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, June 21, 2008

Editorial: Binge rules could drive you to drink

June 21, 2008

It is not difficult to see why Kevin Rudd's Government is alarmed about young Australians' abuse of alcohol. A report published this month in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health found that the number of women aged 18 to 24 who had to go to hospital after binge drinking had more than doubled in less than a decade. About half were diagnosed with acute intoxication.

Such statistics persuaded Mr Rudd to embark on a national strategy which, among other things, included a 70 per cent rise in the tax on alcopops. Now, far less persuasively, there is a proposed new set of guidelines on what constitutes binge drinking. So severe are these that not only are they likely to be disregarded, but they also risk devaluing the whole strategy.
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Maturation-Dependent Alcohol Resistance in the Developing Mouse: Cerebellar Neuronal Loss and Gene Expression During Alcohol-Vulnerable and -Resistant Periods
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research OnlineEarly Articles 19 June 2008

Alcohol abuse during pregnancy injures the fetal brain. One of alcohol’s most important neuroteratogenic effects is neuronal loss. Rat models have shown that the cerebellum becomes less vulnerable to alcohol-induced neuronal death as it matures.

We determined if maturation-dependent alcohol resistance occurs in mice and compared patterns of gene expression during the alcohol resistant and sensitive periods.

Purkinje and granule cells were vulnerable to alcohol-induced death at PD2 to 4, but not at PD8 to 10. Acquisition of maturation-dependent alcohol resistance coincided with changes in the expression of neurodevelopmental genes. The vulnerability of cerebellar neurons to alcohol toxicity declined in parallel with decreasing levels of Math1 and Cyclin D2, markers of immature granule cells. Likewise, the rising resistance to alcohol toxicity paralleled increasing levels of GABA α-6 and Wnt-7a, markers of mature granule neurons. Expression of growth factors and genes with survival promoting function (IGF-1, BDNF, and cyclic AMP response element binding protein) did not rise as the cerebellum transitioned from alcohol-vulnerable to alcohol-resistant. All 3 were expressed at substantial levels during the vulnerable period and were not expressed at higher levels later. Acute alcohol exposure altered the expression of neurodevelopmental genes and growth factor genes when administered either during the alcohol vulnerable period or resistant period. However, the patterns in which gene expression changed varied among the genes and depended on timing of alcohol administration.

Mice have a temporal window of vulnerability in the first week of life, during which cerebellar neurons are more sensitive to alcohol toxicity than during the second week. Expression of genes governing neuronal maturation changes in synchrony with the acquisition of alcohol resistance. Growth factors do not rise as the cerebellum transitions from alcohol-vulnerable to alcohol-resistant. Thus, a process intrinsic to neuronal maturation, rather than rising levels of growth factors, likely underlies maturation-dependent alcohol resistance.

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Role of Major NMDA or AMPA Receptor Subunits in MK-801 Potentiation of Ethanol Intoxication
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research OnlineEarly Articles 19 June 2008

The glutamate system plays a major role in mediating EtOH’s effects on brain and behavior, and is implicated in the pathophysiology of alcohol-related disorders. N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) antagonists such as MK-801 (dizocilpine) interact with EtOH at the behavioral level, but the molecular basis of this interaction is unclear.

MK-801 markedly potentiated the ataxic effects of 1.75 g/kg EtOH and the sedative/hypnotic effects of 3.0 g/kg EtOH, but not the hypothermic effects of 3.0 g/kg EtOH, in C57BL/6J and 129/SvImJ mice. Phencyclidine potentiated EtOH-induced sedation/hypnosis in both inbred strains. Neither NR2A nor GluR1 KO significantly altered basal EtOH-induced ataxia, hypothermia, or sedation/hypnosis. Ro 25-6981 modestly increased EtOH-induced sedation/hypnosis. The ability of MK-801 to potentiate EtOH-induced ataxia and sedation/hypnosis was unaffected by GluR1 KO or NR2B antagonism. NR2A KO partially reduced MK-801 + EtOH-induced sedation/hypnosis, but not ataxia or hypothermia.

Data confirm a robust and response-specific potentiating effect of MK-801 on sensitivity to EtOH’s intoxicating effects. Inactivation of three major components of glutamate signaling had no or only partial impact on the ability of MK-801 to potentiate behavioral sensitivity to EtOH. Further work to elucidate the mechanisms underlying NMDAR × EtOH interactions could ultimately provide novel insight into the role of NMDARs in alcoholism and its treatment.

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Inhibition of 5α-Reduced Steroid Biosynthesis Impedes Acquisition of Ethanol Drinking in Male C57BL/6J Mice
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research OnlineEarly Articles 19 June 2008

Allopregnanolone (ALLO) is a physiologically relevant neurosteroid modulator of GABAA receptors, and it exhibits a psychopharmacological profile that closely resembles the post-ingestive effects of ethanol. The 5α-reductase inhibitor finasteride (FIN), which inhibits biosynthesis of ALLO and structurally related neurosteroids, was previously demonstrated to reduce the maintenance of limited-access ethanol consumption.

The primary aim of the current work was to determine whether FIN would reduce the acquisition of drinking in ethanol-naïve mice.

FIN dose-dependently blocked the acquisition of 10E drinking and prevented the development of ethanol preference, thereby suggesting that the GABAergic neurosteroids may be important in the establishment of stable drinking patterns. FIN-elicited reductions in 10E intake were primarily attributable to selective and marked reductions in bout frequency, as no changes were observed in bout size, duration, or lick rates following FIN treatment. FIN-treated mice continued to exhibit attenuated ethanol consumption after 2 weeks post-treatment, despite a full recovery in brain ALLO levels. A second study confirmed the rightward and downward shift in the acquisition of ethanol intake following 7 daily FIN injections. While there were no significant group differences in brain ALLO levels following the seventh day of ethanol drinking, ALLO levels were decreased by 28% in the FIN-50 group.

Although the exact mechanism is unclear, FIN and other pharmacological interventions that modulate the GABAergic system may prove useful in curbing ethanol intake acquisition in at-risk individuals.

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Decision Making in Alcohol Dependence: Insensitivity to Future Consequences and Comorbid Disinhibitory Psychopathology
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research OnlineEarly Articles 19 June 2008

Alcohol dependence (AD) is often comorbid with other disinhibitory disorders that are characterized by poor decision making and evidenced by disadvantageous strategies on laboratory tasks such as the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT).

In this study, a variant of the IGT is used to examine specific mechanisms that may account for poor decision making on the task in AD both with and without comorbid psychopathology.

Both AD and CCD were associated with greater IFC but not greater PLvS. Structural equation models (SEMs) indicated that IFC was associated with higher scores on a latent dimensional “disinhibitory disorders” factor representing the covariance among all lifetime measures of disinhibitory psychopathology, but was not directly related to any one disinhibitory disorder. SEMs also suggested that adult antisocial behavior was uniquely associated with a greater PLvS.

Disadvantageous decision making on the IGT in those with AD and related disinhibitory disorders may reflect an IFC that is common to the covariance among these disorders but not unique to any one disorder.

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Peptidergic Agonists of Activity-Dependent Neurotrophic Factor Protect Against Prenatal Alcohol-Induced Neural Tube Defects and Serotonin Neuron Loss
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research OnlineEarly Articles 19 June 2008

Prenatal alcohol exposure via maternal liquid diet consumption by C57BL/6 (B6) mice causes conspicuous midline neural tube deficit (dysraphia) and disruption of genesis and development of serotonin (5-HT) neurons in the raphe nuclei, together with brain growth retardation.

The current study tested the hypothesis that concurrent treatment with either an activity-dependent neurotrophic factor (ADNF) agonist peptide [SALLRSIPA, (SAL)] or an activity-dependent neurotrophic protein (ADNP) agonist peptide [NAPVSIPQ, (NAP)] would protect against these alcohol-induced deficits in brain development.

Prenatal alcohol exposure resulted in abnormal openings along the midline and delayed closure of ventral canal in the brainstem. This dysraphia was associated with reductions in the number of 5-HT neurons both in the rostral raphe nuclei (that gives rise to ascending 5-HT projections) and in the caudal raphe (that gives rise to the descending 5-HT projections). Concurrent treatment of the alcohol-consuming dams with SAL prevented dysraphia and protected against the alcohol-induced reductions in 5-HT neurons in both the rostral and caudal raphe. NAP was less effective in protecting against dysraphia and did not protect against 5-HT loss in the rostral raphe, but did protect against loss in the caudal raphe.

These findings further support the potential usefulness of these peptides for therapeutic interventions in pregnancies at risk for alcohol-induced developmental deficits. Notably, the ascending 5-HT projections of the rostral raphe have profound effects in regulating forebrain development and function, and the descending 5-HT projections of the caudal raphe are critical for regulating respiration. Protection of the rostral 5-HT-system may help prevent structural and functional deficits linked to abnormal forebrain development, and protection of the caudal systems may also reduce the increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome associated with prenatal alcohol exposure.

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Prediction of Serotonergic Treatment Efficacy Using Age of Onset and Type A/B Typologies of Alcoholism
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research OnlineEarly Articles 19 June 2008

Previously, we reported that ondansetron was efficacious at treating early-onset (≤25-years old) but not late-onset (≥26-years old) alcoholics in a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial (n = 321 enrolled patients, 271 of them randomized). Randomized participants underwent 11 weeks of treatment with ondansetron (1, 4, or 16 μg/kg twice daily; n = 67, 77, and 71, respectively) or identical placebo (n = 56), plus weekly standardized group cognitive behavioral therapy.

For this study, we reanalyzed the original sample to determine whether the Type A/B typological classification predicts ondansetron treatment response. In this comparative analysis, k-means clustering was applied to 19 baseline measures of drinking behavior, psychopathology, and social functioning, similar to those used by Babor in the original typological derivation. A 2-factor solution described robustly 2 groups phenomenologically consistent with Type A/B classification. Subjects were subdivided into early- and late-onset alcoholics.

Seventy-two percent of Type B subjects had early-onset alcoholism (EOA); 67% of Type A subjects had late-onset alcoholism (LOA). The A/B typology better discriminated 2 clusters based upon baseline severity of alcoholism. There was a significant effect (p < 0.05) for Type B alcoholics to respond to ondansetron (4 μg/kg); however, Type A alcoholics receiving ondansetron showed no beneficial effect. Early-onset vs. late-onset classification predicted ondansetron response substantially better than Type A/B classification, which did not add to the prediction of treatment outcome. Further analyses showed that ondansetron was effective in the 33% of Type A alcoholics with EOA but ineffective in the 28% of Type B alcoholics with LOA.

Type A/B classification best discriminates alcoholic subtypes based upon baseline severity. Early- vs. late-onset classification is, however, a better predictor of response to ondansetron treatment because it might be more closely related to fundamental neurobiological processes associated with the underlying pathophysiology of alcoholism.

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Americans with Disabilities Act and the recovery community

eNewsletter - June 20, 2008

Congress is moving quickly to strengthen protections provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for people with disabilities, including people in recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs.
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Industry invests millions to curb alcohol abuse

Publication Date: 6/21/2008

It was not until four years ago that the country’s alcoholic beverage manufacturers stepped up efforts to encourage responsible drinking. The industry has since then invested millions of shillings annually in an effort to curb underage drinking, over consumption of alcohol and drunk driving.

Self-regulation has therefore, become inevitable in an industry that has registered soaring growth over the years. This explains the amount of resources that the industry players have set aside for campaigns promoting responsible drinking.
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Revealed: Students drowning in alcohol

Publication Date: 6/21/2008

The devastating effects of alcohol and drugs on young people in Kenya can be laid bare today.

Experts are sounding alarm bells after two new studies revealed that school children as young as 11 are falling prey to drug abuse.

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Alcohol Primary Care Service Framework released

The NHS have released Primary Care Service Framework: Alcohol Services in Primary Care, designed to support commissioners, practitioners and providers in setting up alcohol interventions in primary care.

The document is likely to be welcomed across the country as increasing numbers of PCTs and local authorities are setting up Screening and Brief Intervention programmes within primary care settings, particularly with General Practitioners and in cases other settings such as pharmacies.
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Biomarkers for Alcohol-Induced Disorders
Friday, June 27, 2008

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
5635 Fishers Lane
Rockville, MD 20852

Map and Directions

Friday, June 27, 2008

Please click here for the AGENDA

Alcoholism is a devastating disease affecting more than 18 million adults in the United States and costing society over $185 billion annually. Approximately 100,000 Americans die annually due to alcohol-related events. One in four children under the age of 18 is exposed to family alcohol problems and between 20 to 40 percent of hospital admissions are alcohol related. Due to the host of medical, social, economic and personal afflictions associated with problematic drinking, it is vital that effective strategies be developed to prevent, diagnose, and treat alcohol-induced disorders. Essential to these strategies is the development of effective diagnostic tests or biomarkers to detect high-risk drinking behavior and alcohol-induced tissue injury.

This meeting is intended for alcohol researchers interested in developing new biomarkers for alcohol consumption and alcohol-induced tissue injury, to provide a fresh perspective of the challenges to discovery and validation of biomarkers employing tools and technologies from the genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, and bioinformatic fields. NIAAA is committed to fostering the identification of diagnostic signatures or fingerprints that would predict in more reliable ways high-risk alcohol consumption, detecting relapse drinking, and providing early markers of tissue injury during fetal alcohol exposure as well as injury to tissues such as brain, liver, pancreas, heart, the immune system, and in conditions such as cancer in adult abusers.

Organizing Committee:

Jose Velazquez, Ph.D., Chair

Howard Moss, MD

Max Guo, Ph.D.

Lisa Neuhold, Ph.D.

Kathy Jung, Ph.D.

Raye Litten, Ph.D.

This meeting is sponsored by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, USA.

Registration is free and attendance limited only by space availability.


Contact Information
Debra Rainey
301-593-2800 Ext. 22
NIAAA Director's Report on Institute Activities to 118th Advisory Council Meeting - June 5, 2008



Legislation, Budget, and Policy


NIAAA Research Programs


Director’s Activities


Scientific Meetings


NIAAA Staff and Organization




Research Priority Emphasis and Core Support Teams



Multi-Media Products from NIAAA

What’s Ahead


Friday, June 20, 2008

Marketing actions can modulate neural representations of experienced pleasantness
PNAS | January 22, 2008 | vol. 105 | no. 3 | 1050-1054

Despite the importance and pervasiveness of marketing, almost nothing is known about the neural mechanisms through which it affects decisions made by individuals.

We propose that marketing actions, such as changes in the price of a product, can affect neural representations of experienced pleasantness.

We tested this hypothesis by scanning human subjects using functional MRI while they tasted wines that, contrary to reality, they believed to be different and sold at different prices. Our results show that increasing the price of a wine increases subjective reports of flavor pleasantness as well as blood-oxygen-level-dependent activity in medial orbitofrontal cortex, an area that is widely thought to encode for experienced pleasantness during experiential tasks.

The paper provides evidence for the ability of marketing actions to modulate neural correlates of experienced pleasantness and for the mechanisms through which the effect operates.

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"Speedballs" in a can

Law enforcement copes with young people's use of popular energy drinks containing or combined with alcohol

By Rebecca Kanable

Two college students on a train disguised their alcoholic beverages inside brown paper bags, while another didn't bother to cover up the fact that he was drinking a can of the caffeinated alcohol beverage, Sparks. To many observers, the undisguised can appeared to be a soda, recalls Michele Simon, research and policy director of alcohol industry watchdog, the Marin Institute, of the situation she witnessed on the train that day.

On the other hand, anyone drinking "Cocaine" from a can might get a second look. The name of this popular energy drink is in the United States again, according to Redux Beverages LLC, after being known as "No Name" or "Insert Name Here" while the company was responding to an FDA letter warning about its marketing practices. Cocaine, the energy drink, is a legal and highly caffeinated (280 mg) energy drink (with no alcohol).
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News Release - New SAMHSA Report Pinpoints Substance Use and Mental Health Problems in Individual Localities Throughout the Nation

Survey reveals wide variations and unexpected patterns of substance use and mental illness across more than 340 localities across the United States

Mental health and substance abuse problems affect every local community throughout America – but in unique, and sometimes surprising ways, according to a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The report offers highly detailed analyses of the substance abuse and mental health problems occurring within these smaller geographical areas.
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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Gippsland by-election preview

• Independent Distillers of Australia, representing the makers of pre-mixed drinks, are running local television ads in a bid to turn the by-election into a referendum on the “alcopops” tax hike. Speaking on ABC Radio’s PM program, Brian Costar of Swinburne University said he “couldn’t think of a longer bow to draw to make an association between that ad and the outcome in the by-election”. I’m not sure: if a flannel-shirted wood-chopping Bundy-and-cola pre-mix swiller isn’t the authentic voice of Gippsland, I’d like to know what is.

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Nelson calls time on booze tax

Mark Metherell

June 17, 2008

THE Government could raise alcohol taxes and introduce stricter drinking guidelines, the Opposition Leader, Brendan Nelson, said while launching a fresh salvo on the anti-binge drinking campaign.

The Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, denied the claims and accused the Opposition of being in league with the distiller industry, which has financed an advertisement for the Gippsland byelection attacking the Government's 70 per cent tax increase on alcopops.
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Vancouver Summer Institute: Addiction and Public Health 2008
July 21-25, 2008

Simon Fraser University,
Harbour Centre

The Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health & Addiction (CARMHA) in conjunction with the Centre for Addiction Research of BC (CARBC) welcome the participation of all health care professionals, undergraduate students and graduate students.

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Women's childhood and adult adverse experiences, mental health, and binge drinking: The California Women's Health Survey
Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy
2008, 3:15

This study examined sociodemographic, physical and mental health, and adult and childhood adverse experiences associated with binge drinking in a representative sample of women in the State of California.

The prevalence of binge drinking was 9.3%. Poor physical health, and poorer mental health (i.e., symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, and depression, feeling overwhelmed by stress), were associated with binge drinking when demographics were controlled, as were adverse experiences in adulthood (intimate partner violence, having been physically or sexually assaulted, or having experienced the death of someone close) and in childhood (living with someone abusing substances or mentally ill, or with a mother victimized by violence, or having been physically or sexually assaulted). When adult mental health and adverse experiences were also controlled, having lived as a child with someone who abused substances or was mentally ill was associated with binge drinking. Associations between childhood adverse experiences and binge drinking could not be explained by women=s poorer mental health status in adulthood.

Identifying characteristics of women who engage in binge drinking is a key step in prevention and intervention efforts. Binge drinking programs should consider comprehensive approaches that address women=s mental health symptoms as well as circumstances in the childhood home.

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Science Fair
Center Newsletter Volume 7 Issue 1 Spring 2008

Kapil Ramachandran, a Senior at Westwood High School (Round Rock Independent School District), has won top awards for work performed in Dr. Nigel Atkinson’s laboratory. Kapil entered a project entitled “The Novel Role of the GluCl-α Ion Channel and Diazepambinding Genes in Alcohol Addiction” at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), the largest world-wide science fair for high school students. Competing against approximately 1,500 students from over 40 countries, Kapil won three prizes:

First Award of $3,000 in the Cellular & Molecular Biology Category

Intel ISEF Best of Category Award of $5,000 for Top First Place Winner

First Place Scholarship of $2,500, Addiction Science Award, co-sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and Scholastic, the global children's publishing, education, and media company

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WCAAR Member Elected to the National Adademy of Sciences
Center Newsletter Volume 7 Isuse 1 Spring 2008

Regarded as one of the greatest distinctions a scientist can receive, three investigators from The University of Texas at Austin were elected to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) on April 29, 2008, including Waggoner Center member Dr. Richard W. Aldrich, the Karl Folkers Chair in Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research II and Professor and Chair, Section of Neurobiology, College of Natural Sciences. Joining Dr. Aldrich as newly elected Academy members are Dr. Wilson S. Geisler III, the David Wechsler Regents Chair in Psychology, College of Liberal Arts, and Dr. David M. Hillis, the Alfred W. Roark Centennial Professor in Natural Sciences and Director, Center for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics. NAS elected 72 members and 18 foreign associates this year, bringing the total number of members to 2,041 and associates to 397. UT Austin now counts 13 Academy members on campus. A reception honoring Drs. Aldrich, Geisler, and Hillis was held April 30, 2008, and hosted by the Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Dr. Alan Lambowitz, Director.

Dr. Aldrich, an ion channel biophysicist, studies the structure and function of proteins involved in inter- and intracellular communication. In a statement supporting Dr. Aldrich’s election, the Academy noted that he “pioneered the study of physical mechanisms that determine whether ion channels are open or closed. He demonstrated a ‘ball and chain’ mechanism for shutting off potassium channels, and delineated how depolarization and calcium operate jointly to open calcium-activated potassium channels, thus illuminating both channel inactivation and activation.” His lab developed a quantitative model of this process that is applicable to the study of other proteins.
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Honors & Awards
NIH Fellowships
Center Newsletter Volume 7 Issue 1 Spring 2008

The following students won the prestigious National Research Award for Predoctoral Fellows from The National Institutes of Health (NIH). Since the year 2000, 33 graduate students at The University of Texas at Austin have won this highly competitive award. We are proud to say that 19 of those 33 students have studied with Waggoner Center faculty.

Brian Bernier, (Morikawa Lab)
Ethanol Action on Glutamate Induced Pause in Dopamine Neurons

Jennifer Carrillo, (Gonzales Lab)
Sensory Stimuli of Ethanol Elicits Dopamine Signals in the Accumbens Core

M. Alexander Kenaston, (Mills Lab)
Biomedical Regulation of Mitochondrial Uncoupling Protein 3

Monica Maldonado, (Jones Lab)
Rehabilitative Training Effect on Cell Proliferation after Cortical Damage

Cynthia Stappenbeck, (Fromme Lab)
Alcohol, Emotion Regulation, and Escalation of Aggression during Dating Conflict

Reagan Wetherill, (Fromme Lab)
The Etiology of Fragmentary Blackouts: Memory Processes and Neural Activations

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Director's Column
Center Line Newsletter Volume 19, Number 2, June 2008

This is an exciting time in alcohol research. This issue highlights translational efforts to move animal models of alcohol dependence and relapse to new therapies for those who have problems with alcohol. An interesting and sometimes frustrating aspect of translating animal models to humans is that people who are recruited must be treated with behavioral therapy as well as any investigational drug. Animal studies do not address the contribution of psychotherapy. Psychotherapy, usually motivational or cognitive behavioral therapy has helped many with alcohol problems. Psychotherapy helps those seeking help and most treatment clinics have patients who walk in needing help or who have been referred by the justice system. Often therapists run addiction clinics without a physician. Unfortunately, few physicians identify and refer patients for treatment. Pharmacotherapy requires physician supervision and most medication trials are run by physicians.
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Bowles CAS Trains Future Leaders

Center Line Newsletter Volume 19, Number 2, June 2008

The Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies (CAS) is pleased to announce the second renewal of its 5-year training grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) that has been funded for over 10 years. The $1.2 million funding will help the Center to build on its well-established research training program, focusing on the molecular and cellular approaches to alcoholism.

Since 1997, Center faculty members have trained nearly 200 students in order to develop the next generation of addiction medicine researchers. Training for our research scientists includes programs in basic laboratory science, addiction biology, neuropharmacology, alcoholic liver disease, alcohol-related birth defects, clinical research, and substance abuse treatment therapy.

CAS Director Fulton Crews, Ph.D., believes the program’s success is based largely on a philosophy that includes the selection of top-quality students, as well as faculty members who share a common goal of providing the best training and experience. . . . . . .

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Clinician Scientist Garbutt Translates Animal Research to Advances in Clinical Medicine
Center Line NewsletterVolume 19, Number 2, June 2008

One in ten Americans grapples with alcoholism at some time during their life. Alcohol-dependent individuals face a challenge notoriously difficult to overcome, and more than 75% of alcoholics who seek treatment relapse to drinking within the first year. Dr. James C. Garbutt of the University of North Carolina’s Department of Psychiatry, the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Program, and the Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies, is working to improve this statistic. Both a psychiatrist and a scientist, Garbutt is adept at identifying potential clinical applications of findings from animal models. Likewise, he is skilled in planning and implementing studies that translate concepts gleaned from basic research into clinical advances.

Garbutt’s work with the drug baclofen illustrates his facility in these regards. Baclofen acts on the brain’s GABAergic system, which is important in mediating alcohol intake and mood, among other functions. Garbutt was motivated to investigate the effects of baclofen on drinking in alcoholics by basic research showing that baclofen reduces alcohol intake in several animal models and attenuates the anxiety induced by repeated exposure to alcohol in alcohol-dependent animals. . . . . . .

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Reduce the Binge Drinking Risk:
Stop Corporations From Giving Away Alcohol

Next Tuesday, California lawmakers will vote on a dangerous Big Alcohol-sponsored bill. AB 2293 would allow alcohol producers to bypass distributors and retailers and offer free unlimited product give-aways at their own promotional events.

Industry lobbyists claim that the alcohol industry in California is at a competitive disadvantage because they can't use this effective marketing tactic to grow sales and profits. Public health and safety advocates around the state think otherwise. They believe this practice will cause binge drinking and drunk driving to increase at the public's expense

The California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control has also indicated that the resources to adequately monitor such alcohol give-away events do not exist.

Californians already suffer from the country's highest rates of alcohol-related deaths and injuries. Tell the senator in charge of the committee making the decision to place public health and safety ahead of industry sales and profits.

Take Action today!


Discernible drop in alcohol use

20 June 2008

There has been a discernible reduction in alcohol consumption with the implementation of the Mathata Thitha programme, Chief Government Whip and Urban Development and Sacred Area Development Minister Dinesh Gunawardena told Parliament yesterday.
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Boozing parents influence kid: survey

June 19, 2008

The drinking habits of mums and dads, rather than advertising or peers, have the most impact on a child's future alcohol consumption,

That is message of a new national campaign, which has the lofty goal of making the next generation believe it is uncool to get drunk.
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Home Office launches £4 million Binge Drinking campaign

The Home Office has launched a 'new, hard-hitting national advertising campaign to drive home the serious consequences of binge drinking to 18 to 24 year olds'. The campaign was launched this week by the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and will include television, print and online adverts.
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2008 Recovery Month Kit

This toolkit features helpful resources, event ideas, suggestions, and samples on how to reach local media, fact sheets for key constituency groups and special audiences, and more. All of the materials can help you convey the 2008 observance theme: Join the Voices for Recovery: Real People, Real Recovery. The materials focus on treatment providers, families, faith-based organizations, employers and civil service workers.

Order Toolkit Publication

The Role of Recovering Support Services in Recovery-Oriented Systems of Care White Paper

Under the leadership of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), the substance use disorders treatment field is shifting from an acute care model of treatment to a chronic care approach, known as recovery-oriented systems of care. Recovery support services - services provided to people and families during the initiation, ongoing, and post-acute stages of their recovery - are an integral component of recovery-oriented systems of care.

The purpose of this White Paper is twofold: (1) to describe our understanding of the present state of recovery support services; and (2) to lay a framework for future activities and products that will support the continuing development of recovery support services.

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Watch the Home Office's anti-binge drinking ad
17 June 2008

See the latest in the Home Office's alcohol abuse campaign, targeted at young male drinkers. It was created by ad agency VCCP

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How brief can you get?

Three pioneering studies which have stood the test of time. All British, they showed that alcohol problems could be reduced without intensive (and expensive) treatments. The implications were immense, the controversy fierce.

British studies made a clean sweep of the top three places in a competitive international league – the world’s most cited alcohol treatment trials. Up to the end of 1995 three UK studies[i], [ii], [iii] had logged the greatest number of references recorded by the Science Citation Index, indicative of their influence on other researchers, their scientific standing, and their social/political relevance.[iv] Even more remarkable, among studies of psychosocial interventions, they also logged the highest annual citation rate.[v]

All over a decade old, any one of the studies would have warranted its own Old Gold stamp. What persuaded us to treat them as a unit was the fact that all three tackled how to do as much as possible with as little as was needed. Along with some other notable and mainly European studies, they seeded the ‘brief interventions’[i] debate which is still a priority for researchers and practitioners.

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Individual Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and Behavioral Couples Therapy in Alcohol Use Disorder: A Comparative Evaluation in Community-Based Addiction Treatment Centers
Psychother Psychosom 2008;77:280-288

Alcohol abuse serves as a chronic stressor between partners and has a deleterious effect on relationship functioning. Behavioral Couples Therapy (BCT) for alcohol dependence, studied as an adjunct to individual outpatient counseling, has shown to be effective in decreasing alcohol consumption and enhancing marital functioning, but no study has directly tested the comparative effectiveness of stand-alone BCT versus an individually focused cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) in a clinical community sample.

The present study is a randomized clinical trial evaluating the effectiveness of stand-alone BCT (n = 30) compared to individual CBT (n = 34) in the treatment of alcohol use disorders in community treatment centers in Dutch male and female alcoholics and their partners.

Results show both BCT and CBT to be effective in changing drinking behavior after treatment. BCT was not found to be superior to CBT. Marital satisfaction of the spouse increased significantly in the BCT condition but not in the CBT condition, the differences being significant at the post-test. Patients' self-efficacy to withstand alcohol-related high-risk situations increased significantly in both treatment conditions, but more so in CBT than in BCT after treatment. Treatment involvement of the spouse did not increase retention.

Regular practitioners in community treatment centers can effectively deliver both treatments. Stand-alone BCT is as effective as CBT in terms of reduced drinking and to some extent more effective in terms of enhancing relationship satisfaction. However, BCT is a more costly intervention, given that treatment sessions lasted almost twice as long as individual CBT sessions.

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The Self-Perception of Women Who Live With an Alcoholic Partner: Dialoging With Deviance, Strength, and Self-Fulfillment*
Family Relations 57 (3) , 390–403

The purpose of the present study was to learn about the self-perception of women who live with alcohol-addicted partners. It was hoped that avoiding to label the women in advance as codependent would facilitate a better understanding of their lives and self-perceptions.

The qualitative naturalist methodology used was based on a feminist framework. In-depth interviews with 10 women living with alcoholic partners were conducted and analyzed.

The findings revealed 3 central dialogues around which the women’s self-perceptions evolved—with deviance, with strength, and with self-fulfillment.

Findings are discussed relative to the ongoing discourse between the codependency approach and other social, psychological, and gender conceptions in this domain. Clinical implications and directions for future research are offered.

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