Drug Addiction


Psychology 451
Fall 2014 Term
Department of Psychology 
State University of New York at Buffalo 
Addiction Science Network 

ASNet Training Series

ASNet Discussion Forum

Michael A. Bozarth, Ph.D.
B-77 Park Hall, North Campus
Office hours: Tuesdays/Thursdays
13:15-14:45 hrs
or by appointment
telephone: 716.645.0267
e-mail: bozarth@buffalo.edu






Course Description

This course explores various topics central to the study of drug addiction. The primary emphasis is on psychological and biological theories of drug addiction, with only minor attention given to demographic data, clinical diagnosis, and treatment. Underlying factors that are common in cases of addiction to different classes of drugs are identified. Psychomotor stimulant (e.g., amphetamine, cocaine, methamphetamine) and opiate (e.g., heroin, morphine, codeine) drugs figure prominently in an examination of the biobehavioral properties of addictive drugs. Much of the course relates the important mood-elevating effects of these drugs to their biological actions. Other factors that may contribute to drug addiction are also briefly examined. The main course objective is to provide a unifying model for understanding the fundamental aspects of addiction. To accomplish this objective the focus of study is restricted to drugs that represent the best examples of addiction (i.e., the prototypic additive drugs listed above) to the exclusion of many other interesting substances (e.g., marijuana, nicotine). Successful completion of the main course objective prepares students to critically evaluate the professional literature regarding other substances of interest (e.g., ecstasy, caffeine) and to make an independent assessment of the potential addiction liabilities of other compounds and of various nonchemical reinforcers. The course lays a solid foundation for graduate-level training in substance abuse and addiction for those continuing their studies, while providing a basis for making informed decisions as a conscious citizen (e.g., legalization of marijuana?) for those not continuing in this line of work. A continuation of this course (i.e., “Advanced Topics in Addiction”) is offered annually (usually in the spring semester as a special topics course, e.g., PSY486) for students desiring further training; the continuing course addresses topics not covered in this first-semester course including (i) factors that can modulate the development of an addiction, (ii) possible addiction to other compounds and to nonchemical reinforcers (e.g., gambling, sex), (iii) diagnosis and treatment considerations, and (iv) the development of rational drug-regulation policies and the effective deployment of harm-reduction strategies.


Learning Objectives


The course is divided into three thematic modules listed below with specific learning objectives. Each theme builds upon previous material to develop a comprehensive understanding of the fundamental basis of drug addiction. Students’ mastery of the learning objectives is evaluated by written examination after completion of each module. (See section on Course Grading for additional information on exam format and grading.) It is essential that students master the content of each module before proceeding to the next one; poor performance on an exam is an indication that remedial work must be done before expecting to adequately comprehend the new information contained in the more advanced module. In this sense both the course content and the examinations could be considered “comprehensive” in that knowledge-builds-on-knowledge, and students are responsible for the content of each completed module on each exam (i.e., later exams may repeat material from previous exams).


Module #1: Basic Concepts of Addiction and a Primer on Drug Action and Classification


1.      Understand the essential phenomenology of what is properly meant by the term “addiction” as used by trained professionals.

2.      Understand the common characteristics shared by many addicts and by addiction to various highly addictive drugs.

3.      Know the meaning of the terms drug abuse, drug dependence, and drug addiction, and understand why it is important to differentiate among their meanings.

4.      Classify and describe the actions of the major classes of psychotropic drugs.

5.      Identify which drugs have a high abuse potential, high dependence potential, and high addiction liability and/or some combination of these properties.

6.      Understand the different routes of drug administration and their role in the psychological impact of drugs.

7.      Describe motivational toxicity and its relationship to drug addiction.

8.      Describe the drug-use continuum and explain why it’s important for understanding drug abuse and drug addiction and for understanding the transition from casual/recreational drug use to addiction.


Module #2: Addiction Theories and Scientific Methods Used to Study Drug Addiction

9.      Learn to classify the major theories of addiction according to the primary factor or factors purported to cause the addiction.

10.  Learn the inherent and empirical weaknesses in some of the most popular theories of addiction.

11.  Explain incentive-contrast theory, its relationship to motivational toxicity, and how it contrasts with other major theories.

12.  Identify and explain the three domains involved in the acquisition and maintenance of an addiction.

13.  Describe incentive-contrast theory within the context of the psychobiological model.

14.  Describe how reinforcement theory is related to drug addiction and how it is paradigmatic for the scientific study of addiction.

15.  Describe the primary models used in humans and in laboratory animals to assess the reinforcing properties of abused drugs.

16.  Explain how conditioning plays a critical role in the relapse to and maintenance of illicit drug use in addiction.


Module #3: The Biological Basis of Addiction and How It Integrates with Psychological Theory

17.  Describe how electrical and chemical brain stimulation are used to delineate the biological basis of motivated behavior.

18.  Explain how the prototypic addictive drugs act to produce their powerfully reinforcing (and hence addictive) effects.

19.  Explain how the multiple effects of opioids and other addictive drugs can sometimes be dissociated from their addiction-related actions based on neuroanatomy and/or neurochemistry.

20.  Describe the mesolimbic dopamine system and its role in drug addiction and in ‘normal’ motivated behavior.

21.  Describe the putative role of CNS second-messengers systems in the development of mesolimbic sensitization and how this action may be critical for the development of a ‘genuine’ addiction.

22.  Describe basic harm-reduction strategies and why they are the logical position based on an understanding of drug addiction.

23.  Describe how a theory based on prototypic addictive drugs could explain addiction to other drugs and even possible addiction to nonchemical reinforcers.


Additional Learning Objectives Which Overlap All of the Instructional Modules


24.  Reinforce material learned in previous core courses in the Psychology Department’s curriculum, including principles in behavioral neuroscience, research methods, and general psychology.

25.  Develop better analytical skills for understanding and evaluating scientific research.

26.  Gain a better understanding of scientific theory development and what differentiates weak and strong scientific theories.

27.  Become more conscientious and responsible citizens through understanding the nature of drug addiction and the rational approaches for addressing this problem including the regulation of controlled substances and the treatment of illicit drug users.

28.  Acquire the foundation for advanced training in the field of drug addiction and substance abuse.


Evaluation of Mastering the Learning Objectives

It is assumed that most undergraduates have little or no familiarity with the topics listed above under the three learning modules. Therefore, evaluation will forego a formal pre-test of this material and rest solely on performance on the three term examinations described below. Students who earn a “C-level” grade in this difficult course are considered to have satisfactorily mastered the most fundamental elements of the course, while those earning higher grades demonstrate increasing levels of understanding which extends into the reasoning and empirical basis of current models of drug addiction. No direct evaluation is planned for assessing each student’s develop in the aims listed under “Additional Learning Objectives.”


One examination is given after completion of each learning module as indicated on the Lecture Schedule listing near the bottom of this syllabus. Although questions focus on the content of the individual learning modules, knowledge and understanding in this course are cumulative and therefore there will be considerable overlap with the content of earlier modules. For example, in the first module students learn the names and general effects of the primary members of the compounds considered to represent prototypic addictive drugs. In the second module students learn how drug reinforcement is critically involved in addiction and how drug reinforcement is studied in laboratory animals and in humans. In the third module, after completing assigned readings and classroom lectures, students are asked questions regarding how specific members of each prototypic addictive drug group act on the brain to produce an addiction. This requires that they know the primary members of each relevant class (e.g., cocaine is a psychomotor stimulant), that drug reinforcement is a critical feature of drug addiction and how drug reinforcement is studied, and finally where specifically drugs work to produce their addiction-related reinforcing actions. When asked how opiates produce an addiction, an answer on Exam #3 might be that morphine (an opiate as learned in Module #1) initiates its reinforcing action (relationship of reinforcement to addiction learned in Module #2 ) in the ventral tegmental area  (the CNS site of an opioid’s primary reinforcing action learned in module #3) as demonstrated by intracranial self-administration (method of studying drug reinforcement which can localize a drug’s site of action learned in Module #2) of morphine into that brain region (empirical fact learned in Module #3). In this sense later tests overlap with information tested on earlier exams and therefore would be considered “comprehensive” in student vernacular.



The student learning outcomes for this course address the goals detailed for the Department of Psychology's Undergraduate Program as described on the Department's Undergraduate Program web page:




Introductory Psychology, Research Methods, Biopsychology, or by permission of the instructor are the formal prerequisites for this course. Some additional background in biology or physiology is highly recommended. Students who have previously taken an introductory level survey course examining illicit drugs are best prepared. Addiction involves the chemical actions of drugs on brain systems, and students lacking appropriate background in the Biological Sciences should not expect to do well in this course. Students receive ‘credit’ in the Behavioral Neuroscience division of the undergraduate course distribution requirements and therefore should expect a primary emphasis on the neuroscience of addiction. Thus, satisfactory performance in Biopsychology (PSY351) or the equivalent prerequisite course is assumed so that this course can build on the basic concepts established in the earlier coursework. Similarly, students should already be conversant with the basic principles of operant and classical conditioning from Introductory Psychology (PSY101) and from other coursework taken as advanced psychology majors.

Course Format

PSY451 is undergoing major revisions this semester. The primary changes involve assigning mandatory online lectures (i.e., podcasts) to complement and expand the content of the reading assignments and to discontinue the standard ‘live’ lectures that have been the primary instructional format of this course for over 25 years. A large portion of class time will be devoted to discussions that involve questions and answers directly related to the online and reading assignments using a flipped-classroom strategy (see subsection below), with the remainder of the lecture period focused on presenting additional material which may extend the central topics to other subject domains. Although attendance is not mandatory and does not contribute directly to the final course grade, students are responsible for material discussed in-class in addition to the material available online and from the reading assignments.


Major Course Revisions


Students should NOT expect typical lectures ‘spoon-feeding’ the reading assignments or online material; the knowledge traditionally acquired through passive classroom lectures is acquired by the students’ work outside of class in the flipped-classroom model employed this semester. Class meeting time will be spent largely on what is traditionally deemed the homework component applying the knowledge and exploring various problem solving exercises. This instructional strategy is designed to place much of the responsibility for learning the course material on the students and thus actively engage them in the learning process. Some class periods for which online material is unavailable will necessarily consist of traditional style lectures.


To date about two-thirds of the ‘lecture’ material is available online through podcasts, and students have to advance the lecture slides manually for most presentations. (The online material is currently being updated to synchronize the audio programs with the slides for some presentations, but this is slow and tedious work with some technical difficulties that make it unlikely that most of the podcasts will have integrated audio-slide presentations this semester.) Therefore it is impossible to provide an accurate appraisal of exactly how many hours will be necessary to complete the online component. The expectation is that students will spend at least 6 to 9 hours per week outside of class meeting time to work on course content. This is consistent with the long-standing expectations for this course regarding outside study and follows the guidelines for general academic courses at major universities. Students less academically ‘talented’ will need to spend additional time, and all students should expect to spend extra time in preparation for major exams.


The second major change is in the computation of the overall course grade. Online quizzes are presented at the end of some online presentations, three in-class term exams cover each of the three main instructional modules (described in the “Learning Objectives” section), and a comprehensive final exam is scheduled during the final exam period. The online quizzes constitute 10% of the overall course grade, the three term exams 20% each, and the final exam constitutes between 30% and 75% of the overall course grade based on individual student performance. The actual percentage that the comprehensive final contributes to the overall course grade is determined on a student-by-student basis using the following criterion: if the student’s performance on the comprehensive final exam is better than his/her composite performance on the other components, then the final exam constitutes 75% of the overall course grade; otherwise, the final exam is calculated as 30% of the final course grade. This policy is intended to give students who performed below their academic ability during most of the semester the opportunity to increase their final course grade considerably by demonstrating competency in the overall course content upon completion of the course, while insuring that students particularly good at short-term retention do indeed understand the main course content more commensurate with their final course grade (e.g., the comprehensive final exam is simply too long, covering too much material for effective exam-cram strategies).


Quizzes are presented after completion of some online presentations.  Students have a fixed time allotted to complete each quiz (e.g., 30 minutes). The quizzes are ‘open book’ but students shouldn’t expect to be able to look up very many answers to individual questions in the allotted time. There are a minimum of 10 quizzes during the semester with scores from the lowest two omitted from the grade calculation. The online quizzes may be any format including multiple-choice and short-answer type questions.


Each of the three course modules will probably require 8 to 12 hours for initial presentation of the online podcasts/lectures plus additional time for the online quizzes. Three instructional modules multiplied by 8 to 12 hours each equals 24 to 36 hours total listening time for the podcasts during the semester. Students should conservatively figure on spending at least 30 to 40 hours for the initial presentation of the podcasts and additional time for reviewing the more difficult material. Many of the podcasts are accompanied by quizzes which serve three purposes: (1) they reinforce the student’s learning while providing feedback on the mastery of small course units, (2) they give students practice answering the types of questions that will be included on the major in-class exams and on the comprehensive final exam, and (3) they ‘reward’ the student’s efforts for mastering small ‘chunks’ of material and functionally provide some ‘padding’ to the overall course grade that would be lacking if the final course grade were based solely on the much more lengthy in-class exams.


(FYI: Grades for this course have been traditionally based on three in-class term exams and sometimes included a mandatory comprehensive final exam. In past semesters no exams were dropped and the final exam contribution to the overall course grade was usually fixed at 40% when included for a particular semester. This semester the quizzes have been added which constitute 10% of the overall course grade and the weight of the final exam is variable based on student performance. In addition, the quizzes provide sample questions for the material covered by the major in-class exams. These new strategies were adopted to help students perform better as reflected by their actual learning of the course content and by their overall grade for the course.)


What’s the difference between the ‘live’ and the online ‘lecture’ formats?


Most of the online presentations were recorded from actual ‘live’ lectures during past semesters—there is essentially no difference in the content or presentation style. Students have the advantage that the audio programs have been edited to remove most of the extraneous material and comments that frequently accompany ‘live’ lectures and edited to clarify and correct a few points that may have been unclear during the original presentations. Students also have the advantage of listening to the ‘lectures’ wherever they like, pausing and reviewing the presentations as well as eating, drinking, and utilizing other adjunctive behaviors (e.g., chewing gum?) to enhance the learning process. Students are free from the distractions that are becoming an increasing problem during regular class lectures (e.g., classmates’ texting, sleeping, or other inappropriate behaviors). In addition to the scheduled class meeting times, resources such as the Discussion Forums on UBlearns are set-up for each chapter and the TAs and instructor hold regular office hours when they are available for answering questions. Finally, students are strongly encouraged to form study groups with their classmates who meet on a regular weekly basis for reviewing and discussing course material outside of scheduled class meeting times.




UBlearns is an essential component of this course and students not comfortable using this resource or competent quickly learning how to effectively use it are advised that their course performance is very likely to suffer substantially. This is a 400-level course for students with advanced standing in the Psychology Department who are primarily juniors and seniors. Therefore, students are expected to be fully familiar with the operation of UBlearns including the various components such as Discussion Forums and online quizzes. Students requiring additional help are directed to CIT staff who provide this function and should not expect the course instructor to be available for remedial training in using this resource; although the instructor may be helpful from time-to-time concerning some aspects of utilizing UBlearns, time restrictions prohibit the course instructor from taking on additional training responsibilities beyond the actual course content, and therefore students are respectfully directed to the appropriate resources such as CIT and the online documentation for UBlearns.


Additional Help


There are several resources available for additional help in learning the material presented in PSY451 and for additional consultation on various related issues. Obviously the first level of ‘help’ comes from the primary course resources including the printed text, podcasts, lecture slides, and study guides. When more assistance is needed the following resources should be consulted generally in the order listed below:


·         UBlearns Discussion Forums for each chapter and for special topics

·         Teaching assistant office hours

·         Instructor office hours


UBlearns Discussion Forums


Discussion Forums/Boards are set-up on UBlearns for each chapter and for additional special topics. This is the first-level of help that students should consult to receive prompt replies to their questions and in some cases to see that the questions may have been already answered and posted on that resource. Posting questions to UBlearns under the appropriate Discussion Forum is likely to give the quickest reply with several TAs monitoring the boards. It also allows classmates to share information and potentially provide answers to your questions. And, very importantly, it helps build a database of questions and answers that can be shared with all students in the class. Of course personal questions should be e-mailed directly to one of the TAs or to the instructor as appropriate, but most questions about course content can be and should be shared among all students in the class. Therefore, the Discussion Boards are the first line of help.


Teaching Assistants


This semester has an undergraduate teaching assistant (TAs) available to help students individually or in small groups. This peer resource is particularly valuable because past students who have successfully completed PSY451 best understand the types of problems their ‘peers’ have in mastering the material. The TA has office hours and her e-mail address is posted under the Course Information folder on UBlearns. Students utilizing the TA are not only helping themselves to perform better in this course, but they are also helping the TA gain valuable experience tutoring and to earn credit for her work. Don’t expect the TA to have quick answers to all of your questions. She has explicit instructions to be conservative in the answers she provides and to consult other resources (e.g., the text, the instructor) for any questions that require additional clarity. Posting your questions online as suggested above allows her to double-check some material before answering as well as provides a ready reference for future use by you and other students. Of course working with her one-on-one gives you the opportunity to ask many more questions and to probably receive immediate answers to your questions while providing her practice in managing tutorials. Please use this valuable resource frequently.


This semester I am asking the TA to keep a record of students who visit her during office hours for additional help. This is to gauge the workload of the TA, the times students are most likely to visit her, and to compare students’ academic performance (e.g., exam scores) with their initiative in seeking additional help in mastering the material. Visiting the TA occasionally or on a regular basis does not affect your course grade in any way. Failure to visit the TA or to post questions to the Discussion Forums when performing poorly on the exams confirms that the responsibility for failure or otherwise less than desired academic performance rests solely with the student!


(FYI: In case it is not already obvious, most university professors and other instructors want their students to successfully master their course material and have usually simplified it already to the best of their abilities; we are often baffled why students have problems learning the material, assuming students are properly prepared for the course [e.g., successfully learned what they should have learned in the formal prerequisites and other university courses leading up to the professor’s course] AND that students invest the study time necessary to learn the material. Undergraduate TAs are bested positioned to understand the difficulty in mastering what the professor generally considers fairly simple and straightforward material. Asking students to consult the TAs with general questions before the instructor is NOT an attempt to delegate the responsibility of helping students, but rather, it is devised in the students’ best interest because the instructor has most likely simplified the material the best they can from their perspective as one who thoroughly understands the subject matter.)




The instructor holds regular office hours throughout the semester as posted on the top of this syllabus and as listed under the Course Information folder on UBlearns. Students are invited to drop-in during regular office hours to ask questions about course content and to discuss most any issues of interest. (Naturally, priority is given to students with pressing questions directly related to course content.) Students who are making a special trip to UB (or across campus on a cold winter’s day) to meet with the instructor during scheduled office hours are always advised to arrange an appointment via e-mail first to insure that the instructor will be available and that office hours weren’t cancelled for that day because of some conflicting meeting; students will receive an e-mailed reply for all confirmed appointments. Otherwise, drop-ins are always welcomed as the instructor specifically sets aside this time for meeting with students and generally enjoys learning more about the perspective ‘young people’ bring to learning his subject matter and often their views on life in general.


The Flipped-Classroom Model

The “flipped-classroom” is considered the latest pedagogic innovation for secondary and post-secondary education. The model basically ‘flips’ what is traditionally considered the “lecture” and the “homework” components of a course. Material typically presented in a ‘dry’ lecture format is assigned for learning outside of the classroom (e.g., reading assignments, podcasts and other online resources are used) and what is usually considered the homework components (e.g., developing analytical skills by applying the knowledge, problem solving, general discussions, exploring applications and implications beyond the normal confines of the subject matter) are performed in-class. This approach emphasizes learning as an active process whereby the student becomes fully engaged instead of passively sitting-by waiting for presentation of the material in a formal lecture. It has long be appreciated that ‘active learning’ and learning through problem solving is a much more effective approach to teaching than traditional classroom lectures, but application has been very slow coming to higher education classes with medium to large enrollments. Indeed, what might be termed a flipped classroom approach has long been applied very effectively in small graduate seminars and special tutorials and at leading universities in the British system of higher education. A major problem has been motivating and monitoring American students required to become more actively engaged in learning outside of class; online resources such as podcasts combined with online quizzes can potentially overcome the problems experienced in applying the flipped classroom approach to mixed academic ability classes (the academically ‘strongest’ students fast-tracked for professional success typically use these resources when available even when they are not explicitly assigned).



Reading Material

There is no formal textbook available for this course. Required reading material is on deposit at the Jacobs Quick Copy Center located on the second floor of Jacobs Hall). Copies of this material are not available from the instructor. Some additional material may be found on the AddictionScience.net website. Specific reading assignments are made in class and/or posted to UBlearns in the Assignments folder. In addition, general reading assignments are listed for the entire semester in the Lecture Schedule section near the end of this syllabus. Students are advised that this course carries what some may consider a heavy workload, with students regularly spending 2 to 4 hours after each lecture period (i.e., 4 to 8 hours per week) reading and studying the course material. Additional time will be necessary for most students in preparation for the individual exams, and some students may require more than the anticipated workload on a weekly basis. Students who neglect or otherwise fall behind in their reading and/or podcast assignments may find themselves quickly overwhelmed by the course material and are unlikely to perform well on the exams.

Reading assignments and podcasts should be completed BEFORE the scheduled class-meeting time which addresses the specific subject covered during the class period as outlined in the Lecture Schedule section below. Students should consider reading the chapter assignment ‘lightly’ before the online lecture (i.e., corresponding podcast) and then re-read the chapter in depth after the ‘lecture’ using the in-class emphasis and the study guides to help focus their learning. Have your questions prepared for in-class meetings arranged by the presentation order of the podcasts or printed text. For additional suggestions on how to effectively study this material, see the Assignments folder in UBlearns which contains a short document entitled “Self-Directed Study Strategy.”

Online Course Materials

Podcasts are available for much of the course content presented during past semesters and can be accessed through the ASNet Podcast Directory (The sequence found under ASNet Addiction Training Series most closely follows the instructional format of this course.). Students are responsible, however, for the specific material covered in the current semester’s lectures which may add additional material and/or emphasis to the available online lectures. Please note that the online material does NOT substitute for lecture attendance; it complements it and provides an opportunity to hear much of the material for missed classes.


The UBlearns module for this course contains copies of the lecture slides, study guides, and additional resources (e.g., Discussion Boards) to enhance the learning experience. Students are expected to fully utilize UBlearns and should check it regularly for information added or revised throughout the semester. Students are advised that lecture presentations are frequently revised and therefore should not print out these presentations too far in advance of the scheduled lecture. Also, please print using the option to omit the colored background (i.e., most backgrounds are in a dark color which works well in live or on-screen presentation but wastes a lot of print in hardcopy); eventually pdf-files will be produced facilitating easy printing of these slides.

Course Grade

Grades are determined by online quizzes (totalling10%), by performance on three term exams (20% each) that are scheduled during regular class periods, and by a comprehensive final exam (either 30% or 75% of the overall course grade, depending upon individual student performance). Each term exam is weighted equally for determining the course grade. Make-up exams are allowed only with permission of the instructor; notification of anticipated absence prior to the scheduled test date is expected. Extraordinary circumstances (e.g., emergency surgery, severe illness, compelling family or personal issues), along with the appropriate documentation, should be brought to the attention of the instructor for special consideration. Note, however, that because course grades are based on academic performance demonstrated through comprehensive examination, there are no “alternative assignments” or “extra credit.” And because the confidentiality of the exam material is compromised once the main class has been given the exam, students making up an exam should be prepared for an alternative essay/short-answer examination which may be used at the discretion of the instructor.



Exam Schedule

02 October

30 October

02 December

Final course grades are calculated from the mean exam scores and converted to letter grades using the following table:


92% and above
< 60%

Incomplete Grades

Incomplete grades are rarely awarded for this course and then only at the discretion of the instructor as described in the university course catalog. Students with exceptional hardships should notify the instructor prior to taking an exam. Once an exam is completed, that score remains the official score for this course; there are no ‘retakes’ or unofficial course repeats permitted in this course. Students who are awarded an incomplete have one year to fulfill the missing course component(s) as per University policy. Students who receive an incomplete are invited to join the current semester’s class as a refresher or to make-up missed lectures and to take exams during the regularly scheduled times for currently enrolled students. There are no alternative assignments for making-up missed work: grades for this course are based strictly on examination scores unless the current semester permits optional extra credit assignments.

Exam Format

Online quizzes may consist of any format ranging from multiple-choice to short answer or even essay questions. They typically following individual podcasts in the case of the longer presentations or several smaller podcasts examined on a single quiz. They are taken online through UBlearns and must be completed within the time allotted (typically 30 to 45 minutes). They are ‘open book,’ but students should NOT expect to have sufficient time to look-up individual answers for most questions. The two lowest scores from the online quizzes are dropped from the course grade calculations, but this also includes any exams that were not completed because of student problems in using UBlearns other than CIT-related technical difficulties. Any technical difficulties that merit re-taking an exam need to be fully documented by CIT personnel (e.g., disruption of UBlearns service during the examination).

The three term exams consist of a combination of multiple-choice, true/false, and matching type questions. Exams typically consist of 75 to 90 questions. Students are allotted the full class period for each exam. Questions are drawn from a large pool of vetted questions that have often been used previously—this means that it is very unlikely that a question is ‘unfair,’ poorly written, or the correct answer is not available among the alternatives. For example, when a student comes up during an exam to complain that a question is poorly written or unclear, it is puzzling why the other 500 students who answered the same question correctly on previous exams failed to have the same problem. Furthermore, the terms used in most questions are part of the question and therefore cannot be defined or explained by the instructor during the exam period. Students should read each question carefully and consider each possible answer.

The questions focus on the primary content of each module. In this sense the exams can be viewed as thematic—the primary content of each module is contained within the exam. If one were to know only the material on each exam, one would understand the main themes of each learning module. Focus your study on trying to understand the ‘big picture’ (e.g., reinforcement is important for drug addiction) and what the professor thinks is important (e.g., conditioning and sensitization); then expand your study to secondary points and simple facts that are likely to change over time (e.g., the number of current cocaine addicts in America). Anticipate possible exam questions and use the study guides. You may post possible exam questions on the Discussion Forums to share and discuss with your classmates.

Online quizzes generally follow the same format as in-class exams but may additionally use short-answer or occasionally essay questions. Furthermore, the difficulty level of the online quizzes may be somewhat less than that found in the major in-class and final exams. Part of the purpose of the online quizzes is to afford students the opportunity to improve their overall course grade by presenting somewhat easier questions based on smaller learning increments. The major exams are likely to be considered more difficult by most students in part because they integrate larger ‘chunks’ of material and cover a broader range of topics—strong performance on the online quizzes does not guarantee correspondingly strong performance on the major exams and students should plan their study strategies accordingly.

The final exam is comprehensive and designed to assess the student’s overall knowledge of the course content. The exam is long and difficult, but many of the questions are drawn from the earlier term exams and/or online quizzes. The contribution of the final exam to the overall course grade is performance based; if students perform better on the final exam than their composite score based on the online quizzes and the regular term exams, then their final exam constitutes 75% of their final course grade. Otherwise the comprehensive final exam contributes 30% to the overall course grade. This policy is adopted to afford students the opportunity to significantly improve their grades by demonstrating their knowledge at the end of the course despite lower performance on the term exams taken during the regular semester.

Exam Grading Standards

The three in-class exams use objective tests composed of multiple-choice, true/false, and matching type questions to avoid factors that might otherwise confound assessment of the student’s learning of the specific course content (e.g., poor organization and writing skills can sometimes impair expression of ‘correct’ answers on essay or short-answer exams). The item test-bank has been standardized to test the various elements comprising the critical knowledge base for this course. Exam questions are designed to evaluate the students’ overall competency on the subject matter and to provide a general indication of preparedness for continued study (e.g., graduate or medical school) as well as a fundamental understanding of drug addiction. As with any written examination the general competency of individual students will be under-rated and over-rated from time-to-time, but the overall internal validity of the exams is very strong with typical performance indicators over 0.92 with 1.0 indicating a perfect correspondence.


Exams are structured in a manner whereby “average” students should be able to correctly answer around 75% of the questions, “above average” students around 85% of the questions, and “superior” students over 90% of the questions. This scheme corresponds to the letter-grade interpretation-guide promulgated by the University and is consistent with other institutions across the country. From the instructor’s point of view, “C-level” students demonstrate a basic competency in the subject matter being able to explain where and how prototypic addictive drugs work to produce an addiction. “B-level” students are able to explain how scientists know this to be true citing pertinent empirical evidence. And “A-level” students can defend this position in a lively debate.


Some of the specific course content varies considerably from semester-to-semester, often following the students’ interests with occasional updates regarding current ‘hot’ topics in addiction science. However, the basic core material remains the same with the emphasis resting primarily on developing a fundamental understanding about the basic nature of drug addiction. More advanced topics (e.g., possible addictions to other drugs such as marijuana or caffeine, diagnosis and treatment issues, harm-reduction strategies) are addressed once a year in a special seminar entitled “Advanced Topics in Addiction.” Interested students should look for it in the spring semester amongst the 48x-course offerings listed under “Topics in Psychology.” The most recent syllabus for the advanced seminar can be found following the appropriate link under academic courses on the Addiction Science Network homepage.

Extra Credit Opportunities

PSY451 has traditionally been strictly performance based whereby course grades are determined solely by performance on in-class exams. There has never been any extra credit assignments or opportunities to ‘pass a failed course’—no way to make-up for poor exam performance. The exams are designed to assess your knowledge in the essential content areas of this course and strongly reflect the central themes of each module and the overall course.  Performance on exams provides the best single indicator of knowledge in the subject area and academic grades are based on the student’s demonstrated knowledge of the subject matter.  Other, more advanced courses that I teach sometimes have additional components that are used to determine a student’s overall course grade.

Exam Review

Exams are no longer reviewed during regular class periods. Over the past few years it has become increasingly apparent that many students ‘cut’ the review session essentially wasting the class period for most students. (Many of the students who do attend had performed well on the exam and attend because they are conscientious students feeling obliged to attend every class period; these students do not need the review and for them this is truly a waste of their valuable time.) Secondly, academic dishonesty has become an increasing problem whereby some students attempt to record the questions and answers discussed during exam review and then intend to sell this information to other students or to online services promoting their websites as course study aids.

Exams can be reviewed individually during regular office hours. Students are invited to review their work and to seek feedback on how to improve their performance, but be advised that confidentiality necessitates one-on-one meeting which requires students to queue up and patiently wait their turn to review their individual exam. Of course students who share information regarding their exam performance are invited to meet as small groups which speeds up the process considerably. Students who perform well on the exam are especially encouraged to drop in to see what questions they missed and to understand why they missed them. (FYI: In recent years that has been concern about neglecting the top portion of a class in favor of working more closely and devoting more time to the bottom portion of the academic ranks. While considerable effort is expended to helping everybody earn credit for this course, it is essential that our top students [e.g., the future doctors, scientists, and professors] receive sufficient time and attention to further their professional goals as well.)


Class attendance and discussions constitute an important part of this course, albeit not one which contributes directly to the overall course grades. Students are responsible for all material discussed in class, for the content provided on UBlearns including comments posted by their classmates on the Discussion Forums, for the material covered in the podcasts and slide presentations, and for material contained in the assigned readings. Students must obtain notes from fellow students for missed class periods -- there are no standard lecture notes available from the instructor, and there are no private tutorials for this course (e.g., don’t expect a 10-minute synopsis to present the entire content of a missed 1-hour 20-minute class period during the professor’s office hours). The instructor is available throughout the semester to help students individually and in small groups with the more difficult material during regular and extended office hours (see above) but expects students to put forth the effort to master the basic concepts from the reading assignments, podcasts/lecture slides, and online discussion forums (both the ASNet Discussion Forum and UBlearns Discussion Boards).

Other Policies

Changing classroom dynamics necessitate posting some explicit expectations for student behavior. Click here or see “MyUB” 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. Furthermore, violations of academic integrity (e.g., cheating on an exam) are taken very seriously and will lead to failure of this course and possibly dismissal from the university. Faculty members are under obligation to enforce such stringent policy to ensure that future generations of scientists and physicians don’t ‘cheat’ in their work by establishing ‘bad habits’ as undergraduate students.


Notice: Students with disabilities (physical or psychological) that require special consideration should notify the instructor and the office of Accessibility Resources (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 web site and the materials distributed for class are 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 without prior permission and are prohibited from compilation and distribution of class material except for their own private use. Third-party online ‘services’ and other sources of reproduced lecture material from this class are strictly illegal, and individuals involved with these activities will be legally prosecuted to the extent permissible by law. In addition, such behavior may be a violation of the academic honor code and could possibly lead to dismissal from the university and even the rescinding of any awarded degree. This copyright enforcement does not preclude, however, the compilation of notes and other materials (e.g., flash cards) for students to share through UBlearns, private study groups, or other resources sanctioned by the copyright holder. Indeed, students are encouraged to make outlines, organize their notes, and compile flash cards and other study aids and furthermore to share these materials DIRECTLY with their fellow classmates. It is the posting to public sources (i.e., outside of the UBlearns module for this course or the ASNet Discussion Forum) or the involvement of third-party services that constitutes a violation of copyright law and a theft of intellection property.


Lecture Schedule





Lecture Topic2

Reading Assignment3


Supplementary Material4


Module #1: Basic Concepts in Addiction with a Primer on Drug Action and Classification

26 August

Course overview & expectations


Course Overview (online PowerPoint presentation)

28 August

Open discussion: What is addiction?

Case studies & the phenomenology of addiction (film: HBO Black Tar Heroin)

Entire Black Tar Heroin film is available with commentaries on YouTube

ASNet Illicit Drug Index

02 September

Case studies, continued

Open discussion of the film and other case studies

Open discussion: How do you define “addiction?”

Chapter 1 plus
Appendix A

ASNet: A Primer on Drug Addiction

ASNet: Addiction is an Equal Opportunity Affliction

04 September

Common characteristics of an addiction

Addiction as a motivational problem

Lecture slides available through UBlearns; podcasts for most material available through the ASNet Addiction Training Series.

(These above resources are available for the remaining lecture topics and will not be repeated below.)

ASNet: Distinguishing Drug Abuse from Drug Addiction

ASNet: Defining Addiction: What are the Necessary Attributes?

09 September

The genesis of an addiction

The drug-use continuum

Definitions & concepts: Drug addiction, drug abuse, drug dependence, motivational toxicity, normal vs. abnormal behavior, population parameters

Chapter 2

Bozarth (1990): Drug addiction as a psychobiological process

(first part only)

11 September

Definitions & concepts, continued: addiction vs. OCD



16 September

Demographic & epidemiological considerations

Chapter 3 (tentative)5


18 September

Principles of drug action and psychopharmacology: Drug administration and pharmacokinetics

Chapter 4


23 September

Principles of drug action and psychopharmacology: Dose-response analysis, tolerance, dependence, and withdrawal reactions


Pudiak & Bozarth (1994): Cocaine fatalities increased by restraint stress

25 September

Principles of drug action and psychopharmacology: Sensitization and conditioning effects



30 September

Drug classification schemes


ASNet: Drug Classification

02 October

Exam #1


Module #2: Addiction Theories and the Scientific Methods Used to Study Drug Addiction

07 October

Overview of theories of addiction

Chapter 5


09 October

Theories of addiction: Psychodynamic,
sociological, and tension-reduction theories


14 October

Theories of addiction, continued:
Introduction to reinforcement theory

Appendix B


16 October

Reinforcement theory, continued:

Physical dependence and derived process-based theories of addiction


Methods of studying drug reinforcement: Preclinical methods (IVSA)

Chapter 6 plus Appendix C

Virtual lab tour:
ARU Research Facilities: IVSA

See also Bozarth (ed., 1987): Methods of Assessing the Reinforcing Properties of Abused Drugs

21 October

Methods of studying drug reinforcement, continued: Preclinical methods (CPP, BSR)

Appendix D

Virtual lab tour:

ARU Research Facilities: CPP/LMA

ARU Research Facilities: BSR

23 October

Methods of studying drug reinforcement continued: Clinical methods


28 October

Addiction as a motivational process

Chapter 7 (tentative)6


30 October

Exam #2


Module #3: The Biological Basis of Addiction and How It Integrates with Psychological Theory

04 November

The neurobiology of brain reward systems

Chapter 87

Bozarth (1994): Pleasure Systems in the Brain

06 November

The neurobiology of brain reward systems, continued


Bozarth (1991): The mesolimbic dopamine system as a model brain reward system (advanced theoretical paper)

11 November

Biological basis of addiction: Psychomotor stimulants

Chapter 98

Bozarth & Wise (1985): Toxicity associated with long-term intravenous heroin and cocaine self-administration in
the rat

Bozarth (1989): New Perspectives on Cocaine Addiction

13 November

Biological basis, continued: Opiates pt. 1

Chapter 108

Bozarth & Wise (1982): Localization of the Reward-Relevant Opiate Receptors

Bozarth & Wise (1986): Involvement of the Ventral Tegmental Dopamine System in Opioid and Psychomotor Stimulant Reward

Bozarth (1987): Neuroanatomical boundaries of the reward-relevant opiate-receptor field in the ventral tegmental area as mapped by the conditioned place preference method in rats

18 November

Biological basis, continued: Opiates (pt. 2) & other drugs of abuse

Dissociation of opiate effects


Bozarth (1994): Opiate Reinforcement Processes: Reassembling Multiple Mechanisms

Bozarth & Wise (1984): Anatomically Distinct Opiate Receptor Fields Mediate Reward and Physical Dependence

20 November

A psychobiological model of addiction

Factors modulating addiction including individual differences in susceptibility to addiction and stress effects on initiation and relapse to addiction


Bozarth (1990): Drug addiction as a psychobiological process

Bozarth (2000): Reward Mechanisms in Normal and Pathological Behavior –The Dopamine Link as a Target for Therapeutic Intervention

Bozarth, Murray, & Wise (1989): Influence of housing conditions on the acquisition of intravenous heroin and cocaine self-administration in rats

25 November

Beyond the opioids & psychomotor stimulants (Advanced Topics in Addiction Preview)



27 November

Class cancelled: Fall recess



02 December

Exam #3



04 December

Course Integration & Overview


Wise & Bozarth (1987): A psychomotor stimulant theory of addiction (advanced theoretical paper)


1The dates listed herein are tentative, except for the scheduled exam dates. Some lectures may ‘fall behind’ because of student discussions and interests, while a few may progress ahead of the scheduled date. Students should not elect to attend individual class periods based on the lecture schedule. The schedule is provided solely to help student pace their reading assignments, study time, and review and to inform students of the progression of fundamental topics essential for understanding drug addiction.

2Some specific topics vary semester-by-semester based largely on student interests. Keep up on reading the announcements posted through UBlearns for additional information.

3Reading assignments are the ‘before class’ assignments and should be completed before the designated lecture period (i.e., students are requested to read the assigned text before the lecture period). Check the Assignments folder on UBlearns for revisions throughout the semester.

4Additional material may be assigned or recommended through UBlearns throughout the semester. Check the Announcement folder on UBlearns for current postings. Also, lecture slides are available through UBlearns, and podcasts have been produced for some material available online through the ASNet Addiction Training Series. The “supplementary material” listed in this column is strictly optional unless explicitly assigned. Some articles and commentaries repeat the same information as the text but with a slightly different or expanded emphasis. Some of the papers are original research reports, while others are advanced theoretical papers that most undergraduates probably wouldn’t understand but are included nonetheless for the bold student. Note that thinking on a few topics has become more refined or changed somewhat in other ways, and students are responsible for terms, definitions, etc. that are presented in lecture and in the regular printed material; any discrepancies will be resolved with the latest information deemed correct.

5Because of time constraints, Chapter 3 will likely be omitted this semester with only a few highlights of epidemiological studies and their basic methodology discussed.

6The text of Chapter 7 may be omitted with the essential components of that chapter presented in lecture format.

7During this last phase of the course, three chapters are assigned in rapid succession. In actuality, most of the necessary material is contained in Chapter 8 with Chapter 9 and 10 simply reinforcing and expanding upon this material. It is very important to attend lectures regularly during this final module, to review the lecture slides, and to follow the study guides.

8It is especially important for Chapter 9 and 10 to follow the study guide to direct your reading. These chapters include a lot of material that will not be included on the exam nor covered in the course, but rather, is provided for completeness of the subject matter.



Links to the original ARU webpages are provided below. Most of the material and all new content can be found at the


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