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 29, 2009

Alcohol consumption and cardiovascular risk: mechanisms of action and epidemiologic perspectives
Future Cardiology September 2009, Vol. 5, No. 5, Pages 467-477

An inverse association between moderate alcohol intake and cardiovascular risk, in particular coronary disease and ischemic stroke, has been demonstrated in many epidemiologic studies. In addition, several not primarily vascular diseases are also known to occur less frequently in moderate drinkers than in nondrinkers, whereas excess drinking is unquestionably harmful. .

Mechanisms supporting the protective effect of moderate alcohol intake against cardiovascular disease, and epidemiologic evidence concerning the relationship between alcohol dosing and vascular and all-cause mortality are discussed in this review.

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Religiosity and decreased risk of substance use disorders: is the effect mediated by social support or mental health status?
Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology Online First 28 August 2009

The negative association between religiosity (religious beliefs and church attendance) and the likelihood of substance use disorders is well established, but the mechanism(s) remain poorly understood. We investigated whether this association was mediated by social support or mental health status.

The association between religiosity and decreased likelihood of a substance use disorder does not appear to be substantively mediated by either social support or mental health status.

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Individualized assessment and treatment program for alcohol dependence: results of an initial study to train coping skills
Addiction Early View 27 August 2009

Cognitive–behavioral treatments (CBT) are among the most popular interventions offered for alcohol and other substance use disorders, but it is not clear how they achieve their effects. CBT is purported to exert its beneficial effects by altering coping skills, but data supporting coping changes as the mechanism of action are mixed. The purpose of this pilot study was to test a treatment in which coping skills were trained in a highly individualized way, allowing us to determine if such training would result in an effective treatment.

The IATP approach was more successful than PCBT at training adaptive coping responses for use in situations presenting a high risk for drinking. The highly individualized IATP approach may prove to be an effective treatment strategy for alcohol-dependent patients.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Mechanism of protection against alcoholism by an alcohol dehydrogenase polymorphism: development of an animal model
The FASEB Journal Published online before print August 26, 2009

Humans who carry a point mutation in the gene coding for alcohol dehydrogenase-1B (ADH1B*2; Arg47His) are markedly protected against alcoholism. Although this mutation results in a 100-fold increase in enzyme activity, it has not been reported to cause higher levels of acetaldehyde, a metabolite of ethanol known to deter alcohol intake. Hence, the mechanism by which this mutation confers protection against alcoholism is unknown.

To study this protective effect, the wild-type rat cDNA encoding rADH-47Arg was mutated to encode rADH-47His, mimicking the human mutation. The mutated cDNA was incorporated into an adenoviral vector and administered to genetically selected alcohol-preferring rats.

The Vmax of rADH-47His was 6-fold higher than that of the wild-type rADH-47Arg. Animals transduced with rAdh-47His showed a 90% increase in liver ADH activity and a 50% reduction in voluntary ethanol intake. In animals transduced with rAdh-47His, administration of ethanol (1g/kg) produced a short-lived increase of arterial blood acetaldehyde concentration to levels that were 3.5- to 5-fold greater than those in animals transduced with the wild-type rAdh-47Arg vector or with a noncoding vector

This brief increase (burst) in arterial acetaldehyde concentration after ethanol ingestion may constitute the mechanism by which humans carrying the ADH1B*2 allele are protected against alcoholism.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Stakeholder Information Pack for Alcohol Awareness Week 2009

You can now download the Know your Limits stakeholder information pack to support your local and regional activities during alcohol awareness week which runs from the 19th - 25th October.

Alcohol Awareness Week 2009 Stakeholder Information Pack (PDF)

Lower risk taking and exploratory behavior in alcohol-preferring sP rats than in alcohol non-preferring sNP rats in the multivariate concentric square field™ (MCSF) test
Behavioural Brain Research Article in Press, 22 August 2009

The present investigation continues previous behavioral profiling studies of selectively bred alcohol-drinking and alcohol non-drinking rats. In this study, alcohol-na├»ve adult Sardinian alcohol-preferring (sP) and non-preferring (sNP) rats were tested in the multivariate concentric square field™ (MCSF) test. The MCSF test has an ethoexperimental approach and measures general activity, exploration, risk assessment, risk taking, and shelter seeking in laboratory rodents..

The results revealed distinct differences in exploratory strategies and behavioral profiles between sP and sNP rats. The sP rats were characterized by lower activity, lower exploratory drive, higher risk assessment, and lower risk taking behavior than in sNP rats. In the repeated trial, risk-taking behavior was almost abolished in sP rats. When comparing the performance of sP and sNP rats with that of Wistar rats, the principal component analysis revealed that the sP rats were the most divergent group. The vigilant behavior observed in sP rats with low exploratory drive and low risk-taking behavior is interpreted here as high innate anxiety-related behaviors and may be related to their propensity for high voluntary alcohol intake and preference.

We suggest that the different lines of alcohol-preferring rats with different behavioral characteristics constitute valuable animal models that mimic the heterogeneity in human alcohol dependence.

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A Novel Polymorphism rs1329149 of CYP2E1 and a Known Polymorphism rs671 of ALDH2 of Alcohol Metabolizing Enzymes Are Associated with Colorectal Cancer in a Southwestern Chinese Population
Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, 10.1158/1055-9965

To screen for tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms (tagSNP) in the major alcohol metabolizing enzymes: ADH1B, ALDH2, and CYP2E1, and to evaluate the association between these tagSNPs and colorectal cancer (CRC) in a southwestern Chinese population.

The results of this study suggest that rs671 A/A and the first reported locus rs1329149 T/T genotypes increase the susceptibility to CRC, and gene-environmental interaction between the two loci and alcohol use existed for CRC in Southwestern Chinese. Larger studies are warranted to verify our findings.

Alcohol Consumption and Genetic Variation in Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase and 5-Methyltetrahydrofolate-Homocysteine Methyltransferase in Relation to Breast Cancer Risk
Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, 10.1158/1055-9965.

It has been hypothesized that effects of alcohol consumption on one-carbon metabolism may explain, in part, the association of alcohol consumption with breast cancer risk. The methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) and 5-methyltetrahydrofolate-homocysteine methyltransferase (MTR) genes express key enzymes in this pathway.

We investigated the association of polymorphisms in MTHFR (rs1801133 and rs1801131) and MTR (rs1805087) with breast cancer risk and their interaction with alcohol consumption in a case-control study—the Western New York Exposures and Breast Cancer study.

Our findings indicate that among postmenopausal women, increased breast cancer risk with alcohol consumption may be as a result of effects on one-carbon metabolism.

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Functional CRH variation increases stress-induced alcohol consumption in primates
PNAS August 25, 2009 vol. 106 no. 34 14593-1459

Corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF), encoded by the CRH gene, is a key integrator of stress responses, and, as such, CRH gene variation may contribute to individual differences in susceptibility to stress-related pathology. In rhesus macaques, a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) is found within the CRH promoter (−248C→ T).

Here, we assessed whether this variant influenced stress responding and, because increased CRF system activity drives alcohol drinking in rodents, we examined whether it predicted voluntary alcohol consumption as a function of prior stress exposure.

Using a hypothalamic nuclear extract, we showed that the −248 T allele resulted in increased DNA protein interactions relative to the C allele. In vitro, the T allele resulted in CRH promoter activity that was higher following both stimulation with forskolin and treatment with dexamethasone. Endocrine and behavioral responses to social separation stress (release of ACTH and cortisol, and suppression of environmental exploration, respectively) were higher among carriers of the T allele, particularly among those exposed to early adversity in the form of peer rearing. We also found that T allele carriers with a history of early life adversity consumed more alcohol in a limited-access paradigm.

Our data suggest that CRH promoter variation that confers increased stress reactivity increases the risk for alcohol use disorders in stress-exposed individuals.

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Episodic Memory in Detoxified Alcoholics: Contribution of Grey Matter Microstructure Alteration
PLoS ONE 4(8): e6786.

Even though uncomplicated alcoholics may likely have episodic memory deficits, discrepancies exist regarding to the integrity of brain regions that underlie this function in healthy subjects. Possible relationships between episodic memory and 1) brain microstructure assessed by magnetic resonance diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), 2) brain volumes assessed by voxel-based morphometry (VBM) were investigated in uncomplicated, detoxified alcoholics.

In those with alcohol dependence, higher ADC was detected mainly in frontal, temporal and parahippocampal regions, and in the cerebellum. In alcoholics, regions with higher ADC typically also had lower grey matter volume. Low verbal episodic memory performance in alcoholism was associated with higher mean ADC in parahippocampal areas, in frontal cortex and in the left temporal cortex; no correlation was found between regional volumes and episodic memory scores. Regression analyses for the control group were not significant.

These findings support the hypothesis that regional microstructural but no macrostructural alteration of the brain might be responsible, at least in part, for episodic memory deficits in alcohol dependence.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The ethnic density effect on alcohol use among ethnic minority people in the UK
J Epidemiol Community Health. Published Online First: 24 August 2009.

Despite lower alcohol drinking rates of UK ethnic minority people (excluding Irish) compared to those of the white majority, events of racial discrimination expose ethnic minorities to unique stressors that elevate the risk for escapist drinking. Studies of ethnic density, the geographical concentration of ethnic minorities in an area, have found racism to be less prevalent in areas of increased ethnic density, and this study hypothesises that ethnic minority people living in areas of high ethnic density will report less alcohol use relative to their counterparts, due to decreased experienced racism and increased socio-cultural norms.

Results confirmed a protective ethnic density effect for current alcohol consumption, but showed a less consistent picture of an ethnic density effect for adherence to sensible drinking guidelines. Previous research has shown that alcohol use is increasing among ethnic minorities, and so a greater understanding of alcohol-related behaviour among UK ethnic minority people is important to establish their need for preventative care and advice on safe drinking practices.

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Neurocircuitry of Addiction
Neuropsychopharmacology advance online publication 26 August 2009;

Drug addiction is a chronically relapsing disorder that has been characterized by (1) compulsion to seek and take the drug, (2) loss of control in limiting intake, and (3) emergence of a negative emotional state (eg, dysphoria, anxiety, irritability) reflecting a motivational withdrawal syndrome when access to the drug is prevented. Drug addiction has been conceptualized as a disorder that involves elements of both impulsivity and compulsivity that yield a composite addiction cycle composed of three stages: 'binge/intoxication', 'withdrawal/negative affect', and 'preoccupation/anticipation' (craving).

Animal and human imaging studies have revealed discrete circuits that mediate the three stages of the addiction cycle with key elements of the ventral tegmental area and ventral striatum as a focal point for the binge/intoxication stage, a key role for the extended amygdala in the withdrawal/negative affect stage, and a key role in the preoccupation/anticipation stage for a widely distributed network involving the orbitofrontal cortex–dorsal striatum, prefrontal cortex, basolateral amygdala, hippocampus, and insula involved in craving and the cingulate gyrus, dorsolateral prefrontal, and inferior frontal cortices in disrupted inhibitory control.

The transition to addiction involves neuroplasticity in all of these structures that may begin with changes in the mesolimbic dopamine system and a cascade of neuroadaptations from the ventral striatum to dorsal striatum and orbitofrontal cortex and eventually dysregulation of the prefrontal cortex, cingulate gyrus, and extended amygdala.

The delineation of the neurocircuitry of the evolving stages of the addiction syndrome forms a heuristic basis for the search for the molecular, genetic, and neuropharmacological neuroadaptations that are key to vulnerability for developing and maintaining addiction.

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Public opinion and community-based prevention of alcohol-related harms
Addiction Research and Theory, Volume 17, Number 4, August 2009 , pp. 360-371(12)

This article looks at alcohol policy opinions from the point of view of the possibilities and frames for creating local alcohol control policy. Local action against harms related to drinking is a compromise between different points of view, and the question of public support is important for community-based prevention.

The wide majority of the population supported such measures suitable for community-based prevention as enforcement of the minimum legal age to purchase alcohol, surveillance of restaurants and shops, and the ban to sell alcohol to a drunken person. Decreasing numbers of outlets of restaurants or their opening hours were least popular. There was a relationship between drinking habits and alcohol policy opinions. Abstainers and moderate drinkers were most likely to support all alcohol policy measures examined, whilst heavier drinkers were least likely to support them. There was a connection between awareness of alcohol problems in one's locality, and favourable opinions on alcohol control measures. The result is similar with the ones found earlier in other countries.

Potential members of local alcohol policy coalitions seem to have some similarities in different countries.

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Beer price hikes are brewing
By Jerry Hirsch
August 26, 2009

Here's some sobering news: Beer prices are going up

The nation's two largest beer sellers said Tuesday that they planned to raise prices, although they provided few specifics.

"We feel like we will take a moderate price increase on our portfolio," said Peter Marino, spokesman for Chicago-based MillerCoors, maker of Miller Lite, Coors Light and Blue Moon. He blamed higher costs for the price hike.

Like other food manufacturers, brewers have been hit by commodity price increases in recent years, but have not been as aggressive about raising prices, analysts said. Traditionally they raise prices in the fall. . . . . .

National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XIV: Teens and Parents
August 2009

Compared to teens who have not seen their parent(s) drunk, those who have are more than twice as likely to get drunk in a typical month, and three times likelier to use marijuana and smoke cigarettes, according to the National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XIV: Teens and Parents, the 14th annual back-to-school survey conducted by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Chronic ethanol attenuates circadian photic phase resetting and alters nocturnal activity patterns in the hamster
Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 297: R729-R737, 2009

Acute ethanol (EtOH) administration impairs circadian clock phase resetting, suggesting a mode for the disruptive effect of alcohol abuse on human circadian rhythms. Here, we extend this research by characterizing the chronobiological effects of chronic alcohol consumption.

In chronically drinking hamsters, brain EtOH levels are sufficient to inhibit photic phase resetting and disrupt circadian activity. Chronic EtOH did not impair photic entrainment; however, its replacement with water potentiated photic phase resetting.

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Women, Alcohol, and the Military: Cultural Changes and Reductions in Later Alcohol Problems among Female Veterans
Journal of Women's Health Online Ahead of Print: August 24, 2009

Women working in traditionally male-dominated environments are at higher risk for alcohol use disorders (AUDs). The male-dominated U.S. military has additional risk factors associated with problem drinking, including isolation from family and exposure to life-threatening stressors. In the 1980s, the military conformed to all U.S. states' 21-year minimum legal drinking age (MLDA), and established prevention and intervention policies for abusive drinking.

Prior to the military's efforts to reduce underage and problem drinking, female veterans' alcohol treatment rates exceeded those of same-age civilians. However, with increasing exposure to an environment that discourages abusive drinking, female veterans' annual rates of alcohol treatment fell to below those for same-age civilians.

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Consumers of vocational rehabilitation services diagnosed with psychiatric and substance use disorders
Journal of Rehabilitation, July-Sept, 2009

This study sought to investigate the prevalence of co-occurring psychiatric and substance use disorders among a sample of persons receiving vocational rehabilitation services and to explore "recovery-related" factors and their association with employment outcomes for VR consumers who have dual psychiatric and substance use disorders.

The findings suggest that consumers with severe mental illness and coexisting substance abuse are not accessing the public vocational rehabilitation program at a rate proportionate to their prominence in the general population. There was also no support illustrated for the relationship between "recovery-related" factors and employment outcomes. While several study limitations likely impeded any significant results, it is also relevant to examine the VR system and to further research the benefit of a "recovery"-themed platform in the VR system. Fully incorporating this construct could "create the possibility of a radically more responsive and effective service system" (Torrey, Rapp, Van Tosh, McNabb, & Ralph, 2005, p. 98).

Future research which explores the potential utility of emphasizing "recovery" as a key aspect of the VR system and which further seeks to operationalize recovery-related concepts is imperative to continued success of persons with co-occurring psychiatric and substance abuse disorders in the VR system.

Home Office release 'The practical guide for preventing and dealing with alcohol related problems'

The guide, summary and related documents are available on this Home Office page which states:
"This Practical Guide is the essential reference for all those responsible for, and with an interest in, tackling alcohol-related crime and disorder. It also provides clear and comprehensive guidance to the tools and powers available to enforcement authorities and provides for them examples of good practice, specimen forms and decision-making flowcharts.
. . . . . .

Altered gene expression in neural crest cells exposed to ethanol in vitro
Brain Research Article in Press 22 August 2009

To characterize and compare ethanol-induced changes of gene expression in cells from the cranial (cNCC) and trunk (tNCC) portion of the neural crest cell (NCC) population of day-10 rat embryos.

Ethanol causes a shift towards apoptosis in both cNCC and tNCC, a shift, which is diminished by NAC treatment. Oxidative defense genes, and genes involved in neural crest cell development are affected differently in cNCC compared to tNCC upon ethanol exposure. Moreover, ethanol down regulates cNCC Hox genes, whereas tNCC Hox genes are up regulated.
These patterns of ethanol-altered gene expression may be of etiological importance for NCC-associated maldevelopment in ethanol-exposed pregnancy.

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Stress and hazardous alcohol use: Associations with early dropout from university
Scandinavian Journal of Public Health August 21, 2009

The transition to studying at university is associated with increased levels of both stress and hazardous alcohol use. The aim of this study is to investigate the influence of these factors on first-year dropout from university studies.

A multivariate analysis established that high stress and admission to the northern university were associated with dropout from university studies, while symptoms of depression and anxiety as well as hazardous drinking were not.

There is a need to address the issue of stress associated with the start of university studies. It seems important to offer stress-reducing interventions, specifically aimed at reducing transitional stress, as soon as students start university.

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Intervention for hazardous alcohol use and high level of stress in university freshmen: A comparison between an intervention and a control University
Brain Research Article in Press 20 August 2009

The first year of university studies is associated with increased levels of alcohol drinking and stress. This study examines the one-year outcome of both primary and secondary interventions of one alcohol programme and one stress intervention programme at an intervention university in comparison with a control university.

This study suggests that both primary and secondary alcohol and stress interventions have 1-year effects in university freshmen and could be implemented in university settings.

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Milk consumption during adolescence decreases alcohol drinking in adulthood
Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior Article in Press 19 August 2009

Early onset of alcohol consumption increases the risk for the development of dependence. Whether adolescent consumption of other highly palatable solutions may also affect alcohol drinking in adulthood is not known.
The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of adolescent consumption of four solutions: water, sucrose, sucrose–milk and milk on ethanol drinking in adult rats.

Our findings suggest adolescent exposure to sucrose increases, whereas, exposure to milk reduces ethanol consumption in adult rats. Our results may provide a new theoretical approach to the early prevention of alcoholism.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Internationally recognized guidelines for ‘sensible’ alcohol consumption: is exceeding them actually detrimental to health and social circumstances? Evidence from a population-based cohort study
Journal of Public Health 2009 31(3):360-365

The health and social impact of drinking in excess of internationally recognized weekly (>21 units in men; >14 units in women) and daily (>4 units in men; >3 units in women) recommendations for ‘sensible’ alcohol intake are largely unknown.

In fully adjusted analyses, surpassing guidelines for sensible alcohol intake was associated with an increased risk of hypertension [daily guidelines only: P-value(trend): 0.012], financial problems [weekly guidelines: P-value(difference): 0.046] and, to a lesser degree, accidents [weekly guidelines: P-value(difference): 0.065]. There was no association between either indicator of alcohol intake and mortality risk.

In the present study, there was some evidence for a detrimental effect on health and social circumstances of exceeding current internationally recognized weekly and daily guidelines for alcohol intake.

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The burden of alcohol-related ill health in the United Kingdom
Journal of Public Health 2009 31(3):366-373

Although moderate alcohol consumption has been shown to confer a protective effect for specific diseases, current societal patterns of alcohol use impose a huge health and economic burden on modern society. This study presents a method for estimating the health and economic burden of alcohol consumption to the UK National Health Service (NHS).

We estimate that alcohol consumption was responsible for 31 000 deaths in the UK in 2005 and that alcohol consumption cost the UK NHS £3.0 billion in 2005–06. Alcohol consumption was responsible for 10% of all disability adjusted life years in 2002 (male: 15%; female: 4%) in the UK.

Alcohol consumption is a considerable public health burden in the UK. The comparison of the health and economic burden of various lifestyle factors is essential in prioritizing and resourcing public health action.

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Alcohol, Other Drugs, and Health: Current Evidence
Table of Contents: July-August 2009


Sunday, August 23, 2009

May an alcohol induced increase of HDL be considered as atheroprotective
Physiological research / Academia Scientiarum Bohemoslovaca 12 August 2009

It is well known that the consumption of moderate doses of alcohol leads to increase of HDL cholesterol (HDL-C). Atheroprotectivity of HDL particles is based primarily on their role in reverse cholesterol transport (RCT).

In the study with a cross-over design 13 male volunteers were studied in two different regimens: i) drinking of 36 gr alcohol daily and ii) drinking only on-alcoholic beverages, to test whether alcohol induced increase of HDL cholesterol can affect cholesterol efflux (CHE) from cell culture of labelled human macrophages.

Moderate alcohol consumption changes the capacity of plasma to induce CHE only at a border line significance.

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Review: Should ethanol be scheduled as a drug of high risk to public health?
Journal of Psychopharmacology, Vol. 23, No. 1, 94-100 (2009)

Six criteria described in the New Zealand Misuse of Drugs Act and used by the Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs (EACD) for determining the risk of a drug to public health were examined in relation to ethanol, using -hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) as a comparator drug.

The dangerousness level of ethanol was found to be at least similar to that of GHB in this analysis. This highlights a major discrepancy in public policy.

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