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

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


Saturday, July 21, 2012

A national service evaluation of the impact of alcohol on admissions to Scottish intensive care units

Alcohol-related disease adversely affects the outcome of critically ill patients. The burden of this in Scotland is higher than elsewhere in the United Kingdom.

In a prospective observational study of all patients admitted to the 24 intensive care units in Scotland we assessed the proportion of
admissions in which alcohol-related disease was implicated.

Of 771 admissions, 642 (83.3%) were unplanned and 196 (25.4%) were related to alcohol. There was a significantly higher proportion of men in the alcohol-related admissions group (140 (71.4%) vs 291 (50.6%), p = 0.009).

This group was also significantly younger with medi
an (IQR [range]) ages of 51 (38–63 [16–89]) vs 63 (48–73 [16–92]) years (p < 0.001).

The alcohol-related group had a significantly longer period of ventilation with a median (IQR [range]) of 2 (1–6 [0–176]) vs 1 (0–4 [0–136]) days (p < 0.005).

Admissions from an area of deprivation were more likely to be related to alcohol.

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Role of Biomarkers in the Treatment of Alcohol Use Disorders, 2012 Revision SAMHSA Advisory, Spring 2012

Discusses the role of alcohol biomarkers in the clinical, medical, and forensic settings and examines strategies for their use and interpretation in varying circumstances such as clinical, criminal justice, and impaired healthcare provider settings.

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Global Actions July 18, 2012

Key Recent Milestones:

· Vietnam: With the National Traffic Safety Committee (NTSC), Global Actions Vietnam held a drink drive capacity building workshop in Da Nang City for traffic safety officials in June.

Global Actions in Focus: Drink Driving Workshops in Chia, Colombia

Global Actions continues progress of drink driving initiatives in Colombia with recent workshops for police officers and transit officials in the city of Chia. In two workshops that took place July 10 and 11, Global Actions addressed important changes to Colombia drink driving laws that took effect on July 5.

“The workshops were designed to provide the latest information on drink drive regulations and build the skills, confidence, and background knowledge of police and transit officials,” said Global Actions Country Manager Mario Alberto Lleras. “We brought Colombian National Transit Expert Dr. Salwa Maria to present the changes and what they mean to drink drive enforcement in Colombia.”

A workshop highlight included a presentation from Universidad de los Andes international expert Dr. Carlos Carvajal, who spoke on “Alcohol Basics and Drink Drive Crash Data.” Practical police training for drink drive detection was presented by New York State Police Sr. Investigator Gary Colon, a 26-year veteran with over 1,000 drink drive arrests. ICAP Consultant Jack Sullivan presented experiences on DWI checkpoint operations from New York’s STOP-DWI Program.

“The event achieved training for 100% of the Chia Transit Police force and a 50% improvement in the background knowledge of alcohol basics and drink drive regulations in Colombia among all participants,” said Lleras.

The Chia Mayor’s Office, the Chia Secretary of Transit and Transport, and ICAP industry sponsor DIAGEO Colombia helped to organize the workshops. Over 100 people attended, including Chia officials and representatives from the Transit Police, Secretary of Education and Tourism, Fire Service, Legal Department, Prosecutors’ Office, Office of Civil Defense, Economic Development, Public Works, Child Protection Services, City Council, National Police, and the Red Cross.

View more photos of the workshops here.

What’s Happening Next:

· Mexico: In collaboration with Aguas con el Alcohol, Global Actions Mexico is holding a “Train the Trainers” workshop from August 27 to 31 in Puebla. The workshop is part of Global Actions drink driving initiative and will train Puebla police and other partners on reducing harmful drinking and how to raise awareness about the dangers of drink driving.

Adolescent Drinking Patterns Across Countries: Associations with Alcohol Policies

Early consumption of full servings of alcohol and early experience of drunkenness have been linked with alcohol-related harmful effects in adolescence, as well as adult health and social problems.

On the basis of secondary analysis of county-level prevalence data, the present study explored the current pattern of drinking and drunkenness among 15- and 16-year-old adolescents in 40 European and North American countries. Data from the 2006 Health Behavior in School Children survey and the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and other Drugs were used. The potential role of alcohol control and policy measures in explaining variance in drinking patterns across countries was also examined. Policy measures and data on adult consumption patterns were taken from the WHO Global Information System on Alcohol and Health, Eurostat and the indicator of alcohol control policy strength dev
Font sizeeloped by Brand DA, Saisana M, Rynn LA et al. [(2007) Comparative analysis of alcohol control policies in 30 countries. PLoS Med 4:e151.].

We found that a non-significant trend existed whereby higher prices and stronger alcohol controls were associated with a lower proportion of weekly drinking but a higher proportion of drunkenness. It is important that future research explores the causal relationships between alcohol policy measures and alcohol consumption patterns to determine whether strict policies do in fact have any beneficial effect on drinking patterns, or rather, lead to rebellion and an increased prevalence of binge drinking.

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Health Select Committe report delivers verdict on Government alcohol strategy

A Health Committee report has given a mixed, if not critical, verdict on the Government's Alcohol Strategy published earlier this year.

Download the 3rd report into the Government's alcohol strategy (pdf), chapter index here and the Commons press release.

Although supportive of some aspects of the strategy, including the headline announcement of minimum pricing, the report is critical of an excessive focus on binge drinking over health issues and the lack of a delivery framework. It also speaks out on alcohol industry denial over alcohol advertising effects. Although not against the principle of the controversial responsibility deal, it warns it should not be a substitute for government policy and should be regarded as standard corporate responsibility, rather than something to be praised for. > > > > Read More

Alcohol Use and Binge Drinking Among Women of Childbearing Age — United States, 2006–2010

Alcohol use during pregnancy is a leading preventable cause of birth defects and developmental disabilities. Alcohol-exposed pregnancies (AEPs) can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome and other fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs), which result in neurodevelopmental deficits and lifelong disability (1). In 2005, the Surgeon General issued an advisory urging women who are pregnant or who might become pregnant to abstain from alcohol use (2). Healthy People 2020 set specific targets for abstinence from alcohol use (MICH-11.1) and binge drinking (MICH-11.2) for pregnant women (3). To estimate the prevalence of any alcohol use and binge drinking in the past 30 days among women aged 18–44 years, CDC analyzed 2006–2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) data. Based on their self-reports, an estimated 51.5% of nonpregnant women used alcohol, as did 7.6% of pregnant women. The prevalence of binge drinking was 15.0% among nonpregnant women and 1.4% among pregnant women. Among pregnant women, the highest prevalence estimates of reported alcohol use were among those who were aged 35–44 years (14.3%), white (8.3%), college graduates (10.0%), or employed (9.6%). Among binge drinkers, the average frequency and intensity of binge episodes were similar, approximately three times per month and six drinks on an occasion, among those who were pregnant and those who were not. Clinical practices that advise women about the dangers associated with drinking while pregnant, coupled with community-level interventions that reduce alcohol-related harms, are necessary to mitigate AEP risk among women of childbearing age and to achieve the Healthy People 2020 objectives. > > > > Read More

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Alcohol Research: Current Reviews

New Look and New Title for NIAAA’s Flagship Publication

In 2010, NIAAA marked a significant milestone, celebrating 40 years of research on alcohol abuse and alcoholism. Throughout this time, NIAAA’s journal has played an important role, raising awareness about topics in alcohol research and ensuring that important findings from the field were disseminated to the widest possible audience.

The journal began under the title Alcohol World. It had a newsy, magazine-type focus and featured topics of particular interest to a lay audience. In the 1980s, the journal’s content was further honed with the advent of a structured peer-review process. The title also was changed to Alcohol Health & Research World to better reflect this research-centered focus. In 1999 that title was further streamlined to Alcohol Research & Health. Each issue of the journal was designed to present a sophisticated review of an important topic from the field of alcohol research. The chief goal was to inform scientists from all disciplines on advances taking place in the alcohol research field.

Now, with 40 years behind us, NIAAA is entering a new era of supporting, guiding, and raising awareness of alcohol research. With this new era comes a new resolve to better serve scientists working in the alcohol research field. We recognize that as the journal’s content has evolved, it has become less of a resource for the lay audience and more a review geared to scientists. Its greatest value has been its succinct and timely reviews on topics of interest to alcohol researchers or those interested in findings from this unique and varied field.

This current issue carries a new title, Alcohol Research: Current Reviews, which speaks directly to the journal’s substance and scope. The basic content and focus will remain the same. We will continue to provide reviews written by leaders in the field, with each issue focusing on one particular topic in alcohol research. In addition, NIAAA will enhance this content by including an introduction in each issue that provides a historical perspective on the topic as well as where this area of research might be headed in the future. Other new sections include a resources department, designed to provide scientists with tools they can tap for additional information.

This issue on genetics provides an excellent opportunity to showcase these changes. The rapid advances in genetics have implications for nearly every area of alcohol research. One of the most exciting aspects has been the increasing availability of comprehensive datasets that researchers can tap to identify genes related to alcohol abuse, understand the influence of the environment, develop effective new drugs that may allow personalized medical approaches to be realized, and much more. This issue’s resources department offers a comprehensive listing of bioinformation databases in use today, as well as the tools available to analyze that data and guidance on how researchers can use this information to advance their own research efforts.

We hope you find these changes to the journal useful and its articles helpful in keeping you abreast of the vast field of alcohol research. For those of you who are researchers, we hope the new resources department will help you tap into a wider network of collaborators and data that will be of use to you. Look for upcoming issues of the journal to address topics such as stress, the burden of disease, and the state of the fast-moving epigenetics field. We are confident that these changes to the journal will help to ensure that Alcohol Research: Current Reviews remains a pre-eminent and trusted resource, chronicling the advances in various fields of alcohol research.

— Kenneth Warren, Ph.D.

In This Issue

Overview: Assessing the Genetic Risk for Alcohol Use Disorders

Genetic factors determine a substantial portion of a person’s risk for alcoholism. Drs. Tatiana Foroud and Tamara J. Phillips summarize some of the approaches that have been used to determine the magnitude of the overall genetic contribution to alcohol dependence in specific populations and identify particular genes involved. Traditional approaches in humans include linkage analyses, case–control studies, and genome-wide association studies. Approaches using animal models of human alcoholism have focused on targeted breeding strategies and the generation of animals in which specific genes are deleted or inactivated. Most recently, investigators are using approaches analyzing the genetic basis of alcoholism at the level of the entire genome, thus moving beyond analyses of the roles of individual genes in the development alcoholism. (pp 266–272)

Identifying Genetic Variation for Alcohol Dependence

Researchers use a wide range of analyses to identify the genes involved in the development of alcoholism and their specific roles in this process. In this article, Drs. Arpana Agrawal and Laura J. Bierut discuss the advantages and limitations of these approaches, explore the role of such genetic studies of alcoholism in the context of other coexisting diseases (e.g., esophageal cancer), and suggest additional steps such as the development of large-scale research consortia, that can help enhance the success of genetic studies and, ultimately, gain new insight into potential treatment approaches. (pp 274–282)

Using Genetically Engineered Animal Models in the Postgenomic Era to Understand Gene Function in Alcoholism

After identifying numerous genetic variations that underlie the complex phenotype of alcoholism, researchers now need to determine how these variations translate into altered biological function. Much of this work involves genetically engineering animal models in which individual genes are deleted or inactivated, if possible, restricting gene alterations to certain tissues or developmental periods, report Drs. Matthew T. Reilly, R. Adron Harris, and Antonio Noronha. Together with high throughput genetic engineering and genome sequencing strategies that draw at least in part on community-wide resources, these strategies hopefully will lead to additional breakthroughs in understanding the genetic basis of alcoholism. (pp 282–291)

Epigenetics—Beyond the Genome in Alcoholism

Processes that modify gene expression without altering the underlying DNA sequence (i.e., epigenetic processes) contribute to a person’s predisposition to alcoholism, report Mr. Bela G. Starkman and Drs. Amul J. Sakharkar and Subhash C. Pandey. For example, these processes modify the proteins with which the DNA binds in the cell, thereby making the DNA more or less accessible to the enzymes that are involved in gene expression. Methylation of the DNA also can interfere with gene expression. The authors describe several examples of how these and other epigenetic mechanisms influence the expression of genes related to alcoholism. (pp 293–305)

Identifying Gene Networks Underlying the Neurobiology of Ethanol and Alcoholism

Although many DNA regions and genes have been identified that may be associated with alcoholism, researchers have not been able to place these genes in any kind of biological context that would explain the underlying functional biology. According to Drs. Aaron R. Wolen and Michael F. Miles, the emerging field of systems biology, which allows for analyses of entire gene networks, may help researchers elucidate the genetic basis of complex traits, such as alcoholism, both in humans and in animal models. The use of high-throughput technologies for molecular profiling enables researchers to identify novel gene–gene interactions and describe gene networks that may shed new light on the processes involved in the development of alcoholism. (pp 306–317)

The Impact of Gene–Environment Interaction on Alcohol Use Disorders

There are three different gene– environment interactions—the additive model, the “fan-shaped” interaction, and the crossover interaction. In this article, Drs. Danielle M. Dick, and Kenneth S. Kendler discuss what is known about gene–environment interactions in the field of alcohol use disorders and the challenges in interpreting these three types of interactions. (pp 318–324)

Bridging Animal and Human Models: Translating From (and to) Animal Genetics

Studying both humans and animal models is necessary to fully understand the neurobiology of alcoholism from the molecular to the cognitive level, including issues such as alcohol withdrawal severity, sensitivity to rewards, impulsivity, and dysregulated alcohol consumption. In this article, Ms. Amanda M. Barkley-Levenson and Dr. John C. Crabbe discuss how the use of animal models, such as rodents, nonhuman primates, and even invertebrates, allows for a degree of genetic and environmental control that would not be possible in human studies. By using these species to recapitulate discrete aspects of alcohol use disorders as they appear in human populations, researchers are able to target the specific biological underpinnings of the disease. (pp 325–335)

Genes Contributing to the Development of Alcoholism: An Overview

A wide range of experimental approaches have been used to identify genes contributing to the development of alcohol dependence. In this article, Dr. Howard J. Edenberg reviews some of these strategies as well as some of the genes that have been implicated in alcoholism risk based on findings from these studies. These include genes encoding enzymes involved in alcohol metabolism, the receptor for the brain signaling molecule (i.e., neurotransmitter) γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA), proteins involved in the circadian rhythm, and proteins involved in immune responses, all of which will be explored in more detail in subsequent articles in this issue. (pp 336–338)

Genes Encoding Enzymes Involved in Ethanol Metabolism

The genes that encode the main enzymes involved in ethanol metabolism, alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH), influence a person’s risk of alcoholism. Both enzymes are encoded by several genes, some of which exist in different variants that influence the rate of ethanol and acetaldehyde metabolism. Drs. Thomas D. Hurley and Howard J. Edenberg describe specific variants in both ADH- and ALDH-encoding genes that alter ethanol metabolism in a way which impacts the drinker’s risk of alcoholism as well as of associated conditions, such as esophageal cancer. (pp 339–344)

Alcohol Dependence and Genes Encoding α2 and γ1 GABAA Receptor Subunits: Insights from Humans and Mice

One group of genes that have been implicated in the risk for alcoholism encompasses genes that encode receptors for the signaling molecule (i.e., neurotransmitter) γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA). According to Drs. Cecilia M. Borghese and R. Adron Harris, considerable evidence points to the GABAA receptor as one of the main targets of alcohol; and DNA variations (i.e., polymorphisms) in the genes encoding this receptor have been linked with alcohol dependence. The authors posit that analysis of the specific gene variants for the GABAA receptor may be a first step in matching alcohol-dependent patients with appropriate pharmacotherapy. (pp 345–353)

Immune Function Genes, Genetics, and the Neurobiology of Addiction

The immune system and those parts of the nervous system that regulate immune responses play a role in the development of addictions, particularly in the context of stressful situations. Both stress and alcohol exposure can activate certain cells of the nervous system, resulting in the induction of genes involved in innate immune responses, particularly inflammatory reactions. According to Dr. Fulton T. Crews, one pivotal component of this process is a regulatory protein called NF-κB, which is regulated by both stress and alcohol. Alcohol-related induction of innate immune genes in certain brain regions can contribute to alcohol’s effects by disrupting the decision-making processes and inducing negative emotions as well as impact alcohol drinking behavior. (pp 355–361)

Circadian Genes, the Stress Axis, and Alcoholism

A bidirectional relationship exists between the body’s internal system controlling the body’s daily rhythm (i.e., the circadian system), with the circadian system influencing alcohol use patterns and alcohol consumption altering circadian functions. Several “clock genes” contribute to the circadian system, whose activities are tightly controlled. In this article, Dr. Dipak K. Sarkar explores why the circadian system is vulnerable to alcohol toxicity and describes the complex interactions between the circadian system, the stress response, and alcohol consumption. For example, alcohol-mediated modulation of clock genes may help modulate the activity of the body’s stress response system, which in turn may increase the propensity to drink alcohol following a stressful event. (pp 362–366)

Discovering Genes Involved in Alcohol Dependence and Other Alcohol Responses: Role of Animal Models

Many genes play a role in the development of alcohol dependence. However, these genes do not explain all the genetic variance associated with alcoholism, and systematic approaches to gene discovery are critical to identify novel genes and mechanisms involved in alcohol dependence. Drs. Kari J. Buck, Lauren C. Milner, Deaunne L. Denmark, Seth G.N. Grant, and Laura B. Kozell describe efforts using animal models for identifying specific alcohol-related traits and that have resulted in the identification of DNA regions, quantitative trait genes (QTGs), and high-quality QTG candidates as well as their plausible mechanisms of action. These animal-derived DNA loci and QTGs may be relevant to alcoholism risk in humans. (pp 367–374)

Download Issue as E-Book and PDFs

Monday, July 16, 2012

Alcohol-induced serotonergic modulation: The role of histone deacetylases

Previous studies have demonstrated that alcohol use disorders (AUDs) are regulated by multiple mechanisms such as neurotransmitters and enzymes. The neurotransmitter, serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) may contribute to alcohol effects and serotonin receptors, including 5-HT3, play an important role in AUDs. Recent studies have also implicated histone deacetylases (HDACs) and acetyltransferases (HATS) in regulation of drug addiction, and HDAC inhibitors (HDACi) have been reported as transcriptional modulators of monoaminergic neurotransmission.

Therefore, we hypothesize that HDACs may play a role in ethanol-induced serotonergic modulation. The effects of ethanol on serotonin and 5-HT3, and the role HDACs, HDAC activity and the HDACi, trichostatin A (TSA), play in alcohol-induced serotonergic effects were studied. Human SK–N–MC and neurons, were treated with ethanol (0.05, 0.1 and 0.2%), and/or TSA (50 nM), and 5-HT3 levels were assessed at 24–72 h. Gene expression was evaluated by qRT-PCR and protein by western blot and flow cytometry. Serotonin release was assessed by ELISA and HDAC activity by fluorometric assay.

Our results show an increase in 5-HT3 gene after ethanol treatment. Further, ethanol significantly increased HDACs 1 and 3 genes accompanied by an increased in HDAC activity while TSA significantly inhibited HDACs.

Studies with TSA show a significant upregulation of ethanol effects on 5-HT3, while surprisingly TSA inhibited ethanol-induced serotonin production. These results suggest that ethanol affects 5-HT3 and serotonin through mechanisms involving HDACs and HATs.

In summary, our studies demonstrate some of the novel properties of HDAC inhibitors and contribute to the understanding of the mechanisms involve in alcohol-serotonergic modulation in the CNS.

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Alcohol News - 29/2012

INAUTONEWS (Sweden) - Autoliv developing automatic in-car breath sensor
Autoliv is developing an alcohol breath sensor that will operate automatically when the driver gets in the car.
The Guardian (UK) - Alcohol packaging should carry graphic health warnings, urge doctors
Bottles of beer, wine and spirits should carry cigarette-style graphic health warnings to make clear that alcohol is linked to cancer, infertility and violence, doctors are urging. - Study: Alcohol is more of a "gateway" drug than marijuana
For generations we have been told that marijuana is the gateway drug to harder drugs, but a new study from the University of Florida contradicts that claim. Researchers believe that the true “gateway drug” is alcohol. - Twitter offers 'age verification' tool to alcohol brands
Twitter users can expect to see more age verification requests now that the site has made its pilot program available for free to any company that with age-restricted content. Twitter has been testing the feature for the past month through select beer company accounts.
The Guardian (South Korea) - South Korea cracks down on alcohol-fuelled violence
South Korean drinkers are being warned not to let their prodigious consumption lead to violence, amid evidence of an epidemic of alcohol-fuelled crime. (UK) - MPs to warn: Alcohol industry in the "last chance saloon"
The alcohol industry is in the "last chance saloon" and should face heavier regulation if it does not take action to discourage dangerous drinking, a report by MPs will warn. (New Zealand) - Kiwis bombarded by alcohol messages
Labour is calling for changes to stop the normalisation of alcohol by sporting and cultural heroes amid an 'explosion' of foetal alcohol syndrome.
Radio New Zealand (New Zealand) - 'Explosion' in foetal alcohol syndrome
The Ministry of Health says talk of a significant increase in the number of children with foetal alcohol syndrome is of real concern.
Irish Times (Ireland) - Majority support minimum price for alcohol
MORE THAN half of Irish men are against a ban on alcohol industry sponsorship of sports events as promised by the Government, a new survey has found. However most adults (58 per cent) support a minimum unit price for alcohol, according to the survey by the Health Research Board released yesterday.
Reuters (Russia) - Fresh blow for Brewers as Russia plans advertising ban
Russia is poised to further tighten rules on alcohol advertising, dealing a fresh blow to Carlsberg and other brewers who have invested heavily in one of the world's fastest-growing markets.
Irish Times (Ireland) - Alcohol and inequality factors in people taking own lives in rural areas
FOR ONE young man, suicide seemed a more natural option than trying to get into college. An older man said he would be better off dead because he was a burden on others.
Times of Malta (Malta) - Alcohol consumption trends and facts
Without wishing to enter into a tit-for-tat argument with Sina Bugeja as chief executive officer of The Foundation for Social Welfare Services, after her letter of July 3, I feel that, given her questioning of our “sources” for the quotes I made in my Talking Point of June 7, it is only fair I give her the facts.
Ynetnews (Israel) - Alcohol advertising on billboards, buses banned
The Knesset Economics Committee has approved regulations that will significantly reduce advertising of alcohol, which come on the heels of a law restricting advertising of alcoholic beverages passed three months ago.
BusinessLIVE (South Africa) - Brewer extends sponsorship, while government mulls alcohol advertising
This deal comes as both the Department of Social Development and Department of Health want to pass legislation that would in effect prohibit the advertising and promotion of alcoholic products.
The Moscow Times (Russia) - Duma Passes Draft of Alcohol Ad Bill
Russia is poised to further tighten rules on alcohol advertising, dealing a fresh blow to Carlsberg and other brewers who have invested heavily in one of the world's fastest-growing markets.
AFP (Chech Republic) - Czech teens, Europe's heaviest underage drinkers
Shaken awake by police on a park bench, a 12-year-old boy from Prague was so drunk he could neither walk nor talk -- grim evidence of an unparalleled alcohol scourge affecting underage Czechs.
Business Day (South Africa) - OPINION: Good case for a total ban on alcohol advertising
The voice of the public health community, which does not have a vested interest in deriving an income from the sale or marketing of alcohol products, has been largely absent in the debate.

News Release - PLCB Awards Grants to Prevent Underage and Dangerous Alcohol Use

Committed to providing financial support toaddress underage and irresponsible alcohol consumption, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, PLCB, today announced it has awarded more than $1 million through the 2012-13 Alcohol
Education Grant Program.

“The PLCB understands the many issues communities face as a result of underage drinking and irresponsible consumption,” said Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board Chairman Joseph E. Brion. “These grant awards allow us to make a positive impact on the health and well-being of Pennsylvania families and their communities.”

The PLCB grants help fund prevention programs focused on underage and college age alcohol consumption and support related law-enforcement activities. Since 1999, the agency has awarded more than $8 million in competitive grants to
hundreds of community groups.
> > > > Read More

Usefulness of Alcohol-screening Instruments in Detecting Problem Drinking among Elderly Male Drinkers

In Korea, few studies have been performed on screening instruments for the detection of at-risk drinking and alcohol use disorders in the elderly. This study evaluated the validity of three screening instruments in elderly male drinkers.

The subjects were 242 Korean men aged ≥ 65 years. Face-to-face interviews were used to identify at-risk drinking and alcohol use disorders. At-risk drinking was defined according to the criteria for heavy or binge drinking of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Alcohol use disorder was diagnosed using the criteria of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV-text revision. The Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (AUDIT), Short Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test-geriatric version (SMAST-G), and cut down, annoyed, guilty, eyeopener (CAGE) questionnaire were used as the alcohol-screening instruments. Based on the diagnostic interview results, sensitivity, specificity, and area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUROC) of the instruments were compared.

For identifi cation of at-risk drinking, the AUDIT AUROC demonstrated greater diagnostic power than did those of SMAST-G and CAGE (both P < 0.001). In screening for alcohol use disorders, the AUDIT AUROC was also signifi cantly higher than those of SMAST-G and CAGE (both P < 0.001). The sensitivity and specifi city of screening for at-risk drinking with an AUDIT score ≥ 7 were 77.3% and 85.1%, respectively, whereas those for the alcohol use disorders with an AUDIT score ≥ 11 were 91.3% and 90.8%, respectively.

The results suggest that the AUDIT is the most effective tool in identifying problem drinkers among elderly male drinkers.

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Self-harm, Substance Use and Psychological Distress in the Australian General Population

To examine predictors of self-harm, especially substance use and psychological distress, in an Australian adult general population sample.

Sequential-cohort design with follow-up every four years.

Australian general population.

A random sample of adults aged 20-24 and 40-44 years (at baseline) living in and around the Australian Capital Territory.

Self-report survey including items on four common forms of self-harm. Psychological distress was indexed by the combined Goldberg Anxiety and Depression scale scores and alcohol problems by the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT).

4,160 people (84% of baseline) were re-interviewed at eight years: 4126 reported their self-harm status. Past year self-harm was reported by 8.2% (95% CI 7.4-9.0%) of participants (males: 9.3% (8.0-10.6%), females: 7.3% (6.2-8.4%)). Several forms of substance use – smoking (odds ratio = 1.52), marijuana use (odds ratio = 1.77), and drinking alcohol at a level likely to cause dependence (AUDIT score > 20) (odds ratio = 2.08) – were independently predictive of past year self-harm. Additional key risk factors for self-harm in the past year were childhood sexual abuse by a parent (odds ratio = 3.07), bisexual orientation (odds ratio = 2.65), younger age (odds ratio = 2.23) and male gender (odds ratio = 1.86). Other independent predictors were years of education, adverse life events, psychological distress and financial strain.

Self-harm in young and middle-aged adults appears to be associated with current smoking, marijuana and “dependent” alcohol use. Other independent predictors include younger age, male gender, bisexual orientation, financial strain, education level, psychological distress, adverse life events and sexual abuse by a parent.

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Intergenerational influences on early alcohol use: Independence from the problem behavior pathway

Conduct problems are a general risk factor for adolescent alcohol use. However, their role in relation to alcohol-specific risk pathways of intergenerational transmission of alcohol use is not well understood. Further, the roles of alcohol-specific contextual influences on children's early alcohol use have been little examined.

In a 20-year prospective, multimethod study of 83 fathers and their 125 children, we considered the predictors of child alcohol use by age 13 years. The predictors included fathers' adolescent antisocial behavior and alcohol use, both parents' adult alcohol use, norms about and encouragement of child use, parental monitoring, child-reported exposure to intoxicated adults, and parent-reported child externalizing behaviors.

Path models supported an association between fathers' adolescent alcohol use and children's use (β = 0.17) that was not better explained by concurrent indicators of fathers' and children's general problem behavior.

Fathers' and mothers' adult alcohol use uniquely predicted child use, and exposure to intoxicated adults partially mediated the latter path. Other family risk mechanisms were not supported.

However, parental alcohol use and child alcohol use were linked in expected ways with family contextual conditions known to set the stage for alcohol use problems later in adolescence.

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Risk preference following adolescent alcohol use is associated with corrupted encoding of costs but not rewards by mesolimbic dopamine

Several emerging theories of addiction have described how abused substances exploit vulnerabilities in decision-making processes. These vulnerabilities have been proposed to result from pharmacologically corrupted neural mechanisms of normal brain valuation systems.

High alcohol intake in rats during adolescence has been shown to increase risk preference, leading to suboptimal performance on a decision-making task when tested in adulthood. Understanding how alcohol use corrupts decision making in this way has significant clinical implications. However, the underlying mechanism by which alcohol use increases risk preference remains unclear.

To address this central issue, we assessed dopamine neurotransmission with fast-scan cyclic voltammetry during reward valuation and risk-based decision making in rats with and without a history of adolescent alcohol intake. We specifically targeted the mesolimbic dopamine system, the site of action for virtually all abused substances. This system, which continuously develops during the adolescent period, is central to both reward processing and risk-based decision making.

We report that a history of adolescent alcohol use alters dopamine signaling to risk but not to reward. Thus, a corruption of cost encoding suggests that adolescent alcohol use leads to long-term changes in decision making by altering the valuation of risk.

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Sunday, July 15, 2012

A comparison of Val81Met and other polymorphisms of alcohol metabolising genes in patients and controls in Northern Spain

The aim of this paper is to study polymorphism in the TH, ADH1B, ADH1C, ALDH2 and CYP2E1 genes so as to ascertain whether it is associated with excessive consumption of alcohol.

The SNPs rs6356 of
TH, rs1229984, rs2066702 of ADH1B; rs698, rs1693482 of ADH1C; rs671 of ALDH2; rs72559710, rs55897648, rs6413419, rs3813867, rs2031920, rs6413432 of CYP2E1 were studied in a sample of 172 high-level patients and 150 fully non-drinkers controls. Genotyping was performed using Rt-PCR with Taqman probes.

SNPs located at
ALDH2 and CYP2E1 showed no heterozygosity. Frequency distribution showed significant differences between the two groups studied for loci TH and ADH1B.

The genotype
Val/Val of TH locus increased in risk 1.988 times (95% CI: 1.006–3.930) that the subjects carrying the genotype Met/Met; and the genotype ADH1B*1/*1 of ADH1B locus increased in risk 3.811 times (CI: 1.660–8.749) that the subjects carrying the genotype ADH1B*1/*2.

Val and ADH1B*1 may therefore increase the risk of the onset and development of this illness.

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Increased amplitude of P3 event-related potential in young binge drinkers

The aim of the present study was to determine how binge drinking (BD) affects brain functioning in male and female university students during the performance of a visual discrimination task.

Thirty two binge drinkers and 53 controls (non binge drinkers), with no history of other drug use, personal or family history of alcoholism or psychopathological disorders, were selected. Event-related potentials (ERPs) were recorded during the performance of a visual oddball task. The latency and amplitude of the N2 and P3b components of the ERPs were analyzed.

There were no differences between the groups in behavioral measures, but P3b amplitudes were significantly larger in binge drinkers than controls.

This may suggest the presence of anomalies in neural processes mediating attention processing, or an imbalance (increased) of neuronal activity in P3b generators caused by the presence of BD pattern for a long time.

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Wine, Beer, Alcohol and Polyphenols on Cardiovascular Disease and Cancer

: Since ancient times, people have attributed a variety of health benefits to moderate consumption of fermented beverages such as wine and beer, often without any scientific basis.

There is evidence that excessive or binge alcohol consumption is associated with increased morbidity and mortality, as well as with work related and traffic accidents.

On the contrary, at the moment, several epidemiological studies have suggested that moderate consumption of alcohol reduces overall mortality, mainly from coronary diseases. However, there are discrepancies regarding the specific effects of different types of beverages (wine, beer and spirits) on the cardiovascular system and cancer, and also whether the possible protective effects of alcoholic beverages are due to their alcoholic content (ethanol) or to their non-alcoholic components (mainly polyphenols).

Epidemiological and clinical studies have pointed out that regular and moderate wine consumption (one to two glasses a day) is associated with decreased incidence of cardiovascular disease (CVD), hypertension, diabetes, and certain types of cancer, including colon, basal cell, ovarian, and prostate carcinoma.

Moderate beer consumption has also been associated with these effects, but to a lesser degree, probably because of beer’s lower phenolic content.

These health benefits have mainly been attributed to an increase in antioxidant capacity, changes in lipid profiles, and the anti-inflammatory effects produced by these alcoholic beverages.

This review summarizes the main protective effects on the cardiovascular system and cancer resulting from moderate wine and beer intake due mainly to their common components, alcohol and polyphenols.

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Changes in adolescents mental health and use of alcohol and tobacco: a 10-year time-trend study of Finnish adolescents

The present study examines the 10-year time-trend changes of adolescent psychiatric symptoms, smoking and alcohol use. Representative population-based samples with same methods at two time-points, same age range and with 10-year period between the time points were gathered in Finland to investigate secular changes in adolescents’ emotional and behavioral problems.

Seventh and ninth grade students filled in the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) and questions regarding alcohol use and smoking anonymously during a school lesson in 1998 (n = 1458) and 2008 (n = 1569). The self-reports of SDQ showed substantial stability in emotional and behavioral problems from 1998 to 2008.

There was no increase between the two timepoints in self-reports of SDQ total, conduct, hyperactivity, emotional or peer problems when using the 90th percentile clinical cut-off points. However, there was a trend showing decreasing prosocial behavior among girls indicating that proportions of adolescent boys and girls having problems in prosocial behavior have converged,

The self-reported alcohol use, drunkenness and cigarette smoking decreased within the 10-year time period. Of alcohol use, the number of non-users increased from 44 to 63 % between the years 1998 and 2008. Similarly, the proportion of non-smokers increased from 56 to 68 %.

Although rates of substance use declined within the 10-year study period, drunkenness-oriented alcohol use and regular smoking are still prevalent among Finnish adolescents.

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Alcohol tax, consumption and mortality in tsarist Russia: is a public health perspective applicable?

The public health perspective on alcohol comprises two main tenets: (i) population drinking impacts on alcohol-related harm and (ii) population drinking is affected by the physical and economic availability of alcohol, where alcohol taxes are the most efficient measure for regulating consumption. This perspective has received considerable empirical support from analyses of contemporary data mainly from Europe and North America. However, as yet, it has been little examined in a historical context. The aims of the present article are to use data from tsarist Russia to explore (i) the relation between changes in the tax on alcohol and per capita alcohol consumption and (ii) the relation between per capita alcohol consumption and alcohol mortality.

The material comprised annual data on alcohol taxes, alcohol consumption and alcohol mortality. The tax and alcohol consumption series spanned the period 1864–1907 and the mortality data covered the period 1870–94. The data were analysed by estimating autoregressive integrated moving average models on differenced data.

Changes in alcohol taxes were significantly associated with alcohol consumption in the expected direction. Increases in alcohol consumption, in turn, were significantly related to increases in alcohol mortality.

This study provides support for the utility of the public health perspective on alcohol in explaining pchanges in consumption and alcohol-related harm in a historical context. We discuss our findings from tsarist Russia in the light of experiences from more recent alcohol policy changes in Russia.

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Testing multiple levels of influence in the intergenerational transmission of alcohol disorders from a developmental perspective: The example of alcoh

This study examined the interplay between the influence of peers who promote alcohol use and μ-opioid receptor M1 (OPRM1) genetic variation in the intergenerational transmission of alcohol use disorder (AUD) symptoms while separating the “traitlike” components of AUD symptoms from their age-specific manifestations at three ages from emerging adulthood (17–23 years) to adulthood (29–40 years).

The results for males were consistent with genetically influenced peer selection mechanisms as mediators of parent alcoholism effects. Male children of alcoholics were less likely to be carriers of the G allele in single nucleotide polymorphism A118G (
rs1799971), and those who were homozygous for the A allele were more likely to affiliate with alcohol use promoting peers who increased the risk for AUD symptoms at all ages.

There was evidence for women of an interaction between
OPRM1 variation and peer affiliations but only at the earliest age band. Peer influences had stronger effects among women who were G-carriers.

These results illustrate the complex ways in which the interplay between influences at multiple levels of analysis can underlie the intergenerational transmission of alcohol disorders as well as the importance of considering age and gender differences in these pathways.

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The Moderating Effect of Alcohol-Specific Parental Rule-Setting on the Relation between the Dopamine D2 Receptor Gene (DRD2), the Mu-Opioid Receptor

The main aim of the study was to test the moderating effect of two genetic polymorphisms, one in the dopamine D2 receptor gene (DRD2) and one in the mu-opioid receptor gene (OPRM1), on the link between parental rule-setting and adolescent alcohol use.

A total of 214 adolescents (Mage = 13.7, 44.9% male) provided saliva samples and completed survey items describing alcohol use and parental rule-setting.

Findings indicated that alcohol-specific parental rule-setting was more robustly associated with alcohol use for adolescents with the DRD2 A1 risk allele and for those with the OPRM1 G-allele.

This study replicates the interaction between parental rule-setting and the DRD2 risk allele on adolescent alcohol use and extends the literature by demonstrating the moderating effects of the OPRM1 risk allele on the link between parental rule-setting and adolescent alcohol use.

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Alteration of Glutamate/GABA Balance During Acute Alcohol Withdrawal in Emergency Department: A Prospective Analysis

The physiopathology of alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS) is poorly understood. Animal studies suggest an alteration in the balance of neurotransmitters gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glutamate. The aim of this study was to obtain a better knowledge of the physiopathology of AWS, which could open new therapeutic approaches.

To compare the plasma levels of glutamate, GABA and glutamate/GABA ratio in alcoholic patients presenting with complicated AWS with the same values in non-alcohol abuser/dependent controls and to determine prognostic factors for severe withdrawal.

Eighty-eight patients admitted to the emergency room for acute alcohol intoxication (DSM-IV) were prospectively included. Measurements of GABA and glutamate were performed on admission (Time 1, T1) and after 12 ± 2 h (T2). The experimental group (EG) was composed of 23 patients who presented at T2 with a severe AWS. The control group (CG) consisted of healthy subjects paired with the EG (gender and age). Logistic regression was performed in order to compare associated clinical and biological variables that could predict severe withdrawal.

The concentration of GABA in the EG at T1 was significantly lower than that in the CG. The concentration of glutamate in the EG at T1 was significantly higher than that in the CG. The glutamate/GABA ratio in the EG at T1 was significantly higher than the ratio in the CG. With a multivariate logistic regression model, glutamate level at admission remained the only criterion identified as a predictor of AWS at 12 h.

The decreased synthesis of GABA and increased synthesis of glutamate might be related to withdrawal symptoms experienced on brutal cessation of chronic alcohol intake.

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Electroacupuncture Decreases Excessive Alcohol Consumption Involving Reduction of FosB/ΔFosB Levels in Reward-Related Brain Regions

New therapies are needed for alcohol abuse, a major public health problem in the U.S. and worldwide. There are only three FDA-approved drugs for treatment of alcohol abuse (naltrexone, acamprosate and disulfuram). On average these drugs yield only moderate success in reducing long-term alcohol consumption.

Electroacupuncture has been shown to alleviate various drugs of abuse, including alcohol. Although previous studies have shown that electroacupuncture reduced alcohol consumption, the underlying mechanisms have not been fully elucidated. ΔFosB and FosB are members of the Fos family of transcription factors implicated in neural plasticity in drug addiction; a connection between electroacupuncture's treatment of alcohol abuse and the Fos family has not been established.

In this study, we trained rats to drink large quantities of ethanol in a modified intermittent access two-bottle choice drinking procedure. When rats achieved a stable baseline of ethanol consumption, electroacupuncture (100 Hz or 2 Hz, 30 min each day) was administered at Zusanli (ST36) for 6 consecutive days. The level of FosB/ΔFosB in reward-related brain regions was assessed by immunohistochemistry.

We found that the intake of and preference for ethanol in rats under 100 Hz, but not 2 Hz electroacupuncture regiment were sharply reduced. The reduction was maintained for at least 72 hours after the termination of electroacupuncture treatment.

Conversely, 100 Hz electroacupuncture did not alter the intake of and preference for the natural rewarding agent sucrose.

Additionally, FosB/ΔFosB levels in the prefrontal cortex, striatal region and the posterior region of ventral tegmental area were increased following excessive ethanol consumption, but were reduced after six-day 100 Hz electroacupuncture.

Thus, this study demonstrates that six-day 100 Hz electroacupuncture treatment effectively reduces ethanol consumption and preference in rats that chronically drink excessive amount of ethanol. This effect of electroacupuncture may be mediated by down-regulation of FosB/ΔFosB in reward-related brain regions.

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FASD News 28/2012

News and articles
The Seattle Times (Denmark) - Danish study doesn't change the answer: Don't drink while pregnant
A Danish study suggests a few drinks per week during pregnancy has no effect on children's intelligence or activity levels. Two University of Washington professors looked at the study and conclude what most research shows; It is not safe to drink during pregnancy. (Canada) - Foster parent says more FASD supports needed
A foster mother in Thunder Bay says the community desperately needs more services for people suffering from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
Calgary Herald (Canada) - 365 babies born with FASD in Alberta each year
For every day of the year, there's an Alberta baby born brain-damaged because his or her mother drank while pregnant.
Herald Review (Denmark) - Danish study gives women mixed message
The Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (MOFAS) is concerned that the recent research study from Denmark gives women a mixed a message.
Ninemsn (Australia) - Graphic warnings could fight alcohol abuse
"Demon drink" is the new health battle-ground, with higher taxes, drinking ages and graphic warnings similar to those on tobacco products touted as ways to fight alcohol-related birth defects and other issues.
ABC Online (Australia) - More education urged on pregnancy drinking risks
The chairman of a committee investigating foetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) says too many people are unaware of the risks and consequences associated with drinking alcohol while pregnant.
Marketwire (Canada) - Government of Canada Announces Funding for Development of A Substance Abuse Program for Young Offenders in British Columbia
Kerry-Lynne Findlay, Member of Parliament for Delta-Richmond East and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice on behalf of the Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M. P. for Niagara Falls, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, today announced funding to the McCreary Centre Society for the development of effective substance abuse treatment program for young offenders with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and associated cognitive impairments in British Columbia.
Courier Mail (Australia) - Alcohol's damage to fetus won't go away
LAST week my little boy brought a sheet home from school titled, "No Excuse Spelling Words - Year Two". Here were 36 words that children, who had spent the past 21/2 years in school, should be able to spell.
McClatchy Washington Bureau (USA) – Should fetal alcohol syndrome spare death row inmates?
A mother's failures are etched on Mark Anthony Soliz's face. It's the damaged face of a child whose mother drank heavily, sniffed paint and used drugs while pregnant, the face of a youth who was largely abandoned.
TopNews Arab Emirates - Foetal Alcohol Syndrome Haunts Children’s Development
There is no doubt that women during pregnancy must avoid drinking alcohol, a recent report showed what kind of affects it can have on such kids.
Science Daily - Pregnant Women Should Avoid Alcohol During Pregnancy, Experts Say
Experts at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine disagree with a series of new studies from Denmark that suggest consumption of up to 8 alcoholic drinks a week or occasional binge drinking during pregnancy is generally safe for the developing baby. - Daily drinking in pregnancy 'not safe'
“Pregnant women can binge drink safely,” according to a report in today’s Metro. Expectant mothers should be able to “down up to 12 alcoholic beverages a week knowing it will have no ill effect on their offspring before the age of five”, the paper continued.
University of Washington - Response to Danish Study
A new Danish study on alcohol and pregnancy reports that drinking up to 8 alcoholic drinks per week during pregnancy has no effect on children’s intelligence or activity levels. But this goes against everything we have heard about the dangers of drinking during pregnancy.
Youtube - Alcohol.Think Again: No alcohol during pregnancy is the safest choice
MJA - Aboriginal women, alcohol and the road to fetal alcohol spectrum disorder
As I have reported earlier,1 I believe that the historical and political background and the cultural aspects of drinking have been insufficiently considered. There is an entrenched expectation of Aboriginal community members that to drink is an expression of identity and culture.
Alcohol - Effects of exposure to moderate levels of ethanol during prenatal brain development on dendritic length, branching, and spine density in the nucleus accumbens and dorsal striatum of adult rats
These findings suggest that exposure to moderate levels of ethanol in utero can have profound effects on brain regions related to reward processing and provide possible clues relevant to understanding increased self-administration of drugs of abuse in animals exposed to ethanol during brain development.
APS - Vascular Effects of Maternal Alcohol Consumption
Maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy is a significant field of scientific exploration primarily because of its negative effects on the developing fetus which is specifically defined as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD).
Froentiers - Role of non-coding RNAs in the neuroadaptation to alcoholism and fetal alcohol exposure
The control of gene expression is a fundamental process in all of biology. Understanding the mechanisms by which genes are turned off and on in a temporally and spatially mediated fashion, represents an area where major scientific advances are likely to occur in the next decade.
Kreisbote (Germany) - Fetale Alkoholspektrumsstörung FASD bei Kindern - Vortrag bei den Gesundheitstagen in Fürstenfeld
„Ca. 10.000 Kinder werden in Deutschland mit FASD geboren, das sind etwa 1,5% der Geburten“, erzählt Veerle Moubax. „Nur die wenigsten werden später ein selbständiges, erfülltes Leben führen können“.

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