Professor Alex Copello BSc, MSc, PhD, AFBPsS

Professor Alex Copello

School of Psychology
Honorary Professor of Addiction Research/Consultant Clinical Psychologist

Contact details

School of Psychology
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Professor Copello's research has led to major impacts on addiction treatment in the UK in recent years. He was Principal Investigator in the MRC funded UK Alcohol Treatment Trial, the largest trial of alcohol treatments conducted in the UK that informs effective and cost effective delivery of psychosocial interventions for alcohol problems. He led the development of a social and family intervention (Social Behaviour and Network Therapy) used in the trial and shown to be as effective as a more established individual treatment. 

His 5-Step family intervention work in primary care and specialist NHS services with colleagues in the UK has been recommended in the NICE guidelines for drug problems and also in the recent guidelines for commissioning services for carers. His work on integration of substance misuse treatment into mental health services has been quoted as a model of good practice in national guidelines and recommended for wider implementation.


  • BSc, Psychology
  • MSc, Clinical Psychology
  • PhD, Psychology


Professor Copello trained as a Clinical Psychologist at the University of Surrey and later completed his PhD at the University of Birmingham. His career has combined clinical and academic work in the addictions field and he has conducted applied research as part of his joint National Health Service/University position.


Professor Copello teaches addiction psychology aspects in various postgraduate courses.

Postgraduate supervision

Professor Copello has supervised PhDs and Clinical Doctorate degrees related to the psychology of addiction and the impacts of addiction upon families. Some of the areas researched include:

  • Impact of addictions upon families
  • Implementation of family focused clinical practice
  • Development of web based interventions for families affected by addictions
  • Addiction (alcohol and drugs) psychological treatments and outcomes
  • Cannabis use and Psychosis, impacts on users and families
  • The impact of excessive gaming on mental health and well being


Research group

Addictions/Applied Clinical Psychology

Research supervision

Professor Copello research and clinical interests include the study of addictions, psychological impacts and interventions and the impact of addiction upon families as well as the development and evaluation of family and social network based interventions.

Other activities

Professor Copello has been formerly Clinical Director of the Birmingham NHS Addiction Services and has served on two NICE guideline development groups, one for drug psychosocial interventions and one for alcohol dependence interventions. Professor Copello has been a member of the executive council of the Society for the Study of Addiction and the chair of the New Directions in the Study of Alcohol Group in the UK.


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Recent Publications


Forrester, D., Holland, S., Williams, A. and Copello, A. (in press) Helping families where parents misuse drugs or alcohol? A mixed methods comparative evaluation of an intensive family preservation service. Child and Family Social Work.


Walsh, K., and Copello, A. (in press) Severe and enduring mental health problems within an established substance misuse treatment partnership. Psychiatric Bulletin.


Kirby, A., Jones, C. and Copello, A. (2014) The impact of Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMPORGs) on psychological wellbeing and the role of play motivations and problematic use. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 12:36-51. DOI 10.1007/s11469-013-9467-9


Copello, A., Walsh, K., Graham, H., Tobin, D., Griffith, E., Day, E. and Birchwood, M., (2013). A consultation-liaison service on integrated treatment: a program description. Journal of Dual Diagnosis, 9 (2), 149-157.


Day, E., Copello, A., Seddon, J., Christie, M., Bamber, D., Powell, C., George, S., Ball, A., Frew, E., and Freemantle, N. (2013) Pilot study of a social network intervention for heroin users in opiate substitution treatment: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Trials 2013, 14:264. DOI:10.1186/1745-6215-14-264 


Day, E. • Copello, A. • Karia, M. • Roche, J. • Grewal, P. • George, S. • Haque, S. • Chohan, G. (2013) Social Network Support for Individuals Receiving Opiate Substitution Treatment and Its Association with Treatment Progress. Eur Addict Res; 19: 211–221. doi: 10.1159/000343827


Holland, S., Forrester, D., Williams, A. and Copello, A. (2013) Parenting and Substance Misuse: Understanding Accounts and Realities in Child Protection Contexts. British Journal of Social Work, 1–17, doi:10.1093/bjsw/bcs197


Orford, J., Velleman, R., Natera, G., Templeton, L. and Copello, A. (2013) Addiction in the family is a major but neglected contributor to the global burden of adult ill-health. Social Science & Medicine; 78 (C), 70-77. 


Seddon, J., Copello, A. and Birchwood, M. (2013) Cannabis use and abstention in first-episode psychosis: the participants' view. Mental Health and Substance Use: Dual Diagnosis. 6 (1), 47-58.


Tober, G., Raistrick, D., Crosby, H., Sweetman, J., Unsworth, S., Suna, L. and Copello, A. (2013) Co-producing addiction aftercare. Drugs and Alcohol Today; 13 (4), 225-233. DOI 10.1108/DAT-05-2013-0024


Rashid, S., Copello, A. and Birchwood, M. (2012) Muslim faith healers’ views on substance misuse and psychosis. Mental Health, Religion and Culture, 15 (6), 653-673.


Copello, A. Walsh, K., Graham, H., Tobin, D., Fellows, S., Griffith, E., Day, E and Birchwood, M. (2012) The impact of training within a comprehensive dual diagnosis strategy: the Combined Psychosis and Substance Use (COMPASS) experience. Mental Health and Substance Use: 5, 3.


Gilburt, H., Burns, T., Copello, A., et al (2012) Assertive Community Treatment for alcohol dependence (ACTAD): study protocol for a randomised controlled trial. Trials. 2012; 13: 19. (DOI: 10.1186/1745-6215-13-19).


Lee, C., Christie, M., Copello, A. and Kellet, S. (2012) Barriers and enablers to implementation of family-based work in alcohol services: A qualitative study of alcohol worker perceptions. Drugs, Education, Prevention and Policy. 19 (3); 244-252. doi:10.3109/09687637.2011.644599 


Dale, V., Coulton, S., Godfrey, C.., Copello, A., Hodgson, R., Heather, N., Orford, J., Raistrick, D., Slegg, G., Tober, G. on behalf of the UKATT Research Team (2011) Exploring Treatment Attendance and its Relationship to Outcome in a Randomized Controlled Trial of Treatment for Alcohol Problems: Secondary Analysis of the UK Alcohol Treatment Trial (UKATT). Alcohol and Alcoholism; 46(5):592-9.


George, S. and Copello, A. (2010) Treatment provision for Britain’s problem gamblers: Present gaps and future opportunities.  Advances in Psychiatric Treatment; 17: 318-322.


Copello, A. (2010) Commentary on Roozen et al. Involving families in addiction treatment – the way forward. Addiction, 105, 1739-1740.