Centre for Addictive Behaviours Research

We bring together a unique blend of world-class research, scholarship, training and enterprise activity to understand the psychosocial causes, effects and treatments of addictive behaviours

The Centre for Addictive Behaviours Research plays a vital role in increasing understanding of how addictive behaviours operate, so that they can be modified and managed for the benefit of affected individuals.

The centre takes as its starting point an understanding of addictive behaviours from a psychosocial perspective. We emphasise the need to conceptualise such behaviours beyond simplistic biomedical perspectives, to include a series of distinct but related key themes. These themes include: automatic versus reflective ‘dual process’ models, metacognitive approaches, psychopharmacological approaches, public policy approaches and social identity approaches. We cover both substance-related and behavioural addictions.

Investigated topics

  • Automatic versus reflective ‘dual process’ models (how people’s behaviours are influenced by conscious and non-conscious thought)
  • Metacognitive approaches (how people’s mental control strategies perpetuate addictive behaviours)
  • Psychopharmacological approaches (the impact of chemicals on brain and body)
  • Public policy approaches (how we can use messages and legislation to reduce harm)
  • Social identity approaches (how people’s self-image affects their behaviour)

Current projects


The purpose of the study is to test the effectiveness of e-cigarettes alongside different levels of support and advice, for quitting smoking.

This is a Medical Research Council (MRC) funded project being conducted by member of the Centre for Addictive Behaviours Research (CABR).

Find out more.

Allen Carr’s Easyway Trial

This strand of research compares the efficacy of the Allen Carr Easyway to stop smoking service and Lambeth NHS stop smoking counselling service. This randomised controlled trial involved allocating 620 people who wished to stop smoking randomly to one or other intervention. We then tracked the progress of our participants for six months, seeing who managed to both quit and stay that way.

We are currently in the analysis and writing up stage of the project. We have high hopes for its real-world impact - as the largest research project of its kind testing the ACE method, and the first measuring ‘continuing abstinence’. We anticipate that it will have a significant impact on stop smoking service provision.

E-cigarette Research Programme

The Centre for Addictive Behaviours Research includes some of the leading international experts in the nicotine and tobacco field. Our e-cigarette research centres around two main themes: (1) testing the impact of the EU Tobacco Products Directive [TPD]; and (2) bringing tobacco harm reduction to the most vulnerable communities.

Two separate projects (both funded by Cancer Research UK [CRUK]) are addressing different aspects of the TPD. The first, relating to the cap on nicotine e-liquid concentrations suggests that lower nicotine e-liquid can encourage more intensive puffing and increase exposure to potentially harmful substances in the vapour. A second project is focusing on how messaging influences smokers’ and non-smokers’ harm perceptions and intentions to use e-cigarettes by comparing the current EU nicotine addiction health warning with alternative relative risk messages.

Researchers within the Centre for Addictive Behaviours Research are also working with various homeless charities on a National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) funded project to explore the feasibility and effectiveness of supplying free e-cigarette starter kits to smokers accessing homeless centre services across the UK.

E-cigarettes: An Evidence Update

On 14 November 2018, Dr Lynne Dawkins gave a terrific myth-busting lecture on e-cigarettes – see the YouTube video below, as well as her slides and blog on the lecture.

Metacognitive Therapy for Addictive Behaviours Research Programme

The Centre for Addictive Behaviours is at the forefront of the development of metacognitive therapy for addictive behaviours. Collaborating with leading research centres such as the University of Manchester, the University of Padova, Kings College London and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, we are exploring the metacognitive mechanisms underlying addictive behaviours (metacognitive beliefs, perseverative thinking, attentional control) and developing novel clinical models and therapeutic interventions aimed at achieving metacognitive change.

Public Health Messaging Research Programme

The Centre for Addictive Behaviours Research has a long-standing focus on developing and evaluating public health messages which aim to promote better knowledge and understanding of the potential harms associated with addictive behaviours, as well as promoting responsible use. Experts in our centre work with national charities such as Drinkaware and GambleAware to guide the development of national campaigns, advise on organisational strategy to evaluate the impact of such work, and conduct independent research funded by organisations such as Alcohol Research UK and Cancer Research UK.

Social Identity Research Programme

We all have social groups with which we identify, and those facing addictive behaviours are no exception. This world leading research programme examines how social identity processes can help people achieve and maintain recovery.

Collaborating with major research centres such as Queensland University and Washington University, and numerous service providers and treatment centres, we are exploring the ‘active ingredients’ of social identity and testing how addiction related identities develop at both conscious and sub-conscious levels. We are also translating our research into practice - designing cutting edge interventions which will directly benefit those battling addiction.

Key facilities

  • Bar laboratory
  • Bio-psychological recording equipment (BIOPAC)
  • Dedicated computer laboratories
  • EEG facilities
  • Eye tracking laboratory
  • Observation rooms
  • Psychometric library
  • Testing cubicles are all equipped to run a range of experimental applications (e.g. Super Lab, E-prime, Experiment builder, Nudist, The Observer, Acknowledge, In vivo, SPSS, Cog Lab and MPlus).

The Centre for Addictive Behaviours Research is led by Professor Ian Albery, Director of Research and Enterprise and Professor of Psychology, School of Applied Sciences. The Deputy Lead of the Centre for Addictive Behaviours Research is Professor Marcantonio Spada, Head of the Division of Psychology and Professor of Addictive Behaviours and Mental Health, School of Applied Sciences.

We undertake world-class research, scholarship, training and enterprise activity for understanding the psychosocial causes, effects and treatments of addictive behaviours.

Staff directory

To view the full Centre for Addictive Behaviours Research staff list

Research staff

  • Dr Catherine Kimber
  • Ms Christy Milia
  • Dr James Morris
  • Dr Kerry Wood

Visiting researchers

  • Prof Julia Buckner (Louisiana, USA)
  • Dr Gabriele Caselli (Milan, Italy)
  • Dr Julie Gawrylowicz (Glasgow, UK)
  • Dr John Larsen (London, UK)
  • Prof Kristen Lindgren (Washington, USA)
  • Dr Claudia Marino (Padova, Italy)
  • Prof Hayden McRobbie (London, UK)
  • Dr Caitlin Notley (Norwich, UK)
  • Dr Charlie Orton (Manchester, UK)
  • Prof Sandra Sassaroli (Milan, Italy)

Postgraduate research students

  • James Binnie
  • Cassandra Hogan
  • Ashley Howard
  • Sara Palmieri
  • Walter Sapuppo
  • Louise Thompson

Over the past fifteen years, the Centre for Addictive Behaviours Research has been involved in joint research, training and consultancy with many national and international partner institutions to carry out applied collaborative research. These collaborative activities have led to significant funding, research exchange activity and joint publications.

Examples of the Centre for Addictive Behaviours Research partners include:

  • Alcohol Research UK
  • Allen Carr Easyway
  • British Academy
  • Cancer Research UK
  • Drinkaware
  • GambleAware
  • University of Manchester
  • University of Padova
  • University of Washington
  • UK SMART Recovery
  • Westminster Drug Project

The Centre for Addictive Behaviours Research’s core membership is responsible for the delivery and maintenance of the highly successful MSc in Addiction Psychology and Counselling (Federation of Drug and Alcohol Professionals [FDAP] accredited) attracting a number of training bursaries from Alcohol Research UK and the Society for the Study of Addiction.

In addition, the group has been actively involved in user engagement and impact. This has included:

  • The development of the National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training on e-cigarette briefing for stop smoking services.
  • The development, with the All-Party Parliamentary Health Group, of a briefing session to parliamentarians on the shortfalls of current service provision for addictive behaviours.
  • Providing advice to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee on e-cigarettes.
  • The development, with the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Prescribed Drug Dependence, of guidance for psychological therapists when working with clients taking (or withdrawing from) prescribed drugs.
  • The evaluation of the Allen Carr Easyway stop smoking programme.
  • The development of a series of addiction-related public debates with the Health and Well Being Institute at LSBU.
  • Membership of the Counsellor/Course Accreditation Committee of the FDAP.
  • The development of training guidelines for FDAP.
  • Providing advice to Drinkaware.
  • Providing advice to GambleAware on the development of the new national Safer Gambling Campaign.
  • Providing advice on consumer perceptions of ENDS for Covance Inc.

Members of the group hold editorships or are assistant/associate editors of the leading international journals in the field, including Addiction, Addictive Behaviors, Addictive Behaviors Reports, Journal of Applied Social Psychology, Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, Journal of Behavioral Addictions, Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy.