The Effects of Recreational Drugs: Swansea psychologist discusses findings at Cheltenham Science Festival

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Swansea University psychologist Professor Andy Parrott will be part of an expert panel discussing recreational drugs and their physical, social, and mental impact as part of this week's The Times Cheltenham Science Festival.

Prof Andy ParrottProfessor Parrott, who is an international authority on the human psychobiology of MDMA, or ‘Ecstasy’, will join Dr Chris van Tulleken, presenter of BBC’s Trust Me, I’m a Doctor and co-presenter of Channel 4’s Medicine Men Go Wild and Niamh Eastwood, Executive Director of Release, the national centre of expertise on drugs and drugs law, for The Effects of Recreational Drugs (S112) event.

The panel will discuss questions including ‘What are the real facts about recreational drug use?’ and ‘When you take an illegal drug, what actually happens to your brain and body?’ from 4:15pm – 5:15pm on Saturday, June 6, in Cheltenham’s Helix Theatre, Imperial Square‌.

Professor Parrott, who is based within the Department of Psychology in the College of Human and Health Sciences, has published numerous research papers into the damaging effects of recreational drugs, particularly nicotine and MDMA/Ecstasy, but also cannabis, cocaine and others.

He published the first research paper to demonstrate memory impairments in young Ecstasy/MDMA users compared to similar aged controls.  While in a  comprehensive review, he noted how regular Ecstasy/MDMA users can suffer many  psychobiological impairments, including deficits in sleep, stress, depression, anger, problem-solving, vision, and immune-competence.

Professor Parrott said: “The core problem with every recreational drug is they are taken for brief psychological gains, but their regular usage leads to more problems than benefits.  For instance, nicotine dependence causes smokers to suffer from more daily stress than non-smokers, so that quitting smoking leads to reduced stress and greater happiness.

“In a similar way, regular Ecstasy users report heightened levels of depression compared to non-users, and report reduced levels of depression after quitting MDMA.”    

Swansea University is again a Major Supporter of The Times Cheltenham Science Festival, the UK’s largest and most prestigious science festival, which runs from Tuesday, June 2 until Sunday, June 7.

For full details of the Festival’s full programme and ticketing information, visit