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Current research


PI: Professor Celia Morgan

Co-I’s: Professor Val Curran, Professor Anne Lingford-Hughes, 

Collaborators: Prof Evgeny Krupitsky (St Petersburg University) Prof Ismene Petrakis (Yale University) Dr James Stone (Institute of Psychiatry)

In the UK alone, nearly 9% of men and 4% of women today meet criteria for alcohol dependence - in all approximately 3.9 million British adults. Abstinence is key to allow recovery of physical and mental health as well as quality of life, but treatment for alcohol dependence is associated with high relapse rates of around 50% at 3 months, 70% at 6 months. Despite the huge burden on the NHS and UK economy, treating alcohol dependence and prolonging abstinence remains an unmet need. We are testing a novel pharmacological treatment for alcoholism, combined with psychological therapy, which we hope to be effective in reducing relapse in alcohol dependence. The findings would have broad application given the worldwide prevalence of alcoholism and associated medical, psychological and social problems. 

Cannabinoids in the treatment of addiction

PI: Professor Val Curran 

Co-I's Professor Celia Morgan

Research Associates: Dr Tom Freeman & Natacha Sha’ban

Collaborator: Dr. Paul Morrison, IoP

£1.3million Medical Research Council 

More people are dependent on cannabis than any other illicit drug – at least  18 million worldwide. In Europe, 1% of all adults and nearly 2% of 14-17 year olds are addicted to cannabis. Rates of cannabis dependence have increased markedly over recent years alongside changes in the ingredients of cannabis available on the. Among UK first-time drug treatment clients, cannabis is now the primary addiction in 28% of those entering drug treatment, second only to heroin (41%). 

The demand for cannabis treatment has more than doubled since 2001 (UNODC World Drug Report 2010). At present, clinicians rely on psychological treatments which have very limited effectiveness. If we found a safe, effective medicine this could improve treatment in a similar way that various medicines  have improved rates of stopping tobacco use. It would also impact on educational/vocational achievement and illegal behaviour, and reduce young people’s risks of cannabis-associated mental health problems (e.g. schizophrenia, depression).   

This project will first determine which dose of a novel pharmacological treatment is best in treating cannabis dependence before fully evaluating its efficacy.

We are inviting participants  to take part who are at least 16 years old, meet clinical criteria for cannabis dependence and would like to stop using the drug.  

Acute effects of alcohol on memory

PIs Professor Celia Morgan and Dr Nicolas Dumay

We are investigating the impact of acute doses of alcohol on different types of memory and hangover symptoms with industry collaborators SCRAM Systems (Denver, US) and Intelclinic (San Francisco,  US).

Meeting Addiction with Kindness: Compassion focused therapy in heroin users

PIs Professor Celia Morgan, Rachel Edwards (RISE), Lucie Hartley (EDP)

In a project co-created with local drug services we are piloting the use of compassion focused therapy in individuals who have been prescribed methadone for over 5 years.