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PSY5010 Assessment for Substance Misuse

Semester 1, 2020 Online
Short Description: Assessment Substance Misuse
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences
School or Department : School of Psychology and Counselling
Student contribution band : Band 1
ASCED code : 090701 - Psychology
Grading basis : Graded


Examiner: Gavin Beccaria


Pre-requisite: Students must be enrolled in one of the following Programs: GCAD or GDCN or MPPS or GCCO or MCCO


Assessment is the foundation of effective treatment planning and intervention in all areas of health service. Quality assessment provides key information about the frequency, intensity, and duration of a particular problem, in this case, substance misuse. It also provides a baseline against which changes and post-treatment improvements can be measured. As such, a sound assessment methodology forms part of the health practitioner’s evidence base. Nevertheless, knowledge of useful methods and measures can vary between disciplines, as does the level of training each discipline provides about the science of assessment. Consequently, it will be beneficial to develop a degree of standardised knowledge and practice regarding assessment with the substance using population, particularly given its centrality to effective intervention.


As for other courses in the alcohol and drug studies program, this course is divided into three parts. The first part concerns principles of assessment, and includes an overview of psychometrics and some of the technical limits that may arise when working with a substance using population. The second part focuses on the core skills of assessment, in terms of how to assess individual patterns of substance use, assessment for predisposing biological factors and precipitating psychosocial factors, assessment for co-morbid mental health problems, risk assessment for suicide, and assessment for change readiness as a foundation for treatment planning. Students are introduced to a range of assessment methods and tools, and guided through the process of critiquing the efficacy of each in their practice settings with respect to various client presentations. The final component of the course pertains to ethics and culture, both of which are either mandated or recommended aspects of training in the health professions. The course follows a structured 10-module format to address the knowledge based components, while the skills components are completed on an ongoing basis and link to the major assignment, an assessable skills demonstration.


On completion of this course students should be able to:

  1. demonstrate understanding of best practice in the assessment of alcohol and drug using clients;
  2. demonstrate understanding of best practice in mental health assessment;
  3. demonstrate understanding of haemopathology data relevant to management and treatment of alcohol and drug using clients;
  4. demonstrate ability to select and administer assessment instruments for alcohol and drug misuse;
  5. demonstrate ability to identify the behavioural and psychosocial indicators related to illicit drug use;
  6. demonstrate ability to undertake a comprehensive biopsychosocial alcohol and drug assessment;
  7. demonstrate ability to undertake a comprehensive alcohol and drug use assessment.


Description Weighting(%)
1. Introduction to assessment of clients presenting with drug use and misuse issues 5.00
2. Principles and theories of assessment 10.00
3. Technical considerations of assessment with a substance using population 10.00
4. Assessing clients’ styles of substance use 5.00
5. Biopsychosocial assessment: Biological component 15.00
6. Biopsychosocial assessment: Psychological factors and suicide risk 15.00
7. Biopsychosocial assessment: Social factors 15.00
8. Assessment of co-existing alcohol and drug and mental health problems 15.00
9. Biopsychosocial assessment tools 5.00
10. Ethical and cultural aspects of assessment with substance using populations 5.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

There is no set text for this course. All readings and resources will be supplied via the course home page, either as downloadable document files or URLs. However, you will be expected to research and read beyond the materials supplied, in order to reflect differences specific to your discipline.

Reference materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.

Student workload expectations

Activity Hours
Assessments 40.00
Directed Study 62.00
Private Study 68.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
Critique of Practice-Spec M&M 100 40 06 May 2020
Assessment Skills Demo & Refl 100 60 27 May 2020

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    There are no attendance requirements for this course. However, it is students' responsibility to participate appropriately in all activities scheduled for them (such as Study Book activities and practical work), and to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    Students do not have to satisfactorily complete each of the assessment items to be awarded a passing grade in the course. Refer to Statement 4 below for the requirements to receive a passing grade in this course.

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    Students should refer to the Assessment Procedure (point 4.2.4)

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of a passing grade a student must achieve at least 50% of the total weighted marks for the summative assessment items. The term ‘weighted’ refers to assessment items that contribute to the calculation of the final grade for a course, i.e., have a non-zero weighting.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the weighted aggregate of the marks (or grades) obtained for each of the summative assessment items.

  6. Examination information:
    There is no examination for this course.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    As there are no examinations in this course, there will be no deferred or supplementary examinations.

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Assessment notes

  1. The due date for an assignment is the date by which a student must despatch the assignment to the USQ. Students may be required to provide a copy of assignments submitted for assessment purposes. Such copies should be despatched to the USQ within 24 hours of receipt of a request to do so.

  2. Students must retain a copy of each item submitted for assessment. This must be produced within five days if required by the Course Examiner.

  3. The Course Examiner may grant an extension of the due date of an assignment in extenuating circumstances.

  4. Students who, for medical, family/personal, or employment-related reasons, are unable to complete an assignment may apply to defer an assessment in a course. Such a request must be accompanied by appropriate supporting documentation. One of the following temporary grades may be awarded IDS (Incomplete - Deferred Examination; IDM (Incomplete Deferred Make-up); IDB (Incomplete - Both Deferred Examination and Deferred Make-up).

  5. Students will require access to email and internet access to USQConnect for this course. The onus is on students to ensure internet access is of sufficient speed and quality to accommodate any on-line quizzes.

  6. This course does not have a Residential School.

Date printed 19 June 2020