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

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


Saturday, July 5, 2008

81% say Australians have a binge-drinking culture

Heath Gilmore

July 6, 2008

HEALTH authorities will call on GPs and other medical workers to ask patients about their alcohol consumption as a poll reveals that four in five of us think Australia has a binge-drinking culture.

The recommendation to manage drinking behaviour before it gets out of control would be part of a plan to prevent alcohol disease that is being prepared by a working party for NSW Health.

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Friday, July 4, 2008

Brief Motivational Interventions for Heavy College Drinkers: A Randomized Controlled Trial
J Consult Clin Psychol. 2006 October; 74(5): 943–954.

In this randomized controlled trial, the authors evaluated brief motivational interventions (BMIs) for at-risk college drinkers.

Heavy drinking students (N = 509; 65% women, 35% men) were randomized into 1 of 6 intervention conditions formed by crossing baseline timeline followback (TLFB) interview (present versus absent) and intervention type (basic BMI, BMI enhanced with a decisional balance module, or none). Assessments completed at baseline, 1, 6, and 12 months measured typical and risky drinking as well as drinking-related problems.

Relative to controls, the TLFB interview reduced consumption but not problems at 1 month. The basic BMI improved all drinking outcomes beyond the effects of the TLFB at 1 month, whereas the enhanced BMI did not.

Risk reduction achieved by brief interventions maintained throughout the follow-up year.

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Screening for Alcohol Problems: An Epidemiological Perspective and Implications for Primary Care
Mo Med. 2008; 105(1): 67–71.

Excessive drinking and alcohol dependence are common and costly public health problems. Anecdotal and systematic evidence suggests that such problems are under-detected in the primary care setting, and that the latest generation of pharmacological treatments is under-utilized.

Several screening instruments are available for the detection of alcohol problems; we discuss epidemiological data gathered using one such instrument, the Patient Health Questionnaire alcohol abuse module.

In a random sample of 917 adults from the general population greater St. Louis, 19.6% of respondents screened positive for “probable alcohol abuse or dependence”.

While this is likely to be too high for an estimate of serious cases of alcoholism, evidence suggests that those who screen positive are much more likely to drink heavily on a regular basis, and to score low on a measure of mental-health related quality of life than those who do not screen positive. Hence, screening positive is indicative of unhealthy drinking patterns.

The regular use of such instruments in primary care settings could facilitate patient-physician communication regarding alcohol problems, thereby improving detection and leading to greater utilization of appropriate medical treatment, including pharmacotherapy.

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Secular Trends in the Lifetime Prevalence of Alcohol Dependence in the United States: A Re-Evaluation
Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2008 May ; 32(5): 763–770.

U.S. epidemiologic surveys have consistently found higher lifetime prevalence of alcohol dependence among younger subjects than among older groups. Because lifetime prevalence is cumulative, such patterns are suggestive of strong secular trends; i.e., more-recently born subjects have developed more disease in a shorter period of time than their elders. However, it remains unclear whether such patterns truly reflect secular trends or are confounded by age-dependent factors such as differential recall, differential mortality, and other effects.

Using data from 2 large, national epidemiological surveys, a repeated cross-sectional analysis was conducted to compare lifetime prevalence of alcohol dependence across temporally adjacent birth cohorts surveyed at the same age, thus enabling estimates of cross-cohort differences while controlling for age-related factors.

In contrast with results from single cross-sectional analyses, there were few significant cross-cohort differences among groups of men compared at similar ages. On the other hand, women born between 1954 and 1963 were at 1.2-fold higher odds for lifetime drinking, and those who drank were at 1.5-fold higher odds for lifetime alcohol dependence, compared with the immediately preceding birth cohort (1944 to 1953). The 1944 to 1953 cohort was also at elevated odds for lifetime drinking compared with their predecessors (1934 to 1943). These results were largely due to changes among White and Hispanic women.

These results suggest that there have been substantial secular increases in drinking and alcohol dependence among women, but not men. Analyses of single cross-sectional studies may tend to over-estimate secular trends by failing to account for age-dependent effects. Nonetheless, secular increases in drinking and alcohol dependence among women are evident after taking age-related factors into account.

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Acute Ethanol Exposure Attenuates Pattern Recognition Receptor Activated Macrophage Functions
Journal of Interferon & Cytokine Research. ahead of print July 2008

Both clinical and experimental data have linked acute ethanol exposure to increased susceptibility to infection as well as increased morbidity and mortality after injury. Macrophages play an integral role in the innate immune system and are important in priming the adaptive immune system.

In this study, we investigated the effect of a single in vivo exposure of macrophages to physiologically relevant levels of ethanol (1.2 and 2.9 g/kg) followed by ex vivo stimulation with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) or bacteria.

Our study conK rms the work of others showing that a single administration of ethanol suppresses the production of tumor necrosis factor-α(TNF-α), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and IL-12 in response to LPS. There was no effect of ethanol on LPS induction of cytokine production at 30 min after treatment. In contrast, at 3 h, both doses of ethanol exposure decreased ex vivo TNF-α production by splenic and alveolar macrophages.

Interestingly, the higher dose of ethanol resulted in sustained suppression of LPS-induced TNF-α production at 3 and 6 h after ethanol administration, as well as decreased IL-6 and IL-12 production after 6 h, as compared to control (saline-treated groups). Alveolar macrophages behaved similarly at 3 h after ethanol treatment. LPS-stimulated production of TNF-α and IL-6 was reduced at 3 h after ethanol administration, when compared with the saline-treated animals. Alveolar macrophages stimulated for 3 h with bacteria also showed decreased TNF-α and IL-6 production after harvested from mice given 2.9 g/kg ethanol for 3 h. This time point and high dose of ethanol also resulted in decreased Pseudomonas aeruginosa phagocytosis by alveolar macrophages.

Taken together, we conclude that the effects of physiological levels of ethanol are dose dependent, have effects that last after ethanol is cleared from the circulation, and can affect multiple macrophage functions.

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Psychopathology in offspring from multiplex alcohol dependence families with and without parental alcohol dependence: A prospective study during childhood and adolescence
Psychiatry Research Article in Press, 1 July 2008

Multiplex families ascertained through multiple alcohol dependent individuals appear to transmit alcohol and drug use disorders at higher rates than randomly selected families of alcoholics.

Our goal was to investigate the risk of developing specific psychiatric diagnoses during childhood or adolescence in association with familial risk status (high-risk [HR] or low-risk [LR]) and parental diagnosis.

Using a prospective longitudinal design, HR offspring from three generation multiplex alcohol dependence families and LR control families were followed yearly. Data analysis was based on consensus diagnoses from 1738 yearly evaluations conducted with the offspring and a parent using the K-SADS, and separately modeled the effects of familial susceptibility and exposure to parental alcohol dependence.

Multiplex family membership and parental alcohol and drug dependence significantly increased the odds that offspring would experience some form of psychopathology during childhood or adolescence, particularly externalizing disorders. Additionally, parental alcohol dependence increased the odds that adolescent offspring would have major depressive disorder (MDD).

While it is well known that parental substance dependence is associated with externalizing psychopathology, the increased risk for MDD seen during adolescence in the present study suggests the need for greater vigilance of these children.

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Discriminative stimulus properties of naloxone in Long–Evans rats: assessment with the conditioned taste aversion baseline of drug discrimination learning
Psychopharmacology Online First 2 Julu 2008

The characterization of the discriminative stimulus properties of naloxone has focused primarily on its actions at the mu opioid receptor, although naloxone also displays an affinity for delta and kappa receptor subtypes.

The present study extends this characterization of the naloxone cue by investigating if relatively specific antagonists for the mu (naltrexone: 0.10–0.56 mg/kg), delta (naltrindole: 1–18 mg/kg), and kappa (MR2266: 1.8–10 mg/kg) opioid receptor subtypes will substitute for naloxone in animals trained to discriminate naloxone from its vehicle. The temporal nature of the naloxone cue was examined by varying pretreatment time points (15, 30, 45, 60 min). Finally, various doses of naltrexone methobromide (1–18 mg/kg) were assessed to determine peripheral mediation of the cue.

Only naloxone and naltrexone produced dose-dependent decreases in saccharin consumption. Naloxone administered at 15 and 30 min before saccharin produced decreases in consumption similar to that displayed on training days. Naltrexone methobromide substituted only at the highest dose tested (18 mg/kg).

Naloxone’s stimulus effects appear to be mediated centrally via activity at the mu opioid receptor.

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A natural language screening measure for motivation to change
Addictive Behaviors Volume 33, Issue 9, September 2008, Pages 1177-1182

Client motivation for change, a topic of high interest to addiction clinicians, is multidimensional and complex, and many different approaches to measurement have been tried.

The current effort drew on psycholinguistic research on natural language that is used by clients to describe their own motivation. Seven addiction treatment sites participated in the development of a simple scale to measure client motivation. Twelve items were drafted to represent six potential dimensions of motivation for change that occur in natural discourse. The maximum self-rating of motivation (10 on a 0–10 scale) was the median score on all items, and 43% of respondents rated 10 on all 12 items — a substantial ceiling effect.

From 1035 responses, three factors emerged representing importance, ability, and commitment — constructs that are also reflected in several theoretical models of motivation. A 3-item version of the scale, with one marker item for each of these constructs, accounted for 81% of variance in the full scale.

The three items are: 1. It is important for me to . . . 2. I could . . . and 3. I am trying to . . . This offers a quick (1-minute) assessment of clients' self-reported motivation for change.

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Extending residential care through telephone counseling: Initial results from the Betty Ford Center Focused Continuing Care protocol
Addictive Behaviors Volume 33, Issue 9, September 2008, Pages 1208-1216

There is increasing evidence that a chronic care model may be effective when treating substance use disorders. In 1996, the Betty Ford Center (BFC) began implementing a telephone-based continuing care intervention now called Focused Continuing Care (FCC) to assist and support patients in their transition from residential treatment to longer-term recovery in the “real world”.

This article reports on patient utilization and outcomes of FCC. FCC staff placed clinically directed telephone calls to patients (N = 4094) throughout the first year after discharge. During each call, a short survey was administered to gauge patient recovery and guide the session.

Patients completed an average of 5.5 (40%) of 14 scheduled calls, 58% completed 5 or more calls, and 85% were participating in FCC two months post-discharge or later. There was preliminary evidence that greater participation in FCC yielded more positive outcomes and that early post-discharge behaviors predict subsequent outcomes.

FCC appears to be a feasible therapeutic option. Efforts to revise FCC to enhance its clinical and administrative value are described.

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Alcohol outcome expectancies and drinking to cope with social situations
Addictive Behaviors Volume 33, Issue 9, September 2008, Pages 1162-1166

Repeated use of alcohol as a coping strategy to reduce anxiety or discomfort increases one's risk of developing alcohol dependence. Previous studies have found alcohol outcome expectancies (AOE) strongly predict drinking behavior, in general, and also are related to drinking to cope.

The purpose of the current study was to examine AOE that may be related to drinking to cope with discomfort in social situations. It was hypothesized that positive AOE, especially related to assertion and tension reduction, would be most associated with drinking to cope with social situations.

Findings indicated AOE were well able to classify drinking to cope status, with 91% of cases correctly classified. As hypothesized, assertion and tension reduction AOE uniquely contributed to the discriminant function in classifying drinking to cope groups.

These findings have implications for the prevention and treatment of alcohol use disorders and suggest that AOE should be further investigated as potential moderators of the relationship between social anxiety and alcohol use disorders.

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Using the Timeline Followback to determine time windows representative of annual alcohol consumption with problem drinkers
Addictive Behaviors Volume 33, Issue 9, September 2008, Pages 1123-1130

When assessing individuals with alcohol use disorders, measurement of drinking can be a resource intensive activity, particularly because many research studies report data for intervals ranging from 6 to 12 months prior to the interview.

This study examined whether data from shorter assessment intervals is sufficiently representative of longer intervals to warrant the use of shorter intervals for clinical and research purposes.

The findings suggest that for aggregated reports of drinking and with large sample (e.g., surveys), a 1-month window can be used to estimate annual consumption. For individual cases (e.g., clinical use) and smaller samples, a 3-month window is recommended.

These results suggest that shorter time windows, which are more time and resource efficient, can be used with little to no loss in the accuracy of the data.

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Thursday, July 3, 2008

Drinks heads won't put warnings on booze

July 4, 2008

The heads of Australia's four main alcohol manufacturing and distribution companies have rejected moves to put health warnings on liquor containers.
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Breast Cancer: Research Lends Biologic Plausibility to Link with Alcohol; Even Minimal Exercise May Lower
Oncology Times:Volume 30(12)25 June 2008p 55-56

Laino, Charlene

SAN DIEGO-The risk of hormone-receptor positive breast cancer is increased by as little as a drink or two a day, according to the largest study to look at the association between the two to date.

A second study shows that variations within two genes coding for the alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme (ADH) that is involved in metabolizing alcohol affect the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women.

The studies lend biologic plausibility to the fairly strong epidemiologic link between alcohol consumption and breast cancer, suggesting that drinking may affect risk through hormonal and genetic pathways, said Chi-Chen Hong, PhD, Assistant Professor of Oncology at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

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Kempsey reintroduces alcohol-free zones

July 2, 2008

Alcohol-free zones have been reintroduced in Kempsey this week and they have the full support of local police.
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Sparks remains as Miller sticks with caffeinated beer

By Neil Merrett

01-Jul-2008 - The Miller Brewing Company will not be following in the footsteps of rivals by reformulating its caffeinated alcohol brands in the US, claiming the products are fully compliant with regulatory and labelling guidelines in the country.

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Acute mild footshock alters ethanol drinking and plasma corticosterone levels in C57BL/6J male mice, but not DBA/2J or A/J male mice
Alcohol Article in Press 2 July 2008

Stress is an often-reported cause for alcohol consumption in humans. Acute intermittent footshock is a frequently used paradigm to produce stress in laboratory animals including mice. The effect produced by intermittent footshock stress on ethanol self-administration has been inconsistent: both increases and decreases in ethanol consumption have been reported.

The current set of studies further investigates, in three commonly studied mouse strains, the effect of footshock stress on ethanol self-administration. Furthermore, the effect of footshock on plasma corticosterone levels was determined to investigate potential biochemical correlates.

Mild footshock stress altered ethanol self-administration and increased plasma corticosterone levels in C57BL/6J mice. Footshock stress did not alter ethanol self-administration or plasma corticosterone levels in DBA/2J or A/J mice.

These data demonstrate that mild footshock stress is a suboptimal method of modeling the stress-induced increases in ethanol consumption often reported by humans.

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News Release - Revised Voluntary Code on Alcohol Advertising fails children and young people

The revised voluntary code on alcohol advertising launched today (July 1st) by the Department of Health and Children fails to protect children and young people from being exposed to a barrage of alcohol advertising claims the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI).
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Forum to push for alcohol policy reform

Jul 3, 2008

Public health professionals will join forces in Fremantle today to lobby for changes to state and federal alcohol policies.

Key issues for discussion at the Alcohol Policy Forum will be the amount of alcohol sponsorship in sport, and ways to reduce hazardous drinking practices.

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The Licensing Act is Ineffective and Costly

1 July 2008

A new study by the Local Government Association has found that the Licensing Act (2003) has not delivered the promised reductions in alcohol-related disorder and violence. Furthermore, council taxpayers have footed a bill of £100m for the introduction of the new system.

The survey by the Local Government Association (LGA) of councils, Primary Care Trusts and police authorities found that, whilst the new laws have been effective in simplifying and streamlining licensing laws, they have done nothing to reduce drink-related violence and have placed increased pressure on local services.

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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Threat of alcohol curbs still in the air

Julian Lee

July 3, 2008

THE head of the peak body for advertising agencies says pressure for further regulations on alcohol will continue even though in the past fortnight two senate inquiries have rejected restrictions on selling and advertising alcopops.

The rejections have far from averted the threat of further regulation, and the executive director of the Advertising Federation of Australia, Mark Champion, believes "act two" is already under way as the Government faces demands for it to adopt elements of the failed bill.
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The auditory-visual integration of anger is impaired in alcoholism: an event-related potentials study
J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2008 March; 33(2): 111–122.

Chronic alcoholism leads to impaired visual and auditory processing of emotions, but the cross-modal (auditory-visual) processing of emotional stimuli has not yet been explored. Our objectives were to describe the electrophysiological correlates of unimodal (visual and auditory) impairments in emotion processing in people suffering from alcoholism, to determine whether this deficit is general or emotion-specific, and to explore potential deterioration in the specific cross-modal integration processes in alcoholism.

ERPs demonstrated that the deficit in alcoholism originates earlier in the cognitive stream than has previously been described (mainly P300), namely, at the level of specific face (N170) and voice (N2) perceptive processing. Moreover, while patients with alcoholism did not show impaired processing of happy and neutral audio-visual stimuli, they did have a specific impairment in the cross-modal processing of anger. A source location analysis was used to confirm and illustrate the results.

These results suggest that the specific deficit that people with alcoholism demonstrate in processing anger stimuli, widely described in clinical situations but not clearly identified in earlier studies (using unimodal stimuli), is particularly obvious during cross-modal processing, which is more common than unimodal processing in everyday life.

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News Release - Broad Differences in Alcohol, Tobacco and Illegal Drug Use Across Countries

A survey conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) research consortium found that the United States had among the highest lifetime rates of tobacco and alcohol use and led in the proportion of participants reporting cannabis (marijuana) or cocaine use at least once during their lifetime.

The study, led by Dr. Louisa Degenhardt of the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia and colleagues, looked at patterns in the use of alcohol, tobacco, cannabis and cocaine in 17 countries representing all six WHO regions (the Americas, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Oceania).

The study, funded in part by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is published in the July 1, 2008 issue of the open access journal PLoS Medicine.

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Modeling the Complexity of Post-Treatment Drinking: It’s a Rocky Road to Relapse
Clin Psychol Rev. 2007 July; 27(6): 724–738.

The most widely cited road block to successful treatment outcomes for psychological and substance use disorders has been described as the return to the previous behavior, or “relapse.” The operational definition of “relapse” varies from study to study and between clinicians, but in general the term is used to indicate the return to previous levels of symptomatic behavior.

One explanation for the variation in the operationalization of relapse is the wide variety of behaviors for which the term is applied, including (but not limited to): depression, substance abuse, schizophrenia, mania, sexual offending, risky sexual behavior, dieting, and the anxiety disorders.

A second explanation for the multitude of definitions for relapse is the inherent complexity in the process of behavior change.

In this paper we present the most recent treatment outcome research evaluating relapse rates, with a special focus on the substance use disorders. Following this review of the literature we present an argument for the operationalization of relapse as a dynamic process, which can be empirically characterized using dynamical systems theory. We support this argument by presenting results from the analysis of alcohol treatment outcomes using catastrophe modeling techniques.

These results demonstrate the utility of catastrophe theory in modeling the alcohol relapse process. The implications of these analyses for the treatment of alcohol use disorders, as well as a discussion of future research incorporating nonlinear dynamical systems theory is provided.

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Externalizing Disorders in the Offspring from the San Diego Prospective Study of Alcoholism
J Psychiatr Res. 2008 July; 42(8): 644–652.

Externalizing characteristics have been defined both more generally as a range of disruptive childhood behaviors, and more specifically as a combination of personality characteristics (e.g., impulsivity and sensation seeking) and physiological and cognitive attributes related to childhood behavioral problems

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Linkage analysis of alcoholism-related electrophysiological phenotypes: genome scans with microsatellites compared to single-nucleotide polymorphisms
BMC Genet. 2005; 6(Suppl 1): S156.

P300 amplitude is an electrophysiological quantitative trait that is correlated with both alcoholism and smoking status.

Using the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism data, we performed model-free linkage analysis to investigate the relationship between alcoholism, P300 amplitude, and habitual smoking. We also analyzed the effect of parent-of-origin on alcoholism, and utilized both microsatellites (MS) markers and single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs).

We found significant evidence of linkage for alcoholism to chromosome 10; inclusion of P300 amplitude as a covariate provided additional evidence of linkage to chromosome 12. This same region on chromosome 12 showed some evidence for a parent-of-origin effect. We found evidence of linkage for the P300 phenotype to chromosome 7 in non-smokers, and to chromosome 17 in alcoholics. The effects of alcoholism and habitual smoking on P300 amplitude appear to have separate genetic determinants.

Overall, there were few differences between MS and SNP genome scans. The use of covariates and parent-of-origin effects allowed detection of linkage not seen otherwise.

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Heredity and Alcoholism in the Medical Sphere: The Netherlands, 1850–1900
Med Hist.
2007 April 1; 51(2): 219–236.

Father smiled pleasantly and said … Heinrich cannot disown the hour through which he came into the world. In his speech boils the fiery wine that I had then brought from Rome and that glorified our wedding night.1

The effective and real medicinal method to prevent alcohol abuse is to cure its predisposition and for me the only way to do this appears to be to prevent the reproduction of these individuals.2

The diversity of opinions around alcohol use and its connections to heredity in the nineteenth century are well illustrated by the two quotations above. By 1900 it was generally accepted that chronic alcoholism could be inherited or transmitted to descendants as morbid nervous predisposition. Together with tuberculosis and syphilis, alcoholism was regarded as a major cause of degeneration and as such defined as a public threat that should be curbed by public health measures. In a number of countries support was mounting for “hard-line” policies of eugenics, such as marriage restrictions and involuntary sterilizations. But other scenarios of fighting the “alcoholism peril” were also enacted. To understand how these scenarios took shape in medicine in the second half of the nineteenth century, we need to take into account the diversity and fluidity of medical and public debates around degeneration and heredity. We also have to pay attention to the continuously changing information regarding heredity emanating from German, French, and British centres of medical research. From this perspective we will raise the question: what were the connections between various concepts of heredity and the medical and social problem of alcoholism?

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Binge Ethanol-induced Neurodegeneration in Rat Organotypic Brain Slice Cultures: Effects of PLA2 Inhibitor Mepacrine and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)
Neurochemical Research Online First 01 July 2008

Using rat organotypic hippocampal-entorhinal cortical (HEC) slice cultures, we examined whether phospholipase A2 (PLA2) activity is involved in binge alcohol (ethanol)-induced neurodegeneration, and whether docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 22:6n-3), a fish oil-enriched fatty acid that is anti-inflammatory in brain damage models, is neuroprotective.

Assessed with propidium iodide and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) leakage, neurodamage from ethanol (6 days 100 mM ethanol with four withdrawal periods) was prevented by the PLA2 pan-inhibitor, mepacrine. Also, ethanol-dependent neurodegeneration—particularly in the entorhinal region—was significantly ameliorated by DHA supplementation (25 μM); however, adrenic acid, a 22:4n-6 analog, was ineffective.

Consistent with PLA2 activation, [3H] liberation was approximately fivefold greater in [3H]arachidonic acid-preloaded HEC slice cultures during ethanol withdrawal compared to controls, and DHA supplementation suppressed [3H] release to control levels.

DHA might antagonize PLA2 activity directly or suppress upstream activators (e.g., oxidative stress); however, other DHA mechanisms could be important in subdueing ethanol-induced PLA2-dependent and independent neuroinflammatory processes.

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Press Release - Minister Wallace Launches New Stronger Codes Of Practice To Control Alcohol Marketing, Communications And Sponsorship

01 July 2008

Ms Mary Wallace T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children with special responsibility for Health Promotion and Food Safety today (1st July 2008) launched new strengthened Codes of Practice to control Alcohol Marketing, Communications and Sponsorship.

Speaking at the Launch the Minister said that the Government was extremely concerned about the impact of alcohol advertising on young people in particular. The revised Codes are a move to control the content and volume of alcohol advertising across all media in Ireland.

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Alcohol Marketing, Communications and Sponsorship Codes of Practice

In 2002 the Minister for Health and Children met with representative organisations from the Advertising Industry, the Association of Advertisers in Ireland (AAI), representing advertisers, the Institute of Advertising Practitioners in Ireland (IAPI), representing the advertising agencies and Drinks Industry Group Ireland (DIGI) representing the Alcohol Drinks Industry.

The discussions centred on the Minister’s concerns about some of the content, weight of exposure and placement of alcohol advertising. In addition, issues were discussed on activities involved in the sponsorship of, and activities surrounding, music and sports events.

Following on from this, representatives from the Health Promotion Unit in the Department of Health and Children had a series of meetings with all the industry stakeholders, including the media owners involved (TV, Radio, Outdoor and Cinema). A number of jointly agreed initiatives were subsequently put in place to deal with the Department’s concerns.

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Measuring Developmental Changes in Alcohol Expectancies
By: Terry L. Schell, Steven Martino, Phyllis L. Ellickson, Rebecca L. Collins, Daniel F. McCaffrey

The goal of this study was to measure shifts in alcohol expectancies from childhood into adolescence while controlling for changes in the psychometric properties of the instrument.

One thousand nine hundred ninety-three 4th-grade and 1,632 9th-grade students from South Dakota rated the likelihood that 23 outcomes would result from alcohol use. These expectancies were modeled using a 2-factor confirmatory factor analysis.

After differences in the psychometric properties of the instrument were controlled, the cohorts were distinguished by a large difference in Alcohol Positivity, with older participants viewing alcohol's effects more positively.

Additionally, older participants displayed greater Alcohol Potency, believing that alcohol has a larger impact on all outcomes. There were also significant differences in the interpretation of the alcohol expectancies items across cohorts.

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New law reduces alcohol consumption by 25% in Rio's pubs


RIO DE JANEIRO, July 1 (Xinhua) -- A new law that forbids drivers from consuming any alcohol in Brazil has already caused a reduction of about 25 percent in alcoholic beverage sales in pubs and restaurants of Rio de Janeiro, local media reported Tuesday.
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The Teen Drinking Dilemma

Manager at Calif. Applebee's accidentally grabbed drink mix instead of juice

By Barbara Kantrowitz and Anne Underwood |

2 July 2008

In 2002, Elisa Kelly made what she thought was a smart parenting decision. Her son Ryan asked her to buy beer and wine for his 16th-birthday party at the family's Virginia home, promising that no one would leave until morning. Kelly agreed, and to further guard against drunken driving, she collected guests' car keys. But neighbors called police, who arrested Kelly and her ex-husband, George Robinson, for what one official told The Washington Post was the worst case of underage drinking he'd seen in years. Kelly maintained that she was just trying to control drinking that would have gone on whether or not she had bought alcohol for the kids. Both got time in jail; Kelly began her 27-month sentence on June 11.

This graduation season, parents around the country will face a similar dilemma. Should they allow teens to drink under their supervision, or should they follow the law—knowing that their kids are likely to imbibe anyway? Many parents believe teens should learn about drinking at home. Cynthia Garcia Coll, professor of education, psychology and pediatrics at Brown University, grew up in Puerto Rico, where, she says, kids drink at family parties. "Instead, in this country, we go from saying 'No, you can't do it'," and then all at once, we say 'Yes, you can' without really giving them any guidance. It's not like age 21 is a magic time when people become responsible drinkers."

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Alcohol Use and Alcohol Use Disorders in the United States: Main Findings from the 2001-2002 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC), Alcohol Epidemiologice Data Reference Manual, Volume 8, Number 1, January 2006, NIH Publications No. 05-5737.

This manual is a compilation of detailed statistical data from the NIAAA 2001-2002 NESARC, conducted via household interviews with a nationally representative sample of 43,093 respondents ages 18 and older. The manual presents information, in table form, on the prevalence and patterns of alcohol use, DSM-IV alcohol abuse and dependence, family history of alcoholism, problems associated with alcohol, alcoholism treatment, drug and nicotine use disorders, mood and anxiety disorders, personality and conduct disorders, pathological gambling, and a number of alcohol-related physical conditions. Data are presented according to selected respondent characteristics. To facilitate inter-group comparisons, standard errors are provided for all estimates.

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Tuesday, July 1, 2008


June 27, 2008

The latest research released by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is a positive indicator that The Century Council’s continuing efforts are working. For nearly twenty years, The Century Council, a national not-for-profit funded by distillers, has developed and implemented proven and effective programs and public awareness campaigns to fight underage drinking.

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Strong Sanctions on Fake IDs Limit Drunk Driving Deaths among Teens

WASHINGTON , DC , July 1, 2008 – One of the most comprehensive studies on the minimum drinking age shows that laws aimed at preventing consumption of alcohol by those under 21 have significantly reduced drinking-related fatal car crashes.

Specifically, the study published in the July 2008 issue of the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention found that laws making it illegal to possess or purchase alcohol by anyone under the age of 21 had led to an 11 percent drop in alcohol-related traffic deaths among youth; secondly, they found that states with strong laws against fake IDs reported 7 percent fewer alcohol-related fatalities among drivers under the age of 21.

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The relationship of underage drinking laws to reductions in drinking drivers in fatal crashes in the United States
Accident Analysis & Prevention Article in Press 9 April 2008

This study reports on an effort to evaluate and interrelate the existence and strength of two core laws and 14 expanded laws designed to (a) control the sales of alcohol, (b) prevent possession and consumption of alcohol, and (c) prevent alcohol impaired driving by youth aged 20 and younger.

Our first analysis determined if the enactment of the possession and purchase laws (the two core minimum legal drinking age laws) was associated with a reduction in the ratio of drinking to nondrinking drivers aged 20 and younger who were involved in fatal crashes controlling for as many variables as possible. The ANOVA results suggest that in the presence of numerous covariates, the possession and purchase laws account for an 11.2% (p = 0.041) reduction in the ratio measure.

Our second analysis determined whether the existence and strength of any of the 16 underage drinking laws was associated with a reduction in the percentage of drivers aged 20 and younger involved in fatal crashes who were drinking. In the regression analyses, making it illegal to use a false identification to purchase alcohol was significant. From state to state, a unit difference (increase) in the strength of the False ID Use law was associated with a 7.3% smaller outcome measure (p = 0.034).

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The Opioid Peptides Enkephalin and β-Endorphin in Alcohol Dependence
Biological Psychiatry Article in Press 27 June 2008

Experimental evidence indicates that the endogenous opioid system influences stress responses as well as reinforces effects of addictive drugs. Because stress is an important factor contributing to drug dependence and relapse, we have now studied ethanol preference in enkephalin– and β-endorphin–deficient mice under baseline conditions and after stress exposure.

Ethanol consumption was significantly reduced in the absence of β-endorphins, particularly in female knockout animals. Stress exposure results in an increased ethanol consumption in wild-type mice but did not influence ethanol-drinking in β-endorphin knockouts. Enkephalin-deficient mice showed no difference from wild-type mice in baseline ethanol preference but also showed no stress-induced elevation of ethanol consumption. Interestingly, we found a two-marker haplotype in the POMC gene that was associated with alcohol dependence in females in both cohorts.

Together these results indicate a contribution of β-endorphin to ethanol consumption and dependence.

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Toward a Global View of Alcohol, Tobacco, Cannabis, and Cocaine Use: Findings from the WHO World Mental Health Surveys
PLoS Med 5(7): e141

Alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drug use cause considerable morbidity and mortality, but good cross-national epidemiological data are limited. This paper describes such data from the first 17 countries participating in the World Health Organization's (WHO's) World Mental Health (WMH) Survey Initiative.

Household surveys with a combined sample size of 85,052 were carried out in the Americas (Colombia, Mexico, United States), Europe (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Ukraine), Middle East and Africa (Israel, Lebanon, Nigeria, South Africa), Asia (Japan, People's Republic of China), and Oceania (New Zealand). The WHO Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI) was used to assess the prevalence and correlates of a wide variety of mental and substance disorders.

This paper focuses on lifetime use and age of initiation of tobacco, alcohol, cannabis, and cocaine.

Alcohol had been used by most in the Americas, Europe, Japan, and New Zealand, with smaller proportions in the Middle East, Africa, and China. Cannabis use in the US and New Zealand (both 42%) was far higher than in any other country. The US was also an outlier in cocaine use (16%). Males were more likely than females to have used drugs; and a sex–cohort interaction was observed, whereby not only were younger cohorts more likely to use all drugs, but the male–female gap was closing in more recent cohorts. The period of risk for drug initiation also appears to be lengthening longer into adulthood among more recent cohorts. Associations with sociodemographic variables were consistent across countries, as were the curves of incidence of lifetime use.

Globally, drug use is not distributed evenly and is not simply related to drug policy, since countries with stringent user-level illegal drug policies did not have lower levels of use than countries with liberal ones. Sex differences were consistently documented, but are decreasing in more recent cohorts, who also have higher levels of illegal drug use and extensions in the period of risk for initiation.

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Monday, June 30, 2008

Corticotropin-releasing factor-1 receptor involvement in behavioral neuroadaptation to ethanol: A urocortin1-independent mechanism
Published online on June 30, 2008 Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 10.1073

A common expression of neuroadaptations induced by repeated exposure to addictive drugs is a persistent sensitized behavioral response to their stimulant properties. Neuroplasticity underlying drug-induced sensitization has been proposed to explain compulsive drug pursuit and consumption characteristic of addiction.

The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis-activating neuropeptide, corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF), may be the keystone in drug-induced neuroadaptation. Corticosterone-activated glucocorticoid receptors (GRs) mediate the development of sensitization to ethanol (EtOH), implicating the HPA axis in this process. EtOH-induced increases in corticosterone require CRF activation of CRF1 receptors.

We posited that CRF1 signaling pathways are crucial for EtOH-induced sensitization. We demonstrate that mice lacking CRF1 receptors do not show psychomotor sensitization to EtOH, a phenomenon that was also absent in CRF1 + 2 receptor double-knockout mice. Deletion of CRF2 receptors alone did not prevent sensitization. A blunted endocrine response to EtOH was found only in the genotypes showing no sensitization. The CRF1 receptor antagonist CP-154,526 attenuated the acquisition and prevented the expression of EtOH-induced psychomotor sensitization. Because CRF1 receptors are also activated by urocortin-1 (Ucn1), we tested Ucn1 knockout mice for EtOH sensitization and found normal sensitization in this genotype.

Finally, we show that the GR antagonist mifepristone does not block the expression of EtOH sensitization. CRF and CRF1 receptors, therefore, are involved in the neurobiological adaptations that underlie the development and expression of psychomotor sensitization to EtOH.

A CRF/CRF1-mediated mechanism involving the HPA axis is proposed for acquisition, whereas an extrahypothalamic CRF/CRF1 participation is suggested for expression of sensitization to EtOH.

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24-hour licensing leaves councils with £100m hangover

Increase drinking age to 21, advises report

Mark Davis Political Correspondent

June 25, 2008

LABOR senators want federal and state governments to consider increasing the legal drinking age to 21 as part of a wide-ranging package of measures to tackle harmful alcohol use.

A majority report by the Senate's community affairs committee supported the Government's budget tax increase on alcopops - pre-mixed alcoholic beverages - as a first step towards reducing risky drinking behaviour among young people.

But the report said all the evidence suggested higher alcohol taxes needed to be backed up by a comprehensive approach targeting harmful and hazardous use of alcohol by controlling supply as well as reducing demand.

. . . . . .

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Selected Papers by Robin Room

Professor Robin Room, BA, MA, MSoc, PhD(Soc)
Acting Director
Head of AERF Centre For Alcohol Policy

In March 2006, Professor Robin Room became Professor of Alcohol Policy Research at the School of Population Health, University of Melbourne and the Director of the Centre for Alcohol Policy Research at Turning Point. Professor Room received his higher education in the U.S., with a PhD in sociology from the University of California, Berkeley and has worked in alcohol and drug policy for 30 years. Prior to his current position, Professor Room was the founding director of the Centre for Social Research on Alcohol and Drugs at Stockholm University.

A link to the online home of the Selected Papers of Robin Room. The site includes a list of full-text links to Room's papers on alcohol and addiction research, 1968-2005


Alcohol prices set to rise as tax increases

Tuesday July 01, 2008
By Imogen Neale

A quiet drink with mates will be more expensive from today as excise taxes on alcohol increase almost 3.5 per cent.

Excise tax, sometimes called excise duty, is a type of tax charged on goods produced within New Zealand.

DB Breweries, which produces Tui, Monteith's and Heineken, will raise prices by an average of 5.5 per cent for a pack of beer and 5.3 per cent for tap beer.

Lion Nathan, producer of Speights, Lion Red, Mac's and Steinlager beer, will also raise prices by an average of 5.5 per cent.

Spirits and ready-to-drink beverages will also reportedly rise, by around 5.3 per cent.

. . . . . .

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News Release - CFA Reveals Alcohol, Calories and Carbs in Top Selling Beer, Wine and Distilled Spirits Brands

Review Underscores Need for Government Action to Mandate Standardized and Complete Alcohol Label

Washington, DC; June 30, 2008 – While continuing to press the federal government to
require standardized labeling information on all beer, wine and distilled spirits products,
one of the nation’s largest consumer organizations is taking action so Americans will
have basic “alcohol facts” now.

For the 55 percent of adult Americans who drink alcoholic beverages, Consumer
Federation of America developed Alcohol Facts, a side-by-side comparison of the
alcohol, calorie and carbohydrate content per serving of the 26 top selling domestic and
imported alcohol brands.
. . . . . .

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Decision Making in Alcohol Dependence: Insensitivity to Future Consequences and Comorbid Disinhibitory Psychopathology
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research Published Online: 28 Jun 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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