Advanced Topics in Addiction

Psychology 486 
Spring 2014 Term 
Department of Psychology 
State University of New York at Buffalo  (gateway)

Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D. 
B-77 Park Hall, North Campus 
Office hours: Tuesdays 15:45 – 16:45 hrs,
T/R 18:30-17:30 hrs,
and by appointment
telephone: 716.645.0267 




Online Course Materials

Course Description

Course Prerequisites & Format


Reading Material

Seminar Topics


Course Grade, Attendance, & Other Policies

Online Course Materials

Click here to view online course material from PSY 451 (background for PSY 486). 

Click here to view the orientation material for this course online.

Course Description

This course is designed as a continuation of PSY 451 (Drug Addiction) and addresses topics not covered in that course. The material is thematically organized exploring various advanced topics related to addiction (see below). Students who have completed PSY 451 are best prepared for this course, but highly motivated students that can master the essential concepts during the first two weeks of class may also perform satisfactorily ("C-level" performance). Because this course deals with complex issues including cases (e.g., drugs, behaviors) that may or may not represent true addiction, it is essential that participating students have a good understanding of the nature of addiction to prototypic addictive drugs. Concurrent enrollment in PSY 451 is helpful but not sufficient preparation for this course (Topics covered late in PSY 451 must be mastered early for full participation in this course.).

Learning Objectives

Satisfactory fulfillment of the learning objectives will be assessed by oral recitation throughout the semester during the twice-weekly class meeting times (reflected by the course participation score) and by a written annotated bibliography submitted near the end of the semester. See the Course Grade section below for further details of the assessment procedure and for academic grading standards.


Introductory Psychology, Research Methods, Biopsychology or equivalent; or by permission of the instructor. Previous enrollment in PSY 451 (Drug Addiction) is highly recommended and some background in biology or physiology is very helpful. Addiction involves the actions of drugs on brain systems, and students lacking appropriate background in the Life Sciences should not expect to do well in this course. Highly motivated students who have not previously taken PSY 451 may still enroll but must master the essential elements of that course through reading and self-study during the first few weeks of class.

Instructional Format

This course generally follows a seminar structure with group discussions based on the assigned readings and on additional material selected by students from the professional literature. Weekly lectures on the course themes described below will be followed by class discussion of the relevant professional literature. Video tapes and other assignments may supplement the regular course material. Laboratory demonstrations may also be used. Some material is available only on the Internet or through UBlearns and students are therefore expected to be proficient in using these critical resources. Students are also encouraged to register for and participate in the Addiction Science Network Forum.


Reading Material

Required reading material for this course is on deposit at the Jacobs Quick Copy Center (see Online Course Materials). This material is not available for loan from the instructor. Some additional material may be found on the including the ASNet Discussion Forum. Other reading assignments are made from the professional literature and are placed on reserve in the undergraduate library. Reading assignments are made 'in class' and may be posted to UBlearns.

Course Grade

Grades are determined by performance on two examinations (pass/fail), by an annotated bibliography (30%), and by class participation (70%). To factor in the examination components of the course, composite scores from the annotated bibliography and class participation are multiplied by exam values ranging from 1 to 0 (see below) to obtain the final course grade. Numeric grades are then converted to letter grades using standard 10% intervals (e.g., 90% = A-, 80% = B-, 70% = C-; for a complete listing see the PSY451 course syllabus).

Grade Components

Written/Oral Qualifying Examination


computed as:
scores 80% and higher = 1,
scores 70-79% = 0.75, and
scores < 70% = 0 (course failure) 
multiplied by the composite score 
from the other course components

pass/fail (calculation factor of "1" or "0")


Annotated Bibliography


Class Participation


Students must complete two examinations during the semester. The first examination (usually the written component) covers basic concepts in drug addiction and tests mastery of the essential elements covered in PSY 451. The second examination (oral recitation) specifically tests material from this seminar, with an emphasis on general concepts rather than detailed knowledge. Background material covered in PSY 451 is tested on 06 February using any combination of essay and/or multiple choice formats or depending on the class constituency by on-going during the first few weeks through oral recitation; for students who have not taken PSY 451, the relevant material has been deposited at the Jacobs Quick Copy Center available as Chapter 1-10 (Chapter 3 and 7 are omitted) assigned for PSY451 (Drug Addiction) students. Students are permitted to retake the written exam during regular office hours through February 18 to improve their scores. Because this material was covered in a semester-long course that students should have taken before enrollment in this advanced course, only very limited class time will be devoted to this material (i.e., students must master this material largely on their own). The new material specific to this seminar is tested throughout the semester until the last week of the seminar. Students are permitted to retake the oral examinations within the time period allotted (through 06 May). Oral examinations may be given individually and/or in groups and may span more than one session. Students must be available during regular office hours for their recitation. Note that although the examinations are nominally pass/fail, there is an intermediate 'score" obtainable by achieving 70% to 79% on the written exam. This would limit the student's highest obtainable course grade to a "C" (e.g., if the student passed the second exam and obtained a perfect score on the other course components, the resulting course grade would be a "C") and very likely result in course failure.

The written exam component is waved for students who have demonstrated mastery of the material covered in PSY451 by performing at or above the 80% criterion for that course content.

Class attendance and participation in group discussions constitute an important part of this course. The mandatory attendance period begins 11 February and continues through 24 April. Students are permitted to miss two class periods during this time, after which each missed class period retroactive to the first two missed classes results in an attendance grade reduction of 5% (i.e., the third missed class period lowers the attendance grade to 85% -- the letter grade equivalent of a "B"). There are no excused absences for missed class periods -- you must be present to receive credit for participation. Students with commitments that conflict with the class meeting times and that might miss more than two of the mandatory attendance periods should withdraw from the course. Students are encouraged to attend all of the class periods, but only the 20 class meetings during the mandatory attendance period are used for calculating the attendance grade.

(Note: In actuality students are awarded 5% participation grade for each of the 20 mandatory attendance periods. Scores 90% and above are rounded up to 100%. The explanation above illustrating a perfect score [i.e., “A”] declining with missed class periods seems to fit better many students’ way of viewing this course component, but scores are actually earned through participation during the regularly scheduled class periods and therefore cannot be made up (Students are not penalized for missing excused or unexcused clases; rather, the opportunity to earn credit has been missed.).

Participation Score

To ensure that students are actively engaged in the learning process during the lecture/discussion periods, pop quizzes may be used to assess students basic understanding of the lecture material and fulfillment of the learning objectives associated with each specific class period. Students are advised that poor performance on the pop quizzes because of a failure to pay close attention to the in-class presentations can rapidly erode the overall course grade. Students leaving class early are not permitted to make up quizzes at a later date.


Oral Recitation (Examination #2)

Each student's performance is evaluated continually throughout the semester to determine if they are sufficiently prepared to earn their 5% "participation credit" for each attended class period and to determine if they are satisfactorily mastering the learning objectives outlined above. Failure to demonstrate clear mastery of the learning objectives or missing over 30% of the class periods will necessitate formal evaluation through individual recitations during office hours the last week of classes or during the final examination period. The final (oral) examination component will generally be fulfilled by students demonstrating competance throughout the semester during the weekly informal evaluation described above.

Annotated bibliographies are compiled from professional papers related to the subtopics covered by the course. Students conduct library research weekly, selecting and reading a paper for discussion during the Thursday class periods. Near the end of the semester, 15 to 20 annotated bibliographies are submitted for course credit. Samples of the annotated bibliographies can be submitted any time up to 13 March for feedback from the instructor. Students are permitted to revise their bibliographies to improve their grade for this component of the course. Final versions of the annotated bibliographies are due 30 April. Click here for a sample annotated bibliography.

Important Dates

18 February
Examination #1

30 April
Annotated Bibliographies Due

06 May
Examination #2

 Mandatory Attendance Period: 11 February through 24 April


Group discussions are an important component of this course, and class attendance and participation constitute single largest component of the course grade (see above). Students are responsible for all material discussed in class and for material contained in the assigned readings. Students must obtain notes from fellow students for missed class periods -- there are no standard notes available from the instructor other than lecture slides available on UBlearns and readings available at the Jacobs Quick Copy Center.

Other Policies

Changing classroom dynamics necessitate posting some explicit expectations for student behavior. Click here to read principles of student conduct in effect for this course that supplement those outlined in the University at Buffalo Undergraduate Catalog. Continued enrollment in this course presumes the student has read and will adhere to these principles.


Important Notice: Students with disabilities (physical or psychological) that require special consideration should notify the instructor and Accessibility Services (25 Capen Hall, 645-2608) during the first two weeks of class. Various support services may be available.

Copyright Notice

The material contained on this website and the materials distributed for class copyright 2014 Michael A. Bozarth and are protected by U.S. and International copyright laws. Students are expressly prohibited from making audio or video recordings of lecture material and discussions and from compilation and distribution of class material except for their own private use.


Seminar Topics




A Brief Synopsis of Addiction to Prototypic Addictive Drugs (Chpts. 1-10)

  • Concept of addiction
  • Psychological processes
  • Biological mechanisms

28 Jan.

Overview of Key Seminar Components

(Appendices C & D)

  • Methods of assessing drug reinforcement
  • Biomedical Literature Searches

11 Feb.

Factors Modulating Addiction
(Chpt. 11)

  • Psychological stress
  • Thrill-seeking personality
  • Reward-deficiency syndrome

13 Feb.

A Psychobiological Model of Addiction
(Chpt. 12)

  • Biobehavioral reciprocity
  • Hedonic allostasis
  • Re-assembling multiple mechanisms
  • Integration of psychosocial factors with biological mechanisms
  • Integrative psychobiological model

20 Feb.

Beyond the Prototypical Addictive Drugs (other illicit drug use)
(Chpt. 13)

  • Barbiturates
  • LSD & other hallucinogens
  • Marijuana
  • MDMA (Ecstasy)

27 Feb.

Addiction to Commonly Used Substances? (licit drugs)
(Chpt. 14)

  • Caffeine
  • Nicotine
  • OTC drugs

06 Mar.

Non-Chemical Addictions?
(Chpt. 15)

  • Internet related including "day trading" and "cybersexual addiction"
  • Pathological gambling
  • Eating disorders

13 Mar.

Diagnosis & Treatment Considerations
(Chpt. 16)

  • DSM-IV
  • ICD-10
  • Addiction Severity Index
  • 12-step programs
  • Cue extinction procedures
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy

27 Mar.

Pharmacological Approaches to Treating Addiction
(Chpt. 17)

  • Methadone maintenance
  • Rapid detoxification
  • Antidepressant medications
  • Immunological approaches
  • Orthomolecular psychiatry

03 Apr.

Harm-Reduction Strategies
(Chpt. 18)

  • Needle exchange programs
  • The "British System"
  • "Needle Parks"
  • Drug information programs

10 Apr.

Addicted to Addictions 
(Chpt. 19)

  • Politics of addiction
  • Responsibility of government agencies
  • Responsibility of public news media

17 Apr.

Addiction in the “Real World”
(Chpt. 20)

  • Differences between academic study and clinical treatment of addiction
  • Staging in prevention and treatment effectiveness
  • “Recreational” drug use

24 Apr.

1: Assigned readings are available at the Jacobs Quick Copy Center for each main topic. Additional readings may also be on reserve at the Undergraduate Library and/or available online. 
2: Pick one or more subtopics from each theme for inclusion in your annotated bibliography. Be prepared to discuss these papers weekly during class. Submit samples of your work for feedback throughout the semester. 
3: Tentative starting dates may change during the semester. Thursdays are generally used for lectures and structured discussion of the assigned chapter material, and Tuesdays are generally used for open discussion and inclusion of outside reading material. Note that the topic starting dates listed here are likely to fall behind a week or more depending upon student interests in some specific topics (e.g., possible marijuana addiction). This is anticipated by the schedule with the last two topics of minor importance (i.e., can be omitted) thereby allowing up to 7 class periods at the end of term to compensate for delayed starting dates on key topics.


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