Alcohol, Drugs, and Baby Boomers: Are you ready?

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Course Date: 18 August 2014 to 22 September 2014 (5 weeks)

Price: free

Course Summary

As the baby boomer generation ages, the impacts of alcohol and drug use among this generation will become an increasingly important public health issue. This 5-week course will provide primary care givers and health care providers with an overview of this looming issue and provide strategies for the prevention and reduction of substance use associated harm.

Estimated Workload: 3-5 hours/week

Course Instructors

Christine Savage

Christine Savage has worked in addictions within a public health context for the majority of her career. She began working as the maternal child health nurse in Visiting Nursing Organizations in the 70s and 80s. Based on these experiences, she became interested in the role alcohol and drug use played in increasing vulnerability in certain populations, especially women. She became actively involved in the field of addictions nursing and served as president of the International Nurses Society on Addictions from 2003 to 2006. She is the editor of the NIAAA BSN curriculum on alcohol and health and served on the National Quality Forum’s steering committee related to best practices for substance abuse prevention and treatment. She has conducted funded research related to alcohol use during pregnancy, management of health for the solitary homeless adult, and has been engaged in research related to nursing education in alcohol. She is currently serving as Chair of the Community Public-Health Department Johns Hopkins School of Nursing.

Deborah Finnell

Deborah Finnell has specialized in mental health and addictions for the majority of her career.  From her grounding as a registered nurse working in inpatient psychiatry, she expanded her role to that of a clinical nurse specialist and then a nurse practitioner. She brings her passion for the neurobiological bases of mental health and addictions to her clinical practice, teaching, research, and policy / advocacy.  Her professional leadership roles range from Chair of the New York State Peer Assistance Committee to President-Elect and President of the International Nurses Society on Addictions (2008-2012).  She served as Chair of the Addictions Nursing Certification Board and currently serves on the Committee on Nursing Standards for the American Nurses Association.  She is Associate Editor for the Substance Abuse journal and on the editorial board of the Journal of Addictions Nursing. With a long-term appointment with the Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Hospital Administration, she has conducted funded research focusing on improving the health of Veterans with mental disorders and substance use disorders. 

Course Description


Those interested in participating in this course have three options:

  1. Free Enrollment:  Click “Sign Up” to enroll in course for FREE and earn a statement of accomplishment upon completion.
  2. Signature Track Enrollment:  Click “Signature Track” and follow the enrollment steps.  You will be required to pay a $39 non-refundable fee.  Upon course completion you will receive a verified certificate, which employers can search. What’s this?
  3. Continuing Nursing Education (CNE) Credit:  For healthcare professionals interested in earning Continuing Nurse Education (CNE) contact hours you must:
  • Complete Signature Track enrollment. 
  • Complete registration process through Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing. You will be required to pay an additional non-refundable fee of $60 in addition to the $39 fee for signature track. 


If you’re interested in signing up for CNE Credit and have already signed up for Signature Track, click this link to register for CNE:


The proportion of the population that is over the age of 65 is growing globally. Those in the baby boomer cohort will soon all be age 50 or older.  Along with the increasing numbers in this older age cohort, there is a parallel upward trend of alcohol use and other drug use in older adults. As we age alcohol and other drug use places us at greater health related harm. This course provides the learner with an overview of the growing prevalence of at-risk substance use in older adults and strategies for the prevention and reduction of substance use associated harm. These strategies include an evidenced based approach called screening brief intervention and referral to treatment (SBIRT). The course will provide information relevant to improving health and reducing substance use related harm for those who are older, their primary care givers and health care providers.   


Will I get a Statement of Accomplishment after completing this class?

Yes. Students who successfully complete the class will receive a Statement of Accomplishment signed by the instructors.

What resources will I need for this class?

Only a working computer and internet connection.

What is Continuing Nurse Education (CNE)?  

Per the American Nurse Credentialing Center, CNE activities are intended to build upon the educational and experiential bases of the professional RN for the enhancement of practice, education, administration, research, or theory development, to the end of improving the health of the public and RNs pursuit of their professional career goals.

What is the value of CNE? 

It provides an opportunity for professional development and lifelong learning.

I'm not a nurse, but CNE is offered for this course. Should I sign up for CNE?

Check with your professional organization to determine if it accepts ANCC contact hours.

Is CNE applicable to other professions?  

Check with your professional organization to determine if it accepts ANCC contact hours.

Does CNE apply to international audiences?

The ANCC is internationally recognized.  Check with your international licensing board to determine if it accepts ANCC contact hours.

Will my state accept CNE provided through the Institute for Johns Hopkins Nursing?

"The IJHN is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation”.  The ANCC is recognized domestically and internationally.

Does CNE expire?  

Contact hours do not expire per se, but check with your professional organization regarding its required time frame for completion of CNE for licensing.

If I don't complete this course, will I be given partial credit?

The course must be completed in its entirety including the final evaluation in order to receive contact hours. The fee paid to the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing is not refundable. 


WEEK 1: Substance use and the older adult: how common is it and why should we care?
  • Who is a baby boomer: the aging population
  • Introduction to substance use and the older adult
  • Prevalence of substance use among those over the age of 50
  • Understanding substance use related harm and the older adult
WEEK 2: The aging body and the use of alcohol and drugs – what are the risks?
  • Acute effects of alcohol
  • Substance use disorders in the older adult
  • Alcohol and aging
  • Long term effects
WEEK 3: Reducing substance-related harm in the older adult
  • Introduction to prevention
  • Harm Reduction Model for prevention
  • IOM prevention model for substance use disorders
  • Intervention perspectives
WEEK 4: Screening for at-risk substance use in the older adult
  • Introduction to screening
  • Domains of substance use and substance use disorders
  • Screening approaches
  • Screening and assessment
WEEK 5: Brief interventions and referral to treatment - healthy choices
  • Referral to treatment
  • Comorbidity
  • Self-help support programs
  • Care givers 
  • Maintenance: healthy living and substance use 


Each week will be divided into multiple video segments that can be grouped as three or four lectures or viewed separately. Weekly discussion board questions and structured exercises will be designed to challenge students to consider impacts of substance use and treatment options for older adults.

Course Workload

3-5 hours/week

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