Griffith Edwards

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Griffith Edwards CBE (3 October 1928[1] – 13 September 2012[2]) was a British psychiatrist.

Griffiths was born on 3 October 1928[1][3][4] in India and received his M.D. from Balliol College, Oxford. His research focused on the study and treatment of alcohol and other drug dependence and related aspects of addictions. He was a major international figure influencing the development of the discipline of alcohol and drug studies, and promoted rigorous scientific and clinical standards in approaching the broader aspects of these problems.[5]

He was director of the Medical Research Council-funded Addiction Research Unit from 1968 until his retirement. He established the UK National Addiction Centre in London and was its first Chair and Director. He also served as Editor-in-Chief of the journal Addiction and has received many awards for his work.[which?]

Edwards wrote extensively on policy aspects of alcohol and other drug problems and promoted a balanced public health population-based approached to the tackling of alcohol and other drug problems. He wrote the original description of alcohol dependence and the terminology of dependence has become the global term adopted in international disease classification systems including the DSM and ICD classifications.

Edwards published a wide range of original scientific studies on alcohol and other drugs and also wrote several popular science books including Alcohol, The Worlds Favourite Drug, Matters of Substance: Drugs, and Why Everyone is a User.

He was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1987 for his services to social science and medicine.

He died on 13 September 2012.[3]

Research and community development projects[edit]

Professor Edwards combined a career of developing research and knowledge on aspects of alcohol and drug problems with the promotion of community based actions. He supported the development of a broad structured response to alcohol and other drug problems, including appropriate and high quality medical and psychiatric services for such problems. Edwards conducted research and supported the development of new approaches to those who are homeless and also people in prison with alcohol problems. He was instrumental in supporting the establishment of the first Therapeutic Community for treatment of Drug Dependence, Phoenix House. In addition, he supported the development of community drug agencies in the late 1960s and was involved in the early work piloting community-based services for alcohol problems.

Along with Lady Parkinson, he supported the founding of a charity originally called Action on Addiction in 1989. (This charity later merged with The Chemical Dependency Centre and Clouds House) to form a new larger charity, now also called Action on Addiction). Action on Addiction works to support treatment and aftercare, as well as the development of research and service innovation in Addictions. Through his interest in developing country issues and links with the World Health Organisation he strongly supported and encouraged projects to assist research and service development in resource poor settings.

Professor Edwards academic work involved research in tobacco, alcohol and other drugs and has supported a training, research, treatment and policy approach that combines all substances that are addictive into a coherent theoretical framework. He has promoted an approach that combines the basic sciences of addiction, to the more applied and social sciences and sought to promote an evidenced based policy approach that is fully scientifically informed.

The book Alcohol Policy and the Public Good was developed by a team of international experts[who?] and is the reference text on a balanced approach to international and national alcohol policy. He supported a similar balanced approach to other addictive substances and promotes the importance of an independent minded, scientifically robust and public health informed approach to future policy development.


  • Edwards, Griffith. Alcohol: The World's Favorite Drug. NY: St. Martin's Press, 2000.
  • Edwards, G. and Gross, M.M. (1976) Alcohol dependence: provisional description of a clinical syndrome. British Medical Journal 1, 1058–1061.
  • Stockwell, T., Hodgson R., Edwards, G., Taylor, C. and Rankin, H (1979) The development of a questionnaire to measure severity of alcohol dependence. British Journal of Addiction 74, 79–87.
  • Edwards, G. (1982) Cannabis: the question of psychiatric morbidity. In Report of the Expert Group on the Effects of Cannabis Use, pp. 40–47. London, Home Office.
  • Edwards G., Brown, D., Oppenheimer, E., Sheehan, M., Taylor, C. and Duckitt, A. (1988) Long-term outcome for patients with drinking problems: the search for predictors. British Journal of Addiction 83, 917–927.
  • Edwards, G., Anderson, P., Babor, T.F., Casswell, S., Ferrence, R., Giesbrecht, N., Godfrey, C., Holder, H.D., Lemmens, P., Mäkelä, K., Midanik, L.T., Norström, T., Österberg, E., Romelsjö, A., Room, R., Simpura, J. &Skog, O-J (1994) Alcohol Policy and the Public Good. Oxford University Press, Oxford. Translation into Finnish, French, German, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Swedish: translation of short version into Italian and Hebrew.


  1. ^ a b Schukit, Marc A. (2012). "The History of Our Field: Reflections on the Solid Foundations on Which We Stand — The Contributions of Griffith Edwards". Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. 73 (1): 6–9. 
  2. ^ West, Robert (15 September 2012). "Editor's Notes A message from Robert West, Editor-in-Chief". Alcohol reports. 
  3. ^ a b Ghodse, Hamid (25 September 2012). "Griffith Edwards obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 July 2017. 
  4. ^ "Professor Griffith Edwards, CBE". King's College London. Retrieved 5 July 2017. 
  5. ^ "Professor Griffith Edwards CBE"url= October 2012

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