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, August 9, 2008

Young people who attend specialist alcohol treatment: who are they and do they need special treatment?
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health Volume 32 Issue 4, Pages 336 - 340

Patterns of drinking in adolescence and young adulthood may have major short term impacts and influences on later drinking, yet little is known about the characteristics of young people who seek help for alcohol problems. Here we examine the characteristics of treatment episodes for adolescents and young adults who present to specialist alcohol treatment in New South Wales (NSW).

Clients aged under 30 years were significantly more likely to be referred into specialist treatment by a police, court or criminal justice diversion program compared with older clients (adolescent: OR=3.7, 95%CI: 3.1-4.4; young adult: OR=2.2, 95%CI: 1.9-2.4). Concern about cannabis use was significantly higher among younger clients (adolescents: OR=2.8 95%CI: 2.3-3.3; young adults: OR=2.1, 95%CI: 2.0-2.4) than those aged 30 years or more. Younger clients were also more likely to be of Indigenous origin or seen in a rural setting.

Adolescent and young adult alcohol treatment clients include a higher proportion of clients who are Indigenous, legally coerced, and who have concerns with polydrug use. Service providers should seek to tailor their treatment programs to better meet these unique needs and to better attract young people into voluntary treatment.

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Old enough for a beer? Compliance with minimum legal age for alcohol purchases in monopoly and other off-premise outlets in Finland and Norway
Addiction Volume 103 Issue 9, Pages 1468 - 1473

To assess whether government monopoly outlets comply better with minimum legal age for purchase of alcohol compared to other off-premise outlets for alcohol sales.

The buyers were asked to present an ID card in slightly more than half the attempts, and they succeeded in purchasing alcohol in 48% of the cases. The buyers were more likely to be requested to present an ID card and less likely to succeed in purchasing alcohol in monopoly outlets compared to other types of outlets, and also when other outcome predictors, such as age and gender of salesperson and crowdedness in the outlet, were taken into account.

Monopoly outlets may facilitate compliance with minimum legal age for purchase of alcohol.

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Friday, August 8, 2008



Almost a third of children (30%) think that for adults who drink wine, drinking five or more glasses of wine in one night is normal drinking behaviour, says a new survey from leading children’s health education charity Life Education.

Over a quarter of children (27%) also think that people who drink beer would normally drink 4 pints or 6 bottles in an evening.

Both these alcohol and wine figures are above what the NHS constitutes as binge drinking1.

In the nationwide survey carried out with 1,491 9-11 year olds, children were asked about their perceptions of adult drinking.

. . . . . . .

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Redesigned SAMHDA Web Site

SAMHDA is pleased to announce the launch of our newly designed Web site. A few of the new features include:

  • Search functions combined in a single box that repeats on each page
  • Improved organization and navigation tools
  • Citing our data: Footnote on each page
  • HTML codebooks for studies (View Codebooks) provide quick, easy access to study documentation and variable level detail

The launch of the new Web site coincides with release of a new version of our online analysis software, Survey Documentation and Analysis (SDA, version 3.1). This version provides variable selection and analysis in same screen and point-and-click variable selection. Also, users can now switch between the various statistical procedures without returning to the main analysis page. For more information on these changes, please read our Frequently Asked Question (FAQ), "What enhancements are available when using SDA 3.1?"

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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Differences in Acute Alcohol-Induced Behavioral Responses Among Zebrafish Populations
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research Published Online: 24 Jul 2008

With the arsenal of genetic tools available for zebrafish, this species has been successfully used to investigate the genetic aspects of human diseases from developmental disorders to cancer. Interest in the behavior and brain function of zebrafish is also increasing as CNS disorders may be modeled and studied with this species. Alcoholism and alcohol abuse are among the most devastating and costliest diseases. However, the mechanisms of these diseases are not fully understood. Zebrafish has been proposed as a model organism to study such mechanisms. Characterization of alcohol's effects on zebrafish is a necessary step in this research.

Here, we compare the effects of acute alcohol (EtOH) administration on the behavior of zebrafish from 4 distinct laboratory-bred populations using automated as well as observation based behavioral quantification methods.

Alcohol treatment resulted in significant dose-dependent behavioral changes but the dose–response trajectories differed among zebrafish populations.

The results demonstrate for the first time a genetic component in alcohol responses in adult zebrafish and also show the feasibility of high throughput behavioral screening. We discuss the exploration and exploitation of the genetic differences found.

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Drunken Flies Mimic Human Behavior
Eventually, They Just Passed Out

It was all something of an accident and maybe a bit crazy to boot, says Ulrike Heberlein, a young geneticist who had learned her trade—working with flies—as a postdoctoral fellow in Gerald Rubin's lab at the University of California, Berkeley. She had studied the development of flies' eyes, which was what Rubin did. In 1993, however, Heberlein was already 37 years old and she needed to find a job. "You can only be a postdoc so long," she says. "You have to move on in life and become independent." So she took a job at the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center at the University of California, San Francisco.

The Gallo Center, which is partially funded by winemaker Ernest Gallo, seeks new ways of treating alcoholism. Heberlein's task was to look for the genetic basis of alcoholism in fruit flies.

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Drink-drive casualty numbers rise

By David Millward, Transport Editor

The number of people injured as a result of drink-drive accidents has risen for the first time in six years.

Figures released by the Department for Transport showed that there was an 1 per cent increase in motorists and passengers who were hurt after crashes where the driver was over the legal limit last year.

Although there was an 18 per cent fall in the number of road users killed and 11 per cent drop in those seriously injured, there was also a 2 per cent rise in drink drive accidents, which reached 9,620 last year.
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Malta claims to be taming its carousing students

Karl Schembri in Valletta
Friday August 08 2008

Images of drunken language students running amok on Malta's streets and having sex on the beach made headlines last summer, while locals protested loudly against the chaos caused by the young foreigners.

This year a shake-up of English language tourism packages seems to be having the desired effect as schools and local authorities seek to find a compromise between young people's studying and carousing.

However, this is not easy for the sun-and-sea destination that has earned a reputation among Europe's youth as a haven for late-night revelry.

While schools were under the spotlight when public disturbances multiplied during the 2007 summer season, the problem extends beyond the English language learning sector. The Mediterranean island is trying to change its permissive attitude towards alcohol in an attempt to control underage drinking.

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Europe's Biggest Drinkers

Vidya Ram

Europeans knocked back 79 billion liters of alcohol in 2006, or 101.25 liters for every person. In the U.S. the figure was 98.7 liters per person, while in the Asia Pacific region, it was just 22.1, according to research consultancy International Wine and Spirits.

It's no surprise that Europe is home to the world's heaviest drinkers; from whiskey in Scotland to wine in France, the continent has some long and deeply embedded alcohol traditions. Nevertheless, our ranking of Europe's heaviest-drinking nations revealed some startling results.
. . . . . .

By The Numbers: Europe's Biggest Drinkers

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America's Hard-Drinking Cities

David M. Ewalt and Anna Vander Broek

Austin, Texas is famous for its parties. People flock from around the world to attend events like the annual South by Southwest film and music festival. And when they get there, chances are they make like the locals and throw back a few cold ones--because Austin may be the hardest-drinking city in America.

Austin ranks high for its drinking habits across the board. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC's) 2007 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey, 61.5% of adult residents say they have had at least one drink of alcohol within the past 30 days, and a staggering 20.6% of respondents confess to binge drinking, or having five or more drinks on one occasion.

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The Drosophila homolog of jwa is required for ethanol tolerance
Alcohol and Alcoholism Advanced Access 1 Aug 2008

Alcohol abuse poses a serious public health problem, and repeated ingestion can produce tolerance, leading to dependence and addiction. However, the mechanisms underlying alcohol tolerance and addiction are not fully understood. Drosophilae have been employed as a suitable model to study the molecular mechanisms underlying ethanol tolerance. JWA, a newly identified microtubule-binding protein, was shown to regulate cell stress responses, transportation of intracellular excitatory amino acids, and the MAPK signal transduction pathway. The JWA mouse homologue addicsin, was postulated to play a role in the development of morphine tolerance and dependence.

This study was designed to determine whether JWA participates in ethanol tolerance in Drosophila.

The jwa homologous gene in Drosophila, CG10373 (djwa) was cloned and the anti-djwa and cDNA-djwa transgenic fly strains, which exhibit a reduced and elevated djwa expression respectively were constructed. Real-time PCR was used to measure the djwa levels in the resulting fly strains. Rapid tolerance experiments including inebriation exposure and recovering assay were employed.

The djwa and the human jwa genes share a significant sequence similarity. Their genomic nucleotide and deduced amino acid sequence identities are 41.4% and 53.6%, respectively. In inebriation tests, the wild type w1118 flies and the cDNA-djwa flies acquired ethanol tolerance after several exposures whereas the anti-djwa flies did not.

The JWA genes are evolutionarily conserved. The djwa function is required for acquiring ethanol tolerance in Drosophila. JWA is likely a novel molecule playing an important role in ethanol tolerance and drug addiction. Our results present a new direction for research related to alcohol tolerance and addiction.

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Natural Recovery: What Can We Learn from Those Who Manage Without Us?

Do drug and alcohol users need treatment services in order to become abstinent? Anthony Hewitt argues that the majority of people manage without our help, often deterred by the stigma of being in contact with treatment agencies, and a perception that services will be unhelpful. He suggests that services need to learn from the experience of people who manage a "natural recovery" by offering a "stepped care" approach, by concentrating more on positive health promotion messages, and by advertising our services in a more proactive manner. . . . . .

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Negative findings from a Danish attempt to implement the primary care screening and brief intervention protocol for heavy drinkers which emerged from World Health Organization trials suggest it was right for the UK to turn away from universal screening. So controversial was an earlier report from the study that it was decided to wait until the dust had settled before publication ...

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Alcopops linked to rise in girl deaths

Adele Horin
July 30, 2008

Alcopops may be implicated in the increased risk girls face of dying from alcohol-related causes, a long-term study tabled in the NSW Parliament yesterday has found.

The study of child deaths over a decade found the risk for girls increased by 37 per cent while for boys it declined by 17 per cent over the two periods studied, 1996 to 2000 and 2001 to 2005.

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Media Release - Time for political consensus on alcohol
6 August 2008

The Drug Foundation is urging all political parties to support a new alcohol bill announced by the government today, saying the bill addresses key weaknesses in our current liquor law through amendments which shouldn’t be politically contentious.
. . . . . .

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Trends in Child Deaths in New South Wales 1996-2005
29 Jul 2008

A report by the NSW Child Death Review Team that examines ten years of information about child deaths in NSW from 1996 to 2005.

The NSW Child Death Review Team (CDRT) is an independent panel of experts that investigates the systemic causes of child deaths in NSW to prevent or reduce these deaths. The CDRT is convened by the NSW Commissioner for Children and Young People, Ms Gillian Calvert.

The Trends in Child Deaths in New South Wales 1996-2005 report contains important new information about where progress is being made to reduce child deaths and where more work is needed to reduce preventable child deaths.

  • Findings and recommendations
  • Introduction
  • All deaths including deaths due to external causes and diseases and morbid conditions
  • Drowning
  • Transport fatalities
  • Supervision
  • Alcohol and drug-related deaths
  • Risk-taking
  • Suicide
  • Fatal assault
  • Sudden unexpected deaths in infancy
  • Asthma
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Congenital malformations
  • Prematurity
  • Epilepsy
  • Leukaemia
  • Meningococcal disease
  • Pneumonia
  • Coronial outcomes
  • Refocusing the findings to the research questions
  • Methods
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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Esophageal cancer risk by type of alcohol drinking and smoking: a case-control study in Spain
BMC Cancer 2008, 8:221

The effect of tobacco smoking and alcohol drinking on esophageal cancer (EC) has never been explored in Spain where black tobacco and wine consumptions are quite prevalent.

We estimated the independent effect of different alcoholic beverages and type of tobacco smoking on the risk of EC and its main histological cell type (squamous cell carcinoma) in a hospital-based case-control study in a Mediterranean area of Spain.

Alcohol drinking and tobacco smoking were strong and independent risk factors for esophageal cancer. Alcohol was a potent risk factor with a clear dose-response relationship, particularly for esophageal squamous-cell cancer. Compared to never-drinkers, the risk for heaviest drinkers ([greater than or equal to]75 g/day of pure ethanol) was 7.65 (95%CI, 3.16-18.49); and compared with never-smokers, the risk for heaviest smokers ([greater than or equal to]30 cigarettes/day) was 5.07 (95%CI, 2.06-12.47). A low consumption of only wine and/or beer (1-24g/d) did not increase the risk whereas a strong positive trend was observed for all types of alcoholic beverages that included any combination of hard liquors with beer and/or wine (p-trend<0.00001). n="160),">

Our study shows that the risk of EC, and particularly the squamous cell type, is strongly associated with alcohol drinking. The consumption of any combination of hard liquors seems to be harmful whereas a low consumption of only wine may not. This may relates to the presence of certain antioxidant compounds found in wine but practically lacking in liquors. Tobacco smoking is also a clear risk factor, black more than blond.

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Service Utilization Differences for Axis I Psychiatric and Substance Use Disorders Between White and Black Adults
Psychiatr Serv 59:893-901, August 2008

Although studies have shown disparities between black and white populations in service utilization for mental disorders, little information exists on whether such disparities apply equally across disorders.

The objective of this study was to examine racial differences in lifetime prevalence of service utilization for mood and anxiety disorders and for alcohol and drug use disorders, with controls for predisposing, enabling, and need-for-service variables unequally distributed between racial-ethnic groups.

White adults were consistently more likely than black adults to have had treatment for mood disorders (odds ratio [OR]=2.16, 95% confidence interval [CI]=1.80–2.59) and anxiety disorders (OR=1.77, 95% CI=1.43–2.19) after adjustment for predisposing and enabling factors and need for service (severity of disorder). In contrast no evidence of lower service utilization for treatment of alcohol use disorders emerged among black respondents (OR=.87, 95% CI=.69–1.10). Moreover, white respondents with drug use disorders were significantly less likely than black respondents to receive treatment for a drug problem (OR=.64, 95% CI=.47–.88).

Differences in treatment between black and white adults depended on the specific disorder and type of treatment considered. Prevention and intervention strategies should address disorder-specific disparities in services received.

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Central Pontine and Extrapontine Myelinolysis after Alcohol Withdrawal
Alcohol and Alcoholism Advance Access published online on August 4, 2008

Central pontine myelinolysis (CPM) and extrapontine myelinolysis (EPM) are well-recognized syndromes that are related to various conditions such as rapid correction of hyponatremia and chronic alcoholism.

We report a very case of a patient with dysarthria, dysphagia and psychiatric symptoms including abnormal behavior starting after alcohol withdrawal, with radiological evidence of CPM and EPM. There was little improvement in the dysarthria or psychiatric symptoms in the first month.

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Synergistic effects of the dopaminergic and glutamatergic system on hippocampal volume in alcohol-dependent patients
Biological Psychology Volume 79, Issue 1, September 2008, Pages 126-136

Several genes of the dopaminergic and glutamatergic neurotransmitter systems have been found to be associated with alcohol disease and related intermediate phenotypes.

Here, we evaluated genetic variants of the catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) and the metabotropic glutamate receptor 3 (mGluR3) genes in alcohol-dependent patients and their association with volumetric measurements of brain structures.

By combined analysis of imaging data and genotyping results, large numbers of variables are produced that overstrain conventional statistical methods based on tests for group differences. Limitations in assessment of epistatic effects and multiple testing problems are encountered.

Therefore, we introduce a novel method for detecting associations between a set of genetic markers and phenotypical measurements based on machine learning techniques.

Hippocampal volume was found to be associated with epistatic effects of the COMT–mGluR3 genes in alcohol-dependent patients but not in controls.

These data are in line with prior studies supporting a role for dopamine–glutamate interaction in modulation of alcohol disease.

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Addiction & the Humanities Vol 4. (6) - Can the spirit move you?

Research has linked spirituality with both physical and mental well-being (Hawks, Hull, Thatma, & Richins, 2005; Kass, Friedman, Lesserman, Zuttermeister, & Benson, 1991). Moreover, Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, popular 12-step programs, endorse the concept of addiction as a combination of spiritual, biological, and psychological disorders. However, few studies have examined the influence of spirituality on addiction recovery.

This week’s Humanities reviews a study focusing on the relationship between the development of spirituality and relapse among individuals receiving treatment for alcohol dependence.
. . . . . .

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Public Conceptions of Serious Mental Illness and Substance Abuse, Their Causes and Treatments: Findings from the 1996 General Social Survey
September 2008, Vol 98, No. Supplement_9 | American Journal of Public Health S120-S125

We examined the degree to which lay beliefs about the causes of disorders may predict beliefs about what constitutes appropriate treatment.

Beliefs in biological causes (i.e., chemical imbalance, genes) were significantly associated with the endorsement of professional, biologically focused treatments (e.g., prescription medication, psychiatrists, and mental hospital admissions). Belief that the way a person was raised was the cause of a condition was the only nonbiologically based causal belief associated with any treatment recommendations (talking to a clergy member).

Lay beliefs about the biological versus nonbiological causes of mental and substance abuse disorders are related to beliefs regarding appropriate treatment. We suggest areas for further research with regard to better understanding this relationship in an effort to construct effective messages promoting treatment for mental health and substance abuse disorders.

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Secular Trends in Alcohol Consumption over 50 Years: The Framingham Study
The American Journal of Medicine Volume 121, Issue 8, August 2008, Pages 695-701

Population trends in patterns of alcohol use are important data for policymakers but are generally based on repeated cross-sectional surveys.

We used self-reported alcohol consumption data collected repeatedly over 50 years (1948-2003) among 8600 Framingham Heart Study participants to determine patterns of alcohol use and disorders according to sex, age, and birth cohorts.

Among drinkers, there was a decrease across succeeding birth cohorts in average alcohol intake: among individuals between ages 30 and 59 years, age-adjusted mean intake was 30.6, 25.5, and 21.0 g/day for those born in 1900-1919, 1920-1939, and 1940-1959, respectively, in men (P < .001), and 14.2, 12.3, and 10.4 g/day, respectively, in women (P < .001). In all birth cohorts, proportion of abstinence increased and average consumption among drinkers decreased with age. Furthermore, proportion of moderate use was higher but heavy use was lower in the younger birth cohorts than in the older cohorts. The proportion of alcohol from beer decreased and that from wine increased with age for all cohorts. Among the 2 earlier birth cohorts, the cumulative incidence of an alcohol use disorder from age 40 to 79 years was much higher in men (12.8%) than in women (3.8%); it tended to be slightly higher among subjects born after 1920 than among those born 1900-1919.

We found a decrease in average intake and more wine consumption over the more than 50 years of follow-up. The cumulative incidence of alcohol use disorders, however, did not show a decrease.

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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Generational Patterns of Resistance and Recovery Among Families with Histories of Alcohol and Other Drug Problems: What We Need to Know

July, 2008

William L. White, M.A. and Rita A. Chaney, M.S.

The authors have spent decades observing individuals with severe alcohol and other drug (AOD) problems achieve stable recovery and enhanced quality of life. The ability of individuals and families to enjoy the fruits of such recoveries is all too often interrupted by encounters with these same problems in the lives of extended family members, parents, siblings, or one’s own children. This common dilemma within the life course of recovery is the subject of this short essay.

. . . . . .
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Finite sample adjustments in estimating equations and covariance estimators for intracluster correlations
Statistics in Medicine Published Online: 4 Aug 2008

Bias-corrected covariance estimators are introduced in the context of an estimating equations approach for intracluster correlations among binary outcomes.

Simulation study results show that the bias-corrected covariance estimators perform better than uncorrected sandwich estimators in terms of bias and coverage probabilities.

Additionally, introduction of a matrix-based bias-correction into the estimating equations considerably improves point and interval estimation for the intracluster correlations.

The methods are illustrated using data from a nested cross-sectional cluster trial on reducing underage drinking

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Wayzata retreat simplifies recovery

By CHEN MAY YEE, Star Tribune

August 3, 2008

A Wayzata retreat returns to addiction treatment's roots, rejecting costly psychiatric and pharmaceutical methods to make it more affordable.

Ten years ago, a small group of people frustrated by the rising cost of treating addiction decided to try to turn back the clock.

Managed care was eroding the Minnesota Model, the residential treatment programs that made the state the place to go to get sober. Hundreds of treatment centers around the country were closing as insurers tried to cut costs. The survivors, such as the famed Hazelden Foundation, were under pressure to show clinical results. They added medical staff, pushing prices beyond the reach of many.

The little group tried a different path.

. . . . . .

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Monday, August 4, 2008

Johnson backs under-21 alcohol sales ban scheme
Tuesday, 5th August 2009

The Mayor of London is backing an initiative to ban the sale of alcohol to under-21s in areas that have particular problems with binge drinking.

It comes as new Home Office figures revealed that a fifth of youngsters aged 11 to 15 had drunk alcohol in the last seven days.

Under the Croydon Borough Council voluntary scheme, off-licences and supermarkets would not sell alcohol to young adults.
. . . . . .

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Rural environments reduce the genetic influence on adolescent substance use and rule-breaking behavior
Psychological Medicine (2008), 38: 1341-1350

There is increasing evidence that certain environmental factors can modify genetic effects. This is an important area of investigation as such work will help to guide the development of new intervention programs. In this paper, we address whether rural environments moderate the genetic influence on adolescent substance use and rule-breaking behavior (i.e. externalizing psychopathology).

Residency effects reached statistical significance in the male sample only. In urban environments, externalizing behavior was substantially influenced by genetic factors, but in rural environments, shared environmental factors became more influential. This was apparent at both the individual-variable and factor levels.

These findings suggest a gene–environment interaction in the development of male adolescents' problem behaviors, including substance use. The results fit within an expanding literature demonstrating both the contextual nature of the heritability statistic and how certain environments may constrain the expression of genetic tendencies.

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Intermittent hypoxia conditioning prevents behavioral deficit and brain oxidative stress in ethanol-withdrawn rats
J Appl Physiol 105: 510-517, 2008.

Intermittent hypoxia (IH) has been found to protect brain from ischemic injury. We investigated whether IH mitigates brain oxidative stress and behavioral deficits in rats subjected to ethanol intoxication and abrupt ethanol withdrawal (EW).

The effects of IH on overt EW behavioral signs, superoxide generation, protein oxidation, and mitochondrial permeability transition pore (PTP) opening were examined. Male rats consumed dextrin or 6.5% (wt/vol) ethanol for 35 days. During the last 20 days, rats were treated with repetitive (5–8 per day), brief (5–10 min) cycles of hypoxia (9.5–10% inspired O2) separated by 4-min normoxia exposures. Cerebellum, cortex, and hippocampus were biopsied on day 35 of the diet or at 24 h of EW. Superoxide and protein carbonyl contents in tissue homogenates and absorbance decline at 540 nm in mitochondrial suspensions served as indicators of oxidative stress, protein oxidation, and PTP opening, respectively.

Although IH altered neither ethanol consumption nor blood ethanol concentration, it sharply lowered the severity of EW signs including tremor, tail rigidity, and startle response. Compared with dextrin and ethanol per se, in the three brain regions, EW increased superoxide and protein carbonyl contents and accelerated PTP opening in a manner ameliorated by IH. Administration of antioxidant N-acetylcysteine throughout the IH program abrogated the reductions in EW signs and superoxide content, implicating IH-induced ROS as mediators of the salutary adaptations.

We conclude that IH conditioning during chronic ethanol consumption attenuates oxidative damage to the brain and mitigates behavioral abnormalities during subsequent EW. IH-induced ROS may evoke this powerful protection

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Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone, Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis Activity, Temperament, and Alcohol Consumption in Rhesus Macaques
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2008;65(8):934-944.

Both highly stress-reactive and novelty-seeking individuals are susceptible to alcohol use disorders. Variation in stress reactivity, exploration, and response to novelty have been attributed to differences in corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) system function. As such, CRH gene variation may influence risk for alcohol use and dependence.

To determine whether CRH variation influences relevant intermediate phenotypes, behavior, and alcohol consumption in rhesus macaques.

We show that –2232C>G alters DNAxprotein interactions and confers decreased sensitivity of the CRH promoter to glucocorticoids in vitro. Consistent with the known effects of glucocorticoids on CRH expression in the brain, carriers of the G allele had lower CSF levels of CRH but higher levels of ACTH. Infants carrying the G allele were more exploratory and bold, and among adolescent and adult male macaques, the G allele was associated with exploratory/bold responding to an unfamiliar male. Adults with the C/G genotype also exhibited increased alcohol consumption in the social group, a model for high-risk alcohol-seeking behavior.

Haplotypes that differ in terms of corticosteroid sensitivity have been identified in humans. Our data may suggest that functionally similar CRH variants could influence risk for externalizing disorders in human subjects.

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Media Release - New Data Shows the Alcohol Industry Cannot be Trusted

New data obtained by the Australian Drug Foundation (ADF) shows the alcohol industry has been deliberately misleading the public about the impact of the Federal Government's alcopop tax. John Rogerson, CEO of the ADF, says:

"These figures prove the alcohol industry has been trying to mislead the Australian community on the alcohol issue, just like the tobacco industry did in the 1980s: The alcohol industry can no longer be trusted and should have no role in developing more effective policy to reduce alcohol related harm in Australia."

The Nielsen ScanTrack Liquor data, which is derived from direct sale of liquor products in Coles and Woolworths outlets (representing 46% of the total alcohol market in Australia) shows the alcopops tax is working contrary to information provided by the alcohol industry last week.

. . . . . . .

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A Genomic Pathway Approach to a Complex Disease: Axon Guidance and Parkinson Disease
PLoS Genet 3(6): e98.

Complex diseases are common disorders that are believed to have many causes. Examples include Alzheimer disease, diabetes mellitus, nicotine and alcohol dependence, and several cancers. This study represents a paradigm shift from single gene to pathway studies of complex diseases.

We present the example of Parkinson disease (PD) and a complex array of chemical signals that wires the brain during fetal development (the axon guidance pathway). We mined a dataset that studied hundreds of thousands of DNA variations (single nucleotide polymorphisms [SNPs]) in persons with and without PD and identified SNPs that were assigned to axon-guidance pathway genes. We then identified sets of SNPs that were highly predictive of PD susceptibility, survival free of PD, and age at onset of PD. The effect sizes and the statistical significance observed for the pathway were far greater than for any single gene. We validated our findings for the pathway using a second SNP dataset for PD and also a dataset for PD that studied RNA variations.

There is prior evidence that the axon guidance pathway might play a role in other brain disorders (e.g., Alzheimer disease, Tourette syndrome, dyslexia, epilepsy, and schizophrenia).

A genomic pathway approach may lead to important breakthroughs for many complex diseases.

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Health of California's Adults, Adolescents and Children: Findings from the CHIS 2003 and CHIS 2001

Many Californians are still struggling to reach good health, according to this report from the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), the country's largest population-based state health survey. Entitled "Health of California's Adults, Adolescents and Children: Findings from CHIS 2003 and CHIS 2001," the new report illustrates that while half of the state's adults and adolescents report their health was "very good" or "excellent," more than one in five describe their health as "fair" or "poor." Other measures from the survey show that millions of Californians suffer the effects of ill health, limited access to health care and chronic disease. The report includes new data from CHIS 2003 on a variety of health topics -- including health conditions and limitations, health behaviors, insurance and access to care among many others -- and highlights significant changes from CHIS 2001. The report also details California's progress in achieve the healthy People 2010 objectives, a set of national health objectives created to encourage progress in the nation�s health along key health measures.

  • The proportion of adults who reported binge drinking (15%) was more than double the HP 2010 standard of no more than 6%.Males binge drink at three times the rate of females (24% vs. 7%, respectively). African Americans (9%) and Asians (10%) had lower binge drinking levels than other major racial/ethnic groups. Among adolescents, CHIS 2001 and CHIS 2003 binge drinking datawere pooled to produce stable estimates. Almost 7%, or 202,000 adolescents, reported past month binge drinking, a rate three times the HP 2010 objective of no more than 2%.
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Scots unaware of safe alcohol limit
Monday, 4th August 2008

Many Scots remain ignorant of how much it is safe to drink or how much alcohol their beverages contain, a survey revealed.

A majority of those quizzed thought alcohol was the drug causing most harm north of the border, and was thought to be more damaging than heroin or tobacco.

But less than half could identify the recommended daily intake for men and women, despite a string of high-profile anti-alcohol campaigns.
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Display ban for beer but not wine is unfair, say brewers
  • The Observer,
  • Sunday August 3 2008

When it comes to drinking, the Irish government seems to trust citizens who like wine far more than those who prefer beer and spirits.

In an effort to clamp down on rising drink-fuelled anti-social behaviour, as well as improve public health, the government has proposed in its Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008 that there should be a ban on beers and whiskies being on open display in the aisles of small to medium-sized shops. Yet an amendment to the act would allow customers to browse freely around displays of wine.

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Alcohol laws shift slowly, incrementally

By Karen Lincoln Michel and Andy Nelesen • Gannett Wisconsin Media • August 4, 2008

The first time Michael Bukosky saw his daughter Sophia, she was lying in a casket.

Sophia died in the womb when her mother was seven months pregnant.

"She had Jen's mouth, so she would have had that amazing smile," Bukosky said, likening Sophia to his wife, Jennifer Bukosky. "She was cursed with my nose, but she had a full head of blonde hair — Jen's blonde hair. So she was the perfect mixture of us."

Sophia was killed April 25 in Oconomowoc when Mark Benson — a drug-impaired driver with three drunken driving convictions, the third just two days before the accident — allegedly struck the car in which the unborn child was riding, killing her and two other members of the family.

Not far from Sophia in the funeral home were the caskets of her mother, Jennifer, and her 10-year-old half-sister, Courtney Bella.

The tragedy engendered public outrage, focused attention on drunken driving and raised questions about Wisconsin's OWI laws.
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Effects of prenatal ethanol exposure on regulation of basal hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal activity and hippocampal 5-HT1A receptor mRNA levels in female rats across the estrous cycle
Psychoneuroendocrinology Article in Press 30 July 2008

Prenatal ethanol exposure, like other early adverse experiences, is known to alter hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) activity in adulthood. The present study examined the modulatory effects of the gonadal hormones on basal HPA regulation and serotonin Type 1A receptor (5-HT1A) mRNA levels in adult female rats prenatally exposed to ethanol (E) compared to that in females from pair-fed (PF) and ad libitum-fed control (C) conditions.

We demonstrate, for the first time, long-lasting consequences of prenatal ethanol exposure for basal corticosterone (CORT) regulation and basal levels of hippocampal mineralocorticoid (MR), glucocorticoid (GR) and serotonin Type 1A (5-HT1A) receptor mRNA, as a function of estrous cycle stage: (1) basal CORT levels were higher in E compared to C females in proestrus but lower in E and PF compared to C females in estrus; (2) there were no differences among groups in basal levels of adrenocorticotropin (ACTH), estradiol or progesterone; (3) hippocampal MR mRNA levels were decreased in E compared to PF and C females across the estrus cycle, with the greatest effects in proestrus, whereas E (but not PF or C) females had higher hippocampal GR mRNA levels in proestrus than in estrous and diestrus; (4) 5-HT1A mRNA levels were increased in E compared to PF and C females in diestrus. That alterations were revealed as a function of estrous cycle stage suggests a role for the ovarian steroids in mediating the adverse effects of ethanol. Furthermore, it appears that ethanol-induced nutritional effects may play a role in mediating at least some of the effects observed.

The resetting of HPA activity by early environmental events could be one mechanism linking early life experiences with long-term health consequences. Thus, changes in basal CORT levels, a shift in the MR/GR balance and alterations in 5-HT1A receptor mRNA could have important clinical implications for understanding the secondary disabilities, such as an increased incidence of depression, in children with FASD.

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Local gin (akpeteshie) and HIV/AIDS in the Upper West Region of Ghana: The need for preventive health policy
Health & Place Volume 14, Issue 4, December 2008, Pages 806-816

The paper describes a qualitative analysis of community perceptions of the relationship between locally brewed alcoholnext term (akpeteshie) and the spread of HIV/AIDS in the Upper West Region of Ghana.

A thematic analysis of focus group discussions show that akpeteshie consumption is on the rise among adults and young people, with severe impacts on women who are constantly living in poverty, frequently subjected to coercive sex and violence which exposes them to HIV, infectious, and other sexually transmitted diseases.

The findings suggest that intervention programmes must focus on akpeteshie bars, “places” which have become the “daily spots” for drinking.

Furthermore, control and prevention programmes must be linked to the economic empowerment of women and young people in the region

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Social capital and the neighborhood alcohol environment
Health & Place Article in Press 26 June 2008

We examine whether neighborhood alcohol outlet density is associated with reduced social capital and whether this relationship is mediated by perceived neighborhood safety.

Hierarchical models from a random sample of Los Angeles, CA, and Louisiana residents (N=2881) from 217 census tracts were utilized.

Substantial proportions of the variance in collective efficacy (intraclass correlation coefficient, ICC=16.3%) and organizational participation (ICC=13.8%, median odds ratio=1.99) were attributable to differences between neighborhoods—suggesting that these factors may be influenced by neighborhood-level characteristics.

Neighborhood alcohol outlet density was strongly associated with reduced indicators of social capital, and the relationship between collective efficacy and outlet density appears to be mediated by perceived neighborhood safety.

Findings support the concept that off-premise alcohol outlets in the neighborhood environment may hinder the development of social capital, possibly through decreased positive social network expansion.

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Entrepreneurs crack Swedish 'System' in effort to allow free flow of alcohol

By David Ibison in Stockholm

Published: August 4 2008 03:00

Travel to a small town outside Stockholm and it is not unusual to see a discreetly parked van, back door open, offloading crates of beer and spirits to a throng of cash-paying customers.

The clientele are not shuffling drunks, but well turned out, middle class Swedes, prepared to break the law to bypass the high prices at Systembolaget, the state-owned alcohol monopoly, known by its Stalinist nickname "Systemet" - or "The System".

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