To support the free and open dissemination of research findings and information on alcoholism and alcohol-related problems. To encourage open access to peer-reviewed articles free for all to view.

For full versions of posted research articles readers are encouraged to email requests for "electronic reprints" (text file, PDF files, FAX copies) to the corresponding or lead author, who is highlighted in the posting.


Saturday, December 8, 2007

Revealed: Brown's secret summit to beat binge drinking

A Downing Street meeting on 'the harm caused by problematic alcohol consumption' drew 27 top doctors, campaigners, business chiefs and ministers. Jonathan Owen and Ian Griggs report

Published: 09 December 2007

The Prime Minister has held crisis talks at No 10 in a personal attempt to tackle Britain's binge-drinking epidemic, as experts warn that urgent action is needed to tackle record numbers needing hospital treatment for alcohol abuse.

Confidential minutes from the meeting, obtained by the IoS, reveal for the first time how Gordon Brown, together with senior ministers, plan a radical response to Britain's binge-drinking problem that could see excessive drinking become as taboo as smoking in public.

A blueprint of controversial measures discussed at the private meeting will see a massive crackdown on what Mr Brown calls "the harm caused by problematic alcohol consumption", with the Prime Minister vowing to take action against "unacceptable drinking behaviour."
. . . . . .

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Jellinek Memorial Fund
Alcohol and Alcoholism 2007 42(5):508

The Board Directors of the Jellinek Memorial Fund is pleased to announce that the 2007 Jellinek Memorial Award for Epidemiology and Populations Studies was awarded to Dr. Bridget F. Grant.

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Trazodone Improves Sleep, but Decreases Abstinence in Recovering Alcoholics

Marlene Busko

December 7, 2007 — Despite short-term benefit in sleep quality, trazodone impeded improvements in alcohol consumption in recovering alcoholics with sleeping problems, in a double-blind placebo-controlled trial by Peter D. Friedman, MD, and colleagues at Alpert Medical School of Brown University, in Providence, Rhode Island.
. . . . . .

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Friday, December 7, 2007

Forum on addictions draws candidate aides

Union Leader Correspondent

Matthew Walker is getting the help he needs, but it's costing him.

He's a recovering drug addict who spends $100 a week to receive treatment at a methadone clinic in Newington three days a week.

Walker has been visiting the clinic for about a year and a half.

"We're talking pretty serious money," the 36-year-old New London man said.

When he first began looking into treatment, Walker hoped insurance would cover it. But with the co-payments that were required for each visit, he said, he was better off paying out of his own pocket.

Realizing the financial burdens facing many addicts just like him, Walker turned out at a Presidential Town Hall Meeting yesterday to urge presidential candidates to take a serious look at the many drug, alcohol and mental health issues plaguing New Hampshire and the nation.

Candidates themselves did not attend the statewide meeting, at the Timberlane Regional Performing Arts Center, but representatives from several presidential campaigns listened to recovering drug addicts and alcoholics, their families, friends, law enforcement officers and others.
. . . . .

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December 2nd New Hampshire Presidential Town Hall Meeting

Representatives from nine US Presidential campaigns appeared at the December 2, 2007 Plaistow, NH Presidential Town Hall, where they spoke and responded to questions about candidates’ positions on key addiction prevention, treatment and recovery issues, including ending insurance discrimination.

  • See pictures from the event!
  • View a flyer about the event
  • Read our media advisory about the event
  • Read a recent article about the forum
Moderate alcohol consumption and lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 activity
Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases
Article in Press, 3 Dec 200

To investigate the effect of moderate alcohol consumption on lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 activity, markers of inflammation and oxidative stress and whether these effects are modified by BMI.

Eleven lean (BMI: 18.5–25 kg/m2) and 9 overweight (BMI > 27 kg/m2) men participated in a randomized controlled crossover trial. After consuming 3 cans of beer (40 g ethanol) or alcohol-free beer daily during 3 weeks, fasting blood samples were taken.

HDL cholesterol increased by 18.2% . Lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 activity was not different between beer (47.5 ± 0.8) and alcohol-free beer (48.9 ± 0.8). High-sensitive C-reactive protein was unaffected, but urinary isoprostanes tended to increase after beer (114.0 ± 6.9) compared to alcohol-free beer (96.9 ± 6.5).

An interaction between BMI and treatment on liver enzymes was observed, indicating an increase of liver enzymes after moderate alcohol consumption in overweight men only.

Despite profound effects on HDL and LDL cholesterol, moderate alcohol consumption did not affect lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 activity. Liver enzymes increased after alcohol consumption in overweight men only, suggesting a less favorable response to moderate alcohol consumption in overweight people.

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Functional Consequences of GABAA Receptor α4 Subunit Deletion on Synaptic and Extrasynaptic Currents in Mouse Dentate Granule Cells
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research (OnlineEarly Articles) 7 Dec 2007

The α4 subunit-containing γ-aminobutyric acid (A) receptors (GABAARs) are highly expressed primarily at extrasynaptic sites in the dentate gyrus (DG) and thalamus and are suspected to contribute to tonic inhibition that is sensitive to potentiation by gaboxadol and ethanol (EtOH).

Global α4 subunit knockout (KO) mice exhibit greatly reduced tonic currents and insensitivity to ataxic, sedative and analgesic effects of gaboxadol compared to wild type (WT) controls. The α4 KO mice were also significantly more sensitive to pentylenetetrazol-induced seizures.

However, no differences were observed between α4 KO and WT mice in other baseline behaviors or in the effects of EtOH on these behaviors.

To examine possible functional and pharmacological GABAAR alterations, and search for causes for the lack of differences in EtOH behaviors we studied the effects of acute EtOH application on GABAAR-currents of DG cells from α4 KO and WT control mice complemented by Western blot measurements.

The magnitude of tonic current and its potentiation by EtOH (10 to 100 mM), alphaxalone (3 μM), and Ro15-4513 (0.3 μM) was greatly attenuated in α4 KO mice. The kinetics of miniature inhibitory postsynaptic currents (mIPSCs) in α4 KO mice were significantly slower compared to WT mice. Potentiation of mIPSCs by alphaxalone was greatly reduced in α4 KO mice. Ro15-4513 had no effect on mIPSCs from WT or KO mice. However, mIPSCs of α4 KO mice were significantly more sensitive to EtOH than those from WT mice. The γ2 subunit protein levels were selectively increased in hippocampus and thalamus, but not cortex of α4 KO mice.

These data suggest that the global loss of α4 subunits leads to region- and cell location-specific compensatory increases in γ2 subunits, which in turn alter the pharmacological sensitivity of synaptic and extrasynaptic GABAAR-currents. Our data also suggests that while enhancement of tonic inhibitory currents by gaboxadol, alphaxalone, and EtOH are reduced, and behavioral sensitivity to gaboxadol and alphaxalone may be reduced, compensatory changes in synaptic GABAAR subunits may prevent similar reductions in behavioral sensitivity to EtOH.

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Children’s Introduction to Alcohol Use: Sips and Tastes
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research (OnlineEarly Articles)7 Dec 2007

Sipping or tasting alcohol is one of the earliest alcohol use behaviors in which young children engage, yet there is relatively little research on this behavior.

The present research describes the prevalence of sipping or tasting in a community sample of children, examines the sociodemographic correlates and social contexts of this behavior, and tests whether variables reflecting psychosocial problem-behavior proneness, that predict adolescent drinking, account for this behavior.

Thirty-nine percent of the sample had only sipped or tasted alcohol (35% of 8 year olds and 48% of 10 year olds), while 6% reported having had a drink of alcohol (5% and 7%, respectively). African-American children were less likely than White children to be sippers. Neither gender nor mother’s education related to sipping status. Most sipping was done in a family context. Sipping/tasting did not generally relate to variables reflecting psychosocial proneness for problem behavior. Instead, the variables most predictive of sipping/tasting were perceived parents’ drinking status, perceived parents’ approval for child sipping, mother’s drinking frequency, and children’s attitudes toward sipping/tasting alcohol.

Young children’s sipping/tasting of alcohol reflects parental modeling of alcohol use and increased opportunities to try alcohol in the home rather than deliberate family socialization of alcohol use, and appears not to be a precocious manifestation of a psychosocial proneness to engage in problem behavior.

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Time Trends in Heavy Drinking Among Middle-Aged and Older Adults in Denmark
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research (OnlineEarly Articles) 7 Dec 2007

Studies have indicated an increasing proportion of heavy drinking among middle-aged and older Danes. Trends in consumption are often extremely sensitive to influence from various components of the time trends but only few have explored the age, period and cohort-related influences on late life alcohol consumption.

By using age, period, and cohort modeling this study explores the time trends in heavy drinking.

The unadjusted probability of heavy drinking declines by age and increases by calendar year and year of birth for both men and women. However, the negative effect of age is attenuated for women when adjusted for birth cohort, indicating that the proportion of heavy drinking women increases in younger birth cohorts. This trend is not observed for men as their drinking pattern mainly increase slightly by calendar year.

Our Danish observations for older aged individuals correspond to the social and cultural changes in the 1960s and 1970s that possibly have affected the drinking behavior of the cohorts. Time trend analyses, such as this may serve as an excellent opportunity to extrapolate and forecast alcohol mortality and morbidity.

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The Effects of Ethanol Consumption on Vasculogenesis Potential in Nonhuman Primates
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research (OnlineEarly Articles) 7 Dec 2007

Vasculogenesis is essential to the preservation and repair of damaged or diseased vessels. Alcohol is the most commonly abused drug among young adults, but its effects on vessel growth and repair are unknown. The basis of vascular repair is endothelial progenitor cell (EPC) recruitment to assist in the formation of new vascular network (vasculogenesis).

Therefore, the objective of this study was to measure the effects of ethanol consumption on the production, mobilization and vasculogenesis potential EPCs in nonhuman primates.

There were greater numbers of nonhematopoeitic stromal cells (CD45−) and putative mesenchymal progenitor cells (CD45−/CD44+) in the PB and BM of Alcohol versus Control monkeys . Additionally, there were greater numbers of EPCs (CD45−/CD133+/KDR+) in the BM and PB of Alcohol versus Control monkeys (p <>

Ethanol consumption in monkeys markedly increased the production and mobilization of EPCs, but decreased their ability to form capillaries. The pathophysiologic consequences of such effects are unclear, but may represent an ethanol-induced chronic stress on the BM, resulting in EPC.

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Differential Modulation of Ethanol-Induced Sedation and Hypnosis by Metabotropic Glutamate Receptor Antagonists in C57BL/6J Mice
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research (OnlineEarly Articles) 7 Dec 2007

Emerging evidence implicates metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR) function in the neurobiological effects of ethanol. The recent development of subtype specific mGluR antagonists has made it possible to examine the roles of specific mGluRs in biochemical and behavioral responses to ethanol.

The purpose of the present study was to determine if mGluRs modulate the acute sedative-hypnotic properties of ethanol in mice.

MPEP (10 and 30 mg/kg) significantly enhanced both the sedative and hypnotic effects of ethanol, while LY341495 (10 and 30 mg/kg) significantly reduced the sedative-hypnotic effects of ethanol. CPCCOEt had no effect at any concentration tested. Further loss of righting reflex experiments revealed that LY341495 (30 mg/kg) significantly reduced hypnosis induced by the gamma-aminobutyric acid type A (GABAA) positive modulators, pentobarbital (50 mg/kg) and midazolam (60 mg/kg), and the N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist, ketamine (150 mg/kg), while MPEP (30 mg/kg) only significantly enhanced the hypnotic properties of ketamine (150 mg/kg).

These findings suggest that specific subtypes of the metabotropic glutamate receptor differentially modulate the sedative-hypnotic properties of ethanol through separate mechanisms of action, potentially involving GABAA and NMDA receptors.

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The 3' Part of the Dopamine Transporter Gene DAT1/SLC6A3 Is Associated With Withdrawal Seizures in Patients With Alcohol Dependence
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research (OnlineEarly Articles). 7 Dec 2007

Some studies have reported that the A9 allele of the variable nucleotide tandem repeat (VNTR) of the gene which encodes the dopamine transporter (DAT1/SLC6A3) is associated with alcoholism withdrawal symptoms such as alcohol withdrawal seizures (WSs), whereas others did not.

We investigated whether polymorphisms within the DAT1 gene are associated with WS taking into account some of the confounding factors such as the severity of alcohol dependence.

The VNTR is associated with an increased risk of WSs (odd ratio = 3.5; p = 0.019), even when controlling for confounding factors (p = 0.031). As 2 SNPs, in roughly the same location of the gene (namely rs27072 and rs27048), are also associated with WSs, it is possible that the initial association of the VNTR polymorphism was tagging a specific haplotype of this gene. Indeed, in our sample of alcohol-dependent patients, 2 haplotypes were associated with a significantly different risk of WSs.

The present study adds evidence for a significant role of the 3' part of the DAT1 gene in WS of alcohol-dependent patients, not only because it is in accordance with previous work, but also because of larger statistical power (as relying on a sample over sampled with the studied phenotype), as it gives a more precise analysis of different SNPs within the DAT1 gene, and as it confirms the association when major potentially confounding factors are taken into account in a logistical regression analysis.

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Naltrexone Is Associated With Reduced Drinking by Alcohol Dependent Patients Receiving Antidepressants for Mood and Anxiety Symptoms: Results From VA Cooperative Study No. 425, "Naltrexone in the Treatment of Alcoholism"
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research (OnlineEarly Articles). 7 Dec 2007

It is not clear whether naltrexone is effective in reducing alcohol consumption among patients with clinically significant mood symptoms and whether naltrexone favorably interacts with antidepressant medications when they are co-prescribed.

In patients randomized to placebo (n = 209), prescription of antidepressants was associated with a significantly higher percentage of drinking days . Although the group of patients receiving naltrexone (n = 418) was larger than the group assigned to placebo, there were no significant differences in drinking-related outcomes in the groups who did or did not receive antidepressants . Among the group of patients receiving antidepressants, naltrexone prescription was associated with a reduction in the percent drinking days compared to placebo .

Further investigation will be needed to determine whether naltrexone is efficacious among depressed alcohol dependent patients and whether naltrexone and antidepressant medications show interactive efficacy for treating alcohol dependence.

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Gene Therapy Reduces Ethanol Intake in an Animal Model of Alcohol Dependence
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research (OnlineEarly Articles). 7 Dec 2007

Some gene polymorphisms strongly protect against the development of alcoholism. A large proportion of East Asians carry a protective inactivating mutation in aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH2*2). These subjects display high levels of blood acetaldehyde when consuming alcohol, a condition that exerts a 66 to 99% protection against alcohol abuse and alcoholism.

Present knowledge allows the incorporation of therapeutic genes that can modify the expression of disease predisposing genes, an effect that can last from months to years.

In line with the above, we have tested if inhibiting the expression of the aldehyde dehydrogenase gene (ALDH2) by an anti-Aldh2 antisense gene can curtail the drive of alcohol-dependent animals to consume alcohol.

The single intravenous administration of an anti-Aldh2 antisense gene carried by an adenoviral vector reduced liver ALDH2 activity by 85%

This proof-of-principle study indicates that gene therapy approaches can be employed to achieve a long-term reduction of alcohol intake in alcohol-dependent animals and suggests that gene vectors may be developed as long-lasting therapeutic adjuncts for the treatment of alcoholism.

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Press Release - Research Reveals Secrets of Alcohol's Effect on Brain Cells

Activates a Stress-Linked Pathway in Neurons to Release Key Genes, Weill Cornell Team Reports

NEW YORK (Dec. 7, 2007) — Alcohol triggers the activation of a variety of genes that can influence the health and activity of brain cells, and new research from Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City sheds light on how that process occurs.

The findings, published in the Nov. 21 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience, may also edge scientists closer to understanding alcohol-linked disorders such as the brain damage associated with chronic alcoholism, and the abnormal brain development seen in the fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).

"If you are going to understand the biological effects of alcohol on genes within cells, you have to understand the molecular machinery driving the transcription, or activation, of the genes in question. That's what we believe we have done here," says the study's senior author Dr. Neil L. Harrison, professor of pharmacology and pharmacology in anesthesiology at Weill Cornell.

In research conducted in cell cultures and in mouse neurons in vivo, his team found that alcohol stimulates a ubiquitous, stress-linked biochemical cascade—called the heat shock pathway—to send a molecule called heat shock factor 1 (HSF1) into the neuron's nucleus. HSF1 then stimulates the transcription of many of the genes known to be activated by alcohol.

The fact that alcohol triggers the activation of genes in the brain is not new and has long been the subject of intense research.

One gene in particular, called Gabra4, is closely linked to the function (or dysfunction) of receptors for GABA, an important neurotransmitter.
. . . . . .

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Alcohol Regulates Gene Expression in Neurons via Activation of Heat Shock Factor 1
The Journal of Neuroscience, November 21, 2007, 27(47):12957-12966;

Drinking alcohol causes widespread alterations in gene expression that can result in long-term physiological changes. Although many alcohol-responsive genes (ARGs) have been identified, the mechanisms by which alcohol alters transcription are not well understood.

To elucidate these mechanisms, we investigated Gabra4, a neuron-specific gene that is rapidly and robustly activated by alcohol (10–60 mM), both in vitro and in vivo. Here we show that alcohol can activate elements of the heat shock pathway in mouse cortical neurons to enhance the expression of Gabra4 and other ARGs.

The activation of Gabra4 by alcohol or high temperature is dependent on the binding of heat shock factor 1 (HSF1) to a short downstream DNA sequence, the alcohol response element (ARE). Alcohol and heat stimulate the translocation of HSF1 from the cytoplasm to the nucleus and the induction of HSF1-dependent genes, Hsp70 and Hsp90, in cultured neurons and in the mouse cerebral cortex in vivo. The reduction of HSF1 levels using small interfering RNA prevented the stimulation of Gabra4 and Hsp70 by alcohol and heat shock.

Microarray analysis showed that many ARGs contain ARE-like sequences and that some of these genes are also activated by heat shock.

We suggest that alcohol activates phylogenetically conserved pathways that involve intermediates in the heat shock cascade and that sequence elements similar to the ARE may mediate some of the changes in gene expression triggered by alcohol intake, which could be important in a variety of pathophysiological responses to alcohol.

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Cardiovascular effects of propranolol in patients with alcohol dependence during withdrawal
International Journal of Psychophysiology Volume 66, Issue 3, December 2007, Pages 225-230

The cardiovascular effects of the β-adrenergic receptor antagonist propranolol (40 mg) were compared in 20 alcohol-dependent subjects during alcohol withdrawal syndrome (WS; n = 10) on days 1, 2, 3, and 10 to those during remission (n = 10; 50 ± 7.7 days).

Significant differences were observed in negative chronotropic and hypotensive effects during withdrawal compared to remission.

The initial level of hemodynamics prior to propranolol administration was the most important factor modifying the drug responses. The amount of daily consumption of alcohol also predicted to some extent the effects of propranolol.

The WS-related changes in peripheral and central β-adrenergic system were most likely responsible for the differences in propranolol actions.

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Proof at last, you can die of a broken heart
By Lucy Cockcroft

It is possible to die from a broken heart, according to a study which showed that the risk of death increases by up to a fifth in the months after the loss of a loved one.

The review of recent research on bereavement found that the psychological distress it causes spouses can greatly increase their chances of dying soon afterwards.

The report, published in the latest edition of The Lancet medical journal, cites a study that found men are 21 per cent more likely to die after the loss of their wife, while widows have a 17 per cent increased risk.

The bereaved are also more likely to have a range of medical problems and suffer from mental illness including depression, despair, loss of appetite, and fatigue.

For widowers in particular, the deterioration in health is usually associated with increased alcohol consumption and stress associated with losing their sole confidante, who would have also overseen their well-being.
. . . . . .

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Health outcomes of bereavement
The Lancet 2007; 370:1960-1973

In this Review, we look at the relation between bereavement and physical and mental health.

Although grief is not a disease and most people adjust without professional psychological intervention, bereavement is associated with excess risk of mortality, particularly in the early weeks and months after loss. It is related to decrements in physical health, indicated by presence of symptoms and illnesses, and use of medical services. Furthermore, bereaved individuals report diverse psychological reactions. For a few people, mental disorders or complications in the grieving process ensue.

We summarise research on risk factors that increase vulnerability of some bereaved individuals. Diverse factors (circumstances of death, intrapersonal and interpersonal variables, ways of coping) are likely to co-determine excesses in ill-health.

We also assess the effectiveness of psychological intervention programmes. Intervention should be targeted at high-risk people and those with complicated grief or bereavement-related depression and stress disorders.

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Effectiveness and safety of baclofen for maintenance of alcohol abstinence in alcohol-dependent patients with liver cirrhosis: randomised, double-blind controlled study
The Lancet 2007; 370:1915-1922

Intervention to achieve alcohol abstinence represents the most effective treatment for alcohol-dependent patients with liver cirrhosis; however, anticraving drugs might worsen liver disease. We aimed to investigate the effectiveness and safety of baclofen in achieving and maintaining alcohol abstinence in patients with liver cirrhosis.

Of 42 patients allocated baclofen, 30 (71%) achieved and maintained abstinence compared with 12 (29%) of 42 assigned placebo (odds ratio 6·3 ). The number of dropouts (termination of treatment) did not differ between the baclofen (6/42 [14%]) and placebo (13/42 [31%]) groups . Cumulative abstinence duration was about twofold higher in patients allocated baclofen than in those assigned placebo. No hepatic side-effects were recorded.

Baclofen is effective at promoting alcohol abstinence in alcohol-dependent patients with liver cirrhosis. The drug is well tolerated and could have an important role in treatment of these individuals.

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Examines trends in the consumption of alcohol in the United States. Findings are based on alcoholic beverage sales data, either collected by the Alcohol Epidemiologic Data System (AEDS) from States or provided by beverage industry sources. Population data from the U.S. Bureau of the Census were used to calculate rates. The report provides data on national consumption of beer, wine, and distilled spirits as well as for all alcoholic beverages combined; consumption trends for each State for the same beverage categories; and consumption trends for each type of beverage and all beverages combined for U.S. regions.

The following are highlights from the current report, which updates consumption trends through 2005:

  • United States per capita consumption of ethanol from all alcoholic beverages combined in 2005 was 2.24 gallons, representing a 0.4 percent increase from 2.23 gallons in 2004. The increase is due to the increase in per capita consumption of wine (from 0.35 to 0.36 gallons ethanol) and spirits (from 0.68 to 0.70 gallons ethanol). However, per capita consumption of beer decreased (from 1.21 to 1.19 gallons ethanol).
  • Between 2004 and 2005, changes in overall per capita consumption of ethanol included increases in 29 states, decreases in 20 states and the District of Columbia, and no change in two states.
  • Analysis of overall per capita alcohol consumption by census region between 2004 and 2005 indicated increases in the Northeast (0.4 percent), the West (0.4 percent), and the Midwest (1.8 percent), and a decrease in the South (0.5 percent).
  • Healthy People 2010 has set the national objective for reducing per capita alcohol consumption to no more than 1.96 gallons ethanol. However, there has been an increasing trend in per capita consumption since 1999. To meet the 2010 objective, per capita alcohol consumption will need to decrease by 12.5 percent, or about 3 percent per year from 2006 through 2010.

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NIAAA VideoConference Series

Alcoholism Isn't What It Used to Be:

New Research on the Nature and Diagnosis of Alcohol Use Disorders

Dr. Mark Willenbring


NIAAA Division of Treatment and Recovery Research

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

2:00 – 3:00 pm eastern

Log In Instructions:

Please note that the presentation will contain both audio and visual components.

You will be able to hear Dr. Willenbring’s presentation and follow his Powerpoint slides in real time from your computer. You will also be able to ask questions via a dialog box that will appear on the screen.

This combination will require two separate, but common, connections:

1) an internet connection to view the slide presentation

2) an active telephone line to access the audio (speakerphone is recommended)

We decided to use a phone connection for the audio, rather than a webcam, to achieve better uninterrupted sound quality.

You can join the conference by following these simple steps:

1) Dial: Toll free 1-800-442-5794 Toll/International 1-719-785-9345

2) Enter Passcode: 804243

3) Enter this web address in your Internet browser:

4) Wait for our administrative specialist, Veronica Wilson to begin the meeting. She will do this at 1:55 pm eastern time, on December 12.

The conference will be approximately 1 hour long, depending upon the number of questions we receive.

If you have any problems joining the web portion of the conference, please press *0 on your touchtone keypad once inside the audio meeting or dial (800) 813-5798 or (719) 457-2924.


Thursday, December 6, 2007

Dr. James W. Smith, a long-time member of the Research Society on Alcoholism passed away recently.

He will be missed.

JAMES W. SMITH, was born July 20, 1928 in Seattle, Washington to Helen and
Jack Smith. Passed away peacefully at home in Burien, Washington on November
23, 2007.

A life-long Seattle resident, Jim graduated from West Seattle High School
and attended the University of Washington, where he received his medical
degree in 1953. After serving as a naval medical officer with the U.S.
Marine Corps, he returned to the Pacific Northwest where he established a
private family practice in Burien, Washington. In 1966 he left his family
practice to join Schick Shadel Hospital full-time as Chief of Staff and
later as Medical Director. During his 47 distinguished years at Schick
Shadel Hospital, he established himself as a pioneer in the field of
addiction medicine. He continued his work at the hospital until his death.

Throughout his lifetime of work in medicine, Jim held professional
memberships in the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), where he
served on the board of directors, as treasurer and member of several
committees. In 2006 he received its Annual Award for outstanding
contributions to the Society and to the field of addiction medicine. He was
also a member of the King County Medical Society, the Washington State
Medical Association, and the Research Society on Alcoholism. He was a Fellow
of the Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine, the American Academy of Family
Practice, and the American College of Addiction Treatment Administrators.

Jim was a devoted and loving husband and father. He married Barbara Ann
Hansen in 1953. Together, they devoted the next 54 years of their lives to
their children and grandchildren. The family enjoyed summers and weekends
on their small farm in Enumclaw, Washington where they rode horses, raised
vegetables, tended bees and hosted many friends and relatives. In addition
to his dedication to work and family, Jim loved sailing, hiking, skiing,
tennis, golf and his house in Sancerre, France. Jim was an ardent supporter
of the UW Medical School. An avid sports fan, he enjoyed Husky football as
well as the Mariners and Seahawks. With broad interest in the arts, he
regularly attended the opera, symphony and theater with his wife. Above
all, he had a special passion for reading.

In his final days, Jim was surrounded by family. He lived those days with
the same dignity and grace that he lived each day of a life dedicated to
helping others. Jim is survived by his wife Barbara and children Lee Smith
(Laura Fife), Lynn Smith (Philip Knowles), and Walter Smith (Denise Chandler
Smith), and grand-children Tristan Knowles, Taylor Knowles, Chloe Knowles,
and Jessica Smith.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, December 15, 2007 at
the Hilton Seattle Airport & Conference Center, 17620 International Blvd,
Seatac - Seattle, WA 98188. A reception will follow the service.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be sent to the Dr. James
W. Smith Memorial Research Fund c/o The Schick Shadel Foundation (12101
Ambaum Blvd SW, Seattle, WA 98146), dedicated to pursuing the cure for
addiction through research, education and scholarships; or to the Leukemia &
Lymphoma Society (530 Dexter Ave. N., Seattle, WA 98109).

Contributor: Albert A. Pawlowski

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Reasons why young adults do or do not seek help for alcohol problems
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, Volume 41, Issue 12 December 2007 , pages 1005 - 1012

To investigate reasons for seeking or not seeking help for alcohol problems in young adults and to report outcomes in those with problems who thought they did not need help.

Alcohol-specific treatment contact was uncommon: 26 of 351 with any alcohol problems made contact (7%). Even in the subgroup with alcohol dependence, only 24% made contact (13/55). Most (19/26) sought treatment because they felt they needed it. Of those with problems who did not seek help or advice, nearly all (96%) thought they did not need help. Approximately one-quarter thought the problem would get better by itself (29%) or did not think to seek help (25%). No more than 5% reported any other attitudinal or practical reason. Outcomes in the year before interview for those who thought they did not need help showed that 75% continued to experience problems and almost all drank well above guidelines at least on their heaviest drinking occasion. Only 43% had attempted to quit or cut down on their drinking.

Alcohol-related problems were experienced by approximately one-third of these young adults but treatment contact for these problems was uncommon. Belief in ability to handle problems oneself was often not matched by action.

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News Release - Young adults in denial about alcohol abuse

Thurday 06 December 2007

A high proportion of 25 year olds who experience problems with alcohol don't think that they need help according to new research from the University of Otago, Christchurch.

The research by Dr Elisabeth Wells from the Department of Public Health and General Practice, examines reasons why young adults do or do not seek help for alcohol problems. It has just been published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry and was funded by the Health Research Council as part of the Christchurch Health and Development Study.

The study found that around one third of the 1003 young adults surveyed reported problems with alcohol over the previous four years, i.e. from 21-24. However of these 351 young adults only 26 (7%), had treatment for alcohol problems. The other 93% did not seek help for their drinking problems.

Of the 7% who did seek help, nearly all felt they needed treatment, and that view was supported by family and friends. Dr Wells says this indicates the important role of family and friends in assisting young people to recognise that they need help, and more importantly, to take action.

The main reasons given in the survey for not seeking help or advice were: that they thought they did not need help (96%), or that their alcohol problem would just get better by itself (29%), or that they did not think to go for help (25%).

"One of the worrying results of this study is that the more severe the diagnosis in terms of drinking the more likely young adults are to think that their problems will get better by themselves and not seek help," says Dr Wells. "Males are twice as likely as females to take this head-in-the sand attitude."
. . . . . .

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Spread the Word
December 2007
vol. 8 issue 12

eYe on research:  addiction science made easy

Both Alcohol Dependence & Conduct Disorder Contribute to Having a High Number of Sex Partners

Both Gender & Friendship can Influence Adolescent Alcohol Use

Mexican Americans Carrying Haplotype H6 of the CYP2E1 Gene have a Greater Risk of Developing Alcoholism

Nicotine may Enhance Attention & Working Memory in Recoverying Alcoholics

Earn NAADAC Contact Hours

eYe on funding

SAMHSA Opioid Treatment Program Accreditation Grants

CMHS RFP: Campus Suicide Grant

eYe on special populations

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Cindy Ehlers Wins 2007 Thurman Award
TSRI Vol 7. Issue 36 / December 3, 2007

Cindy Ehlers, associate professor in The Scripps Research Institute's Molecular and Integrative Medicine Department (MIND), has won the 2007 Thurman Award from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. The award, established by the school's Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies to honor the excellence of the late Ronald G. Thurman's research and teaching, is given annually to a distinguished researcher contributing to the knowledge of alcohol and liver function.

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How Much Is Too Much?
Webcast Video Editorials

Posted 11/16/2007

David L. Rosenbloom,PhD

Fewer than one third of physicians ask their patients who drink alcohol, "How often in the past year have you had more than 4 drinks on a single occasion (more than 3 drinks for women)?"[1]

They should ask.

Most patients do not know what the safe level of drinking really is for them. We're all urged to drink responsibly, but what does that mean? Two standard drinks a day or a total of 14 a week for adult males with no alcohol history or contraindications. One a day or 7 a week for similar adult females except if they are pregnant when they should not drink at all.[2] When a person consistently drinks above these levels or binge drinks,unhealthful consequences are likely to occur.[3] Most of us don't know that.

Excessive alcohol use can exacerbate, hide, or trigger other medical conditions, interfere with some medications, and contribute to serious injuries. If you don't ask, you won'tknow.

About 5% to 7% of the time, a screening may reveal a patient with alcohol abuse or dependence. Referral to a specialist for further evaluation and treatment will be in order because treatment for alcohol disorders is efficacious. Two thirds of patients who receive appropriate behavioral and/or pharmacologic treatment have reduced consequences from alcohol at 1 year.[4]

There is good news coming for doctors who do screen and counsel their patients about alcohol. Insurers are starting to recognize its value and reimburse doctors for the time it takes. So I urge all physicians to learn and use the techniques of alcohol screening and brief intervention. And for their own health, follow the guidelines themselves.

That's my opinion. I'm David Rosenbloom, Professor of Public Health at Boston University.

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Alcohol consumption and psychological distress in patients with psoriasis
British Journal of Dermatology OnlineEarly 12 Novcember 2007

Psoriasis has been associated with excessive alcohol consumption and psychological distress.

To investigate the level of alcohol use in a psoriasis population and to determine whether alcohol consumption is linked to psychological distress in patients with psoriasis.

Using different measures of alcohol consumption, between 17% and 30% of patients were classified as having difficulties with alcohol. Thirteen per cent and 18% of patients with psoriasis believed that they had a current or past drinking problem, respectively. There was a modest but significant association between levels of anxiety and depression and weekly alcohol consumption . Those patients who believed that they had an alcohol problem had higher levels of anxiety , depression and psoriasis-associated disability. There was a modest but significant association between physical severity of psoriasis and weekly alcohol consumption .

A significant minority of patients with psoriasis consumes excessive alcohol. Patients with psoriasis should be assessed for excessive alcohol use and appropriate interventions initiated. Further studies are required to investigate whether such interventions are effective in combating alcohol abuse and in improving the psychological and physical aspects of psoriasis.

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The World's Hardest-Drinking Countries
Robert Malone and Tom Van Riper 11.28.07

Europe: Home of much natural beauty, old traditions and booze. Lots and lots of booze.

Yes, all but one of the World's 15 Heaviest-Drinking Countries are in Europe, a continent where cultural traditions--and tax policies on alcohol--die hard.

Our top 15 listing comes from a 2006 survey by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, which tracks per capita alcohol consumption around the globe. Rankings are based on the number of liters of pure alcohol consumed per person per year, from beer, wine and spirits combined (the three have progressively higher percentages of alcohol content).
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Effects of Moderate Consumption of Distilled and Fermented Alcohol on Some Aspects of Neuroimmunomodulation
Neuroimmunomodulation 2007;14:200-205

Alcoholic beverages are characterized by their fermented versus distilled origin and also by their degree of alcohol. The toxic effects of chronic alcohol consumption have been widely studied. However, there is less evidence about possible beneficial effects of moderate alcohol intake.

This work was aimed at evaluating the effects of moderate alcohol consumption (beer or ethanol) on plasma hormone concentrations, blood and thymus lymphocyte phenotypes and brain neurotransmitter levels.

Blood and thymus lymphocyte subsets were not significantly changed by either ethanol or beer consumption, compared to controls. Plasma prolactin levels significantly decreased in ethanol-administered groups compared to control animals drinking water, although plasma levels of growth hormone and ACTH were not modified by either alcohol used. Dopamine and GABA concentrations in the median eminence or in the adenohypophysis remained unmodified by moderate beer or ethanol consumption. However, taurine concentration was significantly increased in the pituitary in the group drinking ethanol compared to those groups drinking beer with or without alcohol.

These data suggest that moderate alcohol consumption may change the regulatory mechanism of prolactin secretion. Whether these modifications have a physiological significance deserves further research.

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News Release - Make Scotland's roads safer - reduce the drink driving limit
(issued by BMA Scotland Tuesday 04 Dec 2007)

BMA Scotland today [Tuesday 4 December] called on Scotland’s politicians to increase pressure on the UK Government to reduce drink driving limits from 80mg/100ml to 50mg, a move that could prevent as many as 65 deaths on the UK’s roads every year.
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News Release - Scientists Identify Gene That Influences Alcohol Consumption

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Contact: NIAAA Press Office, 301-443-3860

A variant of a gene involved in communication among brain cells has a direct influence on alcohol consumption in mice, according to a new study by scientists supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the U.S. Army.

Scientists do not know yet whether a similar gene variant, with a similar effect on alcohol consumption, exists in humans.

Known as Grm7, the gene encodes a receptor subtype that inhibits the release of glutamate and other neurotransmitter molecules that brain cells use to communicate with one another.

Researchers identified a gene variant, or polymorphism, that reduces the abundance of Grm7 messenger RNA (mRNA) in brain tissue. mRNA is the molecular intermediate between a gene and its protein product. Mice that possess this gene variant drink more alcohol than do mice with higher brain levels of Grm7 mRNA.

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