The Understanding Substance Misuse – Level 3 Certificate (RQF) Course leads to a fully accredited RQF qualification and is designed to help the student develop an understanding of issues, possible responses and interventions for a wide range of drugs.

This distance learning course can be an excellent resource for those interested in this subject area, but it is particularly aimed at those who are working directly or would like to work with people who have alcohol or drugs misuse problems and will lead to a fully recognised RQF (Regulated Qualifications Framework) qualification in this subject. These are nationally recognised qualifications that are superseding the old NVQ framework qualifications.

The course raises an opportunity for personal development and occupational competence in an area identified by government policy as one requiring special attention. The overall Government's policy is laid out in "Drug Strategy 2010 – Reducing Demand, Restricting Supply, Building Recovery: Supporting people to live a drug-free life.".

On successful completion of this course students will receive a Level 3 Certificate Qualification with 13 Credits.

Course Delivery Notice: You will receive access to the course materials through an online portal for a 12-month period. Students can use the portal for accessing their course materials, submitting assignments and to log tutor questions. A hard-copy book version of the course notes are also supplied. Due to the current circumstances surrounding COVID-19 hard-copy versions of this course are being dispatched twice a week so there may be slight delays to the usual delivery times.

The Course Objectives are to:

  • Provide a nationally accredited certificated programme in a wide range of substance misuse issues and the variety of responses and interventions available.

  • Provide a flexible learning opportunity that is accessible to a wide range of learners.

  • Provide the student with knowledge and understanding that can be used by those who either personally, voluntary or professionally have a special interest in this field.

This qualification is widely used to train drugs and alcohol workers and has been mapped to the Drugs and Alcohol National Occupational Standards (DANOS) and the NHS Knowledge and Skills Framework. The course provides also comprehensive "underpinning knowledge" for the substance misuse modules of the NVQ and SVQ Level 3 Health and Social Care.

The course helps students to develop their knowledge, skills and competence in the following DANOS units:

AA1 - Recognise indications of substance misuse and refer individuals to specialists
AB2 - Support individuals who are substance users
AB5 - Assess and act upon immediate risk of danger to substance users
AD1 - Raise awareness about substances, their use and effects
AF2 - Carry out assessment to identify and prioritise needs

The Course consists of the following units:-

  • Unit 1: Understanding Drug Use: Facts, Effects, Symptoms and Attitudes (5 Credits)

In this unit students will learn to understand the facts and paraphernalia associated with a range of substances.

Learning Outcomes: Describe a range of substances that can be misused; Identify the street names for a range of substances; Identify reasons why some people misuse substances; Describe methods of substance use and the paraphernalia associated with the different methods; and Describe the dangers of substance use, e.g. related to quality, frequency, purity and polydrug use.

  • Unit 2: Understanding Responses to Substance Misuse: Legislation, Harm Reduction and Interventions (4 Credits)

In this unit students will learn to understand the signs and effects of a range of substances.

Learning Outcomes: Describe the signs of use of a range of substances; and Describe the effects a range of substances can have, e.g. stimulants, sedative and hallucinogens.

  • Unit 3: Understanding Alcohol and Drug Use in Young People (4 Credits)

In this unit students will learn to understand legislation relating to substance misuse.

Learning Outcomes: Identify the legislation which relates to substance misuse and describe the difference between legal and illegal drugs; and Describe the class and schedule systems used for classification of substances.


There are no particular entry requirements.

Course Duration & Support:

Students may register at any time and have a full year to complete their studies. You also have access to a personal tutor by mail or email for a 12 month period. As the course is self study you can complete in as little or as long a time as you prefer.

Our student support team are also available for any other queries that you may have whilst completing your course. You can be assured that unlimited support is available for your course.


Completing a series of tutor marked assignments will lead you to the highly acclaimed Certificate in Understanding Substance Misuse RQF Qualification.

Course Assignments can be returned by uploading to the online portal, by email or by post. We recommend that assignments are completed and returned as word-processed documents through the online portal. Handwritten documents can be accepted but need to be clear and legible and may be subject to a longer marking time.


On successful completion of this course students will receive an Understanding Substance Misuse - Level 3 Qualification. This qualification has been accredited on the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF Qualification No: 603/0154/5). This is a Level 3 Certificate and has 13 credits.

The course measurable learning outcomes have been benchmarked at Level 3 (using Ofqual's Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) level descriptors) to allow you to consider the depth of study, difficulty, and level of achievement involved.

Information on level descriptors can be found on the Ofqual's level descriptors page.

Training Qualifications UK (TQUK) are one of the newest, most dynamic awarding organisations in the industry, seeking to bring a fresh approach and excellent service to training providers, colleges and learners. TQUK qualifications are designed by leading professionals and delivered to centres and learners with integrity and compliance in mind. TQUK have rigorous quality assurance controls and procedures in place and are committed to maintaining the highest standards of customer service, qualification delivery and assessment. The course is assessed and supported by NCC Resources, a licensed TQUK centre. TQUK are fully approved as an awarding organisation by Ofqual and award RQF courses in a number of sectors. RQF courses have various credits values which can be applied to the National Credit Transfer System. TQUK accredit courses which are developed by industry experts and work hand in hand with organisations ensuring the calibre and worth of courses provided.

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