About the Division

Psychopharmacology is the study of the effects of drugs on behavior, combining methods of psychology and pharmacology. Psychopharmacologists carryout their duties within a number of different settings, including academia, government, private research, industry and clinic. The study of the effects of drugs on behavior has been productively examined in human as well as nonhuman populations, both within and outside the laboratory. The central theme running through the research in this division is the use of behavioral principles as they interact with the effects of pharmacological agents and environmental events.

Major Areas of Research Interest

  • behavioral pharmacology of psychoactive drugs
  • behavioral and pharmacological treatments and drug and substance abuse
  • clinical psychopharmacology
  • neurobehavioral toxicology
  • neurochemical mechanisms in substance abuse and related psychiatric disorders
  • epidemiology of substance abuse
  • development of more effective drug abuse treatments
  • linking practices with research in addiction
  • prevention of substance dependence
  • disseminating evidence-based treatments

Advocacy and Public Information

  • research funding
  • substance abuse treatment
  • neurotoxicology
  • use of animals in research
  • education of psychologists for prescription purposes
  • training for substance abuse counselors
  • research regulations

Div. 28 Interests and Settings

Basic laboratory research with nonhuman subjects

1. Neurochemical mechanisms

  • abused substances (e.g., alcohol, opioids, cocaine, methamphetamine, tobacco)
  • psychiatric disorders and treatment medications (e.g., anxiety, depression, psychosis)
  • learning and memory disorders (e.g., Alzheimer’s, developmental disabilities)

2. Behavioral pharmacology of psychoactive drugs

  • alteration of sensory and motor functions
  • behavioral effects and toxicity
  • reinforcing and discriminative drug effects
  • animal models of psychiatric and substance abuse disorders

3. Applied treatment development and evaluation research

  • laboratory testing of new medications for psychiatric and substance abuse disorders
  • mechanism of therapeutic medication effects
  • medication effects on learning and performance
  • models for abuse liability prediction
  • cost effectiveness of treatment and prevention approaches

Basic laboratory research with human subjects

1. Clinical treatment evaluation

  • drug and alcohol abuse
  • depression, anxiety, attention deficits, and developmental disorders
  • combined behavioral and pharmacological therapies
  • relapse prevention strategies

2. Epidemiological field research

  • prevalence of substance abuse and behavioral disorders
  • etiological factors
  • prevention strategies -development and evaluation
  • evaluation of co-occurring disorders

3. Dissemination

  • bidirectional approach which values both clinician and researcher perspectives
  • removing barriers to the adoption of evidence-based treatments

Div. 28 Activities

Annual Convention

The Division of Psychopharmacology and Substance Abuse is active in the APA Annual Convention, sponsoring symposia, paper and poster sessions, invited addresses and workshops.


Div. 28 members receive a newsletter three times per year, which contains the latest news from special interest committees, a summary of convention activities, division business news, liaison reports and listings of employment opportunities.


The Division presents three awards each year for outstanding achievement in the field:

Executive Committee

The Div. 28 Executive Committee consists of appointed and elected positions. It organizes division activities and meets at both the APA annual convention and the annual meeting of the College on Problems of Drug Dependence.