Department of Life Sciences provides training with Blenheim/Humankind Charity

  • Monday, July 22, 2019

The Department of Life Sciences have been providing specialist knowledge transfer workshops on drug addiction for Blenheim/Humankind, a charity dedicated to supporting those with addiction to drugs and alcohol.

Professor Jolanta Opacka-Juffry with Dr Michelle Sahai from the Department of Life Sciences, and external collaborators, has led research on the impact of novel psychoactive substances (NPS, formerly ‘legal highs’) on the brain. NPS are potentially dangerous misused substances designed to mimic illicit drugs such as cocaine, amphetamine or ecstasy; they include stimulants (which make users feel energised), sedatives (which make users feel relaxed) or psychedelics (which may cause hallucinations).

Professor Opacka-Juffry said “Our research, including our recent article shows that surprisingly many NPS across different chemical groups possess addictive potential while their users are unaware of the risk of becoming substance-dependent. Through opening our research for policy makers and practitioners, our findings can help to raise awareness and inform the public.”

Professor Opacka-Juffry has formed a partnership with Blenheim/Humankind running workshops and helping develop online materials for the Blenheim staff who support those affected by drug use. The training staff at Blenheim instruct over four hundred people working within their organisation to support around 10,000 service users.

Professor Opacka-Juffry said “The purpose of this training is to help staff gain knowledge to prevent vulnerable communities from using drugs, including NPS, and to raise awareness of their potential detrimental effects and addictive properties amongst those already using them.”

Blenheim has recently merged with Humankind forming a UK-wide charity that supports thousands of people with addiction to drugs and alcohol.

Staff in the Department of Life Sciences undertake world-class research which changes lives and furthers our understanding of science. Roehampton offers an outstanding MSc in Clinical Neuroscience.