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, April 25, 2008

Inflation, Alcoholism Are Top Concerns of the Russians
Apr. 23, 2008

Most Russians view inflation, alcoholism and drug addiction the most burning problems of the country, showed the poll of All-Russia’s Center for Public Opinion Studies.

Of interest is that the Russians (66 percent) were mostly concerned about alcoholism and drug addiction two years ago. Today’s highlight is inflation (67 percent vs. 55 percent in 2006), while the problem of alcoholism and drug addiction sank to the second position (63 percent).

Inflation is again the key concern of the Russians when it comes to their personal problems. Some 55 percent of respondents were agitated about it two years ago vs. 68 percent today. The threat of alcoholism and drug addiction doesn’t appear so acute in the list of the personal troubles. It has just the fifth ranking vs. the second one in the list of the country’s problems. But unemployment appears of greater significance. It scores No. 7 in the personal rating vs. No. 11 in the rating of the country's difficulties.
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Parent Awareness of Youth Use of Cigarettes, Alcohol, and Marijuana


  • SAMHSA's National Survey on Drug Use and Health includes a sample of parents and their children who live in the same household. These parent-child pairs are composed of a child aged 12 to 17 and his or her biological, step, adoptive, or foster parent.
  • Based on SAMHSA's National Survey on Drug Use and Health, mothers were more likely than fathers to be aware of their child's substance use in the past year regardless of the household having only the mother or both parents.
  • Fathers in two parent households were more likely than fathers in father-only households to be aware of their child's substance use in the past year.
  • The older the child, the more likely that parents were aware of their child's alcohol and cigarette use in the past year.
  • Past year substance use by youth was higher in one-parent households than those with both parents.
  • Within one-parent households, substance use by youth was generally higher among youth in father-child pairs than mother-child pairs
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Measurement of direct ethanol metabolites suggests higher rate of alcohol use among pregnant women than found with the AUDIT—a pilot study in a population-based sample of Swedish women
Volume 198, Issue 4, Pages 407.e1-407.e5 (April 2008)

The objective of the study was to investigate whether biomarkers of alcohol consumption would provide additional information to the use of a validated alcohol questionnaire in pregnant women.

One hundred three pregnant women were included in the study. The women completed the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) questionnaire, and a urine and hair sample was collected. The urine samples were used for determination of ethyl glucuronide (EtG) and ethyl sulfate and the hair samples for EtG and fatty acid ethyl esters (FAEE).

Twenty-six women (25.2%) were identified as possible alcohol consumers by the combined use of AUDIT and direct ethanol metabolites. Seven subjects had EtG or FAEE levels in hair highly suspicious of heavy drinking, but only 1 of these were positive according to the AUDIT questionnaire

The combined use of the AUDIT questionnaire and direct ethanol metabolites appear to identify more potential alcohol consumers among pregnant women than does the sole use of the AUDIT questionnaire.

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Lifecourse socioeconomic predictors of midlife drinking patterns, problems and abstention: Findings from the 1958 British Birth Cohort Study
Drug and Alcohol Dependence Volume 95, Issue 3, 1 June 2008, Pages 269-278

Research suggests that outcomes associated with drinking may differ depending upon patterns of consumption, drinking related symptoms and social problems. This paper investigated socioeconomic predictors (measuring multiple indices, period and consistency of disadvantage) of midlife drinking patterns.

Socioeconomic information from the 1958 British Birth Cohort Study (n = 9146) included: manual socioeconomic position and owner/buyer residential tenure (7, 11, 16, 33 and 42 y), and educational attainment (33 y). At 45 y, the overlap between drinking patterns was explored using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test. Patterns included: ‘Moderate-binge’ (binge drinkers with low-problem scores, consuming within UK sensible drinking weekly guidelines); Low-Problem Heavy (LPH) drinkers (regardless of binge); ‘Problem’ (and heavy or binge) and ‘Non-/occasional’ (≤monthly) drinkers. These categories were compared to ‘Low-risk’ drinkers.

Socioeconomic disadvantage was consistently associated with moderate-binge, non-/occasional and problem but not LPH drinking. The highest risk was associated with multiple and persistent disadvantage across childhood and adulthood; this risk was partially accounted for education. Non-/occasional and moderate-binge drinking was predicted by disadvantage during childhood alone. The socioeconomic disadvantage of non-/occasional drinkers was not explained by past problem or heavy drinking.

Socioeconomic disadvantage across the lifecourse was consistently linked to specific drinking patterns. Furthermore, associations linking socioeconomic disadvantage with drinking patterns will typically be underestimated if multiple and persistent disadvantage is not investigated. The role of persistent socioeconomic disadvantage in the poor health of non-drinkers and moderate-binge drinkers needs investigation.

The findings support current initiatives targeting the reduction of social and individual costs associated with specific drinking patterns.

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Alcohol Drinking, Cigarette Smoking, and Risk of Colorectal Adenomatous and Hyperplastic Polyps
American Journal of Epidemiology 2008 167(9):1050-1058;

The authors evaluated alcohol drinking and cigarette smoking in relation to risk of colorectal polyps in a Nashville, Tennessee, colonoscopy-based case-control study.

In 2003–2005, cases with adenomatous polyps only (n = 639), hyperplastic polyps only (n = 294), and both types of polyps (n = 235) were compared with 1,773 polyp-free controls. Unordered polytomous logistic regression was used to calculate adjusted odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals.

Consumption of at least five alcoholic drinks per week was not strongly associated with development of polyps. Odds ratios for all polyp types were increased for dose, duration, and pack-years of cigarette smoking and were stronger for hyperplastic polyps than for adenoma.

Compared with never smoking, dose-response relations were particularly strong for current smoking and duration; for ≥35 years of smoking, odds ratios were 1.9 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.4, 2.5) for adenomatous polyps only, 5.0 (95% CI: 3.3, 7.3) for hyperplastic polyps only, and 6.9 (95% CI: 4.4, 11.1) for both types of polyps.

Compared with current smoking, time since cessation was associated with substantially reduced odds; for ≥20 years since quitting, odds ratios were 0.4 (95% CI: 0.3, 0.6) for adenoma only, 0.2 (95% CI: 0.1, 0.3) for hyperplastic polyps only, and 0.2 (95% CI: 0.2, 0.4) for both polyp types.

These findings support the adverse role of cigarette smoking in colorectal tumorigenesis and suggest that quitting smoking may substantially reduce the risk of colorectal polyps.

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"Culture of Drinking" and Individual Problems with Alcohol Use
American Journal of Epidemiology 2008 167(9):1041-1049

Binge drinking is a substantial and growing health problem. Community norms about drinking and drunkenness may influence individual drinking problems.

Using data from the New York Social Environment Study (n = 4,000) conducted in 2005, the authors examined the relation between aspects of the neighborhood drinking culture and individual alcohol use. They applied methods to address social stratification and social selection, both of which are challenges to interpreting neighborhood research.

In adjusted models, permissive neighborhood drinking norms were associated with moderate drinking (odds ratio (OR) = 1.28, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.05, 1.55) but not binge drinking; however, social network and individual drinking norms accounted for this association.

By contrast, permissive neighborhood drunkenness norms were associated with more moderate drinking (OR = 1.20, 95% CI: 1.03, 1.39) and binge drinking (OR = 1.92, 95% CI: 1.44, 2.56); the binge drinking association remained after adjustment for social network and individual drunkenness norms (OR = 1.58, 95% CI: 1.20, 2.08).

Drunkenness norms were more strongly associated with binge drinking for women than for men (pinteraction = 0.006).

Propensity distributions and adjustment for drinking history suggested that social stratification and social selection, respectively, were not plausible explanations for the observed results.

Analyses that consider social and structural factors that shape harmful drinking may inform efforts targeting the problematic aspects of alcohol consumption.

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In vivo and in vitro ethanol exposure in prenatal rat brain: GABAB receptor modulation on dopamine D1 receptor and protein kinase A
Synapse Volume 62, Issue 7 , Pages 534 - 543

We have investigated the effects of prenatal ethanol exposure on GABAB receptors (GABABRs), protein kinase A (PKA), and DA D1 receptor (DAD1R) expressions.

GABAB1R and GABAB2R showed different age-dependent expressions in in vivo fetal rat forebrain from gestational days (GD) 15.5 to 21.5 upon 10% ethanol treatment to mother, with and without baclofen at a dose of 10 mg/kg body weight/day. The protein level changes could not be attributed to changes in the level of transcription since GABABR mRNA presented different expression patterns upon in vivo ethanol treatment.

Using in vitro cultivated cortical neurons from GD 17.5 fetuses, we also explored the modulatory effects of ethanol on PKA and DAD1R through GABABRs, under 50 M baclofen and 100 M phaclofen administrations, with or without 100 mM of ethanol treatment in the culture media.

The results showed that 20 min ethanol treatment without baclofen or phaclofen had increasing effects on both the GABABRs. Further, baclofen and phaclofen administration significantly affected PKA and GABABR levels upon 20 min and 1 h ethanol treatment. In contrast, DAD1R showed increasing effects upon ethanol treatment, which was modulated by GABABR's agonist baclofen and antagonist phaclofen.

Therefore the present study suggested that the GABABR activity could modulate ethanol's cellular effects, which possibly including PKA and DAD1R activities, and may be an underlying cause of ethanol's effects.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Alcohol, Tobacco Products Aimed At Teens?

Among Concerns: Caffeinated, Fruity Drinks That Contain Alcohol, Flavored Tobacco

America's youth are inundated with visual appeals to drink and smoke, CBS News correspondent Randall Pinkston reports.

While the alcohol and tobacco industries insist their products are aimed at adults, critics charge beverages like Sparks and colored tobacco products are tailor-made for teens. There are fruit-flavored cigars and energy drinks that are high-caffeine - and in a new twist, up to 9 percent alcohol.

"Alcohol and caffeine are really double trouble when they're marketed to kids and when they create the illusion of alertness with the impairment of alcohol," said Connecticut attorney general Richard Blumenthal.

It's not only the content that worries the critics - it's the marketing. From the names, Tilt, Sparks, Joose, to the colorful packaging and cartoon-like images.

"Well, they are influencing younger kids with all these flavors and that's not good," said Maria Gomez. "When they get older, they might be addicted to these things."

And that is what concerns prosecutors of 28 states and the District of Columbia, who are accusing breweries of promoting products that are "highly attractive to underage youth."
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New Online Course with CEU's Available

Acamprosate: A New Medication for Alcohol Use Disorders

The Center for Substance Abuse Treatment's Knowledge Application Program (CSAT KAP) is pleased to offer its first online e-learning course, Acamprosate: A New Medication for Alcohol Use Disorders. The course provides information about the use, side effects, and contraindications of acamprosate; information to discuss with clients; and a comparison of medications used to treat alcohol use disorders.

The course is self-paced so that users can log out and return later to continue where they left off. The course includes interactive exercises, case examples, and a test. Counselors who successfully complete the course receive one NAADAC-approved continuing education unit (CEU) at no cost and can print out their CEU certificate.

Access e-Learning Course— Acamprosate: A New Medication for Alcohol Use Disorders


O'Malley delays signing 'alcopop' bill

Gov. Martin O'Malley has put off signing a bill that would allow so-called "alcopops" -- fruity libations such as Mike's Hard Lemonade -- to continue to be taxed and distributed as if they were beer, saying he needs more time to think about the measure.

The law, which passed by wide margins in both legislative chambers, is controversial because activists, such as the group Mothers Against Drunk Driving, believe the drinks are marketed to underage drinkers and that the broader distribution and lower taxes they have traditionally enjoyed in Maryland make them more available to teenagers.

O'Malley met this morning with the CEO of MADD, leaders of several state and national public health organizations and several parents in Maryland whose children have been killed recently in drunk driving incidents, all of whom urged him to veto the bill, which he said today that he had planned on signing.
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Punch hits out at 'tax on binge drinking'
Nick Huber,
Thursday April 24 2008

The chief executive of Britain's biggest pub company has attacked the recent above-inflation rise in alcohol duty, dismissing government claims that it could discourage binge drinking as "ridiculous".

Giles Thorley, chief executive of Punch Taverns, warned today that the 6% rise in alcohol duty, announced in the March Budget, could even encourage excessive drinking because customers may choose to buy more cheaper alcohol from supermarkets and drink heavily at home.

"The pub is the home of responsible drinking. The number of restrictions that already exist as result of recent government legislation means that you are much safer drinking in the pub than anywhere else," he said.

"We all get frustrated by the way that politicians use an excuse to pass on what is effectively a straight tax hike. The suggestion that (the rise in alcohol duty) was designed to mitigate the issues of binge drinking is quite frankly ridiculous."
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On Wit, Irony, and Living With Imperfection: How Britain Said No to Abstinence
May 2008, Vol 98, No. 5 | American Journal of Public Health 814-822

Christian perfection, the evangelical doctrine that gave rise to abstinence as it is understood and practiced in America, originated in Britain with John Wesley and the Methodists.

We examine why that doctrine floundered in its country of origin, opening the door to a more pluralistic and evidence-based approach to problems such as alcohol and drug abuse.

Although social and political factors were important (the stratification of British society stood in the way of holding everyone to the same moral standard, and the drink trade was far better organized than its American counterpart), Britain’s intellectual elite also played a vital role, heaping ridicule on the temperance movement and subjecting it to a devastating critique.

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Education and race-ethnicity differences in the lifetime risk of alcohol dependence
Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health

While lower socioeconomic status (SES) is related to higher risk for alcohol dependence, minority race-ethnicity is often associated with lower risk. This study attempts to clarify the nature and extent of social inequalities in alcohol dependence by investigating the effects of SES and race-ethnicity on the development of alcohol dependence following first alcohol use.

Compared with non-Hispanic white people, age-adjusted and sex-adjusted risks of alcohol dependence were lower among black people (odds ratio (OR) = 0.70, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.63 to 0.78), Asians (OR = 0.65, CI = 0.49 to 0.86) and Hispanics (OR = 0.68, CI = 0.58 to 0.79) and higher among American Indians (OR = 1.37, CI = 1.09 to 1.73). Individuals without a college degree had higher risks of alcohol dependence than individuals with a college degree or more; however, the magnitude of risk varied significantly by race-ethnicity ({chi}2 for the interaction between education and race-ethnicity = 19.7, df = 10, p = 0.03); odds ratios for less than a college degree were 1.12, 1.46, 2.24, 2.35 and 10.99 among Hispanics, white people, black people, Asians, and American Indians, respectively. There was no association between education and alcohol dependence among Hispanics.

Race-ethnicity differences in the magnitude of the association between education and alcohol dependence suggest that aspects of racial-ethnic group membership mitigate or exacerbate the effects of social adversity.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Working with hotels and clubs to reduce alcohol-related crime

Auditor-General's report: performance aud

This audit assessed how well the NSW Police Force (Police) and the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR) work with licensees to promote and enforce RSA to reduce alcohol-related crime.

Audit opinion

In NSW alcohol-related assaults have almost doubled over the last ten years. In 2006-07 there were 20,475 alcohol related assaults excluding domestic violence incidents, up from 10,305 in 1997-98. Incidences of alcohol-related malicious damage and offensive conduct have also
increased, rising by 87 and 70 per cent respectively. However we found that the number of alcohol-related assaults has reduced or stabilised in the last two years in about 14 per cent of Police local area commands. Of the four commands we visited, alcohol-related assaults had
stabilised in two, and significantly reduced last year in another. OLGR has also had some success in reducing assaults in a number of licensed premises.

In Brief


Executive Summary


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Consumer/Health Groups Unite in Pressing for a Final Rule Mandating a Standardized, Useful Alcohol Facts Label

White Paper and Ad Campaign Put Issue in Front of Policymakers;
New Poll Finds Consumers Want Government to Act

Sally Greenberg's remarks

Release Date: April 22, 2008
Contact: 202-835-3323,

Washington, D.C.-- A coalition of public interest groups today called for the federal government to end 30 years of “deliberations and fact finding” by issuing a useful final regulation to require standardized labeling information on beer, wine and distilled spirits products.

At a news conference in Washington, members of a broad-based coalition of public health leaders and consumer advocacy organizations used the occasion of Alcohol Awareness Month to release a white paper laying out the need for an easy-to-read, standardized label that will provide consumers with complete information about alcohol and calorie content per serving. Issued as a nationwide call to action, the white paper concludes that easily accessible alcohol labeling can play an important role in reducing alcohol abuse, drunk driving, and the many diseases attributable to excessive alcohol intake, such as liver cirrhosis and cancers of the upper gastrointestinal tract.

To highlight this issue for federal policymakers, Shape Up America! -- the anti-obesity crusade launched by former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop -- also unveiled a newspaper advertising campaign featuring an open letter to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson signed by 18 organizations and public health officials. The open letter cites more than 30 years of delay by Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) and its predecessor agency, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF), in responding to public pressure, several petitions, and court challenges, none of which has produced a government rule requiring an easy-to-read, standardized label on all alcoholic beverages.
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New Research Shows Public Wants Alcohol Content Listed On Labels for Beer, Wine and Distilled Spirits
Top Priority for Consumers Is Knowing Amount of Alcohol in Each Drink; Data to Be Sent to Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB)

Washington, DC; January 22, 2008 – As the Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) considers public comments on proposed rules to require standardized labeling information on beer, wine and distilled spirits, a new survey filed today as part of the public record underscores the importance of mandating detailed information about the alcohol content of these products – something TTB’s current proposals do not require.

Conducted for Shape Up America!, by Penn, Schoen and Berland’s (PSB) Internet Surveys Group (ISG), the online survey of 503 adult Americans aged 18 and over provides compelling evidence that consumers want complete labeling information on alcoholic beverages, including the percentage of alcohol by volume, the serving size, the amount of alcohol per serving, the definition of a “standard drink,” and the number of standard drinks per container. In fact, eight in ten of those polled (79 percent) agreed with the statement: “There is no point in having labeling on the containers of alcohol beverages unless labels include all nutrition and ingredient information, including the amount of alcohol in each drink.”
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Survey findings (PDF)

Press release (PDF)
Report of the Government Alcohol Advisory Group Publisher:'Report of the Government Alcohol Advisory Group': Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform
23 Apr 2008

This Group was established by the Minister for Justice, Equality & Law Reform to advise Government on certain matters relating to the sale and consumption of alcohol with a particular focus on the effect alcohol had on public order offences.

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Press Release - Taoiseach and Minister for Justice announce new measures to tackle binge drinking & public disorder
23 April 2008

The Taoiseach, Mr Bertie Ahern, T.D. and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr Brian Lenihan, T.D., today announced new legislative measures to tackle the increasing availability and excessive consumption of alcohol, and the public order problems caused by binge drinking.

The draft legislation, the Intoxicating Liquor/Public Order Bill 2008, proposes the reform of both licensing law and public order legislation in response to recommendations contained in the Report of the Alcohol Advisory Group also being published today. Drafting of the Bill is at an advanced stage with a view to its enactment before the Oireachtas rises for the summer break.

Speaking at today’s event the Taoiseach and Minister Lenihan both congratulated Dr Gordon Holmes, chair of the Advisory Group, and the other members of the Group for prompt delivery of an excellent report. The legislative measures announced today are the first step in implementing the Group’s recommendations and taking action to deal with the problem of binge drinking and the public order problems it causes.
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Study finds driving under the influence trends North

Published: April 23, 2008

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The upper Midwest has the worst drunken driving rates in the country, according to a government report that says 15 percent of adult drivers nationally report driving under the influence of alcohol in the previous year.

Wisconsin leads the way. The federal government estimates more than a quarter of the state's adult drivers had driven under the influence. Rounding out the worst five are North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota.

Utah had the lowest incidence of drunken driving. It was the only state where fewer than 10 percent of adult motorists reported driving under the influence. Following closely behind were a slew of Southern states that often fare poorly when it comes to government health statistics. This time, however, they're serving as models. West Virginia, Arkansas, Kentucky and North Carolina all had drunken driving rates for the prior year of less than 11 percent.
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Genetic approaches to addiction: genes and alcohol
Addiction OnlineEarly Articles 16 April 2008

Alcoholism is a chronic relapsing disorder with an enormous societal impact. Understanding the genetic basis of alcoholism is crucial to characterize individuals' risk and to develop efficacious prevention and treatment strategies.

We examined the available scientific literature to provide an overview of different approaches that are being integrated increasingly to advance our knowledge of the genetic bases of alcoholism. Examples of genes that have been shown to influence vulnerability to alcoholism and related phenotypes are also discussed.

Genetic factors account for more than 50% of the variance in alcoholism liability. Susceptibility loci for alcoholism include both alcohol-specific genes acting either at the pharmacokinetic or pharmacodynamic levels, as well as loci moderating neuronal pathways such as reward, behavioral control and stress resiliency, that are involved in several psychiatric diseases.

In recent years, major progress in gene identification has occurred using intermediate phenotypes such as task-related brain activation that confer the advantage of increased power and the opportunity of exploring the neuronal mechanisms through which genetic variation is translated into behavior.

Fundamental to the detection of gene effects is also the understanding of the interplay between genes as well as genes/environment interactions. Whole Genome Association studies represent a unique opportunity to identify alcohol-related loci in hypothesis-free fashion.

Finally, genome-wide analyses of transcripts and chromatin remodeling promise an increase in our understanding of the genome function and of the mechanisms through which gene and environment cause diseases.

Although the genetic bases of alcoholism remain largely unknown, there are reasons to think that more genes will be discovered in the future. Multiple and complementary approaches will be required to piece together the mosaic of causation.

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Alcoholism leads to early perceptive alterations, independently of comorbid depressed state: An ERP study
Neurophysiologie Clinique/Clinical Neurophysiology Volume 38, Issue 2, April 2008, Pages 83-97

Alcoholism is associated with a deficit in the processing of emotional facial expressions (EFE) and with a delayed P3b component, partially mediated by earlier perceptive deficits (P100, N170). Since alcohol dependence often occurs with depression, we aim at investigating whether classical event-related potentials (ERP) alterations observed in alcoholism are modulated or not by depression.

At the behavioural level, control participants discriminated EFE (but not gender) more rapidly than the three other groups. At the ERP level, the differences observed on RTs for emotional task were neurophysiologically indexed by a delayed P3b component. This delay was associated with earlier ERP alterations (P100, N100, N170), but only in participants suffering from alcohol dependence, in association or not with depression.

On the one hand, individuals with alcoholism, associated or not with a comorbid depression, were impaired in the processing of EFE. This deficit was neurophysiologically indexed by early perceptive (P100, N100, N170) and decisional (P3b) alterations. On the other hand, non-alcoholic patients with depression only exhibited P3b impairment.

These results lead to potential implications concerning the usefulness of the ERP for the differential diagnosis in psychiatry, notably concerning the comorbidities in alcoholism.

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Differential gene expression in the nucleus accumbens with ethanol self-administration in inbred alcohol-preferring rats
Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior Volume 89, Issue 4, June 2008, Pages 481-498

The current study examined the effects of operant ethanol (EtOH) self-administration on gene expression kin the nucleus accumbens (ACB) and amygdala (AMYG) of inbred alcohol-preferring (iP) rats.

For the ACB, there were 513 significant differences at the p <>p <>p <>Cav2, Nrxn3, Gabrb2, Gad1, Homer1) and homeostasis (S100b, Prkca, Ftl1) categories.

Overall, the results suggest that changes in gene expression in the ACB of iP rats are associated with the reinforcing effects of EtOH.

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News Release - Environment influences when drinking begins; genes' role increases in transition to alcohol dependence

By Jim Dryden

April 22, 2008 -- The influence of genetics increases as young women transition from taking their first drink to becoming alcoholics. A team of researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that although environment is most influential in determining when girls begin to drink, genes play a larger role if they advance to problem drinking and alcohol dependence.

The researchers studied 3,546 female twins ages 18 to 29 to ferret out the influences of genes and environment in the development of alcohol dependence. Their findings appear in the April issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.
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Genetic Dissociation of Ethanol Sensitivity and Memory Formation in Drosophila melanogaster
Genetics, Vol. 178, 1895-1902, April 2008,

The ad hoc genetic correlation between ethanol sensitivity and learning mechanisms in Drosophila could overemphasize a common process supporting both behaviors.

To challenge directly the hypothesis that these mechanisms are singular, we examined the learning phenotypes of 10 new strains. Five of these have increased ethanol sensitivity, and the other 5 do not.

We tested place and olfactory memory in each of these lines and found two new learning mutations. In one case, altering the tribbles gene, flies have a significantly reduced place memory, elevated olfactory memory, and normal ethanol response. In the second case, mutation of a gene we name ethanol sensitive with low memory (elm), place memory was not altered, olfactory memory was sharply reduced, and sensitivity to ethanol was increased.

In sum, however, we found no overall correlation between ethanol sensitivity and place memory in the 10 lines tested. Furthermore, there was a weak but nonsignificant correlation between ethanol sensitivity and olfactory learning. Thus, mutations that alter learning and sensitivity to ethanol can occur independently of each other and this implies that the set of genes important for both ethanol sensitivity and learning is likely a subset of the genes important for either process.

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State Estimates of Persons Aged 18 or Older Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Illicit Drugs
  • Based on SAMHSA's National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2006 an estimated 30.5 million persons aged 12 or older reported driving under the influence of alcohol at least once in the past year and 10.2 million reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs during the past year. Illicit drugs included marijuana/hashish, cocaine, crack cocaine, inhalants, hallucinogens, heroin, or prescription-type drugs used nonmedically.
  • Combined data from SAMHSA's 2004 to 2006 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health were used to produce average annualized data on driving under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs in the past year for each State based on self reports by adults aged 18 or older.
  • Based on the combined 2004 to 2006 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health data from current drivers aged 18 or older, 15.1% had driven under the influence of alcohol during the past year and 4.7% had driven under the influence of illicit drugs.
  • States with the highest rates of driving under the influence of alcohol in the past year among adults aged 18 or older were Wisconsin (26.4%), North Dakota (24.9%), Minnesota (23.5%), Nebraska (22.9%), and South Dakota (21.6%).
  • The highest rates of driving under the influence of illicit drugs in the past year among adults aged 18 or older were in the District of Columbia (7.0%), Rhode Island (6.8%), Massachusetts (6.4%), Montana (6.3%), and Wyoming (6.2%).
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Blacks Have Much Lower Incidence of Alcohol Abuse than Whites
By Michael Smith, North American Correspondent,
MedPage Today
Published: April 22, 2008

BETHESDA, Md., April 22 -- Blacks are 40% less likely than whites to develop alcohol abuse and Hispanics are half as likely as whites to develop generalized anxiety disorder.

These are among the few surprises in a major study of the incidence of such disorders, reported Bridget Grant, Ph.D., of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and colleagues online today in Molecular Psychiatry.
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Sociodemographic and psychopathologic predictors of first incidence of DSM-IV substance use, mood and anxiety disorders: results from the Wave 2 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions
Molecular Psychiatry advance online publication 22 April 2008

The objective of this study was to present nationally representative findings on sociodemographic and psychopathologic predictors of first incidence of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edn (DSM-IV) substance, mood and anxiety disorders using the Wave 2 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions.

One-year incidence rates of DSM-IV substance, mood and anxiety disorders were highest for alcohol abuse (1.02), alcohol dependence (1.70), major depressive disorder (MDD; 1.51) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD; 1.12).

Incidence rates were significantly greater (P<0.01) among men for substance use disorders and greater among women for mood and anxiety disorders except bipolar disorders and social phobia. Age was inversely related to all disorders. Black individuals were at decreased risk of incident alcohol abuse and Hispanic individuals were at decreased risk of GAD. Anxiety disorders at baseline more often predicted incidence of other anxiety disorders than mood disorders. Reciprocal temporal relationships were found between alcohol abuse and dependence, MDD and GAD, and GAD and panic disorder. Borderline and schizotypal personality disorders predicted most incident disorders.

Incidence rates of substance, mood and anxiety disorders were comparable to or greater than rates of lung cancer, stroke and cardiovascular disease. The greater incidence of all disorders in the youngest cohort underscores the need for increased vigilance in identifying and treating these disorders among young adults.

Strong common factors and unique factors appear to underlie associations between alcohol abuse and dependence, MDD and GAD, and GAD and panic disorder.

The major results of this study are discussed with regard to prevention and treatment implications.

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Systems Biology - The Solution to Understanding Alcohol-Induced Disorders?
Volume 31, Number 1, 2008



The effects of alcohol on the body are complex and can be studied on an environmental as well as intrinsic level. Alcohol-induced disorders, including organ damage and addiction, reflect the genetic and epigenetic makeup and the cumulative responses to alcohol exposure over time. At the molecular level, the effects of alcohol and its metabolites are the consequences of changes in DNA, RNA, proteins, metabolites, and other molecules. At the systems level, alcohol affects a variety of organs, biochemical or signaling pathways, and biological processes. This article by Drs. Q. Max Guo and Sam Zakhari is a commentary on the benefits of studying the effects of alcohol abuse using a systems biology approach. Alcohol research using a systems biology approach will prove fruitful in unraveling the mechanisms of complex alcohol-induced disorders.


In an effort to transform the Nation’s medical research capabilities and improve the translation of research into practice, the National Institutes of Health has designed a Roadmap for Medical Research, consisting of three major themes—new pathways to discovery, research teams of the future, and reengineering the clinical research enterprise. This sidebar by Ms. Lori Wolfgang Kantor describes the initiatives within each theme.


Alcoholism results from a complex interaction of genetic as well as environmental and social factors. Increasing interest in the heritability of alcoholism has resulted in numerous studies of how single genes, as well as an individual’s entire genetic content, influence alcoholism risk. This article by Ms. Chantel D. Sloan, Ms. Vicki Sayarath, and Dr. Jason H. Moore examines how technological and statistical tools can be used to further the understanding of alcoholism’s genetic basis as well as key findings from candidate gene and genome-wide studies. These studies confirm the role of genetics in the development of alcoholism and elucidate the need for a systems-based approach to the study of the genetic basis of the disease.


Metabolomics—a systems biology approach to characterizing metabolites produced in biochemical pathways—has contributed to many studies of disease progression and treatment. Metabolomic approaches are particularly useful because the metabolome— the entire set of all metabolites in a cell or tissue—represents the cell’s or tissue’s functional status more closely than, for example, the genome, because it responds to induced chemical or environmental changes and reflects the overall effects of all genetic and environmental alterations. The article by Drs. George G. Harrigan, Greg Maguire, and Laszlo Boros discusses how metabolomic approaches also may be applicable in alcohol research, using the examples of lipid metabolism and of metabolic pathways involving the vitamin thiamine, both of which are altered by excessive alcohol use. By further increasing the number and types of metabolites that can be measured in a given biological sample, metabolomic approaches may be able to help define the role of the many different metabolic pathways impacted by alcohol abuse and provide a means to support discovery and development of novel medications for the treatment of alcoholism and related conditions.


Proteomics research—the study of all the proteins in a cell, tissue, or organism—increasingly is being used in alcohol research to study alcohol’s effects on the body. This article by Dr. Susanne Hiller-Sturmhöfel, Mr. Josip Sobin, and Dr. R. Dayne Mayfield introduces numerous proteomic approaches, including shotgun strategies, assays to determine protein–protein interactions, and in silico analyses. All of these strategies are being used to identify the proteins that are affected by alcohol. Moreover, the results of such analyses may help in the identification of biomarkers of alcoholism and susceptibility to alcohol-induced tissue damage as well as of proteins that may eventually become therapeutic targets for alcoholism.


Recent technological advances that allow for processing of numerous samples simultaneously have enabled researchers to monitor complex cellular processes on a molecular level. This article by Hans Peter Fischer discusses mathematical and computational model approaches to systems biology. The article explores the “-omics” technologies—transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics. The information gained from these experimental approaches should shed new light on the biochemical reactions that control functions such as metabolism, cell growth, reproduction, and the stress response.


Excessive alcohol use adversely affects brain functioning and is associated with certain neurological disorders. Although systems biology approaches are not yet being used extensively in the study of alcohol-related neurological disorders, they have been used in the study of other neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, which increasingly is becoming a major public health concern. Researchers using systems biological approaches to study the development and progression of this degenerative disease have discovered several genes whose expression already is altered in patients exhibiting the disease’s earliest stages. This article by Drs. Giulio M. Pasinetti and Susanne Hiller-Sturmhöfel discusses systems biology approaches, such as cDNA microarrays, protein array studies, and proteomic approaches, for studying Alzheimer’s disease, potential genes involved in its development, as well as the mechanisms underlying alcohol’s harmful effects on the brain and its consequences.


Alcohol abuse has long been linked to an increased risk for lung infection (i.e., pneumonia). However, recent studies have shown that alcohol abuse also increases the risk of acute lung injury following major trauma, such as a serious motor vehicle accident, gunshot wound, or other event requiring hospitalization or when there is a risk of the spread of bacteria attributed to infection. This article by Drs. Corey D. Kershaw and David M. Guidot reviews recent studies that have found genetic analysis to be helpful in identifying potential candidate genes involved in alcohol-induced lung dysfunction, which might explain the newly identified association between alcohol abuse and acute lung injury in humans.


Exposure of the growing fetus to alcohol in utero can cause a broad range of potential neurological disorders, ranging from alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder at the lowest exposure levels to fetal alcohol syndrome at the highest level. This article by Drs. Julia M. Gohlke, Susanne Hiller-Sturmhöfel, and Elaine M. Faustman discusses the effects of alcohol on nerve cell development (i.e., neurogenesis) and the formation of their connections with neighboring cells (i.e., synaptogenesis). Systems-based approaches, such as the generation of computational models to determine the relative effects of alcohol on various processes during brain development, can help to translate research findings obtained at a molecular or cellular level into assessment of risk associated with prenatal alcohol exposure.



50 Best Collection on Alcohol Harm Reduction

With this project, the International Harm Reduction Association (IHRA) aims to identify and collect approximately 50 documents that provide the best information on the subject of alcohol harm reduction. This will create a thorough and broad information base on this topic, with papers representative of a range of sub-topics and research and papers from around the world. This project is the first major output from IHRA’s new
Global Alcohol Harm Reduction Network (GAHR-Net) – a free network designed to provide a forum for researchers, advocates, practitioners, policy makers and communities to discuss practical alcohol harm reduction interventions and policy options. Through this document collection, GAHR-Net and the dedicated alcohol pages on the IHRA website, IHRA aims to push the alcohol harm reduction field forward - connecting those who support or practice alcohol harm reduction, developing a sense of belonging and community, and facilitating discussions. This is the latest in a series of “50 Best Collections” commissioned or managed by IHRA.
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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Elderly drinkers may be putting themselves at risk|Tribune reporter
22 April 2008
The 71-year-old former community college teacher was struggling in her retirement. She missed her job. Divorced and living alone, with her children far away, she felt increasingly isolated and lonely.

As boredom and depression sunk in, she turned more and more to alcohol for solace.
But her drinking presented a whole new set of problems. The retired Chicago teacher stopped eating and lost weight, and she fell several times, injuring herself.

With the nation's population graying, health professionals have grown increasingly concerned about the number of people 65 and older who drink unhealthy amounts of alcohol.

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society reported that 9 percent of elderly Medicare beneficiaries—16 percent of the men and 4 percent of the women—engaged in unhealthy drinking. Researchers said those numbers could be conservative because they are based on self-reporting.
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For Women, the Wineglass Is Half Full
Washington Post

Tuesday, April 22, 2008; Page HE01

Raising a glass of wine and wishing "Salud!" -- Health! -- is one of life's many pleasures.

But for women, this well-meaning cheer rings hollow: There's mounting evidence that drinking wine and other alcoholic beverages increases the risk of breast cancer.

That's not the image that many people have about sipping wine, beer or other alcoholic beverages in moderation. A recent Harvard study of 878 people found that nearly two-thirds of drinkers and about a third of teetotalers considered such imbibing to be safe and healthful. So healthful that about 30 percent of those surveyed said the purported health benefits of alcohol are one reason they drink.

The link between alcohol and breast cancer is something that "almost nobody in the study had heard about," says the survey's lead author, Kenneth Mukamal, an internist at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston. Only 10 percent correctly identified breast cancer as a possible risk of moderate drinking, the researchers reported in the journal Family Medicine.
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