Module 6: how drugs work: facilitator's guide

2.1 What is pharmacology?

Page last updated: 2004

Pharmacology is a branch of science that deals with the study of drugs and their actions on living systems.

To understand how drugs work in the body we need to consider:

  • type of drug
  • quantity of drug used
  • time taken to consume the drug
  • tolerance
  • gender, size and amount of muscle
  • other psycho-active drugs used
  • mood or attitude
  • expectation
  • setting or environment.
This module will briefly explore each of these factors.

Psycho-active drugs are substances that alter mood, thoughts, or behaviour as a result of changes in the functioning of the brain.

In this module, the term 'drug' will be used to include all psycho-active drugs including alcohol and other psycho-active substances (e.g. petrol).

Question - Give three examples of psycho-active drugs and three examples of non-psycho-active drugs? (Hint: Think about medication that affects parts of the body other than the brain.)

Since alcohol and other drug (AOD) use is a part of youth culture, it is important to understand how drugs work if you work with young people.