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Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

HUMS 2231: Introduction to Working with People who use Substances

Students examine their self-knowledge and self-awareness related to working with people who use substances. The focus of the course is primarily on harmful use of substances but will also touch on the concept of addictions generally. Topics include knowledge of various drugs and their effects, the etiology and prevalence of substance use in Canada, different models for understanding substance use, key foundational concepts in the prevention, screening, assessment and treatment of substance use, harm reduction policies and strategies.

Learning outcomes

After successfully completing this course, you will be able to:

  • Develop self-awareness of personal values and attitudes about substance use and substance use disorder.
  • Articulate a professional value stance consistent with human service work.
  • Describe the etiology and prevalence of substance use in Canada.
  • Describe the models used to understand the prevention and treatment of substance use disorders
  • Explain the key terms and classification systems of alcohol and drugs.
  • Use a variety of screening and assessment tools that identify substance use risk.
  • Describe key concepts of motivational interviewing.
  • Describe the continuum of substance use treatment resources and interventions.
  • Identify the advantages and disadvantages of using harm reduction strategies.
  • Apply relapse prevention strategies to a substance use treatment plan.
  • Reflect on your own change process using theoretical models and frameworks.

Course topics

HUMS 2231 includes the following lessons:

  • Lesson 1: Introduction to Substance Use
  • Lesson 2: Fundamental Concepts, Incidence, and Prevalence
  • Lesson 3: Models and Theories of Substance Use
  • Lesson 4: Classification Systems
  • Lesson 5: Developing Goals and Change Plans
  • Lesson 6: Beginning the Change Process
  • Lesson 7: Motivational Interviewing
  • Lesson 8: Screening and Assessment
  • Lesson 9: Treatment Options
  • Lesson 10: Treatment Continuum
  • Lesson 11: Prevention and Relapse Prevention
  • Lesson 12: Competent Practice

Required text and materials

Csiernik, R. (2016). Substance use and abuse: Everything matters (2nd ed.). Toronto, ON: Canadian Scholars’ Press. ISBN: 978-1-55130-891-3


To successfully complete this course, students must achieve a passing grade of 50% or higher on the overall course, and 50% or higher on the final mandatory project.



Assignment 1: Values Reflection Paper 20%
Assignment 2: Midterm Quiz 20%
Assignment 3: Change Journal 25%
Assignment 4: Activity Assignments 10%
Final Project: Assessment and Treatment Plan * 25%




Open Learning Faculty Member Information

An Open Learning Faculty Member is available to assist students. Students will receive the necessary contact information at the start of the course.

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