PSY413 Psychology of Substance Abuse (8)

This subject examines the way that biochemical / physiological, psychological and social factors interact to produce individual differences in use and abuse of substances ranging from ordinary food to illegal and exotic drugs. Theories across this spectrum are discussed as are the practices of prevention and treatment that arise out of these theories. The major orientation will be social cognition/social learning as a context for the study of motivations relating to the developmental sequence of risky use /dependence /identification with illness. Research on the perceived utility of the substance as it functions in sense of identity (gender as sex-role stereotype). Expectancies from use, and attempts to control use/abuse (restraint over consumption) will focus on the problem of bingeing as a common factor in substance abuse. Eating and drinking problems will be compared.

Subject Outlines
Current CSU students can view Subject Outlines for recent sessions. Please note that Subject Outlines and assessment tasks are updated each session.

No offerings have been identified for this subject in 2018.

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 Social Sciences and Liberal Studies

Enrolment Restrictions

Admission to the Graduate Diploma of Health Psychology or Master of Social Science (Addiction Studies)

Incompatible Subjects


Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this subject, students should:
  • understand the development of the concepts of risk/dependence/addiction as applied to the personal and social problems in the lives of individuals particularly as these problems impact upon society
  • understand the conceptual dilemma concerning the balancing of individual freedoms against problems of social damage that face social policy makers e.g. in the relationship between Drugs and Crime
  • understand both sides of the major debates currently surrounding drug issues e.g. the philosophy and practise of the war against drugs; the public health approach compared with the law and order approach; use of methadone as social control, etc
  • understand the importance of primary, secondary and tertiary intervention
  • understand the basis of the traditional and contemporary approaches to treatment of drug related problems
  • understand recent developments in community action, health promotion and alternative educational strategies
  • understand the notion of the drug career and the psychological impact of the loss of control over consumption that dependence denotes


This subject will cover the following topics:

* The study of epidemic, endemic and "therapeutic" concepts of addiction. (The facts compared with the Myths about drug use.) * Theoretical perspectives on the abuse of psychoactive substances (the bio-medical, psychological, psycho-social, socio-cultural dimensions of addiction) * Evidence of current trends in drug use particularly in Australia. Types of drugs and their populations of users * The effects of legislation and prohibition as control mechanisms * Health Promotion and Strategies of prevention * Techniques of assessment * Consideration of current methods of intervention, their degree of success/failure * Recent developments regarding the redefinition of the identity of "addict" through the rebuilding of self-esteem through self-control (promotion of the process of becoming de-addicted)


Current Students

For any enquiries about subject selection or course structure please contact Student Central or or phone on 1800 275 278.

Prospective Students

For further information about Charles Sturt University, or this course offering, please contact info.csu on 1800 275 278 (free call within Australia) or enquire online.

The information contained in the 2018 CSU Handbook was accurate at the date of publication: August 2018. The University reserves the right to vary the information at any time without notice.