in Treating Alcohol and Drug Use Disorders **
Specific medications and the risks and benefits of each.
Marc A. Schuckit, M.D.
8 May 18, 2004 Genetics of Alcohol and Drug Use Disorders and Summary
How substance use disorders are inherited and the degree of risk transmitted.
Marc A. Schuckit, M.D.
Susan F. Tapert, Ph.D.
Test what you've learned.
Course Evaluations

** These lectures feature interviews with patients from the VA’s Alcohol and Drug Treatment Program.

Students must complete course and faculty evaluations of this and all School of Medicine courses in order to receive a grade. The identity of individual students will not be shared with the course instructors.

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See the AMSP film list for videos you may find useful in educating on substance-related topics

Film can bring concepts into life. Here is a list of videos that can be shown in short clips during lectures on substance use disorder topics, or can be shown in entirety during a film series or movie club.

WARNING: Some of these movies feature graphic language, sex, violence, and drug use. We recommend that you preview the film in advance to ensure it is appropriate for your audience.

28 Days – (2000, Sandra Bullock) A big-city newspaper columnist is forced to enter a drug and alcohol rehab center after stealing a limousine and crashing it into a house. Good clips to demonstrate physical features of dependency and effects of substance use on family members.

Affliction – (1997, Nick Nolte) A deeply troubled small town cop investigates a suspicious hunting death while events occur that cause him to mentally disintegrate. He is haunted by memories of a childhood terrorized by his drunken abusive father. Accurate portrayal of the association of alcohol use and increased domestic violence and physical abuse.

Barfly – (1987) Based on the book by the heavy-drinking writer Charles Bukowski; about a man (Mickey Rourke) who spends his life in seedy L.A. bars who falls in love with an alcohol dependent women (Faye Dunaway) and finds some success in writing but drinks it away.

Basketball Diaries – (1995) Based on the semi-biographical book by Jim Carroll, a young man (Leonardo DiCaprio) from a tough neighborhood with a wonderful potential career in basketball wrestles with his inability to control his drug use. This is a violent but always moving story.

Basquiat – (1996) Portrait of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat (an Andy Warhol protoge) and his addiction to and eventual death from heroin.

Better Living Through Circuitry – (2000) A look at the “Rave scene” and use of Ecstasy (MDMA).

Black Tar Heroin: The Dark End of the Street – (1999) HBO cable documentary that shows the devastating effects of heroin on young users.

Blow – (2001, Johnny Depp) Traces the explosion of cocaine use and the violent business that supports it. Based in part on real cases, this movie demonstrates both the big business aspect of cocaine trafficking and the impact that this drug has on the lives of users.

Children Underground – (2001) Disturbing portrait of runaway children in Romania. Depictions of their use of inhalants.

Christiane F. – (1981) A teenager gets involved in the Berlin drug scene of the 1970s. Good portrayals of heroin, sedative and LSD use. David Bowie performs in it as well.

Clean and Sober – (1988, Michael Keaton, Morgan Freeman) A hotshot real-estate agent deals with his cocaine dependence.

Cocaine Fiends, The – (1935) Similar to “Reefer Madness, this is a 1930s propaganda movie which helps to show the way substance abuse has been perceived/portrayed over time.

Corner, The - A 6-part HBO series depicting the effects of heroin and cocaine on an inner-city community.

Country Girl, The – (1954, Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby). Grace Kelly won an Oscar for her portrayal of the wife of an alcoholic actor.

Days of Wine and Roses – (1962) Man (with drinking problem) meets women (with drinking problem). Good depiction of the effects of alcoholism on a relationship.

Drugstore Cowboy – (1989, Matt Dillon, Heather Graham, cameo by William S. Burroughs) A gritty, sometimes stark portrait of a group of young friends trying to survive while in Portland Oregon’s heroin scene.

Drunks – (1995, Richard Lewis, Faye Dunaway, Dianne Weist, Calistsa Flockhart, Amanda Plummer) A fairly good portrayal of 12-step programs.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – (1998) Hunter S. Thompson, the oddball journalist (played by Johnny Depp) and his “attorney” (Benicio del Toro) travel to Las Vegas for a series of psychedelic escapades; good demonstrations of the acute effects of LSD and cocaine.

Fiona – (1998) Gritty, documentary-like portrayal of a prostitute and the role of illicit drugs in that sub-culture.

Gia – (1998) Angelina Jolie as a 1970s supermodel who becomes involved with the Studio 54 scene. Good depictions of cocaine and other drug use.

Go Ask Alice – (1973) With William Shatner and Andy Griffith. Based on the actual diary of a teenage girl. Portrays LSD use and a “bad trip.”

Gridlock’d – (1997, Tupac Shakur, Tim Roth). After a friend overdoses, two guys decide to kick their drug habits and attempt to enroll in a government detox program. Their efforts are hampered by seemingly endless red tape, as they are shuffled from one office to another while being chased by drug dealers and the police.

Hoosiers – (1986) Dennis Hopper plays an alcoholic with potential to be more if he could lose the bottle. Excellent stimulus for discussion of motivational interviewing - progression of an individual through precontemplation, contemplation, and steps toward abstinence.

Human Traffic – (1999) The Cardiff club scene in the 90's: five best friends deal with their relationships and their personal demons during a weekend. Starting Friday afternoon, with preparations for clubbing, we follow the five from Ecstasy-induced fun through a booze-laden comedown early Saturday morning followed by the weekend's aftermath.

Jo Jo Dancer – (1986) Richard Pryor revisits his life, from growing up in a brothel as a child and struggling to beat the long odds to become a top rated comedian. However, his success brings new problems as he develops a tragic pattern of substance abuse that begins to screw up his life. One can find brief clips that can be relevant to an overview on substance use.

Kids – (1995, Chloë Sevigny) A disturbing portrayal of teenage life, AIDS, and the Kids of New York City. Controversial in its content, the film exposes the grim reality of a group of skate-boarders in the space of 24 hours. Use of marijuana, inhalants, alcohol, and other substances.

Lady Sings the Blues – (1974) Diana Ross portrays Billie Holiday. Good portrayal of the consequences of addiction.

Last Call – (2002) Showtime cable movie with Jeromy Irons as F. Scott Fitzgerald. Nice depiction of consequences of alcoholism.

Leaving Las Vegas – (1995) An alcohol dependent man (Nicolas Cage) goes to Las Vegas to drink himself to death; he forms an uneasy friendship and non-interference pact with a woman of the streets (Elisabeth Shue); great demonstration of the shakes.

Lost Weekend, The – (1945) Ray Milland as an alcoholic in 1940s New York. An attempt, though stylized, to show DTs. A better depiction of the struggle with dependence. Won four Academy Awards.

Man With the Golden Arm, The – (1955) Frank Sinatra won the Best Actor Oscar as an opioid-dependent musician/card dealer who stops using drugs and slowly is drawn back. Has a 1950s Hollywood portrayal of going “Cold Turkey.”

My Name is Bill W. – (1989, James Woods, James Garner) A rendition of the origins of A.A.

Panic in Needle Park, The – (1971, Al Pacino). Stark portrayal of life among a group of heroin addicts who hang out in "Needle Park" in New York City. A homeless girl who finds in her relationship with a young addict. She becomes addicted too, and life goes downhill for them both as their addiction deepens, eventually leading to a series of betrayals. Graphic shots of heroin use.

Permanent Midnight – (1998) Ben Stiller as a Hollywood screenwriter whose life is affected by heroin and cocaine dependence. Excellent portrayals of drug use and early recovery themes; based on the true story of the creator of the 1980s TV show “Alf.”

Postcards from the Edge – (1990) Big name stars depict Carrie Fisher's autobiography of the progression of substance use to dependency and it's impact on relationships.

Rebound: The Legend of Earl the Goat – (1996) About a promising basketball player (Don Cheadle) whose career is stopped by heroin dependence.

Reefer Madness – (1936) A very campy propaganda movie. Best used as an illustration of the political nature of substances throughout history.

Requiem for a Dream – (2000, Ellen Burstyn) A somewhat unrealistic portrait of three young adults using heroin and cocaine and the mother of one of them who develops a problem with prescription stimulants.

Rush – (1991) Jason Patric and Jennifer Jason Leigh portray narcotic agents who become addicts themselves. Somewhat dreary but an overall accurate portrayal of the impact of narcotic dependency.

Scarface – (1983, Al Pacino) A look at the cocaine cartels of the 1970s. Extremely violent.

Secret Life of Zoey, The – (2002) Lifetime cable movie starring Mia Farrow as the mother of a teenage girl who is abusing prescription medications. Good depiction of denial in families where addiction is present.

Seven-Per-Cent Solution, The – (1976, Alan Alda) Sherlock Holmes attempts to get rid of his cocaine addiction by getting treatment from Sigmund Freud. Wonderful potential for clips including cocaine intoxication and psychosis, and portrayal of classic psychoanalytic therapy. Students love this movie making it a great choice for movie club.

Sid and Nancy – (1986, Gary Oldman) The story of Sid Vicious and his girlfriend and their addiction to heroin.

Small Town Ecstasy – (2002) HBO cable movie with some insight into the “Rave” scene and the use of Ecstasy (MDMA).

Traffic – (2000, Benicio del Toro) A graphic and often violent description of the black market activities supporting the heroin trade in Southern California and Northern Mexico.

Traffik – (1989) The BBC version on which the Hollywood version was based. Slower moving and longer. Looks at the heroin trade in Britain and Europe.

Trainspotting – (1996, Ewan McGregor) The story of a group of young friends caught up in heroin dependence in the UK. The movie has some of the most graphic and emotionally accessible descriptions of a heroin high.

Trip, The – (1967) Written by Jack Nicholson. Stars Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper. Some reasonable portrayals of hallucinogenic experience.

Under the Influence – (1986, Andy Griffith) A long-time alcoholic’s drinking begins to have a devastating effect not only on his personal life but on his family as well.

Wasted – (2002) MTV cable movie depicting two high school seniors and their struggle with heroin addiction.

When a Man Loves a Woman – (1994, Meg Ryan, Andy Garcia) A female with alcohol dependence experiences a change in attitude to her life, her children, and especially her husband after going through detox. Nicely portrays the impact on alcohol dependency on a marriage.

Wire, The – (2002) HBO series depicting the crime, violence and other consequences associated with drug use and the drug trade in an inner city.

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Examine the AMSP suggestions for enhancing education

Potential Activities for Enhancing Education on Alcohol and Drugs at Medical Schools

  1. Actions relevant to medical students:
    1. Add new lectures and improve upon existing lecture formats regarding substance use and disorders in courses offered to year 1 and 2 students. These can include lectures on liver disease, neurology, AIDS and other immunodeficiencies, psychiatry, introductions to clinical medicine, and so on.
    2. Offer an elective one-session noontime discussion for first- and second-year students dealing with the nature of substance use disorders, how to identify them among patients/school mates, relatives, and approaches for intervention.
    3. Develop an elective for first or second-year students, including the ten-session, one hour each, patient description-oriented elective listed on the AMSP website.
    4. Join with an ongoing Doctors Ought To Care (DOC) program, or help develop a new group if one does not exist. DOC offers medical students the opportunity to visit local schools to discuss issues related to alcohol and drugs.
    5. Develop independent study programs for medical students where clinical or basic research issues focus on alcohol or drug use disorders.
    6. Carry out a survey of existing medical school courses to document what is currently being offered on alcohol and drugs as a starting point for what needs to be done.
    7. Work with the faculty responsible for the third or fourth year psychiatry clinical rotation to explore how lectures on alcohol and drugs can be fit into the curriculum, and how a rotation to an inpatient or outpatient substance use disorders treatment program might be instituted.
    8. Work to become a member of your departmentπs Medical School Education Committee.
    9. Meet with the Chair of your department and/or the Director of clinical services to determine how alcohol and drug-related education might be better incorporated. This will both provide information on AMSP, and enhance your visibility in the program.
    10. Offer a special presentation to medical students on ≥How to Give a Lecture.≤
    11. Develop a film series (or one session) to discuss alcohol and drug issues in the media.
    12. Offer a program where students attend an AA meeting, with a faculty-led back-up discussion.
  2. Efforts to consider in reaching out to residents in psychiatry, internal medicine, family practice, etc., masters and Ph.D. level psychology students, and other educational groups at your university:
    1. Explore whether you can be appointed to the Residency Education Committee which will give you the opportunity of enhancing alcohol and drug education.
    2. See whether you can become part of the Residency Selection Committee to enhance choosing individuals with an interest in alcohol and drug-related problems.
    3. Work to incorporate alcohol and drug education into the lecture series on medical/psychiatric emergencies, and courses offered to introduce residents to issues related to major psychiatric disorders.
    4. Offer residents a lecture on ≥How to Give a Lecture.≤
    5. Create an inventory of current alcohol and drug education within the residency, as a basis for future expansion.
  3. Educational Efforts Appropriate for Fellows:
    1. Develop and/or enhance a lecture series on substance use disorders.
    2. Explore whether any of the AMSP lectures can and should be offered to the fellows.
    3. Offer to supervise fellows to enhance their education on substance use disorders.
    4. Consider offering lectures to fellows, borrowing from those already developed on the AMSP website.
    5. Consider working with other faculty to start up a fellowship in substance use disorders, clinical issues, or research, if one does not exist.
  4. Other Potential Activities:
    1. Look toward developing in-service lectures on an alcohol or drug-related topic for nursing, social work, emergency room personnel, and so on.
    2. Explore the possibility of establishing a liaison with a relevant teaching service to enhance education on alcohol and drugs.
    3. Determine whether any medical school continuing medical education program would be open to incorporating lectures on alcohol and drugs, or if a symposium on this topic can be developed.
    4. Consider working with Medical Student organizations like AMSA, AMWA to present a lecture, hold a forum and/or organize activities for alcohol awareness week.
    5. Before/after attending the next AMSP meeting when you arrange for coverage and notify colleagues and staff that you will be away, use the opportunity to describe AMSP and your role AND put in a plug for them to use and view
    6. Notify your university public relations that you are an AMSP Scholar and give them the information that you would be happy to serve as a contact person for any alcohol/drug media-related questions.

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Use the manual about Motivational Interviewing with patients who have alcohol or drug problems

Click Here to open the Motivational Interviewing Manual in a new web browser.

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