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, September 14, 2007

SAMHSA Awards $39 Million for 15 Addiction Technology Transfer Centers

September 14, 2007

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration today announced the award of $39 million over five years to fund 15 Addiction Technology Transfer Centers.

The ATTCs support the workforce that provides addictions treatment services to the 3.9 million Americans age 12 and older who received treatment for alcohol or illicit drug problems in the past year (National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2005).
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Brown University, Providence, R.I.
New England ATTC (serving ME, NH, VT, MA, CT, RI)

Danya Institute Inc., Silver Spring, Md.
Central East ATTC (serving DE, DC, MD, NJ)
Florida Certification Board, Tallahassee, Fla.
Southern Coast ATTC (serving FL, AL, MS)
Institute for Research, Education, and Training in Addictions, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Northeast ATTC (serving NY, PA)
Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta, Ga.
Southeast ATTC (serving GA, NC, SC)
Oregon Health and Sciences University, Portland, Ore.
Northwest Frontier ATTC (serving AK, WA, OR, HI, Pacific Islands)
Regents of the University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, Calif.
Pacific Southwest ATTC (serving CA, AZ)

Universidad Central del Caribe, Bayamon, Puerto Rico
Caribbean Basin and Hispanic ATTC (serving Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands)

University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Ill.
Great Lakes ATTC (serving IL, OH, IN, MI)
University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa
Prairielands ATTC (IA, MN, ND, SD, WI)
Curators, University of Missouri, Kansas City, Kansas City, Mo.
Mid-America ATTC (serving AR, KS, MO, OK, NE)
Curators, University of Missouri, Kansas City, Kansas City, Mo.
ATTC National Coordinating Center
University of Nevada, Reno, Reno, Nev.
Mountain West ATTC (serving NV, MT, WY, UT, CO, ID)
University of Texas, Austin, Austin, Texas
Gulf Coast ATTC (serving TX, LA, NM)


Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Va.
Mid-Atlantic ATTC (serving VA, WV, KY, TN)

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Addiction 102 (10), 1586–1587.

If nothing positive could be said about alcohol, life would be much easier for health educators, physicians and public health officers. Their messages are undermined by findings about the protective effects of moderate alcohol consumption.

The credibility of these findings is therefore of considerable practical interest. As usual in epidemiological research, scientists try to eliminate bias, confounding and measurement error as much as possible. Nevertheless, the protective effect of alcohol on coronary heart disease incidence and all-cause mortality has remained. All but one meta-analysis agree on this point. The deviant one found no protection, but was shown to have errors in the selection of studies and interpretation of findings .

A new input to the body of available evidence on the protective effect is published in this issue.
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Alcohol consumption and cardiovascular mortality accounting for possible misclassification of intake: 11-year follow-up of the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study
Addiction 102 (10), 1574–1585.

To investigate the relationship between usual daily alcohol intake, beverage type and drinking frequency on cardiovascular (CVD) and coronary heart disease (CHD) mortality, accounting for systematic misclassification of intake.

Usual daily alcohol intake was associated with reduced CVD and CHD mortality for women but not men. This benefit appeared to be mainly from wine, although comparison of beverages was not possible. Drinking frequency was associated inversely with CVD and CHD death for men but not women.

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Randomized sanctions to reduce re-offense among repeat impaired-driving offenders
Addiction 102 (10), 1618–1625.

This study, conducted within a driving under the influence (DUI) court intervention, evaluated the degree to which removing electronic monitoring (EM) and/or mandatory vehicle sales requirements increased rates of post-sentence traffic violations among repeat DUI offenders.

Although some of the findings suggest that mandatory vehicle sales may deter future traffic violations, inconsistent results across groups make this finding equivocal. Positive effects of EM, while large in the short term, appear to have a relatively small long-term value in reducing traffic arrest rates.

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The sociodemographic patterning of drinking and binge drinking in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Finland, 1994-2002
BMC Public Health 2007, 7:241

Despite the relatively low recorded alcohol consumption level, the Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) and neighbouring Finland suffer from similar harmful consequences related to the use of alcoholic beverages, including socio-economic inequalities in alcohol related mortality. Comparative evidence is needed to understand harmful drinking patterns and to implement preventive alcohol policies also in the Baltic countries.

This study compared heavy and binge drinking by sex, age, education, urbanisation and marital status in the Baltic countries and Finland.

Heavy drinking was more common among younger participants in all countries, and in Latvia among the less-educated. Among Finnish men, and among women from all countries except Latvia, the better-educated were more often heavy drinkers. In Latvia and Finland, urban men, and in all countries, urban women, were more often heavy drinkers. Heavy drinking was more common among non-married Lithuanian and Finnish men, and Finnish women. Binge drinking was more common among less-educated Estonian and Latvian men, and among younger and less-educated women in all countries.

Our results support the continued power of traditional drinking habits in the North Eastern part of Europe. In the future the target groups for prevention of excessive drinking should also include young and less-educated women in all four countries studied.

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Does progressive stage transition mean getting better? A test of the Transtheoretical Model in alcoholism recovery
Addiction 102 (10), 1588–1596.

To test two central assumptions of stage movement in the Transtheoretical Model (TTM) vis-à-vis alcoholism recovery: (assumption 1) individuals making a forward transition to the action-oriented stages (i.e. preparation/action) will manifest relatively greater drinking improvements than their counterparts remaining in the pre-action stages (i.e. pre-contemplation, contemplation); and (assumption 2) individuals remaining in the pre-action stages across time will not demonstrate clinically relevant improvement in drinking outcomes.

Six of the eight tests of assumptions 1 and 2 failed to support the basic tenets of the TTM. Our study demonstrated that individuals making a progressive stage transition to the action-oriented stages (i.e. preparation/action) do not necessarily manifest greater improvements in drinking-related behavior than individuals remaining in the pre-action stages (i.e. pre-contemplation, contemplation), and that individuals remaining in the pre-action stages over time actually do manifest statistically significant and clinically important improvements in drinking-related behavior.

Our findings challenge not only the criterion validity associated with stage movement in the TTM account of alcoholism recovery, but also recent TTM-based substance abuse treatment approaches which systematically promote forward stage transition as a primary clinical goal and marker of therapeutic success.

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Classes take on ads for alcohol
Project aimed at middle schoolers

Sepyember 13, 2007
Mandy Locke and J. Peder Zane, Staff Writers
As a lawyer, Mary Easley squared off with bad guys she sent to jail. As North Carolina's first lady, she is picking a fight with Captain Morgan and a buxom robot with a keg of Heineken stashed in her chest.

Easley intends to keep young people from drinking by pummeling the alcohol icons with straight talk. In a program she announced Wednesday, North Carolina teachers will tell middle schoolers that beer brewers are lying to them.
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Reducing inequalities in health outcomes - seminar with the Rt Hon Alan Johnson MP

Wednesday 12th September 2007.
Toynbee Hall, London E1.

Guest speaker The Rt Hon Alan Johnson MP, Secretary of State for Health

This event formed part of The New Health Network health inequalities project, launched in 2006, which explores the role that all health services play in reducing inequalities in health outcomes.

The meeting gave senior NHS clinicians, managers and others the opportunity to hear from the new Secretary of State for Health about his ideas on tackling health inequalities, and for participants to put their questions and comments to the meeting.

Excerpt on alcohol

". . . . . Alcohol is a more complex issue than tobacco. In moderation, it enriches our culture and enhances our life. But alcohol misuse is a menace to society and communities. Although there has been a reduction in recent years, the long term trend shows a dramatic increase in alcohol consumption, alcohol related illness and alcohol related deaths.

In 1960, the French drank nearly three times as much alcohol as us. Today, we drink more than them.

Every man dying from alcohol related causes loses an average 21 years from his life and a women loses 15 years.

Alcohol misuse leads to a number of chronic conditions, including coronary heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer; it places a massive burden on GPs and local hospitals; and it is also a prime trigger of crime, disorder and violence in our communities.

Nowhere does alcohol have a more destructive effect than in deprived communities, which suffer three times the number of alcohol related deaths and hospital admissions.

We have a new alcohol strategy in place, but over the next few months, I want to look at whether we this can do more to tackle inequalities in alcohol consumption and harm. We will double our spend on alcohol campaigns next year, and I will make it a priority to ensure that this campaign specifically targets hard to reach deprived areas."
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News Release - SAMHSA Awards $2.75 Million to the State of South Dakota to Improve Service Delivery for Co-Occurring Disorders

September 13, 2007

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) today announced the award of $550,000 each year over five years, subject to availability of appropriations, to enable the state of South Dakota to increase its ability to provide accessible, effective, comprehensive, integrated treatment services to people with co-occurring substance abuse and mental disorders, and their families.
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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Concurrent Validity of the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT)
Alcohol and Alcoholism Advance Access published online on September 11, 2007

To determine cut-offs for the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) 10-item questionnaire, differentiating hazardous drinking (HZD) and alcohol use disorders (AUD) from low risk drinking (LRD), and AUD from HZD and LRD among married men in a Sri Lankan sample.

The area under the ROC curves to differentiate HZD + AUD from LRD and AUD from HZD + LRD were 0.96 and 0.97 respectively. The cut-off values of 7 and 16 were observed to have the best trade-offs between sensitivity, specificity, the ratio of positive likelihood to negative likelihood ratios, and positive predictive values.

The AUDIT could be used to screen for LRD, HZD, and AUD among Sinhalese married men in Sri Lanka.

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Alcohol Relapse Induced by Discrete Cues Activates Components of AP-1 Transcription Factor and ERK Pathway in the Rat Basolateral and Central Amygdala
advance online publication 12 September 2007

Alcohol-related cues may induce relapse to heavy alcohol drinking and promote molecular adaptations in discrete brain regions. An exact nature of these molecular alterations is still unknown.

In the present study, rats trained to self-administer ethanol were tested for cue-induced reinstatement of ethanol seeking after 30 days of abstinence.

Next, a detailed immunocytochemical analysis of c-Fos activation was performed within seven nuclei of the amygdala. In the second experiment, c-Fos activation after reinstatement of ethanol seeking induced by discrete cues was compared with the activation pattern of its putative partner (c-Jun) and regulators (extracellular signal-regulated kinases and c-Jun N-terminal kinases). Reexposure to ethanol-associated context cues (an extinction session) potentiated c-Fos expression within the basolateral and central amygdala.

Repeated presentation of ethanol-associated discrete cues in an extinction/reinstatement session led to even stronger c-Fos activation in the latter nuclei. In the second experiment, reexposure to the ethanol-associated context and discrete cues activated both c-Jun and extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK1/2) in the basolateral amygdala.

Our observations suggest that the basolateral and central amygdala may be specifically involved in alcohol-seeking behavior induced by discrete cues.

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SAMHSA Announces First Science and Service Award Winners

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has selected 20 organizations to receive the agency’s inaugural Science and Service Awards. These awards recognize exemplary implementation of evidence-based interventions to prevent and treat mental illnesses and substance abuse.

The new annual awards program provides recognition to public sector organizations and community-based groups and coalitions that have worked to improve their communities and the lives of individuals by providing the best services possible.

Press Release -
New Trustee Judge Rogelio Flores Sees A.A. as A Beacon of Hope for Alcoholic Offenders

For Immediate Release

September 11, 2007 - The Hon. Rogelio R. Flores, L.L.D., J.D., a Superior Court judge in Santa Barbara, Calif., has been elected a Class A (nonalcoholic) trustee of the General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous. “For several years now,” he says, “courts throughout the country have relied on a unique collaboration with A.A. to help individuals free themselves from the chains of the fatal disease of alcoholism. Some estimate that more than 80 percent of the 2 million prisoners in the United States are either alcoholics or were raised by alcoholic families. Like what came first, the chicken or the egg, what made them the way they are is often uncertain. But what is clear is that A.A. shines a light on the path to sobriety—and helps them to find freedom from fear and hopelessness in a whole new way of living.”
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News Release - DailyStrength Supports National Drug and Alcohol Recovery Month With 24/7 Communities for Users, Caregivers

Leading Online Destination for Health Support Provides a Safe, Welcoming Environment for Substance Abuse Victims and Their Loved Ones, Providing Help, Answers and Support

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - September 12, 2007) - As September marks National Alcohol and Drug Recovery month, a nationwide effort addressing the continued need for treatment and ways to overcome the barriers that prevent people from seeking help, a range of new online resources has become available for people looking for support. DailyStrength ( is one such resource, providing a Web site that serves as a home for recovery and support for individuals facing alcohol and drug abuse -- part of nearly 600 communities that provide real help and support for a broad range of health, social and personal issues.
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eNewsletter: September 12, 2007

Rally for Recovery! and Recovery Month 2007
Over 60 organizations are participating in this year’s Rally for Recovery! to speak out about the power and proof of long-term recovery and call for policies to support recovery. Use our sample media advisory and press release to publicize your events and activities. Learn more…

To kick off Recovery Month, the federal government’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) held a press conference and released the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) Learn more…

Our newest staff member, Jared Hess, spoke at the Recovery Month kick-off press conference in Washington, DC. He used Faces & Voices’ media and messaging training to talk about what his recovery has meant to himself and his family. Click here to watch Jared and view the press conference.

White Bison, Inc. and the Montana Re-Entry Coalition have just completed a 12-day Journey of the Sacred Hoop, traveling to Native American communities, as well as to prisons having incarcerated Native Americans in the State of Montana. They have Learn more….

The Prisoner Reentry Institute has released Venturing beyond the Gates: Facilitating Successful Reentry with Entrepreneurship. The paper is the culmination of a year-long project, funded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, exploring the viability of entrepreneurship as an employment strategy during reentry. Learn more...

Bill White has written a number of articles for a range of publications that are now available for recovery advocates to publish in their newsletters and publications. Check them out and let us know how you’ve used them.

Alcohol Control Policies and Youth Alcohol Consumption: Evidence from 28 Years of Monitoring the Future,"
The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy
: Vol. 7 : Iss. 1 (Topics), Article 25.

We provide the first historical comparative analysis of the effects of Minimum Legal Drinking Ages (MLDA), beer taxes, and "Zero Tolerance" (ZT) underage drunk driving laws on the drinking behaviors of high school seniors using confidential area-identified data from the 1976-2003 waves of the Monitoring the Future (MTF) Surveys.

We estimate reduced form models of drinking participation and heavy episodic drinking that account for state and year fixed effects.

Our findings confirm that nationwide increases in the MLDA in the late 1970s and 1980s and adoption of ZT laws in the 1990s both significantly reduced alcohol consumption by high school seniors, with larger effects for the MLDA than for ZT laws. Higher beer taxes are also estimated to reduce youth drinking participation.

Overall, the results confirm that a variety of types of government intervention can have important effects on youth alcohol consumption.

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Working Paper - The Effect of Alcohol Consumption on Mortality: Regression Discontinuity Evidence from the Minimum Drinking Age

This paper estimates the effect of alcohol consumption on mortality using the minimum drinking age in a regression discontinuity design.

We find that granting legal access to alcohol at age 21 leads to large and immediate increases in several measures of alcohol consumption, including a 21 percent increase in the number of days on which people drink. This increase in alcohol consumption results in a discrete 9 percent increase in the mortality rate at age 21.

The overall increase in deaths is due primarily to a 14 percent increase in deaths due to motor vehicle accidents, a 30 percent increase in alcohol overdoses and alcohol-related deaths, and a 15 percent increase in suicides. Combining the reduced-form estimates reveals that a 1 percent increase in the number of days a young adult drinks or drinks heavily results in a .4 percent increase in total mortality.

Given that mortality due to external causes peaks at about age 21 and that young adults report very high levels of alcohol consumption, our results suggest that public policy interventions to reduce youth drinking can have substantial public health benefits.

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Unique Facial Features Distinguish Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Patients and Controls in Diverse Ethnic Populations Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 31 (10), 1707–1713.

Effective management of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) is dependent on the timely and reliable diagnosis of affected individuals. There are significant diagnostic difficulties because of the reduced prominence of facial features as children age to adulthood as well as potential population or ethnic differences in the most characteristic alcohol-related facial features.

Subjects were placed into 1 of 4 populations based on their ancestry (Cape Coloured, Finnish Caucasian, African American, or North American Caucasian). Analyses performed in each of the 4 study populations were able to identify a unique set of variables which provided excellent discrimination between the 2 groups (FAS, control).

In each study group, at least one ocular-related measurement, shortened palpebral fissure, reduced outer canthal width, or reduced inner canthal width, was included in the final classification model.

We found measurements that reflected reduced size of the eye orbit to be a consistent feature discriminating FAS and controls across each study population. However, each population had a unique, though often overlapping, set of variables which discriminated the 2 groups, suggesting important ethnic differences in the presentation of FAS. It is possible that these differences were accentuated by the wide age distribution of the study subjects.

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: A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to reduce the tax on beer to its pre-1991 level.

Sponsor: Sen Salazar, Ken [CO] (introduced 8/3/2007) Cosponsors (4)

Related Bills: H.R.1610

Latest Major Action: 8/3/2007 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance.

All Information (except text) Text of Legislation CRS Summary Major Congressional Actions

All Congressional Actions

All Congressional Actions with Amendments
With links to Congressional Record pages, votes,reports

Titles Cosponsors (4) Committees
Related Bills Amendments Related Committee Documents
CBO Cost

Binge Drinking in Madrid, Spain
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 31 (10), 1723–1730.

In Mediterranean countries, the information on the prevalence of binge drinking and associated socio-demographic variables is very scarce. Moreover, there are no reported data on the amount of alcohol ingested and the type of beverage consumed during drinking episodes.

This study describes the prevalence and characteristics of binge drinking in the adult population of Madrid, Spain.

Prevalence of binge drinking was 14.4% in men and 6.5% in women. Prevalence was higher among persons: in the youngest age group (30.8% among men and 18.2% among women aged 18 to 24 years); having the highest educational level (14.5% in male and 9.2% in female university graduates); and with a heavy average consumption of alcohol (55.3% in men and 50.0% in women).

However, 3 of 4 binge drinkers of both sexes showed a moderate average consumption. Among binge-drinkers, average monthly episodes of binge drinking were 3.2 in men and 2.6 in women, with 5.4 and 2 episodes/person/year, respectively. During each episode, a mean of 119 g of alcohol was ingested by men and 83 g by women, with spirits accounting for 72% of total alcohol intake.

Prevalence of binge drinking is high in Madrid, particularly among younger men with higher education, and heavy average alcohol consumption. Binge drinking is characterized by frequent episodes, where large amounts of alcohol are ingested, mainly from spirits.

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Ethanol Interactions With Calcium-Dependent Potassium Channels
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 31 (10), 1625–1632.

In most neurons and other excitable cells, calcium-activated potassium channels of small (SK) and large conductance (BK; MaxiK) control excitability and neurotransmitter release. The spontaneous activity of dopamine neurons of the ventral tegmental area is increased by ethanol. This ethanol excitation is potentiated by selective blockade of SK, indicating that SK channels modulate ethanol stimulation of neurons that are critical in reward and reinforcement.

On the other hand, ethanol directly modulates BK channel activity in a variety of systems, including rat neurohypophysial nerve endings, primary sensory dorsal root ganglia, nucleus accumbens neurons, Caenorhabditis elegans type-IV dopaminergic CEP neurons, and nonneuronal preparations, such as rat pituitary cells, cerebrovascular myocytes and human umbilical vein endothelial cells.

Ethanol action on BK channels can modify neuropeptide and growth hormone release, nociception, cerebrovascular tone, and endothelial proliferation. Ethanol modulates BK channels even when the drug is evaluated using recombinant BK channel-forming α (slo) subunits or channel reconstitution in artificial, binary lipid bilayers, indicating that the slo subunit and its immediate lipid microenvironment are the essential targets of ethanol.

Consistent with this, single amino acid slo channel mutants display altered ethanol sensitivity. Furthermore, C. elegans slo1 null mutants are resistant to ethanol-induced motor incoordination. On the other hand, Drosophila melanogaster slo null mutants fail to acquire acute tolerance to ethanol sedation.

Ethanol action on slo channels, however, may be tuned by a variety of factors, including posttranslational modification of slo subunits, coexpression of channel accessory subunits, and the lipid microenvironment, resulting in increase, refractoriness, or even decrease in channel activity.

In brief, both SK and BK channels are important targets of ethanol throughout the body, and interference with ethanol effects on these channels could form the basis for novel pharmacotherapies to ameliorate the actions or consequences of alcohol abuse.

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Distribution of Alcohol Consumption and Expenditures and the Impact of Improved Measurement on Coverage of Alcohol Sales in the 2000 National Alcohol Survey
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 31 (10), 1714–1722.

To validate improved survey estimates of alcohol volume and new expenditures questions, these measures were aggregated and evaluated through comparison to sales data.

Using the new measures, we examined their distributions by estimating the proportion of mean intake, heavy drinking days, and alcohol expenditures among drinkers grouped by volume.

The distributions of mean alcohol intake and heavy drinking days are highly concentrated in the U.S. population. Lower expenditures per drink by the heaviest drinkers suggest substantial downward quality substitution, drinking in cheaper contexts or other bargain pricing strategies.

Empirical drink ethanol estimates improved survey coverage of sales particularly for spirits, but significant under-coverage remains, highlighting need for further self-report measurement improvement.

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Association of the Aldehyde Dehydrogenase 2 Promoter Polymorphism With Alcohol Consumption and Reactions in an American Jewish Population
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 31 (10), 1654–1659.

Reduction in activity of the mitochondrial aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2) enzyme due to genetic deficiency causes reactions related to alcohol consumption and lowers the risk of alcoholism.

ALDH2*2 is the only functionally significant polymorphism of the ALDH2 gene. An additional polymorphic locus in the promoter (G to A substitution approximately 360 bp from the translation start site) may influence ALDH2 activity through effects on transcriptional activity. The A allele is predicted to be less active transcriptionally than the G allele.

Therefore, we hypothesized that individuals with 1 or 2 A alleles would have exaggerated reactions to alcohol.

The frequency of the ALDH2*A allele was 0.87 in the 129 Jewish individuals tested. Among the general Jewish population, those who were homozygous for ALDH2*A drank fewer drinks per occasion than individuals who were not homozygous for the ALDH2*A allele, but did not drink significantly less frequently.

When the other covariates (ADH1B genotype, gender, and population) were controlled for, there was a marginal association between ALDH2A genotype and quantity of alcohol consumed and the number of drinks consumed before feeling drowsy.

This study suggests that the ALDH2*A allele status may correlate with variations in alcohol consumption patterns among Jews, independent of the effect of ADH1B genotype.

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Family-Based Association Analyses of Alcohol Dependence Phenotypes Across DRD2 and Neighboring Gene ANKK1
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 31 (10), 1645–1653.

There is an extensive and inconsistent literature on the association of the dopamine D2 receptor gene (DRD2) with alcohol dependence. Conflicting results have been attributed to differences in the severity of the alcohol dependence phenotype across studies, failure to exclude related disorders from comparison groups, and artifacts of population-stratification.

Recently the genetic polymorphism most widely analyzed in DRD2, Taq1A, has been discovered to reside in a neighboring gene, ankyrin repeat and kinase domain containing 1 (ANKK1), located 10 kb downstream from DRD2.

We found that the evidence for association is strongest in the 5' linkage disequilibrium block of ANKK1 (that does not contain Taq1A), with weak evidence of association with a small number of SNPs in DRD2. The association in ANKK1 is strongest among the subsets of alcoholics with medical complications and with antisocial personality disorder.

More extensive genotyping across DRD2 and ANKK1 suggests that the association with alcohol dependence observed in this region may be due to genetic variants in the ANKK1 gene. ANKK1 is involved in signal transduction pathways and is a plausible biological candidate for involvement in addictive disorders.

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Mouse Lines Selected for Alcohol Consumption Differ on Certain Measures of Impulsivity
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research (OnlineEarly Articles)
11 September 2007

Alcoholics and heavy drinkers score higher on measures of impulsivity than nonalcoholics and light drinkers. This may be due to factors that predate drug exposure (e.g. genetics) or to neuroadaptations associated with exposure to alcohol.

The aim of this study was to examine the role of genetics by comparing impulsivity in short-term selected lines of mice bred to voluntarily drink either high (STDRHI2) or low (STDRLO2) amounts of 10% ethanol.

No significant differences were found between STDRHI2 and STDRLO2 mice in delay discounting. In the Go/No-go task, STDRHI2 mice made more responses during the pre-cue period without committing more false alarms, compared with STDRLO2 mice.

The results suggest that short-term selective breeding for high relative alcohol consumption may also select for animals that have impaired response inhibition.

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Orexigenic Peptides and Alcohol Intake: Differential Effects of Orexin, Galanin, and Ghrelin
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research (OnlineEarly Articles)
11 September 2007

The question is which hypothalamic systems for food intake might play a role in ethanol intake and contribute to alcohol abuse. The peptide orexin was found to exhibit similar properties to galanin in its relation to dietary fat and may therefore be similar to galanin in having a stimulatory effect on alcohol intake.

In ethanol-drinking rats, injection of orexin or galanin into the appropriate locus in the hypothalamus induced significant ethanol intake instead of food intake.

Ghrelin, as a positive control, failed to influence ethanol intake at the same hypothalamic sites. In the NAc, as an anatomical control, orexin augmented eating but not ethanol intake.

Thus orexin and galanin in the hypothalamus selectively stimulated ethanol intake at sites where other studies have shown that both ethanol and fat increase expression of the endogenous peptides.

Thus, a neural circuit that evolved with the capability to augment food intake is apparently co-opted by ethanol and may serve as a potential positive feedback circuit for alcohol abuse.

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Decreased Plasma Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor Levels in Patients With Alcohol Dependence
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research (OnlineEarly Articles). 11 September 2007

Many reports have suggested possible relationships between brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and alcohol dependence. A protective effect of BDNF against ethanol-induced cell damage has been suggested, and this effect may contribute to the development or maintenance of alcohol dependence.

This study was carried out in order to verify the significance of BDNF in alcohol dependence..

Changes in the levels of BDNF might play a role in the pathophysiology and inheritance of alcohol dependence.

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Lack of Association of Alcohol Dependence and Habitual Smoking With Catechol-O-methyltransferase
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research (OnlineEarly Articles). 11 September 2007

To test whether variation in the gene encoding the enzyme catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT), which catalyzes the breakdown of dopamine and other catecholamine neurotransmitters, is associated with the risk for alcohol dependence and habitual smoking.

No significant, consistent evidence of association was found with alcohol dependence, early onset alcohol dependence, habitual smoking or the comorbid phenotype. There was no evidence that the functional Val158Met polymorphism, previously reported to be associated with these phenotypes, was associated with any of them.

Despite the substantial size of this study, we did not find evidence to support an association between alcohol dependence or habitual smoking and variation in COMT.

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Varieties of Impulsivity in Males With Alcohol Dependence: The Role of Cluster-B Personality Disorder
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research (OnlineEarly Articles) 11 September 2007

Impulsivity has been associated with alcohol dependence, but impulsivity in alcohol-dependent subjects with a Cluster-B personality disorder (PD) has not been well characterized.

Using a variety of laboratory measures of impulsivity, we assessed whether alcohol-dependent patients (ADP) with borderline personality disorder (BPD) exhibited the same pattern of behavioral impulsivity than ADP with antisocial personality disorder (AntPD). Also, differences between ADP without PDs and healthy controls were assessed.

Alcohol-dependent patients with BPD made more omission errors than ADP with AntPD, but individuals with AntPD exhibited the poorest efficiency in DRLR. ADPs with a Cluster-B PD displayed more impairment across all behavioral measures than ADP without PD and than controls. In contrast, with respect to controls ADP without a Cluster-B PD showed more impairment only in DRLR.

Our findings support the suggestion of 2 paradigms in alcohol dependence. The first, based on inability to delay gratification, might be a vulnerability marker for alcohol dependence. The second was related to inhibitory control and might be specific for AntPD and BPDs.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Twin Pair Resemblance for Psychiatric Hospitalization in the Swedish Twin Registry: A 32-year Follow-up Study of 29,602 Twin Pairs
Behavior Genetics Volume 37, Number 4 / July, 2007

Allgulander et al. published twin pair analyses of psychiatric hospitalization for like-sex pairs from the Swedish Twin Registry born 1926–1958.

The present report updates the prior results by using 17 additional years of follow-up, including members of opposite-sex twin pairs, and addressing biases arising from cohort effects and from excluding pairs with unknown zygosity.

Inclusion of additional follow-up information, opposite-sex twin pairs, age-adjustment, and use of current ICD definitions yielded higher heritability estimates for alcoholism, anxiety disorders, and psychosis than previously published for this nationally-representative sample of twins from Sweden.

The results show that relatively small selection biases can alter twin study results and underscore the importance of addressing under-ascertainment of cases in genetic research based on volunteers.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Alcohol consumption on the rise in Africa, seminar hears
Penelope Kgohloane | Pretoria, South Africa
10 September 2007

As Africa's economies grow, the production of alcohol, along with consumption of the substance, will increase, it was said at a seminar on alcohol in Pretoria on Monday.

"Africa will be experiencing a growth market and a lot of activity is still going to happen. The production of alcohol will increase on the continent and this will increase the consumption rate," Isidore Obot, from the Centre of Research and Information on Substance Abuse, said.

At the seminar, hosted by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), Obot said globally, alcohol abuse was the root cause of deaths in 1,8-million people suffering from chronic diseases. Alcohol was also responsible for 20% to 30% of homicides and injuries.

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News Release - Binge-drinking: a recurring moral panic, says new History & Policy paper
10 September 2007

Binge-drinking, anarchy on the streets, parental neglect and a government in denial. The Conservative party’s indictment of Britain’s ‘broken society’ would have been familiar to William Hogarth as he engraved ‘Gin Lane’, his own vivid indictment of mid-18th century London, argues historian Professor Peter Borsay of Aberystwyth University, in a new History & Policy paper published today.

In Binge drinking and moral panics: historical parallels? Professor Borsay explores the parallels between the early-18th century Gin Craze and contemporary binge-drinking culture. He argues that direct comparisons between drinking behaviour then and now have been overdrawn, but highlights how media-constructed moral panics have characterised both episodes and come to symbolise wider anxieties about social breakdown.
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Sunday, September 9, 2007

Violence and Psychiatric Morbidity in a National Household Population—A Report from the British Household Survey
American Journal of Epidemiology 2006 164(12):1199-1208

This study measured the prevalence of self-reported violence and associations with psychiatric morbidity in a national household population, based on a cross-sectional survey in 2000 of 8,397 respondents in Great Britain.

The 5-year prevalence of nonlethal violence in Britain was 12% .

The risk of violence was substantially increased by alcohol dependence , drug dependence , and antisocial personality disorder. Low prevalences of these conditions (7%, 4%, and 4%, respectively) contrasted with their relatively high proportions of attributed risk of violence (23%, 15%, and 15%). Hazardous drinking was associated with 56% of all reported violent incidents.

Screening positive for psychosis did not independently increase risk .

The study concluded that psychiatric morbidity makes a significant public health impact on violence exerted primarily by persons with any personality disorder, substance dependence, and hazardous drinking. Population interventions for violent behavior are appropriate for hazardous drinking as are targeted interventions for substance dependence and antisocial personality disorder.

Despite public concern, the risks of violence from persons with severe mental illness were very low.

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