Deakin University Centre for Drug use, Addictive and Anti-social Behaviour Research

Preventing and reducing harm from alcohol and other drug use, and addictive and anti-social behaviours

CEDAAR conducts research into the psychological, biological, socio-political and clinical aspects of alcohol and other drug use (AOD), other addictive behaviours and consequent harm. Using a developmentally informed approach, our aim is to understand many of the problems associated with substance and other addictive behaviours, and related harms.

Our focus

Our program is linked to the Deakin Centre for Social and Early Emotional Development (SEED), as we look to understand many of the problems associated with substance and other addictive behaviours and related harms from a developmentally informed perspective.

Centre for Social and Early Emotional Development

The centre conducts federally and state-funded research on substance use, gambling, prevention, treatment, harm reduction and related problem areas such as violence, criminal justice settings, and characteristics of rural addictive behaviours.

Our multidisciplinary centre is strongly linked to the Deakin University Centre for Social and Early Emotional Development (SEED), as we look to understand many of the problems associated with addictive behaviours and related harms from a developmentally informed perspective. Our aim is to use these understandings to inform our evidence-based policy, treatment, and prevention interventions, as well as providing service to the community.

Our approach

Our approach is structured around three research questions:

  1. What matters in predicting, preventing, and reducing harm from AOD use, other addictive behaviours, and anti-social behaviour?

  2. What works to prevent and reduce harm from AOD use, other addictive behaviours, and anti-social behaviour?

  3. What translates into sustainable policy, prevention and treatment programs?

Our people

Prof Peter Miller is Professor of Violence Prevention & Addiction studies and leads the Policy, Evaluation & Monitoring stream of CEDAAR. Peter’s work includes research on alcohol and drug-related violence; predictors of violence (including family and domestic violence), and Corporate Political Activity of alcohol and dangerous consumptions industries

Deputy Director
A/Prof Petra Staiger conducts research with a focus on both theory and practice. Her work aims to develop a deep understanding of the key psychological drivers of alcohol and other drug problems and identify how we might address these in treatment. She leads the “Psychological and Social Studies of Addiction” stream within CEDAAR.

Our research streams


Leader: Professor John Toumbourou

Prevention science applies life-course and developmental systems research to design and evaluate interventions that enhance healthy child and youth development and prevent substance use, gambling, and other addictive behaviours. Program models being designed and evaluated include family (Behaviour Exchange Systems Training), school (Resilient Families) and community interventions (Communities That Care; Smart Generations). The cross-national International Youth Development Study is used to evaluate and advocate for effective state policies.

Our people

Current projects

A cross-national longitudinal comparison of modifiable influences for the development of harmful young adult alcohol use in Washington State, USA, and Victoria, Australia
Toumbourou, J., Lewis, A. NHMRC Project Grant, 2013–2017.

This cross-national longitudinally study successfully followed two state-representative cohorts recruited in Victoria and Washington State in 2002 (aged 13) and resurveyed them in 2014/15 at age 25 (N = 1,600, 87% follow-up rate). Analyses are underway that are investigating cross-national differences in young adult substance use and the influence of different state policies such as Washington State cannabis legalisation.
Estimating the contribution of adolescent alcohol misuse prevention to the reduction of alcohol-related harm in Australia
Toumbourou, J., Rowland, B., Williams, J., Kremer, P., Carter, R. NHMRC Project Grant, 2015–2019.
This project will extend our existing national randomised trial (comparing 14 intervention and 14 control communities) to complete a novel evaluation of the longer-term benefits of community-based adolescent alcohol use prevention. The project will broaden an evaluation trial of supply and demand reduction strategies designed to reduce population rates of adolescent alcohol use by at least 15%.
Resilient Families program impact on disadvantaged secondary school student academic achievement and social emotional competence
Toumbourou, J., Ghayour Minaie, M., Barkly, K. Learning Impact Fund + Secondary School Contributions, 2017–2019.

Researchers from Western Sydney University are collaborating with a Deakin team to complete an external evaluation of the Resilient Families (family-school program) impacts on student academic outcomes. The Deakin team will evaluate impacts on substance use, family relationship, and social emotional competence. Previous evaluations have shown positive preventative effects on adolescent substance use, antisocial behaviour and mental health.
Reducing alcohol and tobacco as a cause of intergenerational poverty for socioeconomically disadvantaged children
Toumbourou, J., Rowland, B., Klettke, B., Donnelly, A. Ian Potter Foundation, 2017–2019.

This project forms part of the SEED strategic plan to work with relevant partners to adapt the Communities that Care ( framework to increase its application to childhood prevention. Brief behavioural communication and community mobilisation campaigns will extend effective alcohol and tobacco prevention and supply reduction programs to young adults and parents.
Centre for Family Research and Evaluation  
Toumbourou, J., Clancy, E. Drummond Street Services, 2017–2019.

Although there is solid evidence that family-based strategies can prevent and treat substance use problems, these strategies have not been widely implemented in Australian substance use services. This project aims to establish an applied research centre to encourage evidence-based practice through a collaboration between Drummond Street Services and Deakin University.
Alcohol change in the university setting
Dunn, M., Williams, J., Bennett, C. VicHealth, 2017–2018.

The aim of this project is to investigate whether small, targeted interventions directed toward group norms surrounding drinking and associated behaviour can reduce risky drinking.


Leader: Professor Vicki White

This stream examines the prevalence of substance use, gambling, and other addictive behaviours in different groups within the Australian population to determine trends in usage patterns and investigates factors that might influence these trends over time. Understanding trends in the use of alcohol and gambling by Australian adolescents and adults is a key focus in this stream.

Our people

Current projects

The susceptibility, prevalence, type and burden of adolescent gambling: an opportunity for an ongoing monitoring tool
White, V., Sanson Fisher, R., Freund, M., Hill, D. Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, 2017–2018.

This project will collect data on gambling behaviour among young people aged 12-18 from Victoria and Western Australia via the Australian Secondary School Alcohol and Drug Survey (ASSAD), the most comprehensive survey examining alcohol and drug use among school aged young people in Australia. By including a West Australian sample, the researchers will be able to assess whether the different gambling environments in each state are associated with particular gambling attitudes and behaviours among those aged 12-18.
Australian Secondary Students Alcohol and Drug Survey
White, V., Williams, T. Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing, 2017–2019.

This survey works with secondary students aged between 12 and 17 years old. In which they were asked about their lifetime and current use of tobacco, alcohol, analgesics, tranquilisers and illicit substances and related behaviours.
Fourth Social and Economic Impact Study of gambling in Tasmania
Dowling, N., Merkouris, S., Youssef, G., Fahrer, J., Gould, M., Muth, P., Hulonce, J., Browne, M., Rockloff, M., Pennay, D., Myers, P., Ward, A., Vickers, N., Guo, W. Tasmanian Department of Treasury and Finance, 2017.

This multi-component project comprises a large-scale computer assisted technology interviewing (CATI) study, an ecological momentary assessment (EMA) study, qualitative interviews of gamblers and their affected others, and stakeholder consultations. The aims are to identify trends in gambling consumption and problem gambling. In this study, there is a focus on assessment on ‘burden of harm’.

Policy, evaluation and monitoring

Leader: Professor Peter Miller

This stream focuses on understanding and evaluating government and organisational policy as well as monitoring and evaluating the impacts of alcohol, gambling, and other addictive behaviours on the community. Research undertaken by the researchers in this stream aims to positively inform policy at a national and local level.

Our people

Current projects

The use of ambulance data to inform patterns and trends of alcohol, substance misuse, self-harm and mental health in different forms of interpersonal violence
Miller, P., Scott, D., Lloyd, B., Lubman, D., Smith, K., Wilson, A. Criminology Research Advisory Council, 2017.

The aim of this study is to examine the association between alcohol and other drugs, mental health, and violence in acute events. This project will explore types and patterns of violence, trends over time, geospatial characteristics, and describe patterns of involvement or co-occurrence of alcohol and drug use, mental health symptomatology, and self-harm in violence.
Driving Change: Using Emergency Department Data to Reduce Alcohol-related Harm
Miller, P., Droste, N., Staiger, P., Egerton-Warburton, D., Shakeshaft, A., Caldicott, D., Havard, A., Doran, C., Baker, T., Weiland, T., Bowe, S., Shepherd, J. NHMRC Partnership Grant, 2016–2021.

Building on the international evidence and pilot data from Australia, the team will oversee and evaluate an intervention that aims to reduce alcohol-related injury in the community through a randomised trial in eight emergency departments in Victoria, NSW and the ACT. A key aspect will be the introduction of mandatory “last-drinks” data collection within existing hospital IT systems for triage/clinician follow-up.
An Assessment of Late Night Alcohol Restrictions in Queensland
Miller, P., Coomber, K., Clough, A., Thorn, M., Ferris, J., Chikritzhs, T., Kypri, K., Lloyd, B., Livingston, M., Najman, J., Crane, M., O’Neill, B., Matthews, S.
QLD State Government Tender, 2016-2018. ARC Linkage, 2016–2019.

Alcohol-related harm is a major social order issue which requires evidence-based policy. This project capitalises on a unique window of policy adoption within Queensland to investigate the introduction of 2am cease of alcohol service for licensed venues across the entire state, assessing its impact, identifying modifiable elements and developing policy advice. Using the most sophisticated models to date, including outlet density, enforcement, demographic variables and other variables, we build on our team’s extensive work to build unique datasets including archival data, foot-traffic counting, key stakeholder and patron interviews to evaluate impact and identify policy lessons for other jurisdictions in Australia and internationally.
Risk based licensing in Australia
Miller, P., Curtis, A., Kypri, K., Chikritzhs, T., Graham, K. ARC Discovery, 2014–2017.

This project capitalises on a unique window of policy adoption across Australia to investigate the introduction of risk-based licensing schemes for the sale of alcohol, assessing their impacts, identifying modifiable elements and developing policy advice.
Corporate Political Activity of Tobacco, Alcohol and Gambling Companies in Australia
Miller, P., Hancock, L., Wakefield, M., Kypri, K., Livingstone, C., Daube, M., Giorgi, C., Adams, P., McCambridge, J. ARC Discovery/FARE/Cancer Council, 2013–2017.

Aims: to investigate financial strategies in the form of political donations and examine the potential to link these to policies in each state and territory.
To analyse a) formal documentary submissions to state and federal government bodies; b) interpersonal strategies used by DC industries in contact with politicians and public servants; and c) how DC industries frame their corporate social responsibility (CSR).To assess the use of constituency building strategies, identifying the methods used by DC industries to shape public opinion to be more favourably disposed to their preferred policy approaches.
The development of empirically derived Australian responsible gambling limits
Dowling, N., Room, R., Suomi, A. Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, 2014–2017.
The primary aim of this project is to identify a set of empirically based responsible gambling limits that can be used to inform the development of responsible gambling guidelines for promotion to the Australian public. The identification and validation of limits for the Australian population was achieved through the secondary data analysis of several existing state or territory datasets and two primary data collection studies were conducted to canvas Australian expert opinion and Victorian public opinion about the promotion of responsible gambling limits.
Study drug use in the university setting: Exploring the policy and regulatory environment
Dunn, M. Centre for Research in Assessment and Digital Learning, Deakin University, 2017.
The aims of this project are to ascertain whether the use of ‘study drugs’ is viewed by the university sector as an issue of concern; explore whether the use of these substances are viewed as threat to academic integrity; document whether institutions have policies which address study drug use; and explore whether institutional assessment policy (or discipline-specific assessment policy) facilitates or impedes study drug use.

Psychological and social studies of addiction

Leader: Associate Professor Petra Staiger

The work of this stream is to develop a deep understanding of some of the key underlying psychological and social processes involved in the development, maintenance and treatment of addiction.  Factors such as impulse control, emotion dysregulation, reward sensitivity, negative affect, motivation, trait aggression, family processes and social identity are all key candidates. Our group draws on innovative methodologies such as Ecological Momentary Assessment, Eye Tracking, Cognitive-Neuro behavioural tasks to address key research questions that matter.

Our people

Current projects

Understanding Impulsivity, Reward Sensitivity in the development and treatment of Substance Misuse

Over the last two decades researchers in this group have conducted a range of experimental studies examining the role of impulse control and reward sensitivity and how they might be related to substance misuse. More recently this work has been extended to understanding the role of impulsivity in treatment and relapse prevention. See Staiger, Kambouropous in particular for papers on this topic. More recently we have applied this work to the treatment of smoking by running an RCT (see treatment section).
Understanding the role of emotion regulation

Kate Hall, Petra Staiger, George Youseff and Nicki Dowling conduct work in the area of emotion regulation and addiction. We proposed that emotion regulation is a transdiagnostic construct which underlies a range of mental health disorders including gambling and substance use. A recent review and a range of grants (listed in treatment section) support the work examining emotion regulation as a mediator in successful treatment.  See our recent review on the topic of emotion regulation and psychopathology.
Transitioning into and out of low or moderate risk gambling: Socio-demographic, gambling related harms, and change profiles.
Merkouris, S.
Mentors: Nicki Dowling, George Youssef
Additional Mentor: Rodda, S.
Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, 2017–2018.
The project aims to evaluate effective strategies used to change gambling behaviour by examining the differences in sociodemographic, gambling-related harms and change profiles of gamblers who transition into and out of low or moderate risk gambling; examine baseline predictors of transitions into and out of low or moderate risk gambling; and explore the subjective experience of low and moderate risk gamblers, considering how they feel about their current gambling; the impact gambling has had on their lives; and patterns of gambling over time, and where applicable, the strategies used to change their gambling behaviours.
The Effectiveness of behaviour change techniques used in psychological and self-help interventions for problem gambling
Dowling, N.Merkouris, S., Rodda, S., Cowlishaw, S., Abraham, C., & Hodgins, D.
Gambling Research Exchange Ontario, 2017

The purpose of this study was systematically review the content and characteristics of psychological interventions used to reduce gambling or problem gambling and to develop a reliable classification system capable of identifying intervention characteristics that could, potentially, account for greater or less treatment effectiveness. The final taxonomy, entitled Gambling Intervention System of CharacTerisation (GIST-1) included 34 categories of intervention characteristics assigned to three groups (types of change techniques, participant and study characteristics, and characteristics of the delivery and conduct of interventions).
Problem gambling in people seeking treatment for mental illness
Dowling, N., Lubman, D., Kulkarni, J., Manning, V., Lee, S., Rodda, S., Volberg, R., Cosic, S.
Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation  2014–2017

This multi-phased research project examined problem gambling rates and responses across mental health services in Victoria. The project comprised 5 components: (1) an extensive literature review; (2) an organisation and workforce survey designed to examine problem gambling-related knowledge, attitudes and practices of mental health clinicians; (3) in-depth qualitative clinician interviews exploring the barriers and facilitators of responding to problem gambling; (4) a quantitative survey of patients attending community mental health services designed to examine gambling participation and problem gambling prevalence; and the identification of optimal brief screening instruments; and (6) a clinical reference panel.


Leader: Dr Kate Hall

This stream involves the development, evaluation and translation of innovative evidence-based treatments for addiction.  Specifically we draw on trans-diagnostic approaches, e technology and cognitive interventions for addiction.

Our people

Current projects

Emotion Regulation and Impulse Control

ERIC is a modular intervention designed to promote healthy social and emotional development for vulnerable young people, by cultivating helpful Emotion Regulation and Impulse Control skills. The ERIC pilots are feasibility and effectiveness trails being conducted with highly vulnerable young people seeking help in AOD, mental health and primary care settings or under a youth justice order or living in residential care. ERIC targets theoretically informed and empirically derived transdiagnostic factors that underpin mental health, substance use and offending behaviours.
ERIC: a multisite feasibility and acceptability pilot
Hall, K., Staiger, P., Simpson, A., Baker, A., Beck, A., Hallam, K. Helen MacPherson Smith Trust, 2015–2017.
ERIC: a sustainable early intervention program for vulnerable young people with AoD and mental health issues.
Hall, K., Staiger, P., Simpson, A., Dunlop, A., Baker, A. NSW Health, 2017–2019.
ERIC Research Translation projects
Hall, K., Simpson, A.
ERIC: Goulburn Valley Health; ERIC: Youth Severe Frankston headspace;     ERIC in Out of Home Care System Reform: Intensive Support Service, Southern region; ERIC: Queensland Youth Justice Attorney General, 2017–2018.
Improving the effectiveness of lifestyle change strategies
Dowling, N., Rodda, S., Lubman, D., Abbott, M., Paterson, J., Rawson, E., Ioane, J. Health Research Council of New Zealand, 2017–2020.

This study is a randomised controlled trial testing the effectiveness of (i) action planning (how, what, or when to use change strategies), (ii) action planning plus coping planning (what to do when encountering barriers and obstacles), compared to (iii) assessment only control for people who are ready to change their alcohol, gambling and eating behaviours.
The R2C Program: A randomised controlled trial of a telephone-based intervention for alcohol misuse
Hall, K., Staiger, P., Lubman, D.I., Baker, A., Best, D., Manning, V., Reynolds, J., Harris, A. NHMRC, 2017–2019.

This project will examine the efficacy of R2C – a modular psychological intervention for alcohol use disorder delivered over 6 phone sessions - among individuals with alcohol misuse. Specifically it will determine if delivery of R2C will result in: (i) reducing alcohol problem severity post-intervention (6-weeks) and at 6 and 12-months; (ii) reducing the number of past-month ‘heavy drinking’ days post-intervention and at 3, 6 and 12-months; (iii) reducing psychological distress and improving quality of life and functioning post-intervention and at 3, 6 and 12-months. The cost effectiveness of this novel telephone delivered intervention will also be calculated.
Development and evaluation of an online gambling self-help program: Effective integration into existing Victorian services.
Dowling, N., Rodda, S., Lubman, D., Harvey, P., Battersby, M., Cunningham, J., Rodgers, B., Lorains, F., Lavis, T., & Smith, D. Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, 2017.

This study aimed to develop and evaluate an empirically-based online self-directed program for gambling that can be delivered across Victorian services. Phase 1 involved the development of an 8-week internet-delivered cognitive-behavioural self-directed program for gambling (GamblingLess. For Life), Phase 2 employed a two-arm, parallel group, pragmatic randomised trial to evaluate the effectiveness of the GamblingLess program delivered under two conditions: (i) pure self-directed (PSD, without any practitioner guidance) and (ii) guided self-directed (GSD, guidance delivered via email by Victorian practitioners). Phase 3 explored the acceptability and feasibility of the GamblingLess program by users and guides; and the degree to which the program could be effectively integrated into clinical practice in existing Victorian services.
The development and evaluation of a smartphone application to reduce high risk drinking
Staiger, P., O’Donnell, R., Richardson, B., and Fuller-Tyskiewicz, M. Strategic University Research Funds, 2017–2018.

This study utilises cutting edge smartphone technology to develop an interactive intervention to reduce drinking in risky drinkers. The psychological intervention component draws on IfThen Planning, Self-monitoring and Feedback utilising a drinking reduction framework developed by the first three authors.  An evaluation of this application is currently underway.
A randomised controlled trial of Cognitive Bias Modification training during early recovery from alcohol dependence.
Manning, V., Verdejo-Garcia, A., Lubman, D., Staiger, P., Hall, K.
NHMRC, 2017–2019.
This project aims to determine the effectiveness of CBM training delivered during inpatient alcohol detoxification in terms of reduced relapse rates in the first two-weeks following discharge. It also aims to determine if CBM training increases abstinence rates at 3, 6 and 12-months post discharge relative to rates in the control group who receive only sham training. Finally, an economic evaluation of CBM in terms of savings to the treatment system (evidenced by fewer repeat inpatient admissions and reduced use of acute healthcare at the 12-month follow-up) will be conducted.
Examining the effectiveness of inhibitory control in reducing smoking in nicotine dependent individuals.
Staiger, P., Hayden, M., Guo, K., Hughes, L., Bos, J.,
School of Psychology, Deakin University. Lawrence, N., Department of Psychology, Exeter University, UK,  2015–2018.
Smoking is one of the leading causes of mortality and yet smokers often struggle to quit.  This study is a double-blind randomised controlled trial which evaluates the effectiveness of inhibitory control training in nicotine-dependent individuals.

Crime and antisocial behaviour

Leader: Professor Joseph Graffam

This stream focuses on research related to the prevention of antisocial behaviour and crime, as well as interventions for those who engage in antisocial and offending behaviour. Researchers in this stream focus on a range of different offence types and associated prevention and intervention strategies, however there is a strong focus on the relationship between aggressive and violent behaviour and addictive behaviours, such as substance use and gambling.

Our people

Current projects

Patron Banning in Australia
Curtis, A., Miller, P., Guadagno, B., Taylor, N. & Farmer, C.
This project investigates the use of police-imposed, licensee imposed, and court-ordered patron bans throughout Australia. In particular, the project will explore the demographic profiles of those who have received bans, whether patron banning acts as a deterrent for antisocial behaviour in night time entertainment precincts, and whether it has an impact on alcohol-related harm.
Aggression, violence and social media
Mayshak, R. & King, R.
This project involves investigating the role of narcissism in intimate partner violence, and the links between narcissism and risk of abuse and violence in traditional versus mobile application dating.
An examination of the darker personality traits of young Australian adults and their partners, as predictors of aggression in a sample of young Australian adults
Hyder, S., Droste, N. & King, R. 
A sample of over 1000 Australian adults were recruited through social media to investigate the darker personality traits of young Australian adults. Participant’s reported on their own and their partner’s levels of narcissism, psychopathy, Machiavellianism, sadism, as well as substance use and associated demographics, and these were examined in relation to a range of aggression types experienced at home and in the community.

Our collaborators

External collaborators

  • Dr Alison Beck – Priority Research Centre for Translational Neuroscience & Mental Health
  • Prof Amanda Baker – University of Newcastle
  • Dr Amy Peacock – NDARC, UNSW
  • Dr Amy Pennay – CAPR
  • Professor Anthony Shakeshaft – NDARC, UNSW
  • Professor Charles Abraham – Exeter University
  • Professor Dan Lubman – Turning Point, Monash University
  • Professor Jake Najman – University of Queensland
  • Dr Jason Ferris – University of Queensland
  • Prof Jonathan Shepherd – Cardiff University
  • Dr Kathryn Graham – CAMH
  • Professor Kypros Kypri – University of Newcastle
  • Professor Sharon Dawe – Griffiths University
  • Dr Natalia Lawrence – Exeter University
  • Dr Michael Livingston – CAPR
  • Dr Nicholas Carah – University of Queensland
  • Professor Peter Adams – University of Auckland
  • Associate Professor Raimondo Bruno – University of Tasmania
  • Dr Renee Zahnow – ISSR, University of Queensland
  • Professor Robin Room – CAPR
  • Dr Samantha Wells – CAMH
  • Professor Tanya Chikritzhs – NDRI- Curtin University
  • Professor Thomas Babor – University of Connecticut
  • Dr Victoria Manning – Turning Point, Monash University

Collaborating organisations

Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM)

Barwon Health

Barwon Child, Youth and Family Services (BCYF)

Centre for Alcohol Policy Research (CAPR)

Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE)

Gateway Health

Geelong Cats

Lives Lived Well

Odyssey House

South West Healthcare

Turning Point (Monash University)

University of Newcastle

Youth Support and Advocacy Service (YSAS)

The University of Queensland Institute for Social Science Research

Contact us

For any queries please contact Peter Miller.
Email Peter Miller