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Drugs and Addictive Behaviours Research Group


The Drugs and Addictive Behaviours Research Group has grown out of a long tradition of work on the neuropsychological effects of recreational drugs. It concerns itself with investigating the cognitive, behavioural and psychobiological effects of a range of illicit and licit drugs and behavioural addictions, The group conducts empirical research into effects of withdrawal from regular use and protracted abstinence, acute, subacute and hangover effects, predictors of abstinence and treatment evaluations. The groups work links with the ‘Brain and Behaviour’, ‘Health and Wellbeing’ and ‘Intervention and Rehabilitation’ School of Psychology research themes and with the UEL ‘Sport, Health and Wellbeing’ theme.

Although there is considerable overlap, John Turner’s principal interest is stimulants and ‘legal highs’ and he is continuing the longstanding work on the cognitive and psychological effects of MDMA in adults. Kirstie Soar has particular expertise in ecstasy, cannabis and cocaine use. Richard Ralley focuses predominantly on cognitive and behavioural effects of acute alcohol consumption. Francisco Eiroa Orosa is working on treatment of methadone and heroin users and is involved in large scale randomised controlled trials in Europe. Meredith Terlecki’s research focuses on social anxiety, alcohol use and treatment. Please see the full list of group members.

The group is also interested in the psychobiological effects of caffeine, magic mushrooms, ketamine and shisha use as well as recreational and dependent polydrug use. John Turner and Kirstie Soar are currently exploring the prevalence and effects of Novel Psychoactive drugs in young adult users. Meredith Terlecki is continuing her collaborative work on social anxiety and alcohol treatment with colleagues at Louisiana State University and University of Washington Seattle. Francisco Eiroa Orosa is participating in a multidisciplinary review (from antropology or sociology to genetics and neuroscience) of the determinants in different phases of addiction, i.e., initiation of risky use, progression to harmful use and cessation/chronic relapse. (See current projects.)

Group Aims
  • To conduct and disseminate high quality research which leads to the generation of new knowledge, wider public understanding and better policy and practice.
  • To explore the psychological and cognitive effects of a range of legal and illegal psychoactive substances and evaluate the impact they have on users.
  • To investigate the causes and consequences of a range of drug and behavioural addictions, including withdrawal effects and pathways out of addictive behaviours.

Current Projects

Read all about our current projects.