73819 - Analytical-Toxicological Approach to Drugs of Abuse

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: First cycle degree programme (L) in Applied Pharmaceutical Sciences (cod. 8518)

    Also valid for First cycle degree programme (L) in Applied Pharmaceutical Sciences (cod. 8518)

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student possesses an advanced theoretical knowledge referred to the analysis of the main classes of drugs of abuse. In particular, the student learns the analytical characteristics of psychoactive compounds in different types of biological and non biological samples.
Moreover, the student gains the skills to perform a reliable quali-quantitative analysis, by using the most proper techniques and methods applied to illicit substances.



Course contents

- Principles, aims and issues related to the pharmaco-toxicological analysis applied to the monitoring of drugs of abuse and alcohol.

- Presentation and discussion of the analytical-toxicological aspects of the main classes of drugs of abuse:
- classic drugs of abuse (including alcohol)
- new psychoactive substances (NPS).

- Analytical strategies and approaches for identification and quantitation of the most significant classic drugs of abuse and NPS.

- Techniques and procedures for sampling, pretreatment, transportation and storage of specimens of different type and origin (both biological and non-biological) for the analysis of classic drugs of abuse, alcohol and NPS.

- Method validation aspects referred to the monitoring of drugs of abuse (including alcohol) and their metabolites: evaluations and comparison of the main validation parameters following the international guidelines.




- Slides discussed during the course
- Papers from the scientific literature discussed during the course
- UNODC reports presented during the course
- EMCDDA reports presented during the course.


- Analysis of Drugs of Abuse
Rabi A. Musah
Humana Press; first edition 2018

- Hair Analysis in Clinical and Forensic Toxicology
Pascal Kintz, Alberto Salomone, Marco Vincenti
Academic Press; first edition 2015

- Handbook of Drug Monitoring Methods: Therapeutics and Drugs of Abuse
Amitava Dasgupta
Humana Press; first edition 2007

- Critical Issues in Alcohol and Drugs of Abuse Testing
Amitava Dasgupta
Academic Press, Elsevier; second edition 2019

- Challenges in Open Educational Resources: the case of TOX-OER MOOC
Ana Isabel Morales Martin et al.
Amarante; first edition 2018



Teaching methods

The course consists of 24 hours of lectures (3 CFU), scheduled in 8 lectures of 3 hours each, during which the main chemical-toxicological issues, instrumental techniques, methodologies and procedures related to the pharmaco-toxicological analysis of classic drugs of abuse, alcohol and new psychoactive substances (NPS) in biological and non-biological samples will be discussed.

Lecture attendance is important for a satisfactory learning process.



Assessment methods

The learning assessment is carried out on the basis of an oral examination consisting in some questions (5 to 10 questions) aimed at evaluating the knowledge acquired by the student during the attendance of the lectures. In particular, the following skills are verified:

- Knowledge of the theoretical principles of the teaching subjects;

- Knowledge of the advanced analytical instrumental terminology related to the teaching subjects;

- Knowledge of the chemical-toxicological characteristics of the most representative compounds belonging to the main categories of classical drugs of abuse (including alcohol) and to the varied panorama of the new psychoactive substances (NPS);

- Critical skills in the evaluation of the analytical problems related to the identification and quantification of dugs of abuse and alcohol in biological and non-biological samples.

The student could also be asked to comment on a paper from the scientific literature and chosen among those presented and discussed during the lectures, with the possibility for the student to consult the paper itself.



Teaching tools

Lectures are carried out in presence and/or virtually (as reported in the Unibo official online schedule) by means of the common electronic media, such as pc, tablet, smartphone and similar devices connected to videoprojector, webcam, microphone, and to the wi-fi.
The 3-hour e-learning lecture is carried out by using a MOOC (Massive Online Open Courses) approach on TOX-OER Moodle, combined to interactive App usage.



Office hours

See the website of Laura Mercolini


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This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.