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.


Friday, October 7, 2011

Ord Valley Aboriginal Health Service’s fetal alcohol spectrum disorders program: Big steps, solid outcome

Over the past four decades the international community has sought to clarify the risks associated with maternal alcohol use and the associated disability of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). Until recently, Australia has done little to raise awareness of FASD, study prevalence or assist individuals born with these disorders. A prevention program was initiated in 2008 in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia through the Ord Valley Aboriginal Health Service (OVAHS) in response to the local Aboriginal community’s concerns about the risks of maternal alcohol use.

Antenatal clients were assessed three times during their pregnancy. Information was gathered on their alcohol use pre and post pregnancy, and their awareness and knowledge of FASD. FASD education was also provided to the wider community and feedback was evaluated.

Assessment outcomes in the first year showed that the majority of women reported drinking alcohol at some point during their pregnancy. Over half reported nil further consumption post FASD education. In addition to these promising findings, the insight gained into the reasons behind alcohol consumption proved to be of equal importance to program development and delivery. Client evaluation of community based education indicated that many found the education sessions useful and transferable to their own family and community.

Assessment results indicating high levels of maternal alcohol use supported the need for raising awareness of the risks of prenatal alcohol exposure. Following a twelve month evaluation of the program, the findings demonstrated the effectiveness of a consultative, whole-of-community approach as a strategy to address this significant health issue.

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Is alcohol dependence best viewed as a chronic relapsing disorder?

This ‘For Debate’ paper starts by recognizing the growing trend towards considering alcohol dependence as a chronic relapsing disorder.

We argue that the adoption of this model results from focusing on those in treatment for alcohol dependence rather than considering the larger number of people in the general population who meet criteria for alcohol dependence at some point in their lives.

The majority of the general population who ever experience alcohol dependence do not behave as though they have a chronic relapsing disorder: they do not seek treatment, resolve their dependence themselves and do not relapse repeatedly.

We suggest that caution is therefore needed in using the chronic relapsing disorder label. Our primary concerns are that this formulation privileges biological aspects of dependence to the detriment of psychological and social contributions, it inhibits much-needed developments in understanding alcohol dependence and leads to inefficient distributions of public health and clinical care resources for alcohol dependence.

We invite debate on this issue.

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Global Actions on Harmful Drinking Oct 7, 2011

Key Recent Milestones

· China: Traffic police have completed a pilot survey at drink drive checkpoints in Wuhan and Nanjing. The surveys coincide with a country-wide drink driving enforcement campaign launched in time for China’s National Day on October 1.

· Philippines: The Philippines’ self-regulatory organization (SRO), the Ad Standards Council (ASC), has undertaken a nationwide survey to measure awareness of the self-regulatory (SR) process. The survey targets 1,500 respondents from five major urban areas to raise consumer awareness of the SR process in the Philippines, one of three strategic objectives agreed by ASC, the Philippine Association of National Advertisers (PANA) and the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA).

Global Actions in Focus: Colombia Site Visits

Our Colombia team will be visiting cities where the “PACTOS por la Vida” (Pact for Life) projects have launched. From October 7-14, Global Actions’ Mario Alberto Lleras, Alberto Bouroncle, and John Sullivan will travel to Neiva, Medellín, Ibague, Cali, Barranquilla, and Bucaramanga, where they will conduct workshops with Colombia’s Ministry of Social Protection and Fondo de Prevencion Vial.

The site visits mark the second phase of the PACTOS project to reduce harmful drinking in Colombia. On August 30-31 in Bogotá, stakeholders gathered for a workshop that outlined the PACTOS agenda, with experts discussing responsible drinking and public attitudes regarding alcohol consumption. Along with key stakeholders, ICAP will collect information from each city to gauge the success of the projects at the pilot stage.

The site visits will include workshops with program leaders directly involved in structuring the projects at the city level. Program administrators will convene for roundtable discussions with other people and institutions, organizations, and establishments directly involved with the PACTOS project. Leaders in Neiva will document their work with local bars, and demonstrate how they achieved incorporation into the project.

What’s Happening Next

· Hong Kong: An October 14 meeting is scheduled for ICAP’s Asia-Pacific Contact Group. Participants, including Global Actions Vietnam Country Manager Lan Huong Nguyen and China Country Manager James Yu, will draft an operational plan for ICAP work in the Asia-Pacific region and discuss next steps.

· Nairobi: November 21-22: ICAP’s Ken Williams will meet with government, researchers, local experts, and industry to consider expanding Global Actions’ Noncommercial Alcohol research to Uganda, Tanzania, and Rwanda. Local experts will be present from these countries as well as from Botswana and Kenya.

Alcohol tax revenue plans pressed

The SNP Government has pressed the case for gaining control of alcohol tax revenue in the last of six demands sent to Westminster.

A paper set out more details of the proposal, arguing that because Scotland already meets the costs associated with alcohol consumption, it should also receive control of the revenue benefit.

The Scottish Government estimates that every year alcohol costs the economy about £3.56 billion, including £270 million on healthcare, £230 million on social care and £720 million on crime.

The paper suggests that the Scottish budget should be reduced by a per-capita share of UK-wide alcohol duties, with the amount of duty actually collected in Scotland added to the budget. > > > > Read More

Call for Papers Special Issue on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

The International Journal of Alcohol and Drug Research
Deadline for Submissions: March 31, 2012

The International Journal of Alcohol and Drug Research, a peer-reviewed, free-of-charge, open access journal and the official Journal of the Kettil Bruun Society for Social and Epidemiological Research on Alcohol (KBS), invites the submission of papers on biomedical, psychological, and sociological aspects related to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), to be featured in this special issue to be published in December, 2012. Accepted papers will be published online prior to their inclusion in this special issue in order to make the research available more quickly.

Original articles (including both quantitative and qualitative research), methodological pieces, reviews, and case reports will be considered for publication and submitted for peer review, if eligible.

FASD describes permanent birth defects and encompasses a range of effects (including physical, behavioral, and cognitive) that result from maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy. The goal of this special issue of the Journal is to publish papers that expand our current knowledge of FASD. We invite all FASD-related research be submitted, and we especially encourage submission of papers from authors in developing countries (i.e., low and middle income countries).
All submissions should be prepared in accordance with the Author Guidelines outlined in the Journal website at, and be submitted through the website. Please indicate in the cover letter accompanying your manuscript that you would like to have the paper considered for the special issue on FASD. Guest editors of the special issue on the FASD are Drs. Christina Chambers and Svetlana Popova. Contact information is below.

Dr. Svetlana Popova, MD, MPH, PhD
Social and Epidemiological Research Department
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

Dr. Christina Chambers, PhD
Department of Pediatrics
School of Medicine University of California San Diego La Jolla, CA Email:

Attitudes and behaviour predict women's intention to drink alcohol during pregnancy: the challenge for health professionals

To explore women's alcohol consumption in pregnancy, and potential predictors of alcohol consumption in pregnancy including: demographic characteristics; and women's knowledge and attitudes regarding alcohol consumption in pregnancy and its effects on the fetus.

We conducted a national cross-sectional survey via computer assisted telephone interview of 1103 Australian women aged 18 to 45 years. Participants were randomly selected from the Electronic White Pages. Pregnant women were not eligible to participate. Quotas were set for age groups and a minimum of 100 participants per state to ensure a national sample reflecting the population. The questionnaire was based on a Health Canada survey with additional questions constructed by the investigators. Descriptive statistics were calculated and logistic regression analyses were used to assess associations of alcohol consumption in pregnancy with participants' characteristics, knowledge and attitudes.

The majority of women (89.4%) had consumed alcohol in the last 12 months. During their last pregnancy (n = 700), 34.1% drank alcohol. When asked what they would do if planning a pregnancy (n = 1103), 31.6% said they would consume alcohol and 4.8% would smoke. Intention to consume alcohol in a future pregnancy was associated with: alcohol use in the last pregnancy (adjusted OR (aOR) 43.9; 95% Confidence Interval (CI) 27.0 to 71.4); neutral or positive attitudes towards alcohol use in pregnancy (aOR 5.1; 95% CI 3.6 to 7.1); intention to smoke in a future pregnancy (aOR 4.7; 95% CI 2.5 to 9.0); and more frequent and higher current alcohol consumption.

Women's past pregnancy and current drinking behaviour, and attitudes to alcohol use in pregnancy were the strongest predictors of alcohol consumption in pregnancy. Targeted interventions for women at higher risk of alcohol consumption in pregnancy are needed to change women's risk perception and behaviour.

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Brief motivational interview and educational brochure in emergency room settings for adolescents and young adults with alcohol related problems: a ran

To evaluate the effectiveness of brief motivational interviewing and an educational brochure when delivered in emergency room to reduce alcohol abuse and related problems among adolescents and young adults.

A randomized single blind clinical trial with a 3 month follow-up was carried out at three emergency rooms from October 2004 to November 2005; subjects assessed were 16-25 years old treated for alcohol related events up to 6 hours after consumption. Socio-demographic data, quantity, frequency and negative consequences of alcohol consumption, motivation to change habits and future risk preception were evaluated. Statistical analysis was performed on subjects who completed follow up (completers). ANCOVA model was used to analyze the difference between the intervention groups with statistical significance level α = 5% and Confidence Interval (CI) 95%.

186 subjects formed the initial sample, being n = 175 included and randomized to educational brochure group (n = 88) or motivational interviewing group (n = 87). Follow-up assessment was performed in 85.2% sample. No significant difference between groups was observed. However, significant reductions (p < 0.01) in related problems and alcohol abuse were found in both groups.

In this sample a reduction of alcohol use and related problems was observed. Preliminary data indicates that controlled clinical trials with motivational interviewing, educational brochure and nonintervention should be of future interest among Brazilian adolescent population.

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News Release - NIH study finds doctors miss many alcohol screening opportunities

Physicians often fail to counsel their young adult patients about excessive alcohol use, according to a study led by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health.

NIAAA guidelines for low risk drinking call for men to drink no more than four drinks in a day and no more than 14 drinks per week. For women, the guidelines are three or fewer drinks per day and no more than seven drinks per week. Previous studies have shown that screening and brief interventions by health care providers — asking patients about alcohol use and advising them to reduce risky drinking — can promote significant, lasting reductions in drinking levels and alcohol-related problems. In addition to NIAAA, professional groups such as the American Medical Association and the American Society of Addiction Medicine, as well as the U.S Preventive Services Task Force, recommend routine screening for alcohol misuse in primary care and brief interventions for individuals who screen positive.

In the current study, Ralph W. Hingson, Sc.D., director of NIAAA's division of epidemiology and prevention research, and colleagues at Boston University School of Public Health and Boston Medical Center conducted a random survey of more than 4,000 people in the United States between the ages of 18 and 39. The researchers asked survey participants about their drinking habits and whether they had been seen by a doctor during the past year. Those who had seen a doctor were asked additional questions to determine whether the doctor had assessed their alcohol use and advised them about safe drinking practices during the visit. The researchers report that 16 percent of those surveyed were non-drinkers, 24 percent drank at or below daily or weekly limits, 47 percent exceeded daily or weekly limits, and 13 percent exceeded both. The findings are online in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. > > > > Read More

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Press Release - CDC report shows about 112 million annual incidents of people drinking and driving

Adults drank too much and got behind the wheel about 112 million times in 2010—that is almost 300,000 incidents of drinking and driving each day—according to a CDC Vital Signs study released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The four million adults who drink and drive each year put everyone on the road at risk,” said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “In fact, nearly 11,000 people are killed every year in crashes that involve an alcohol–impaired driver.”

For the study, CDC analyzed data from the 2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey. > > > > Read More

Mental ill-health across the continuum of body mass index

Several studies have found a non-linear relationship between mental ill-health and BMI with higher rates in both the underweight and the obese. This study evaluated the shape of the relationship between BMI and distress, suicidal ideation and self-reported mental ill-health conditions in a large population sample.

Data were drawn from the South Australian Monitoring and Surveillance System (SAMSS) for the years 2002 to 2009 (n=46,704). SAMSS monitors population trends in state and national risk factors and chronic diseases. Samples are drawn from all households with a functioning number in the Australian White Pages. Computer assisted telephone interviews collected information on self-reported height and weight, demographic and health behaviours. Respondents completed the Kessler Distress and suicidal ideation scales and reported specific mental ill-health conditions. BMI was categorized into deciles to allow for assessment of the shape of any associations with other variables. Logistic regression was used to examine associations between each mental ill-health condition and BMI-decile controlling for age in the base model. This was followed by a full model that added SES and the health-adverse coping behaviours of smoking, alcohol and physical activity to test for changes from the base model.

Non-linear associations were observed between BMI-decile and mental ill-health but statistically significantly greater odds of mental ill-health were observed only in the obese and not in the underweight after controlling for age, health-adverse behaviours and socioeconomic status. The association between BMI and mental ill-health might best be described as 'threshold'. Elevated odds were apparent for middle-aged persons, whereas younger and older individuals had a significantly lower odds of having a mental ill-health condition.

In conclusion, this study has provided no support for the hypothesis of increased mental ill-health problems in the underweight but it has demonstrated the non-linear relationships between BMI and mental ill-health and between BMI and health-adverse behaviours. Non-linear relationships with BMI need to be recognized and addressed during analysis.

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National Quit & Recovery Registry

Launched in September 2011, the National Quit & Recovery Registry seeks to understand what allows people to succeed in overcoming addiction, whether to tobacco, alcohol, drugs, or harmful behaviors. Led by Warren Bickel, PhD, a world-renowned addiction researcher and director of the Advanced Recovery Research Center of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, the registry taps the insights and experiences of people who have been in recovery from an addiction for at least a year.

On an anonymous and confidential basis, these Recovery Heroes provide scientists with information about their addictions and their paths to recovery. They may also be invited to participate in studies aimed at understanding how addiction affects the brain. This research may involve the completion of online questionnaires, the undertaking of web-based behavioral tasks, or participation in more in-depth studies at the Advanced Recovery Research Center in Roanoke, Virginia. As the scientists learn about recovery from the Recovery Heroes, they will share those findings on the Registry website. > > > > Read More

Self-medication or social learning? A comparison of models to predict early adolescent drinking

The current study examined the effects of social anxiety, depressive symptoms, and alcohol expectancies of social behavior change on alcohol involvement to determine whether the self-medication and/or social learning models predicted drinking behavior in a sample of over 400 eighth grade students.

Middle school students completed confidential surveys that assessed current alcohol use and expectancies as well as negative affectivity including social anxiety and depressive symptoms.

Consistent with the self-medication hypothesis, depressive symptoms predicted more frequent and heavier alcohol use as well as solitary drinking.

The social learning model was supported by a negative association between social anxiety and quantity/frequency of drinking and less drinking at parties, and a positive association between alcohol expectancies and all drinking outcomes.

Additionally, social anxiety moderated the association between expectancies and alcohol use.

These findings suggest that self-medication and social learning processes may both play a role in predicting early adolescent alcohol use and the contexts in which youths drink.

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Binge ethanol intake in chronically exposed rat liver decreases LDL-receptor and increases angiotensinogen gene expression

To investigated the status of low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-receptor and angiotensionogen gene expression in rats treated chronically with ethanol followed by binge administration, a model that mimics the human scenario.

Rats were chronically treated with ethanol in liquid diet for 4 wk followed by a single binge mode of ethanol administration (5 mg/kg body weight). Samples were processed 4 h after binge ethanol administration (chronic ethanol binge). Control rats were fed isocaloric diet. In the control for binge, ethanol was replaced by water. Expression of mRNA for angiotensinogen, c-fos and LDL-receptor, and nuclear accumulation of phospho-extracellular regulated kinases (ERK)1/2 and ERK1/2 protein were examined.

Binge ethanol administration in chronically treated rats caused increase in steatosis and necrosis. Chronic ethanol alone had negligible effect on mRNA levels of LDL-receptor, or on the levels of nuclear ERK1/2 and phospho-ERK1/2. But, chronic ethanol followed by binge caused a decrease in LDL-receptor mRNA, and also decreased the levels of ERK1/2 and phospho-ERK1/2 in the nuclear compartment. On the other hand, chronic ethanol-binge increased mRNA expression of angiotensinogen and c-fos.

Binge ethanol after chronic exposure, causes transcriptional dysregulation of LDL-receptor and angiotensinogen genes, both cardiovascular risk factors.

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UPCOMING EVENT: Wednesday 19th October

Knowledge-Action-Change and the Centre for Research on Drugs and Health Behaviour, with generous support from the World Bank, are pleased to announce the second annual Alison Chesney & Eddie Killoran Memorial Lecture

This year we are delighted to welcome Dr Rosalie Pacula, Co-director of the RAND Drug Policy Research Centre, in California, who will deliver the lecture on Substance Use and Recessions: Insights from economic analyses of alcohol and how drug use differs. > > > > Read More

Substance Use among Black Adolescents

Compared with the national average for adolescents aged 12 to 17, black adolescents had lower rates of past month cigarette use (5.8 vs. 10.2 percent), alcohol use (10.5 vs. 16.0 percent), marijuana use (6.5 vs. 6.9 percent), and nonmedical use of prescriptiontype drugs (2.9 vs. 3.3 percent).

The rate of marijuana use among black adolescents increased from 5.9 percent in 2008 to 7.5 percent in 2010.

The rates of past month cigarette use and alcohol use among black adolescents living in poverty were lower than the national averages for adolescents living in poverty (6.8 vs. 10.6 percent and 10.7 vs. 13.5 percent, respectively).

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Substance Use among Asian Adolescents

Asian adolescents aged 12 to 17 had lower rates compared with the national average of past month cigarette use (3.9 vs. 10.2 percent), alcohol use (7.4 vs. 16.0 percent), marijuana use (2.9 vs. 6.9 percent), and nonmedical use of prescription-type drugs (1.8 vs. 3.3 percent).

Among Asian adolescents, substance use varied by Asian subgroup; past month alcohol use, for example, ranged from a high of 9.7 percent among Filipino adolescents to a low of 5.1 percent among Asian Indian adolescents.

Asian adolescents who were born in the United States had a higher rate of past month alcohol use than Asian adolescents who were not born in the United States (8.7 vs. 4.7 percent), while the rate of nonmedical use of prescription-type drugs was higher among Asian adolescents not born in the United States than among those born in the United States (2.7 vs. 1.4 percent).

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Substance Use among American Indian or Alaska Native Adolescents

Compared with the national average for adolescents aged 12 to 17, American Indian or Alaska Native adolescents had higher rates of past month cigarette use (16.8 vs. 10.2 percent), marijuana use (13.8 vs. 6.9 percent), and nonmedical use of prescription type drugs (6.1 vs. 3.3 percent).

The higher rates of substance use among American Indian or Alaska Native adolescents compared with national averages also were generally found among males, females, and across age groups.

Among adolescents aged 15 to 17, the rate of nonmedical use of prescription-type drugs in the past month among American Indians or Alaska Natives was higher than the national average (8.5 vs. 4.4 percent).

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Substance Use among Hispanic Adolescents

Compared with the national average for adolescents aged 12 to 17, Hispanic adolescents had lower rates of past month cigarette use (8.1 vs. 10.2 percent), marijuana use (6.5 vs. 6.9 percent), and nonmedical use of prescription-type drugs (2.9 vs. 3.3 percent).

Among Hispanic adolescents, marijuana use increased from 6.1 percent in 2008 to 8.1 percent in 2009, and remained steady at 8.0 percent in 2010; nonmedical use of prescription-type drugs increased from 2.2 percent in 2008 to 3.3 percent in 2009, and remained steady at 3.4 percent in 2010.

Among Hispanic adolescents, substance use varied by Hispanic subgroup; past month alcohol use, for example, ranged from 21.6 percent among Spanish adolescents to 13.8 percent among Puerto Rican adolescents.

Among Hispanic adolescents, those who were born in the United States had higher rates of past month cigarette use, alcohol use, and marijuana use than those who were not born in the United States.

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The Role of Race/Ethnicity in Alcohol-attributable Injury in the United States

A substantial proportion of injuries worldwide are attributable to alcohol consumption, and US estimates indicate that the drinking patterns of racial/ethnic groups vary considerably.

The authors reviewed evidence from 19 publications regarding racial/ethnic differences in overall alcohol-attributable injury as well as percent blood alcohol content positivity for injury deaths in the United States.

They found that Native Americans evidence higher rates of alcohol-attributable motor vehicle crash fatality, suicide, and falls compared with other racial/ethnic groups; conversely, Asians evidence lower rates of alcohol-attributable injury than other racial/ethnic groups. The rate of alcohol positivity and intoxication among Hispanics is disproportionately high relative to estimates of alcohol use. Black subgroups also evidence higher rates of alcohol positivity than would be expected given estimates of alcohol use, including for alcohol positivity among drivers of fatally injured black children and homicide.

These findings highlight the continued need for public health focus on Native American populations with respect to alcohol consumption and injury.

Further, the disparity in alcohol-attributable injury mortality among black and Hispanic groups relative to their reported rates of alcohol consumption is an overlooked area of research.

The authors review potential social determinants of racial/ethnic disparities in alcohol-attributable injuries and identify directions for further research on these patterns.

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Poor impulse control predicts inelastic demand for nicotine but not alcohol in rats

Tobacco and alcohol dependence are characterized by continued use despite deleterious health, social and occupational consequences, implying that addicted individuals pay a high price for their use. In behavioral economic terms, such persistent consumption despite increased costs can be conceptualized as inelastic demand.

Recent animal studies demonstrated that high-impulsive individuals are more willing to work for nicotine or cocaine infusions than their low-impulsive counterparts, indicating that this trait might be causally related to inelastic drug demand.

By employing progressive ratio schedules of reinforcement combined with a behavioral economics approach of analysis, we determined whether trait impulsivity is associated with an insensitivity of nicotine or alcohol consumption to price increments. Rats were trained on a delayed discounting task, measuring impulsive choice. Hereafter, high- and low-impulsive rats were selected and trained to nose poke for intravenous nicotine or oral alcohol. Upon stable self-administration on a continuous reinforcement schedule, the price (i.e. response requirement) was increased. Demand curves, depicting the relationship between price and consumption, were produced using Hursh's exponential demand equation.

Similar to human observations, nicotine and alcohol consumption in rats fitted this equation, thereby demonstrating the validity of our model.

Moreover, high-impulsive rats displayed inelastic nicotine demand, as their nicotine consumption was less sensitive to price increments as compared with that in low-impulsive rats.

Impulsive choice was not related to differences in alcohol demand elasticity.

Our model seems well suited for studying nicotine and alcohol demand in rats and, as such, might contribute to our understanding of tobacco and alcohol dependence.

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Role of corticotropin-releasing factor in the median raphe nucleus in yohimbine-induced reinstatement of alcohol seeking in rats

The pharmacological stressor yohimbine increases ongoing alcohol self-administration and reinstates alcohol seeking in rats. This effect is attenuated by systemic injections of a corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) antagonist. The brain sites involved in CRF's role in yohimbine-induced alcohol taking and seeking are unknown.

We report that injections of the CRF receptor antagonist d-Phe CRF into the median raphe nucleus (MRN) attenuated yohimbine-induced reinstatement of alcohol seeking but had no effect on yohimbine-induced increases in alcohol intake during ongoing self-administration.

Results indicate an important role of MRN CRF receptors in yohimbine-induced reinstatement of alcohol seeking but not yohimbine-induced increases in alcohol intake.

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Variables involved in the cue modulation of the startle reflex in alcohol-dependent patients

Cue modulation of the startle reflex is a paradigm that has been used to understand the emotional mechanisms involved in alcohol dependence. Attenuation of the startle reflex has been demonstrated when alcohol-dependent subjects are exposed to alcohol-related stimuli. However, the role of clinical variables on the magnitude of this response is unknown.

The objective of this study was to determine the relationship between a number of clinical variables—severity of alcoholism, family history of alcoholism (FHA+), personality traits related to the sensitivity to reward—and the startle reflex response when subjects with alcohol dependence were viewing alcohol-related cues.

After detoxification, 98 participants completed self-report instruments and had eye blink electromyograms measured to acoustic startle probes [100-millisecond burst of white noise at 95 dB(A)] while viewing alcohol-related pictures, and standardised appetitive, aversive and neutral control scenes. Ninety-eight healthy controls were also assessed with the same instruments.

There were significant differences on alcohol-startle magnitude between patients and controls. Comparisons by gender showed that women perceived alcohol cues and appetitive cues more appetitive than men. Male and female patients showed more appetitive responses to alcohol cues when compared with their respective controls.

Our patients showed an appetitive effect of alcohol cues that was positively related to severity of alcohol dependence, sensitivity to reward and a FHA+.

The data confirmed that the pattern of the modulation of the acoustic startle reflex reveals appetitive effects of the alcohol cues and extended it to a variety of clinical variables.

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Impaired perceptual judgment at low blood alcohol concentrations

Males and females show different patterns of cognitive impairment when blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) are high.

To investigate whether gender differences persist at low BACs, cognitive impairment was tested in 21 participants (11 female, 10 male) using a brief computerized perceptual judgment task that provides error rate and response time data.

Participants consumed a measured dose of alcohol (average peak BAC: females: 0.052
g/100mL, males: 0.055g/100mL), and were tested at four time points spanning both the rising and falling limbs of the BAC curve, in addition to a prealcohol time point. Comparisons were made against performance of these same participants at equivalent time points in an alcohol-free control condition.

Males and females displayed a trend toward slower responses and more errors, even when mildly intoxicated.

These data indicate that cognitive function can be impaired at BACs that are below the legal limit for driving in most countries.

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ADH1B is associated with alcohol dependence and alcohol consumption in populations of European and African ancestry

A coding variant in alcohol dehydrogenase 1B (ADH1B) (rs1229984) that leads to the replacement of Arg48 with His48 is common in Asian populations and reduces their risk for alcoholism, but because of very low allele frequencies the effects in European or African populations have been difficult to detect.

We genotyped and analyzed this variant in three large European and African-American case–control studies in which alcohol dependence was defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) criteria, and demonstrated a strong protective effect of the His48 variant (odds ratio (OR) 0.34, 95
% confidence interval (CI) 0.24, 0.48) on alcohol dependence, with genome-wide significance (6.6 × 10–10).

The hypothesized mechanism of action involves an increased aversive reaction to alcohol; in keeping with this hypothesis, the same allele is strongly associated with a lower maximum number of drinks in a 24-hour period (lifetime), with P
=3 × 10–13.

We also tested the effects of this allele on the development of alcoholism in adolescents and young adults, and demonstrated a significantly protective effect.

This variant has the strongest effect on risk for alcohol dependence compared with any other tested variant in European populations.

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Global Actions

Key Recent Milestones

· China: Following our training workshops in Nanjing and Xi’an, the Traffic Police Corps of Jiangsu’s Public Security Department have reprinted 900 copies of training manuals that will be distributed to city-level branches. ICAP Vice President Brett Bivans recently met with
China Alcoholic Drinks Industry Association (CADIA) and China Association of National Advertisers (CANA) to discuss plans for developing a self-regulation code and steps to conduct a nationwide corporate responsibility survey. View more photos from the events.

· Vietnam: For Global Actions Vietnam’s bus driver project, ICAP signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ministry of Transportation’s Traffic Safety Department – Directorate for Roads on September 22 and met with the Provincial Department of Transport in Dak Lak Province and Khanh Hoa Province to discuss collaboration in the project.

Global Actions in Focus: Self-Regulation in Ukraine

The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) met with leading brand marketers in Kiev last week to agree on a concrete process for establishing self-regulation in Ukraine. Among those participating in the cross-sector meeting were AB-InBev, Coca-Cola, SABMiller, GlaxoSmithKline, and Unilever.
WFA and AB-InBev have formulated a plan for establishing a self-regulatory organisation (SRO) in Ukraine. The collaborative effort includes a cross-industry advertising code draft and regulations for a future Ukrainian SRO as well as a national advertiser association. This plan formed the basis of the meeting. On September 30, WFA participated in a self-regulation conference organized by German think tank Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. At the conference, Ukraine’s leading advertising associations – but no advertisers – approved “national standards for advertising free of gender discrimination.” WFA spoke at the event to share its international perspective and to help ensure that the self-regulation agenda in Ukraine properly reflects the experience and priorities of multinational advertisers.

What’s Happening Next

· Vietnam: October 3 will be the first meeting of the bus driver project to select the project site and set up the Project Management Unit (PMU) organizational structure. The project will focus on drink driving prevention for drivers at bus stations across Vietnam.

· Seoul, South Korea: From October 4-11 (dates tentative), Global Actions Vietnam will conduct a study tour in Korea to compare drink driving programs and learn from the successes and challenges of different campaigns.

· Colombia: From October 7-14, Global Actions will visit six cities across Colombia where the “Pactos por la Vida” (PACTOS) project is being implemented. In order to gather information required for the Best Practices booklet that ICAP and PACTOS stakeholders will issue later this year, Global Actions staff will hold seminars to reinforce ICAP evaluation methods, gather best practices from each city, and interview stakeholders who have contributed to the project.

Press Release - Drinkaware launches life-skills based education programme to lower young people’s alcohol misuse

Alcohol education charity Drinkaware has today launched its In:tuition programme – a free life-skills* based interactive teaching resource for primary and secondary schools. The resource is informed by international examples of rigorously evaluated, best evidenced life-skills based education programmes, ** which have been shown to be effective in preventing alcohol and other substance misuse – reducing alcohol misuse by 28-31%.

Adapted for the UK context, Drinkaware’s cross-curricular programme builds the esteem, confidence and decision-making skills of students aged 9 to 14 so they can make more informed decisions about a range of issues – including alcohol, sex and relationships, personal finance, health and civic responsibility. > > > > Read More

Vital Signs: Alcohol-Impaired Driving Among Adults --- United States, 2010

Alcohol-impaired driving crashes account for nearly 11,000 crash fatalities, or about one third of all crash fatalities in the United States.

CDC analyzed data from the 2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey to obtain the prevalence, episodes, and rates of alcohol-impaired driving (defined as driving "when you've had perhaps too much to drink" in the past 30 days) among U.S. adults aged ≥18 years who responded to the survey by landline telephone.

In 2010, an estimated 4 million U.S. adult respondents reported at least one episode of alcohol-impaired driving, for an estimated total of approximately 112 million alcohol-impaired driving episodes or 479 episodes per 1,000 adult population. From a peak in 2006, such episodes decreased 30% through 2010. Men accounted for 81% of all episodes with young men aged 21--34 years accounting for 32% of all episodes. Additionally, 85% of alcohol-impaired driving episodes were reported by persons who also reported binge drinking, and the 4.5% of the adult population who reported binge drinking at least four times per month accounted for 55% of all alcohol-impaired driving episodes. Episode rates were nearly four times higher among persons who reported not always wearing seatbelts compared with persons who reported always wearing seatbelts.

Rates of self-reported alcohol-impaired driving have declined substantially in recent years. However, rates remain disproportionally high among young men, binge drinkers, and those who do not always wear a seat belt.

Implications for Public Health: States and communities should continue current evidence-based strategies, such as sobriety checkpoints and enforcement of 0.08 g/dL blood alcohol concentration laws to deter the public from driving while impaired. Additionally, all states should consider requiring ignition interlocks on the vehicles of all persons convicted of alcohol-impaired driving. States without primary seatbelt laws should consider enacting them to reduce fatalities in alcohol-impaired driving crashes.

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Alcohol News - 40/2011

BBN (Estonia) - Government approves alcohol-tax increase from January
Estonia’s government agreed to raise alcohol taxes from January in spite of having pledged in May that it would not raise the alcohol excise in 2012.
The (Sweden) - Drunken Swedes choose knives to kill: study
The average murderer in Sweden and neighbouring Finland are drunk men armed with knives who kill on the spur of the moment, according to a new study.
Helsingin Sanomat (Finland) - Children and young adults express displeasure over parents' drinking habits
The drinking habits of parents, or more specifically the drinking problems of parents, become most unpleasant in the eyes of their offspring when they lead to reneging on what has previously been agreed and promised.
IceNews (Denmark) - WHO calls for Denmark drinking age hike
The World Health Organisation has warned the new Danish government that it should take steps to reduce the amount of alcohol being consumed by teenagers.
The impact of small changes in bar closing hours on violence. The Norwegian experience from 18 cities
The Norwegian Institute for Alcohol and Drug Research presents findings and conclusions from research on the relation between bar closing hours and violence.
BBC News (Scotland) - Online loopholes in Scottish alcohol bill
Online deals are being used to get round new laws banning discounted promotions on alcohol in Scotland.
BBC News - What damage does alcohol do to our bodies?
We know that drinking too much alcohol is bad for us. It gives us hangovers, makes us feel tired and does little for our appearance - and that is just the morning afterwards.
The Economist (Africa) - Keep on walking
THE Q bar in the Westlands district of Nairobi is the sort of place that makes marketers salivate. A few pool tables, a few flat-screen televisions (not all tuned to English football), some prostitutes, but not enough to scare off girlfriends, the bottles tidily arranged behind the bar, a soft gangsta soundtrack, and a crowd full of wage-earning 20-something men.
The Canberra Times (Australia) - Call to end watering-down alcohol prices
Cheap wines selling for less than a bottle of water would increase to $7 or $8 under a plan by health groups to tax alcoholic drinks by strength and volume.
Belfast Telegraph (UK) - Cut drink-drive limit even further: charity
Environment Minister Alex Attwood has been urged to adopt a “zero tolerance” policy to drink-driving by significantly slashing the blood alcohol limit for all drivers.
Sudan Tribune (Sudan) - Sale of alcohol to minors widespread in South Sudan – report
An internal report from South Sudan ministry of gender,child and social welfare seen by Sudan Tribune on Saturday said that children under the legal limit of 18 are involved in the sale and widespread consumption of alcohol.
MarketWatch (Canada) - National Report Sheds Light on Student Alcohol and Drug Use
Authors of a new report released today on alcohol and drug use by high school students across Canada raise concern about the prevalence of alcohol and cannabis use among senior high school students (grades 10-12). Specifically, they highlight the percentage of 12th graders who report drinking to excess, using cannabis daily, and/or driving after drinking or using cannabis.
New York Times - Risks: Alcohol Deaths and the Solo Life
Researchers at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health studied deaths before and after a reduction in the price of alcohol in Finland, and tracked the fatalities attributable to alcohol abuse — liver disease, alcohol poisoning, alcohol-related violence or accidents, among others. The results appear in the September issue of PLoS Medicine.
Independent Online (South Africa) - Foetal alcohol syndrome is on the rise, says study
FOETAL alcohol syndrome is ravaging Western Cape farming communities, with hundreds of children affected, research has found.
News24 (South Africa) - Ad industry unites against booze ban
Members of the advertising industry have come together in an effort to prevent the government's proposed ban on alcohol advertising, it emerged on Friday.
Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (Ghana) - Feminine Face Of Alcohol In Ghana
It’s all common to find our women dancing, exposing part of their body, and singing all in the name of alcohol. For the past one decade in the history of Ghana, our country has witnessed the proliferation of alcohol products with major advertisement in either a huge bill board in town or ads on our major television stations.
Nigerian Tribune (Nigeria) - Why alcohol is deadlier than cocaine, heroin
Illegal substances such as heroin, cocaine, marijauna and the like are considered by many people as deadly forms of recreation, not knowing that alcohol may be just as deadly as hard drugs or even worse.
Irish Times (Ireland) - Radical steps urged to tackle drink abuse
GOVERNMENT PLANS to put alcohol abuse alongside drug abuse have been welcomed by leading activists in the treatment of addiction problems.
Zee News - Booze hits body’s ability to ward off viral infections
Alcohol changes the anti-viral and inflammatory functions of monocytes. “Alcohol has a profound effect of inhibiting IFN production in monocytes regardless of whether the danger signal is intracellular (TLR8) or surface-derived (TLR4). Such a reduction would impair the body’s ability to fight off infection,” Prof Szabo said.
Active Quote (UK) - Alcohol and its effect on the NHS, society and individual health
Private health insurance customers could avoid the consequences of boozing Britain, as increasing levels of alcohol related hospital admissions will cost the NHS nearly £4bn over the next few years.
Malta Independent Online (EU) - MEPs propose alcohol ban for newly-licensed drivers
Newly qualified motorists in Europe should not be allowed to drink any alcohol before driving until they have held a full licence for two years, European parliamentarians proposed this week.
Reuters (EU) - New drivers should stay dry, EU lawmakers say
Newly qualified motorists in Europe should not be allowed to drink any alcohol before driving until two years after they have passed their test, EU lawmakers proposed on Tuesday.
Pharmaceutical Processing (USA) - Health Officials Eye Measures to Curb Harmful Use of Alcohol
Top health officials from North, Central and South America and the Caribbean have endorsed a series of actions that the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) says could significantly reduce the public health impact of alcohol.
Fiji Times (Fiji) - Scale up action to control alcohol and tobacco use
World Health Organisation South Pacific officer in charge Steve Iddings said non-communicable diseases were claiming victims at increasingly younger ages, even during childhood, depriving many people of their most productive years.

Monday, October 3, 2011

News Release - Social media may help identify college drinking problems

College students who post references to getting drunk, blacking out, or other aspects of dangerous drinking on social networking sites are more likely to have clinically significant alcohol problems than students who do not post such references, according to a study supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Washington, Seattle, examined public Facebook profiles of more than 300 undergraduate students at those universities. The researchers divided the profiles into three categories: those that had no alcohol references; those that had alcohol references but no references to intoxication or problem drinking; and those that included references to “being drunk,” “getting wasted,” or other problem drinking behaviors. They also invited the profile owners to complete an online version of the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test, or AUDIT, a screening tool that clinicians use to measure problem drinking. > > > > Read More

Associations Between Displayed Alcohol References on Facebook and Problem Drinking Among College Students

To examine the associations between displayed alcohol use and intoxication/problem drinking (I/PD) references on Facebook and self-reported problem drinking using a clinical scale.

Content analysis and cross-sectional survey.

Facebook Web site (

The study included undergraduate students (age range, 18-20 years) at 2 state universities with public Facebook profiles.

The profiles were categorized into 1 of 3 distinct categories: Nondisplayers, Alcohol Displayers, and I/PD Displayers.

An online survey measured problem drinking using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) scale. Analyses examined associations between alcohol display category and (1) AUDIT problem drinking category using logistic regression, (2) AUDIT score using negative binomial regression, and (3) alcohol-related injury using the Fisher exact test.

Among 307 profiles identified, 224 participants completed the survey (73% response rate). The average age was 18.8 years; 122 (54%) were female; 152 (68%) were white; and approximately 50% were from each university. Profile owners who displayed I/PD were more likely (odds ratio, 4.4; 95% CI, 2.0-9.4) to score in the problem drinking category of the AUDIT scale, had 64.0% (incidence rate ratio, 1.64; 95% CI, 1.27-11.0) higher AUDIT scores overall, and were more likely to report an alcohol-related injury in the past year (P = .002).

Displayed references to I/PD were positively associated with AUDIT scores suggesting problem drinking as well as alcohol-related injury. Results suggest that clinical criteria for problem drinking can be applied to Facebook alcohol references.

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Scotland ban on 'irresponsible promotions' as England introduce 'schooners'

New licensing laws came into force on 1st October 2011 for Scotland, including a mandatory challenge 25 scheme and a ban on irresponsible promotions. The changes are part of the Alcohol etc Scotland Act 2010 and are expected to be followed by plans for a minimum price. > > > > Read More