Understanding and Assessing Substance Use Disorders


Credits: 3.5
Type: Recorded asynchronous distance

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This course gives an overview of the neurobiologic and psychosocial aspects of Substance Use Disorders together with a detailed review of their DSM-IV-TR criteria. Additionally, the course offers sample methods for assessment of Substance Use Disorders using questions drawn from the Schedules of the Diagnostic Interview Schedule together with other well proven structured interviews.

Delivery Method

This course consists of a recorded video and posttest.

Course Level

This course is designed for Social Workers, Psychologists, Marriage and Family Therapist, Certified Drug and Alcohol Counselors, and other helping professionals at basic, intermediate, advanced, and clinical levels.

Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of this course, participants should be able to:

  • Discuss the various models of addiction and how they impact substance use treatment
  • Understand the etiology of addiction
  • Explain the diagnostic criteria for Substance Use Disorders
  • Explain which psychiatric disorders are frequently found in conjunction with Substance Use Disorders

Overview of Modules

Module One:
Past and Current Models of Addiction: moral model, sociocultural model, medical model, psychological model, biopsychosocial model.

Module Two:
Neurobiology of Addiction and the Lessons of Early Animal Models: explores the function of the mesolymbic reward circuit, its connection with decision making and planning in the prefrontal cortex, and the effect of various substances on this central behavioral driver, describes the process of tolerance and craving in the neurons of the nucleus accumbens, reviews the work of Ellison and Seigal in early animal models emphasizing the role of stress and psychosocial conditions as part of the etiology of dependence.

Module Three:
Substance Dependence: reviews in detail the DSM-IV-TR criteria for Substance Dependence with emphasis on the underlying constructs and sample methods of assessment as well as an exploration of the sociocultural biases built into the criteria.

Module Four:
Substance Abuse: reviews the DSM-IV-TR criteria for Substance Abuse Disorders with emphasis on the underlying construct and sample methods of assessment as well as an exploration of the sociocultural biases built into the criteria. In addition, this section discusses the appropriate level of care using the American Society on Addiction Medicine Patient Placement Criteria.

Module Five:
Comorbidity: briefly reviews the other psychiatric disorders most frequently found in conjunction with Substance Use Disorders, emphasizing the need for practitioners to be alert to the presence of these other disorders and to move toward integrated treatment.


Theodore M. Godlaski, M.Div., CADC is a retired Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Social Work at the University of Kentucky. He spent 23 years doing treatment, program administration, and clinical supervision before coming to the University of Kentucky School of Medicine, Center on Drug and Alcohol Research in 1993. In August of 2002 he moved from the Center on Drug and Alcohol Research to the College of Social Work in order to devote more time to teaching. He retired from the College of Social Work in 2019. He is former Chairperson of the National Ethics Committee for the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Counselors and worked on the revision of their code of ethics. He also served as a member of the Kentucky Certification Board of Chemical Dependency Counselors and a member of its Complaint Committee. He was also a senior area editor for the journal Substance Use and Misuse (formerly International Journal on the Addictions). He has been involved in treatment outcome and treatment effectiveness research as well as research to develop a treatment approach specifically for rural substance abusers.


The University of Kentucky College of Social Work, ACE Approval #1377, is approved to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Organizations, not individual courses, are approved as ACE providers. State and provincial regulatory boards have the final authority to determine whether an individual course may be accepted for continuing education credit. The UK College of Social Work maintains responsibility for this course. ACE provider approval period 9/29/2022 – 9/29/2025. Social workers completing this course receive five clinical continuing education credits.

This course is also approved for 3.5 continuing education hours by the Kentucky Board of Social Work, the Kentucky Board of Examiners of Psychology, the Kentucky Board of Licensed Professional Counselors, the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker, and Marriage and Family Therapist Board, and the Indiana Behavioral Health and Human Services Licensing Board.

Continuing education licensing requirements vary by jurisdiction, are not well defined, and may change. We recommend you contact your licensing board or accrediting organization for the latest continuing education requirements of your state or territory. To review state specific/jurisdictional continuing education requirements, go here https://www.aswb.org/ace/ace-jurisdiction-map/.

How to Claim Credit

To receive credit for this course, you must view/complete the entire course, pass the related post-test, and submit a completed course evaluation. If your score is less than the passing score of 75%, you may retake the test. Your certificate will become available for an automatic download once all of the requirements are complete.

Cancellation and Refund Policy

Online courses cannot be cancelled and refunds are not available.


If you have any questions regarding this course, need assistance registering for it, or experience any technical difficulties with completing it, please contact Melissa Whitaker at melissa.whitaker@uky.edu.