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 14, 2011

Affect-Related Behaviors in Mice Selectively Bred for High and Low Voluntary Alcohol Consumption

There is considerable evidence for the existence of comorbidity between alcohol-use disorders and depression in humans. One strategy to elucidate hereditary factors affecting the comorbidity of these disorders is to use genetic animal models, such as mouse lines selectively bred for voluntary ethanol consumption.

We hypothesized that mice from lines that were bred for high-alcohol preference would manifest increased depression-like phenotypes compared to low-alcohol preferring mice. Mice that were bi-directionally selected and bred on the basis of their High- (HAP) or Low-Alcohol Preference (LAP) were tested in the open-field (OFT), dark–light box (DLB), forced swim (FST), and learned helplessness tests (LH).

The study was conducted in two independently derived replicates. In the OFT, both HAP2 and HAP3 mice showed higher levels of general locomotion compared to LAP mice. However, only HAP2 mice spent more time in the center compared to LAP2 mice.

In the DLB, there was a slightly higher anxiety-like phenotype in HAP mice. In both FST and LH, we observed higher depression-like behaviors in HAP mice compared to LAP mice, but this was limited to the Replicate 2 mice.

Overall, we identified affect-related behavioral changes in mouse lines bred for high-alcohol preference. Notably, the Replicate 3 lines that showed fewer depression-like behaviors also manifest smaller differences in alcohol intake.

These data suggest that there may be overlap between genes that predispose to excessive alcohol intake and those underlying affect-related behaviors in the mouse.

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Recovery Characteristics and Practices of Alcoholics Anonymous Sponsors

Sponsoring another member of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is associated with improved substance use outcomes, but little research examines who is asked (and agrees) to sponsor another member. The objective of this exploratory study is to describe the recovery-related characteristics and practices associated with AA sponsors.

AA members (N=263) completed an anonymous online questionnaire about their background and recovery behaviors. On 9 characteristics and 4 practices, Pearson [chi]2 and Student t tests were used to compare (a) current nonsponsors with sponsors; and (b) lifetime nonsponsors with those who had sponsored at some point.

How and when members entered AA had no association with the sponsor role. Sponsors, past and present, were characterized by having an AA home group, completing more steps, having longer sobriety, and reporting a greater degree of spiritual surrender. Current sponsors engaged more frequently than current nonsponsors in all 4 practices: performing AA service work, attending meetings, praying or meditating, and reading AA literature. Lifetime sponsors engaged more frequently than lifetime nonsponsors in all practices except praying or meditating. Tentative evidence suggested lifetime nonsponsors and former sponsors did not differ in AA practices, indicating the value of current/active sponsorship.

Similar to having a sponsor, being a sponsor is associated with characteristics and practices supportive of AA engagement.

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Effect of homozygous deletions at 22q13.1 on alcohol dependence severity and cue-elicited BOLD response in the precuneus

Copy number variations (CNVs) can alter the DNA sequence in blocks ranging from kilobases to megabases, involving more total nucleotides than single nucleotide polymorphisms. Yet, its impact in humans is far from fully understood.

In this study, we investigate the relationship of genome-wide CNVs with brain function elicited by an alcohol cue in 300 participants with alcohol use disorders.

First, we extracted refined neurobiological phenotypes, the brain responses to an alcohol cue versus a juice cue in the precuneus, thalamus and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). Then, we correlated the CNVs with incidence frequency > 1% to the neurobiological phenotypes.

One CNV region at 22q13.1 was identified to be associated with alcohol dependence severity and the brain response to alcohol cues. Specifically, the 22k base-pair homozygous deletion at 22q13.1 affects genes APOBEC3a and APOBEC3b.

Carriers of this homozygous deletion show a significantly higher score in the alcohol dependence severity (P < 0.05) and increased response to alcohol cues in the precuneus (P < 10−12) than other participants.

Tests of a mediation model indicate that the precuneus mediates the association between the homozygous deletions and alcohol dependence severity.

Interestingly, the precuneus is not only anatomically and functionally connected to the ACC and thalamus (the main active regions to the alcohol cue), but also has the most predictive power to the alcohol dependence severity.

These findings suggest that the homozygous deletion at 22q13.1 may have an important impact on the function of the precuneus with downstream implications for alcohol dependence.

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Dorsal hippocampal cannabinoid CB1 receptors mediate the interactive effects of nicotine and ethanol on passive avoidance learning in mice

The present study evaluated the involvement of the dorsal hippocampal cannabinoid CB1 receptors in the combined effect of ethanol and nicotine on passive avoidance learning in adult male mice.

The results indicated that pre-training administration of ethanol (1 g/kg, i.p.) impaired memory retrieval. Pre-test administration of ethanol (0.5 and 1 g/kg, i.p.) or nicotine (0.5 and 0.7 mg/kg, s.c.) significantly reversed ethanol-induced amnesia, suggesting a functional interaction between ethanol and nicotine.

Pre-test microinjection of a selective CB1 receptor agonist, ACPA (3 and 5 ng/mouse), plus an ineffective dose of ethanol (0.25 g/kg) or nicotine (0.3 mg/kg) improved memory retrieval, while ACPA by itself could not reverse ethanol-induced amnesia.

Pre-test intra-CA1 microinjection of a selective CB1 receptor antagonist, AM251 (0.5–2 ng/mouse), did not lead to a significant change in ethanol-induced amnesia.

However, pre-test intra-CA1 microinjection of AM251 prevented the ethanol (1 g/kg) or nicotine (0.7 mg/kg) response on ethanol-induced amnesia.

In order to support the involvement of the dorsal hippocampal CB1 receptors in nicotine response, the scheduled mixed treatments of AM251 (0.1–1 ng/mouse), ACPA (5 ng/mouse) and nicotine (0.3 mg/kg) were used.

The results indicated that AM251 reversed the response of ACPA to the interactive effects of nicotine and ethanol in passive avoidance learning. Furthermore, pre-test intra-CA1 microinjection of the same doses of ACPA or AM251 had no effect on memory retrieval.

These findings show that the cannabinoid CB1 receptors of dorsal hippocampus are important in the combined effect of ethanol and nicotine on passive avoidance learning.

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The effect of intravenous alcohol on the neural correlates of risky decision making in healthy social drinkers

Alcohol is thought to contribute to an increase in risk-taking behavior, but the neural correlates underlying this effect are not well understood.

In this study, participants were given intravenous alcohol or placebo while undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and playing a risk-taking game. The game allowed us to examine the neural response to choosing a safe or risky option, anticipating outcome and receiving feedback.

We found that alcohol increased risk-taking behavior, particularly among participants who experienced more stimulating effects of alcohol.

fMRI scans demonstrated that alcohol increased activation in the striatum to risky compared with safe choices and dampened the neural response to notification of both winning and losing throughout the caudate, thalamus and insula.

This study suggests that alcohol may increase risk-taking behavior by both activating brain regions involved in reward when a decision is made, and dampening the response to negative and positive feedback.

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Adolescent pre-exposure to ethanol and 3,4-methylenedioxymethylamphetamine (MDMA) increases conditioned rewarding effects of MDMA and drug-induced rei

Many adolescents often take ethanol (EtOH) in combination with 3,4-methylenedioxymethylamphetamine (MDMA).

In the present work, we used a mouse model to study the effect of repeated pre-exposure during adolescence to EtOH (2 g/kg), MDMA (10 or 20 mg/kg) or EtOH + MDMA on the rewarding and reinstating effects of MDMA in the conditioned place preference (CPP) paradigm.

Pre-exposure to EtOH, MDMA or both increased the rewarding effects of a low dose of MDMA (1.25 mg/kg). These pre-treatments did not affect the acquisition of the CPP induced by 5 mg/kg of MDMA. However, the CPP was more persistent in mice pre-exposed to both doses of MDMA or to EtOH + MDMA20.

After extinction of the CPP induced by 5 mg/kg of MDMA, reinstatement was observed in all groups with a priming dose of 2.5 mg/kg of MDMA, in the groups pre-exposed to EtOH or MDMA alone with a priming dose of 1.25 mg/kg, and in the groups pre-treated with MDMA alone with a priming dose of 0.625 mg/kg.

Pre-treatment during adolescence with MDMA or EtOH induced long-term changes in the level of biogenic amines [dihydroxyphenyl acetic acid, homovanillic acid, dopamine turnover, serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) and 5-hydroxyindole acetic acid (5-HIAA) in the striatum, and 5-HT and 5-HIAA in the cortex] after the first reinstatement test, although these effects depended on the dose used during conditioning.

These results suggest that exposure to EtOH and MDMA during adolescence reinforces the addictive properties of MDMA.

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Smaller right amygdala in Caucasian alcohol-dependent male patients with a history of intimate partner violence: a volumetric imaging study

Studies have shown that various brain structure abnormalities are associated with chronic alcohol abuse and impulsive aggression. However, few imaging studies have focused on violent individuals with a diagnosis of alcohol dependence.

The present study used volumetric magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to compare the volumes of different structural components of prefrontal cortex and six subcortical structures in perpetrators of intimate partner violence with alcohol dependence (IPV-ADs), non-violent alcohol-dependent patients (non-violent ADs) and healthy controls (HCs).

Caucasian men (n = 54), ages 24–55, who had participated in National Institutes of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism treatment programs, were grouped together as IPV-ADs (n = 27), non-violent ADs (n = 14) and HCs (n = 13). The MRI scan was performed at least 3 weeks from the participant's last alcohol use. T1-weighted images were used to measure the volumes of intracranial space, gray and white matter, orbitofrontal cortex, medial prefrontal cortex, lateral prefrontal cortex, and six subcortical structures.

Results revealed that IPV-ADs, compared with non-violent ADs and HCs, had a significant volume reduction in the right amygdala. No significant volumetric difference was found in other structures.

This finding suggests that structural deficits in the right amygdala may underlie impulsive types of aggression often seen in alcohol-dependent patients with a history of IPV.

It adds to a growing literature suggesting that there are fundamental differences between alcohol-dependent patients with and without IPV.

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Synaptic and Morphological Neuroadaptations in the Putamen Associated with Long-Term, Relapsing Alcohol Drinking in Primates

Alcoholism and alcohol use disorders are characterized by several months to decades of heavy and problematic drinking, interspersed with periods of abstinence and relapse to heavy drinking.

This alcohol-drinking phenotype was modeled using macaque monkeys to explore neuronal adaptations in the striatum, a brain region controlling habitual behaviors.

Prolonged drinking with repeated abstinence narrowed the variability in daily intake, increased the amount of ethanol consumed in bouts, and led to higher blood ethanol concentrations more than twice the legal intoxication limit.

After the final abstinence period of this extensive drinking protocol, we found a selective increase in dendritic spine density and enhanced glutamatergic transmission in the putamen, but not in the caudate nucleus. Intrinsic excitability of medium-sized spiny neurons was also enhanced in the putamen of alcohol-drinking monkeys in comparison with non-drinkers, and GABAeric transmission was selectively suppressed in the putamen of heavy drinkers.

These morphological and physiological changes indicate a shift in the balance of inhibitory
/excitatory transmission that biases the circuit toward an enduring increase in synaptic activation of putamen output as a consequence of prolonged heavy drinking/relapse.

The resultant potential for increased putamen activation may underlie an alcohol-drinking phenotype of regulated drinking and sustained intoxication.

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Dangerous Liaisons? Dating and Drinking Diffusion in Adolescent Peer Networks

The onset and escalation of alcohol consumption and romantic relationships are hallmarks of adolescence. Yet only recently have these domains jointly been the focus of sociological inquiry.

We extend this literature by connecting alcohol use, dating, and peers to understand
the diffusion of drinking behavior in school-based friendship networks.

Drawing on
Granovetter’s classic concept of weak ties, we argue that adolescent romantic partners are likely to be network bridges, or liaisons, connecting daters to new peer contexts that, in turn, promote changes in individual drinking behaviors and allow these behaviors to spread across peer networks.

Using longitudinal data of 449 couples from the National Longitudinal
Study of Adolescent Health, we estimate Actor–Partner Interdependence Models and identify unique contributions of partners’ drinking, friends’ drinking, and friends-of-partners’ drinking to daters’ own future binge drinking and drinking frequency.

Findings support the
liaison hypothesis and suggest that friends-of-partners’ drinking have net associations with adolescent drinking patterns. Moreover, the coefficient for friends-of-partners’ drinking is larger than the coefficient for one’s own peers and generally immune to prior selection.

findings suggest that romantic relationships are important mechanisms for understanding the diffusion of emergent problem behaviors in adolescent peer networks.

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Drunk, Powerful, and in the Dark How General Processes of Disinhibition Produce Both Prosocial and Antisocial Behavior

Social power, alcohol intoxication, and anonymity all have strong influences on human cognition and behavior. However, the social consequences of each of these conditions can be diverse, sometimes producing prosocial outcomes and other times enabling antisocial behavior.

We present a general model of disinhibition to explain how these seemingly contradictory effects emerge from a single underlying mechanism: The decreased salience of competing response options prevents activation of the Behavioral Inhibition System (BIS). As a result, the most salient response in any given situation is expressed, regardless of whether it has prosocial or antisocial consequences.

We review three distinct routes through which power, alcohol intoxication, and anonymity reduce the salience of competing response options, namely, through Behavioral Approach System (BAS) activation, cognitive depletion, and reduced social desirability concerns. We further discuss how these states can both reveal and shape the person.

Overall, our approach allows for multiple domain-specific models to be unified within a common conceptual framework that explains how both situational and dispositional factors can influence the expression of disinhibited behavior, producing both prosocial and antisocial outcomes.

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Ethanol increases p190RhoGAP activity, leading to actin cytoskeleton rearrangements

We previously reported that cells chronically exposed to ethanol show alterations in actin cytoskeleton organization and dynamics in primary cultures of newborn rat astrocytes, a well-established in vitro model for foetal alcohol spectrum disorders.

These alterations were attributed to a decrease in the cellular levels of active RhoA (RhoA-GTP), which in turn was produced by an increase in the total RhoGAP activity.

We here provide evidence that p190RhoGAPs are the main factors responsible for such increase.

Thus, in astrocytes chronically exposed to ethanol we observe: (1) an increase in p190A- and p190B-associated RhoGAP activity; (2) a higher binding of p190A and p190B to RhoA-GTP; (3) a higher p120RasGAP-p190A RhoGAP complex formation; and (4) the recruitment of both p190RhoGAPs to the plasma membrane.

The simultaneous silencing of both p190 isoforms prevents the actin rearrangements and the total RhoGAP activity increase triggered both by ethanol.

Therefore, our data directly points p190RhoGAPs, as ethanol-exposure molecular targets on glial cells of the central nervous system.

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Regulation of NMDA receptors by the tyrosine kinase Fyn

The phosphorylation and trafficking of NMDA receptors are tightly regulated by the Src family tyrosine kinase Fyn, through dynamic interactions with various scaffolding proteins in the NMDA receptor complex. Fyn acts as a point of convergence for many signaling pathways that upregulate GluN2B-containing NMDA receptors.

In the following review, we focus on Fyn signaling downstream of different G-protein-coupled receptors: the dopamine D1 receptor and receptors cognate to the pituitary adenylate cyclase activating polypeptide.

The net result of activation of each of these signaling pathways is an upregulation of GluN2B-containing NMDA currents.

The NMDA receptor is a major target of ethanol in the brain and accumulating evidence suggests that Fyn mediates the effects of ethanol by regulating the phosphorylation of GluN2B-containing NMDA receptor subunits.

Furthermore, Fyn has been shown to regulate alcohol withdrawal and acute tolerance to ethanol through a GluN2B-dependent mechanism.

In addition to its effects on NMDA receptor function, Fyn also modifies the threshold for synaptic plasticity at CA1 synapses, an effect that likely contributes to the effects of Fyn on spatial and contextual fear learning.

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Individuals can react to financial stress in a variety of ways, such as reducing discretionary spending or engaging in risky behaviors.

This article investigates the effect of changing macroeconomic conditions (measured by the unemployment rate in the state of residence) on one type of risky behavior: excessive alcohol consumption.

Using unique and recent panel data from waves 1 and 2 of the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) and estimating fixed-effects models, we find that changes in the unemployment rate are positively related to changes in binge drinking, alcohol-involved driving, and alcohol abuse and/or dependence.

Some differences are present among demographic groups, primarily in the magnitude of the estimated effects.

These results contradict previous studies and suggest that problematic drinking may be an indirect and unfortunate consequence of an economic downturn.

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Prevalence of alcohol and drug consumption among adolescents: data analysis of the National Survey of School Health

To describe the prevalence of alcohol and other drugs consumption, among adolescent students.

A cross-sectional study with conglomerate samples of 60,973 students at freshman year high school in public and private schools in capitals and the Federal District in Brazil, in 2009. The 95% confidence interval and prevalence of alcohol and drug consumption were analyzed.

For the set of surveyed students, the following were identified: experimenting alcoholic beverages (71.4%; 95%CI 70.8-72.0); regular alcoholic beverage consumption (27.3%; 95%CI 26.7-28.0); drunkenness in lifetime (22.1%; 95%CI 21.6-22.7); family is worried when the student gets home drunk (93.8%; 95%CI 93.3-94.2); problems with alcohol use (9.0%; 95%CI 8.6-9.4); consumption of other drugs (8.7%; 95%CI 8.3-9.1).

The study shows the extension of the alcohol and drugs problem among Brazilian adolescents, with special emphasis on the easy access of students to alcoholic beverages at parties, bars, stores, and at homes.

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Alcoholic beverage consumption among adults: sociodemographic characteristics and trends

To estimate the prevalence of alcohol consumption, identify the associated sociodemographic characteristics in 2006, and evaluate consumption trends from 2006 to 2009
We evaluated 54,369 adults living in the 26 Brazilian state capitals and the Federal District.

Usual consumption was related to drinking at least one dose of alcohol in the past 30 days, and binge consumption meant 5 or more doses for men and 4 or more for women at least once in the past 30 days.

The usual consumers represented 38.1% of the studied population and the binge drinkers were 16.2%; both frequencies were higher among men than women. The variables associated to the usual and abusive alcohol consumption were age, marital status and insertion in the job market for both genders and skin color for women. Schooling was only associated for usual consumers.

The trend of abusive alcohol consumption increased in both genders. Data endorse the need for national public policies aiming to prevent the abusive consumption of alcohol, mainly among the youngest

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Unemployment and Hospitalization Owing to an Alcohol-Related Diagnosis Among Middle-Aged Men in Sweden

Unemployment is associated with alcohol-related morbidity. However, the extent to which the association is causal is unclear, and it is not known whether other risk factors remain uncontrolled for. This study examines the association between unemployment and later alcohol-related hospitalization, adjusted for preexisting alcohol disorders, psychiatric diagnoses, behavioral risk factors, and social factors.

The study was based on a military conscription cohort (men born in 1949 to 1951), with information on psychiatric diagnosis and psychological assessment and from a drug-use survey, which was then linked to national registers. The analyses were performed on data on the 37,798 individuals who were in paid employment in 1990 to 1991.

It was found that short- and long-term unemployment (1 to 89 days and ≥90 days) were associated with hospitalization owing to an alcohol-related diagnosis at 12-year follow-up (HRcrude = 2.25, 95% CI 1.64 to 3.09 and HRcrude = 2.95, 95% CI 2.51 to 3.48, respectively). After adjustment for confounders, the hazard ratios (HRs) decreased but were still significantly elevated (HRadjusted = 1.52, 95% CI 1.10 to 2.10 and HRadjusted = 1.61, 95% CI 1.36 to 1.92, respectively). When follow-up was split into 3 time bands, it was found that the short- and medium-term associations were about the same and independent of unemployment duration, with adjusted HRs ranging between 1.70 and 1.76. No significant long-term associations were found after adjustment.

Unemployment was related to becoming hospitalized owing to an alcohol-related diagnosis. A substantial part of the elevated relative risk of alcohol-related hospitalization related to unemployment was found to be associated with already existing individual risk factors.

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Relationship Between Liver Function and Brain Shrinkage in Patients with Alcohol Dependence

Oxidative stress has been proposed as one of the mechanisms of alcohol-induced brain shrinkage and alcohol-induced hepatotoxicity. The aim of this study was to assess the correlations between liver function and brain volume (BV) measurements in patients with alcohol dependence.

We recruited 124 patients with alcohol dependence and 111 healthy control subjects from National Institute of Health, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism inpatient alcohol treatment program. Gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), as well as hematocrit (Hct) and albumin were assayed shortly after admission. Magnetic resonance imaging examination was conducted in both groups (after 3-week abstinence in the patient group). We used stepwise linear regression analyses to determine the variables most strongly correlated with brain shrinkage.

Patients with alcohol dependence had lower BV, and greater brain shrinkage as measured by gray matter ratio (GMR), white matter ratio (WMR), brain ratio (BR), and higher cerebrospinal fluid ratio ratio (CSFR) compared with their healthy counterparts. Age and sex were significantly correlated with some BV measurements in both patient and control groups. Body mass index (BMI) was significantly correlated with CSFR, BR, GMR, and WMR; Hct with CSFR and BR; serum GGT level with BV, CSFR, BR, GMR, and WMF in the patient group. No biological variables were correlated with BV indices in the control group. In gender-stratified analysis, age was significantly correlated with brain shrinkage in male patients but not in female patients. Serum GGT level in male and female patients, Hct in male patients, and AST levels in female patients were significantly correlated with brain shrinkage.

Our results showed that the higher levels of liver function indices, especially GGT, correlated with BV shrinkage as measured using CSFR, BR, GMR, and WMR in patients with alcohol dependence but not in controls. Serum GGT level outweighed aging effect on brain shrinkage in female patients.

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Low to Moderate Alcohol Intake During Pregnancy and Risk of Psychomotor Deficits

To examine the effects of low to moderate alcohol consumption during pregnancy on child motor function at age 5.

A prospective follow-up study of 685 women and their children sampled from the Danish National Birth Cohort based on maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy. At 5 years of age, the children were tested with the “Movement Assessment Battery for Children” (MABC). Parental education, maternal IQ, prenatal maternal smoking, the child’s age at testing, and gender of child were considered core confounders, while the full model also controlled for prenatal maternal binge drinking episodes, age, maternal prepregnancy body mass index, parity, home environment, postnatal parental smoking, health status, and indicators for hearing and vision impairment.

There were no systematic or significant differences in motor function between children of mothers reporting low to moderate levels of average alcohol consumption during pregnancy and children of mothers who abstained.

In this study, we found no systematic association between low to moderate maternal alcohol intake during pregnancy and child motor function at age 5.

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Using the Drinking Expectancy Questionnaire (revised scoring method) in clinical practice

The Drinking Expectancy Questionnaire (Young & Knight, 1989; Young & Oei, 1996) has been widely used in clinical and research settings over the past 20 years. A revised scoring method with a five-factor structure has been proposed but no norms for this method is available (Lee, Oei, Greeley, & Baglioni, 2003).

The aim of this study is to establish sample means for the five expectancy subscales (Social Confidence; Sexual Interest; Cognitive Enhancement; Tension Reduction; and Negative Consequences) in a sample of adults entering hospital treatment for alcohol dependence (N = 163) and a sample of university undergraduate students (N = 110).

Clinical sample means on the expectancy subscales tended to be substantially higher than the means for the student sample, with the exception of Sexual Interest (which was higher in the students).

Interestingly, the Negative Consequences subscale mean was more than two standard deviations higher in the clinical sample, and was strongly correlated with measures of depression, anxiety and stress. The Negative Consequences scores were strongly associated with drinking risk in the student sample but were not related to drinking measures in the clinical sample.

A ROC analysis established a cut-off on the DEQ total of 107 that distinguished dependent drinkers from student drinkers with high sensitivity and specificity.

The clinical utility of the DEQ in general will be discussed.

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News Release - NIH releases clinician's guide for screening underage drinking

Based on just two questions from a newly released guide, health care professionals could spot children and teenagers at risk for alcohol-related problems. Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention for Youth: A Practitioner’s Guide is now available from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health.

Developed in collaboration with the American Academy of Pediatrics, clinical researchers, and health practitioners, the guide introduces a two-question screening tool and an innovative youth alcohol risk estimator to help clinicians overcome time constraints and other common barriers to youth alcohol screening. > > > > > Read More

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Alcohol Consumption in Early Adulthood and Schooling Completed and Labor Market Outcomes at Midlife by Race and Gender

We assessed the relation of alcohol consumption in young adulthood to problem alcohol consumption 10 years later and to educational attainment and labor market outcomes at midlife. We considered whether these relations differ between Blacks and Whites.

We classified individuals on the basis of their drinking frequency patterns with data from the 1982 to 1984 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 (respondents aged 19–27 years). We assessed alcohol consumption from the 1991 reinterview (respondents aged 26–34 years) and midlife outcomes from the 2006 reinterview (respondents aged 41–49 years).

Black men who consumed 12 or more drinks per week at baseline had lower earnings at midlife, but no corresponding relation for Black women or Whites was found. Black men and Black women who consumed 12 or more drinks per week at baseline had lower occupational attainment than did White male non-drinkers and White female non-drinkers, respectively, but this result was not statistically significant.

The relation between alcohol consumption in young adulthood and important outcomes at midlife differed between Blacks and Whites and between Black men and Black women, although Blacks’ alcohol consumption at baseline was lower on average than was that of Whites.

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MPs hold session on alcohol guidelines evidence base

The Commons Science and Technology Committee holds its first session examining the evidence base relating to guidelines on alcohol consumption and looking at how well the guidelines are communicated to the public.

Wednesday 12 October 2011, Thatcher Room, Portcullis House

At 9.15 am

  • Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, Royal College of Physicians
  • Dr Richard Harding, Member of the 1995 Interdepartmental Working Group on Sensible Drinking
  • Professor Nick Heather, Alcohol Research UK
  • Dr Marsha Morgan, Institute of Alcohol Studies

At 10.15 am

  • Jeremy Beadles, Chief Executive, Wine and Spirit Trade Association
  • Professor Averil Mansfield, British Medical Association
  • Chris Sorek, Chief Executive, Drinkaware > > > > Read More

Vitalsigns - Drinking and Driving: A Threat to Everyone

US adults drank too much and got behind the wheel about 112 million times in 2010. Though episodes of driving after drinking too much ("drinking and driving") have gone down by 30% during the past 5 years, it remains a serious problem in the US. Alcohol-impaired drivers* are involved in about 1 in 3 crash deaths, resulting in nearly 11,000 deaths in 2009. > > > > Read More

Intersection Between Alcohol Abuse and Intimate Partner’s Violence in a Rural Ijaw Community in Bayelsa State, South-South Nigeria

According to the 2008 National Demographic and Health Survey, the south-south zone of Nigeria had the highest prevalence of domestic violence. This study is to find out if this is related to the widespread consumption of alcohol in the region.

The study was carried out in Okoloba, a rural Ijaw community in Bayelsa State, where alcohol is produced and consumed in large quantities; using a cross-sectional study design. The data was collected from married or cohabitating adults aged between 16 and 65 years, with a structured interviewer-administered questionnaire. A total of 346 subjects, comprising 187 males, and 159 females were studied. They had an average age of 41.4 ± 2.5 years, were mostly Christians (91.9%), farmers/fisher folk (52.3%), and had at most primary school education (64.2%).

More than 90% of the subjects took alcohol in the preceding year, while 36% can be classified as alcohol abusers according to their AUDIT score.

More than half (55.8%) were perpetrators of intimate partner violence during the preceding 12 months, with a male-to-female prevalence of 83.4%, and female-to-male prevalence of 23.3%. Out of these, 77.2% were under the influence of alcohol during the act.

The violence was more likely to be perpetrated by male alcohol abusers (p-value < 0.001), but there were no significant differences in the educational levels and religion of the perpetrators (p-value > 0.05).

The study therefore concludes that there is a link between intimate partner abuse and alcohol abuse in the study community.

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Alcohol policy making in Europe

The Alcohol Policy Network in Europe (APN) organized its meeting this year in conjunction with the Medusa Experts Conference (part of Poland’s EU Presidency Program) in Poznan, Poland 10 October 2011.

APN emerged out of 2 EC sponsored Europe wide research Projects Bridging the Gap and Building Capacity. The network has currently some 100 members working in the field of alcohol policy making in governmental offices or in non-governmental agencies throughout Europe.

There was a number of very high quality presentations on current dominant themes such as local community action, pricing and young people with keynotes presented by Sven Adreasson, Ann Hope and Evelyn Gillan.
“Communities can be stimulated to develop alcohol prevention – but most health promotion programs in use have little impact on harm,” said Sven Andreasson, professor of the National Institute of Public Health in Stockholm. “Policies that reduce the availability of alcohol on the other hand are effective but require active advocacy efforts.” > > > > Read More

Reducing the impact of alcohol-related harm to Londoners - how well are we doing?

Seven years on from the publication of the Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy for England, this report reviews progress against the delivery of local frameworks in response to the national strategy.

The intention is to provide both a measure of progress to date and to assess what further work is required to develop a comprehensive, sustainable and eff
ective response to alcohol-related harm.

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Enforcing Alcohol Policies on College Campuses: Reports from College Enforcement Officials

We assessed alcohol enforcement practices at 343 U.S. colleges via surveys of directors of campus law enforcement. We measured types and frequency of enforcement and barriers to enforcement.

We found that 61% of colleges indicated nearly always proactively enforcing alcohol policies, with most frequent enforcement at intercollegiate sporting events and least frequent enforcement at fraternity/sorority events.

half of the enforcement departments work closely with their local law enforcement agency but respondents indicated a greater need for cooperation with local law enforcement.

Halfof the respondents reported no barriers to alcohol enforcement on campus. Large colleges and public colleges tended to report greater enforcement levels.

While many campuses report proactive alcohol enforcement, several areas of improvement in alcohol enforcement at colleges are indicated.

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Are Substance Use Prevention Programs More Effective in Schools Making Adequate Yearly Progress? A Study of Project ALERT

This exploratory study sought to determine if a popular school-based drug prevention program might be effective in schools that are making adequate yearly progress (AYP).

Thirty-four schools with grades 6 through 8 in 11 states were randomly assigned either to receive Project ALERT (
n = 17) or to a control group (n = 17); of these, 10 intervention and nine control schools failed to make AYP. Students completed three self-report surveys. For lifetime cigarette use and 30-day alcohol use,

Project ALERT was more effective in schools that made AYP. However, in these schools, Project ALERT negatively affected students' lifetime marijuana use.

This study provided some preliminary evidence that prevention programming may not work as well in poorer performing schools; however, further exploration is needed.

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Drinking Plans and Drinking Outcomes: Examining Young Adults' Weekend Drinking Behavior

This study examined relationships among drinking intentions, environments, and outcomes in a random sample of 566 undergraduate college students.

Telephone interviews were conducted with respondents before and after a single weekend assessing drinking intentions for the coming weekend related to subsequent drinking behaviors.

Latent class analyses found evidence for four distinct drinking environments distinguished by private/public setting and presence of few/many intoxicated people. There was evidence that the drinking environment mediated the relationship between drinking intentions and heavy episodic drinking in this young adult sample.

Future research might focus on examining person/environment interactions as they relate to heavy episodic drinking.

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Development and Correlates of Alcohol Use from Ages 13-20

This study examined alcohol use development from ages 13-20 years. The sample comprised 256 youth (50.4% female; 51.2% White, 48.8% African American) assessed annually for 6 years.

A cohort-sequential latent growth model was used to model categorical alcohol use (non-use vs. use). Covariates included gender, race, income, parent marital status, risk taking, spiritual beliefs, parent alcohol use, family alcohol problems, family cohesion, friends' alcohol use, and normative peer use.

The alcohol use trajectory increased steadily with age. Risk taking, friends' alcohol use, and normative peer use were positively associated with higher initial rates of alcohol use.

Initial parent alcohol use and positive change in parents' and friends' alcohol use over time were related to an increase in alcohol use from ages 13-20 years.

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Achieving Positive Change in the Drinking Culture of Wales

This report is based upon research that was commissioned by Alcohol Concern Wales. The project was focused upon achieving positive change in the drinking culture in Wales. The major objective was to collate the best available evidence to inform the development of effective alcohol policy.

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Press Release - Alcohol industry ‘responsible drinking’ messages failing to address the real issues

Alcohol industry campaigns to promote ‘responsible drinking’ have little effect, and may even be counterproductive.

That's one of the key findings of a new Alcohol Concern report to be launched on Wednesday 12 October, which has been written by researchers from Glyndwr and Bangor Universities.

Reviewing evidence from across the world, researchers at the two universities concluded that alcohol industry health messages are often ambiguous and lack clarity over safe behaviour with regards to alcohol. Health messages are typically found in the context of adverts that promote drinking as a positive lifestyle choice.

The report's authors point out that drinks industry-supported statements and campaigns typically portray alcohol as a neutral product that only causes problems in the hands of irresponsible consumers, whereas the evidence suggests that alcohol is an intrinsically dangerous substance, and that alcohol marketing and distribution require careful regulation and management. > > > > Read More

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Cost of Alcohol: The Advocacy for a Minimum Price per Unit in the UK

A new Alcohol Insight exploring the public's perceptions and attitudes to a minimum unit price for alcohol has been published by Alcohol Research UK. The insight, The Cost of Alcohol: The Advocacy for a Minimum Price per Unit in the UK, assessed findings from 28 focus groups on their views towards minimum pricing, its possible outcomes, and how its introduction might be made more acceptable. > > > > Read More

Monday, October 10, 2011

Alcohol consumption a risk factor for periodontal disease

Medline, LILACS, SciELO and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL).

The papers were screened independently by two reviewers: disagreements were resolved by a third reviewer. Randomised-controlled trials (RCTs), controlled clinical trials (CCTs), cohort studies, case–control and cross-sectional studies in English were included. Quality was assessed using STROBE methodology (

Quality was assessed using STROBE methodology ( Owing to heterogeneity among studies concerning the methods of assessment of alcohol dependence, alcohol consumption and periodontitis no meta-analysis was performed.

Eleven cross-sectional and five longitudinal observational studies met the inclusion criteria. Seven of the 12 studies on alcohol consumption and all of the four studies on alcohol dependence reported positive associations between alcohol intake and periodontitis. Although smoking was properly addressed in all selected studies, the confounding effect of dental plaque was taken into account in only six studies.

There is evidence to suggest alcohol consumption is a risk indicator for periodontitis. Longitudinal studies on the association of alcohol dependence and alcohol consumption with periodontitis are needed to confirm the association or not.

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A randomized, controlled trial to test the efficacy of an online, parent-based intervention for reducing the risks associated with college-student

Alcohol consumption among college students remains a major public health concern. Universal, Web-based interventions to reduce risks associated with student alcohol consumption have been found to be effective in changing their alcohol-related behavior. Recent studies also indicate that parent-based interventions, delivered in booklet form, are effective.

A parent-based intervention that is also Web-based may be well suited to a dispersed parent population; however, no such tool is currently available.

The purpose of this study was to test the efficacy of an online parent-based intervention designed to (1) increase communication between parents and students about alcohol and (2) reduce risks associated with alcohol use to students.

A total of 558 participants, comprising 279 parent–teen dyads, were enrolled in the study.

The findings suggested that parents who participated in the online intervention were more likely to discuss protective behavioral strategies, particularly those related to manner of drinking and stopping/limiting drinking, with their teens, as compared with parents in an e-newsletter control group.

Moreover, students whose parents received the intervention were more likely to use a range of protective behavioral strategies, particularly those related to manner of drinking and stopping/limiting drinking, as compared with students whose parents did not receive the intervention.

A universal, online, parent-based intervention to reduce risks associated with student alcohol consumption may be an efficient and effective component of a college's overall prevention strategy.

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World Mental Health day raises profile of mental health and related issues

October 10th was World Mental Health Day, the World Health Organization's (WHO) annual focus on mental health issues. This year's theme was "investing in health", highlighting the need for further research, treatment and acceptability of mental health problems. #Worldmentalhealthday was trending on Twitter, with hundreds of people leaving messages and comments.

Alcohol is known to play a significant role in mental health and wellbeing - the Mental Health Foundation say alcohol can both provoke and intensify existing mental health problems and those with mental health problems more at risk of alcohol misuse and vice versa. > > > > Read More

Alcohol News - 41/2011

Helsingin Sanomat (Finland) - Study shows the difficulties of comparing homicide statistics
In Finland homicides are committed by drunks, in Holland by criminals; just 6% of Finland’s homicides relate to criminal activities. (Sweden) - Children of alcoholics more likely to drink
A new study out of Sweden found that children of alcoholics are more likely to drink when they get older.
The Foreigner (Norway) - Scotland looks to Norway alcohol policy
The amount of alcohol drunk in Scotland compared to England and Wales is the highest in 17 years. In an effort to combat the problem, Scotland is now considering the Norwegian model, reports say.
Public Finance (Scotland) - Scotland calls for devolution of alcohol duties
Scottish ministers have set out their case for alcohol excise duty to be devolved, arguing that it would give Holyrood more money to meet the costs of excess alcohol consumption in Scotland.
Reuters - Drunk on Facebook? That could be a problem
College students' Facebook pages might hold clues to which of them are at risk for alcohol dependence and abuse, according to a new study.
Sydney Morning Herald (Australia) - Scipione slams 'drink until you drop' culture
NSW needs to debate the manner in which alcohol is advertised and marketed to ensure children and teenagers are not getting the wrong message about drinking according to the Police Commissioner, Andrew Scipione.
Doctors Lounge (USA) - Alcohol-Impaired Driving Down by 30 Percent in U.S.
U.S. adults drive after drinking "a bit too much" about a third less often than they did in 2006; still, about 1.8 percent of adults (four million people) reported alcohol-impaired driving in 2010, according to a report in the Oct. 4 early-release issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Sacramento Bee (USA) - Are Alcohol Anklets the New Ignition Interlock?
When "Laura's Law" was signed by Governor Bev Perdue in June, North Carolina became the 8th state in the last year to pass progressive DUI legislation that is substantially shifting the focus of DUI laws from penalizing cars to required—and enforced—sobriety for the most dangerous drivers on the road.
BBC News (UK) - Alcohol limits advice 'confusing'
The advice on alcohol limits is too confusing according to Debbie Bannigan, head of the charity Swanswell. She says that 'units' mean nothing to many people - and the guidance should be clearer and easier to remember.
Radio Netherlands (Netherlands) - Alcohol lock for Dutch drink drivers
From 1 December Dutch drivers caught with a blood alcohol content of more than 0.13 percent will have an ignition lock fitted to their cars.
National Institutes of Health (USA) - 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.
Irish Health (Ireland) - Talks on alcohol and mental health
To mark World Mental Health Day, which takes place tomorrow, the College of Psychiatry is hosting two free public events on the relationship between alcohol and mental health.
Reuters (USA) - Local program cuts youth drinking, violence: study
A program that helps communities identify and target health risks in young people led to fewer teens drinking, smoking and being delinquent, according to a new report.
Hurriyet Daily News (Turkey) - Import rules on alcohol amended
Certain imported alcoholic drinks will only enter Turkey through administrative units at specific customs points, according to a new regulation from the food and trade ministries.
The Age (Australia) - Law puts brake on child drinking
A NEW law banning adults from supplying alcohol to children in a private home without their parents' consent will reduce risky drinking when it comes into effect next month, experts say.
Trend News Agency (Kyrgyzstan) - Kyrgyzstan restricts import of soft drinks
The Kyrgyz government has suspended the issuance of permissions to import low-alcohol content drinks, news agency reported.
PR Newswire - Big Alcohol Drunk With Power
Industry watchdog Alcohol Justice, formerly Marin Institute, released a new report today that chronicles an obscene outlay of Big Alcohol dollars to California legislators in 2010.