Substance Use Research Group (SURG)

Substance Use Research Group

Located within the Centre for Criminology at the University of South Wales, the Substance Use Research Group (SURG) was formed in 2019 to conduct high-quality research into the use of drugs and alcohol. Led by Professor Katy Holloway, the group is made of academic researchers (including Emeritus Professor Trevor BennettProfessor Ali WardakDr Tom May, Dr Marian Buhociu and Sharmila Kumar) with expertise in current and emerging issues in substance use, such as: harm reduction interventions, drug production and supply, criminal justice responses, substance use among university students, ‘treatment-resistant’ heroin users, and the implementation of substance misuse policy.

SURG members enjoy strong collaborative relationships with a wide range of staff working in the substance misuse field in Wales. This includes academic colleagues in other institutions as well as professional colleagues working in Welsh Government, Public Health Wales and third sector organisations. SURG members provide research support and advice to the DIGDDAS consortium (Dyfodol, Iris, Gwent, Dyfed - Drug and Alcohol Service) and sit on Welsh Government’s National Implementation Board for Drug Poisoning Prevention. They are working alongside Kaleidoscope staff in supervising a KESS-funded PhD student (Sharmila Kumar) and collaborating with Barod staff in developing and evaluating a bespoke substance misuse information, advice and support service for university students.

The group has a lengthy track record of securing internal and external funding for substance misuse research from the Home Office, Ministry of Justice, Welsh Government, South Wales Police Crime and Commissioner, and from third sector treatment providers. Their research has generated a range of high quality publications including books, journal articles and official reports that have helped develop the evidence base on a range of substance use issues.

SURG members are currently engaged in a range of externally funded projects.  These include studies investigating: how to improve the outcomes of treatment resistant heroin users, the (predicted and actual) impact of minimum pricing for alcohol on drinkers and their families in Wales, and the misuse of over-the-counter and prescription-only medication (including opioid substitution treatment). SURG members are also investigating substance misuse and related behaviours among university students as part of the Higher Education Alcohol and Drugs (HEADS) programme.


Professor Katy Holloway
Professor of Criminology

Emeritus Professor Trevor Bennett
Emeritus Professor of Criminology

Professor Ali Wardak
Professor of Criminology

Dr Marian Buhociu
Lecturer in Criminology

Dr Tom May
Research Fellow in Criminology

Sharmila Kumar
PhD Student

SURG Partners

Dr Rhian Hills
Senior Drug Policy Manager Welsh Government

Caroline Phipps
CEO Barod

Martin Blakebrough
CEO Kaleidoscope

Andrew Misell
Alcohol Change UK’s Director for Wales

Dr James Morgan
London Metropolitan University

Dr Wulf Livingston
Reader in Social Science Glyndwr University

Andy Perkins
Director Figure 8 Consultancy Services

Rob Barker
Training Coordinator - Barod

Sian Chicken
Head Of Operations (Gwent) Kaleidoscope

Elwyn Thomas
Clinical Keyworker - GDAS