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PSYC100 Foundations of Psychology ; PSYC101 Applications of Psychology

Unit rationale, description and aim

The misuse of alcohol and drugs is implicated in a number of negative psychological outcomes. As such, understanding the precursors, symptoms, consequences and best practice treatment protocols for drug and alcohol misuse is an important topic within psychology.

This unit will introduce you to the range of alcohol and drug use disorders commonly experienced in Australia, with an understanding of the associated patterns of use, harms, and risks. You will also develop an understanding of the range of evidence-based approaches to alcohol and drug prevention and treatment, and the ethical and practice implications associated.

The aim of this unit is to provide foundational knowledge of a specialised area of practice within psychology, namely, the misuse of alcohol and other drugs. You will learn about best practice approaches to the identification, diagnosis and treatment of drug and alcohol disorders and other associated psychological conditions.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - identify and outline symptoms of intoxication and withdrawal associated with alcohol and drug use in Australia (GA5); 

LO2 - outline the harms, risks, and patterns of use of alcohol and drugs in Australia (GA5);

LO3 - describe evidenced based approaches to treatment and prevention of alcohol and drug related harms in Australia (GA1, GA4, GA5); 

LO4 - apply knowledge of the use, harms and risks associated with drug and alcohol misuse and current understandings of evidence-based approaches to alcohol and drug treatment and prevention to a real-world context (GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8). 

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity 

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 


Topics will include: 

  • Introduction to alcohol and drug use in Australia – (historical context) 
  • Patterns, harms, and symptoms of intoxication and withdrawal 
  • Risks, determinants, and prevention of drug and alcohol misuse 
  • Assessment and formulation of Alcohol and Drug concerns 
  • Motivational Interviewing  
  • Dual Diagnosis 
  • CBT for addictions 
  • Relapse Prevention 
  • Evidenced based treatment approaches 
  • Ethical principles for managing drug and alcohol misuse 
  • Policies and associated outcomes 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Learning and teaching strategies include active learning in interactive lectures, individual and group activities, cooperative learning, web-based learning, and reflective/critical thinking activities, delivered over 12 weeks. This range of strategies will provide students with appropriate access to required knowledge and understanding of unit content. These strategies will allow you to meet the aim, learning outcomes and graduate attributes of the unit. Learning and teaching strategies will reflect respect for the individual as an independent learner. You will be expected to take responsibility for your learning and to participate actively within group activities.

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to best enable you to demonstrate unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes, standards-based assessment is utilised, consistent with University assessment requirements. Recall of key knowledge concepts is assessed via multiple choice questions in the end-of-semester exam. Short answer questions in that exam provide you with an opportunity to demonstrate your grasp of key concepts and your ability to synthesise information learnt throughout the course in meaningful ways. The critical thinking workbook provides you with the opportunity to consolidate and demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of key concepts. Finally, the case conceptualisation task provides a valid and authentic learning and assessment opportunity, as it requires you to apply your knowledge to a fictional client and articulate an evidence-based treatment protocol for that client. Taken together, these assessment tasks facilitate the demonstration of the achievement of each of the learning outcomes of this unit.  

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Critical thinking workbook –  

enables you to consolidate and demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of key concepts.


LO1, LO2, LO3 

GA1, GA4, GA5 

Case conceptualisation –  

provides you with an opportunity to apply your knowledge of drug and alcohol misuse to a fictional client and identify an evidence-based treatment protocol. 



GA1, GA4, GA5 

End of semester exam –  

assesses knowledge and understanding of unit content. 


LO1, LO2, LO3 

GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8 

Representative texts and references

Abadinksy, H. (2017). Drug use and abuse: A comprehensive introduction, (9th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning. 


Miller, W.R., & Rollnick, S. (2012). Motivational interviewing: Helping people change, (3rd ed.). New York, USA: Guilford Publications. 


National Institute on Drug Abuse.(2012). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A research-based guide. Available via: (  


Ritter, A. (2013). Drug use and Australian society. Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press. 


Schuckit, M.A. (2012). Drug and alcohol abuse: A clinical guide to diagnosis and treatment (2nd ed.). New York, USA: Springer-Verlag. 

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