Losing Control: Investigating the Role of Behavioural Control in Heavy Drinking

First published: 29/03/2019 | Last updated: May 20th, 2019

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Dr Andrew Jones

Lecturer

Lecturer in addiction and motivation at the University of Liverpool, UK.

Associate editor for Substance Use and Misuse.

Review editor for Frontiers in Eating Behaviour.

Editorial consultant for Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology.

 

In addition to my research work and publications, I co-ordinated the University of Liverpool addiction group contribution to the Medical Research Council festival of science (2016). This included a Meet the Scientist event at the world museum, Liverpool.

I am also a regular blogger for the Mental Elf (http://www.thementalelf.net/author/andrew-jones/): I blog on numerous topics from pharmacological treatments for smoking, placebo effects and cost effectiveness of interventions in addiction. These blogs are well received and lead to significant online attention and debate with scientists and the general public.


Presentation on work by this year’s SSA Fred Yates Prize winner.


A key defining criteria of alcohol (mis)use is an inability to inhibit unwanted behaviours, for example resisting the urge to reach for a cold beer when you are trying to abstain. Theoretical models and empirical data demonstrate that this loss of control is associated with the progression of alcohol use to misuse and dependence. However, the majority of research in this area has assumed the ability to override inappropriate or unwanted behaviours to be stable over long periods of time. More recently, observations suggest that our ability to control ourselves is sensitive to environmental influences, such as exposure to alcohol-related cues, and internal factors such as stress. As a result, exposure to these may lead to transient ‘high risk’ states in which individuals are more likely to drink to excess / (re)lapse. For my presentation I will discuss research from our laboratory which focuses on experimental analogues of behavioural control and alcohol use, and how these are influenced by environmental and internal factors. I will also discuss how the identification of these factors may improve our understanding of the processes underlying heavy drinking and inform the development of novel psychological interventions for alcohol use.

November 2017

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Dr Andrew Jones