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Determinants and psychological correlates of sustained behaviour change and recovery from addiction

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Although difficult, many people who are addicted to alcohol or drugs eventually recover from their addiction, often without any formal treatment. Similarly, many heavy drinkers are able to ‘cut down’ their alcohol consumption, sometimes without help and often in response to life changes. There is some preliminary evidence that both types of recovery / behaviour change are accompanied by important psychological changes such that involve executive functions, automatic cognitive processing biases, and subjective beliefs about alcohol. These observations raise a number of additional questions, answers to which could contribute important information about the process of behaviour change and how treatments might be optimized in order to bring about those psychological changes. For example, which psychological processes (if any) play the most important causal role in behaviour change, and which arise as a consequence of behaviour change? How do addiction treatments and behaviour change interventions influence these psychological constructs, and how might those interventions need to be modified in the future? This research would involve a series of cross-sectional and longitudinal investigations of people who have yet to change their behaviour, people who are currently attempting to change, and people who have successfully changed their behaviour or recovered from addiction. It may also involve work to build on and clarify the observations from these studies, such as experimental field studies, or development and preliminary evaluation of novel interventions.

Funding Notes

Self funded or sponoored students only - No University funding available at this time

Intakes are March and October each year - main intake October.


Connolly, C.G., Bell, R.P., Foxe, J.J., Garavan, H. (2013). Dissociated Grey Matter Changes with Prolonged Addiction and Extended Abstinence in Cocaine Users. PLoS ONE, 8 (3), art. no. e59645

De Visser, R.O., Robinson, E., Bond, R. (2016). Voluntary temporary abstinence from alcohol during "dry january" and subsequent alcohol use. Health Psychology, 35 (3), pp. 281-289.

Related Subjects

How good is research at University of Sheffield in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 34.45

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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