Psychopharmacology of Alcohol Use

Why study alcohol use?

Alcohol is a widely available, legal drug in the United Kingdom. Most individuals drink some alcohol, with around 70 % of men and 55 % of women reporting having consumed an alcoholic drink on at least one day during the previous week. Heavy alcohol use appears to be a factor in risky, aggressive and socially unacceptable behaviours and is associated with increased risk for liver disease and cirrhosis, several types of cancer, raised blood pressure and coronary heart disease. As a result there is growing concern about the societal impact of heavy alcohol use, including the associated burden on the economy and public health. Psychopharmacology research is developing our understanding of how alcohol affects behaviours and thought processes that might lead to heavy and harmful alcohol use, including short-term (e.g. intoxication and drunkenness) and long-term (e.g. continued drinking over a long period of time) effects of alcohol use on how we act and think.

Pot Luck – does smoking cannabis increase your chances of becoming psychotic?

Schizophrenia is a rare but serious illness, which can cause psychotic symptoms, anxiety and depression, and emotional ‘flattening’, amongst other things. You can read more about schizophrenia elsewhere on the site here. While intoxicated on cannabis, people can experience short-term feelings of paranoia, hallucinations or delusions, which are similar to the psychotic experiences of schizophrenics. But feeling paranoid while you’re ‘high’ or under the effects of the drug is not the same as having a debilitating disorder like schizophrenia. Intoxication effects last a few hours; psychosis can involve episodes for days, or longer.