By Katherine Sawyer (AIM) University of Bath

Researchers are making substantial progress in understanding cannabis, tobacco and alcohol use.

We strive to reduce the impact of addiction and mental ill-health on individuals and communities. Our research informs the public, policy and clinical practice.

Recent findings: Cannabis

Cannabis contains many different chemicals, two of the most well-known being THC and CBD. THC and CBD have very different effects. THC produces the rewarding ‘high’ feeling when you use cannabis, while the effects of CBD are not the same and have some medical benefits. Researchers at the University of Bath are looking into the effects of the chemicals on addiction and mental health and are looking for volunteers.

Daily use of THC is associated with a five-fold increased risk of psychosis. This is linked to the increased concentration of THC in cannabis which carries an increased risk of harm. To promote safer use, researchers at the university recommend a system similar to alcohol units to measure cannabis use.
Contrastingly, CBD counteracts some of the negative effects of THC and can treat some medical disorders. In the first-ever randomised clinical trial, researchers found CBD can help people with Cannabis Use Disorder to quit.

Smoking and mental health

People often think that smoking helps mental health, such as coping with stress, and that quitting is detrimental to an individual’s mood. But the study contends that stopping smoking can have long- term mental health benefits, including reduced depression, anxiety and stress and improved mood and quality of life. The boost was found to be as effective as taking antidepressants.

Researchers at the university are working with Cancer Research UK to design an intervention to help people with depression/anxiety to quit smoking, also being tested in mental health services.

Alcohol and hangovers
Many of us are familiar with feeling groggy and unable to concentrate the day after drinking alcohol. The university has found that when we are hungover, it is more difficult for us to remember information, to switch attention to different tasks, and to focus on our goals.

Research also links hangovers with a low mood and a feeling of isolation. However, ‘collective suffering’ of feeling hungover can help form friendships!

Opportunities to participate in our research
The Psychology Department at the University are recruiting people who live in Salisbury and who use Turning Point services for substitution therapy (methadone, Espranor) to take part in a 30-minute telephone interview to explore experiences of greater take-home dosing flexibility and the wider impact of changes in drug treatment services under Covid.

Interim study report:

If interested in taking part for a £10 voucher or phone top-up paid, talk to Turning Point staff or contact Jenny Scott on the study phone: 07517 639007.
Other opportunities to take part in our research will be on the social media: follow us and keep an eye out! Twitter: @Bath_AIM, Facebook: @addictionandmentalhealthgroup, YouTube: Addiction and Mental Health Group AIM