Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Conceptual Models of Addiction

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course



DESCRIPTION The study-unit adopts a critical perspective as it explores the socio historical development of the construct of addiction and how it has been conceptualised in a number of disciplines. More specifically it explores the four main models of addiction, namely, addiction as a biological, psychological and sociological construct and the choice model. The core concepts underpinning the models are discussed and the research evidence for the models critically engaged with.

An alternative model of career that adopts a bio-psycho-social perspective allowing for agency is proposed. The implications of the conceptual models for policy and practice are explored in detail and gaps in the research evidence uncovered. The applicability of the different conceptual models to a variety of addictive behaviour is also addressed.

Study-unit Aims:

The study-unit aims to engage students with the conceptual complexity surrounding the construct of addiction. It aims to utilise the voluminous and often contradictory research evidence from varying disciplines to critically explore the various conceptualisations of this phenomenon. It aims to arrive at a coherent operationalisation of the phenomenon that may then more effectively feed into a research agenda and inform both policy and practice. It also aims to guide students from different disciplinary backgrounds to recognise the value of conceptual models different to their own and to adopt a more transdisciplinary understanding of the issues discussed.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- describe the socio-historical development of the construct of addiction in view of how society has viewed intoxication;
- operationalise the construct of addiction;
- identify and appraise the main tenets of the four models of addiction;
- synthesise crucial elements of the four models into an addictive career approach;
- consolidate a transdisciplinary understanding of addiction that may inform research, policy and practice.

2. Skills
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- evaluate and critique research evidence on addiction from various disciplines;
- prepare a written submission reflecting the integration of numerous concepts;
- apply the different models of addiction to policy and practice in the field of addictive behaviour.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main texts

- Doweiko, H. (2012) Concepts of Chemical Dependency. CA: Brooks/Cole.
- Orford, J. (2001). Excessive Appetites: a psychological view of addictions. NY: John Wiley and Sons.
- Walters, D. (2002). The addiction concept: working hypothesis or self fulfilling prophesy. NY: Pearson, Allyn and Bacon.

Supplementary readings

- Clark, M. (2011) Conceptualising Addiction: How Useful is the Construct? International Journal of Humanities and Social Science 1 ( 13) [Special Issue – September 2011]: 55 – 64.
- Herring, J., Regan, C., Weinberg, D. and Withington, P.(2013) Intoxication and Society: Problematic Pleasures of Drugs and Alcohol London: Palgrave MacMillan.
- Muscat, R., Carter, A., Griffiths, P., Lpez, D. & Hall, W. 2009, "General introduction into addiction neurobiology.", EMCDDA Monographs: Addiction neurobiology: ethical and social implications, no. 9.
- Peele, S. (1998). The meaning of addiction: an unconventional view. CA: Jossey-Bass.
- Walters, D. (2002). The addiction concept: working hypothesis or self fulfilling prophesy. NY: Pearson, Allyn and Bacon.


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment SEM2 Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Albert Bell
Marilyn Clark
Anthony Dimech
Anna Grech
Richard Muscat
Petra Scicluna
Anna Maria Vella
Kristina Vella

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It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.