PSY218 Psychology of Addiction (8)

This subject examines the way different factors interact to produce individual differences in substance abuse and other addictive behaviours. It aims to provide students with a theoretical framework to critically analyse a range of conflicting perspectives on addiction.

The subject will explore the effects of individual substances and learn how the body adapts to continued drug use. The biological basis of addictions will be examined as well as environmental, social and psychological factors that are important contributors to the development of addiction.

The subject will explore contemporary treatment approaches and also approaches to the prevention of addiction. The processes of, and links between, substance addictions and behavioural addictions will be examined. The subject will also address the issue of addiction in various population sub-groups, including an understanding of addiction from an Indigenous Australian perspective.

Students should note that this subject does not contribute to an Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC) accredited major in psychology.


Session 1 (30)
Bathurst Campus

Continuing students should consult the SAL for current offering details: PSY218. Where differences exist between the Handbook and the SAL, the SAL should be taken as containing the correct subject offering details.

Subject Information

Grading System



One session


School of Psychology

Enrolment Restrictions

Not available to students who have completed WEL215

Assumed Knowledge
(PSY101 and PSY102) or (PSY111 and PSY102) or (PSY111 and PSY113)

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this subject, students should:
  • be able to describe and apply main concepts, principles and theoretical models related to substance use and other addictions including their application to specific groups such as different age groups and indigenous Australians.
  • be able to explain the effects of a range of drugs of abuse, including nicotine and alcohol
  • be able to analyse the factors that impact on the likelihood that someone will develop an addiction as well as the impact of substance abuse on individuals and families
  • be able to discuss psychological processes and patterns of behaviour that affect continued drug use behaviour as well as recent developments in our understanding of the biological basis of addiction and comorbidities
  • be able to explain adaptation or tolerance in the body and brain that arise with continued drug use
  • be able to discuss current psychological treatments for substance abuse and approaches to health promotion and prevention
  • be able to locate and critically evaluate scholarly material related to real world challenges faced by those with substance use problems and those providing services to such individuals


This subject will cover the following topics:
  • Introduction to substance use and addictions including contemporary theories
  • Current trends in substance use and other addictions, particularly in Australia
  • The biology of substance addiction
  • Aetiology (causes) of substance and other addictions
  • Psychosocial factors in addiction
  • Highlight on specific substances: alcohol use and misuse, tobacco/nicotine use
  • Addiction, self-control and impulsivity
  • Specific populations and substance abuse: Indigenous Australians, adolescents, older adults
  • Legislation and social policy related to substance use and addiction (focus on the Australian context)
  • Assessment and treatment of substance use and addiction, relapse prevention
  • Drug and alcohol education and prevention (community action and health promotion)

Indicative Assessment

The following table summarises the assessment tasks for the online offering of PSY218 in Session 1 2020. Please note this is a guide only. Assessment tasks are regularly updated and can also differ to suit the mode of study (online or on campus).

Item Number
Value %
Online quiz 1
Online quiz 2

The information contained in the CSU Handbook was accurate at the date of publication: May 2021. The University reserves the right to vary the information at any time without notice.