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, October 10, 2009

Viral vectors for the treatment of alcoholism: Use of metabolic flux analysis for cell cultivation and vector production
Metabolic Engineering  Article in Press  6 Oct 2009

The HEK293 cell line has been used for the production of adenovirus vectors to be used in the potential treatment of alcoholism using a gene therapy strategy.

Culture optimization and scale-up has been achieved by first adapting the cells to serum-free media and secondly by growing them in suspension. Adenovirus production after infection was increased, resulting in higher specific glucose consumption and lactate accumulation rates compared to the growth phase.

We applied media design tools and Metabolic Flux Analysis (MFA) to compare the metabolic states of cells during growth and adenovirus production and to optimize culture media according to the metabolic demand of the cells in terms of glucose and glutamine concentrations. This allowed obtention of a higher maximum cell concentration and increased adenovirus production by minimizing the production of metabolites that can have an inhibitory effect on cell growth.

We have proposed a stoichiometric equation for adenovirus synthesis. MFA results allowed determination of how these changes in composition affected the way cells distribute their nutrient resources during cell growth and virus production.

Virus purification was successfully achieved using chromatography and Aqueous Two-Phase Systems (ATPS).

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The Association Between Parent Communication and College Freshmen's Alcohol Use
Journal of Drug Education  Volume 39, Number 2 / 2009

Using a cross-sectional survey, data were collected from 265 first-year college students to determine if parent-student alcohol communication is associated with college drinking or drinking consequences and if this relationship is mediated by students' parental subjective norms, attitudes toward drinking, and perceived risk.
Findings indicate that parental communication regarding the negative effects of alcohol may be ineffective at reducing college drinking or drinking consequences.
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Reasons for abstaining or limiting drinking: A developmental perspective.
Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. Vol 23(3), Sep 2009, 428-442.

The cross-sectional and longitudinal relations between reasons for abstaining or limiting drinking (RALD) and abstention were examined in a 16-year longitudinal study (N = 489) of college students with and without a family history of alcohol problems.

Results indicated that RALD based upon upbringing or religiosity were associated with increased rates of abstention, whereas RALD based upon perceived or experienced negative consequences of drinking were associated with lower rates of abstention and increased alcohol consumption among drinkers.

In addition, changes in RALD over time coincided with alcohol consumption transitions. Abstainers who began drinking after turning 21 reported a decrease in the importance of RALD associated with loss of control and upbringing or religiosity compared to abstainers who continued to abstain after turning 21. Conversely, drinkers who began abstaining after leaving college reported an increase in the importance of RALD associated with loss of control and upbringing or religiosity compared to drinkers who continued to drink after leaving college.

Examining the reciprocal influences of RALD on drinking outcomes extends previous research and may inform prevention and intervention programs among college drinkers

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Friday, October 9, 2009

Substance Use Disorders and Risk for Completed Suicide
Archives of Suicide Research, Volume 13, Issue 4 October 2009 , pages 303 - 316

Substance use disorders are among the most frequent psychiatric disorders found in suicides. In psychological autopsy studies between 19% and 63% of all suicides suffered from substance use disorders, mostly from alcohol use disorders.

Suicide risk is highly increased in substance use disorders, particularly in alcohol use disorders, and in co-morbid alcoholism and depression. So far, some risk factors for suicide have been identified in alcoholism. Nevertheless, various questions about the relationship between substance use disorders and suicide remain open, which indicate directions for future research.

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Mild stress increases attentional bias in social drinkers who drink to cope: A replication and extension.
Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology. Vol 17(5), Oct 2009, 312-319.

The authors investigated the effects of a laboratory stressor task on rapid initial orienting and delayed disengagement aspects of attentional bias for alcohol-related cues in social drinkers .

Results indicated that participants who reported drinking alcohol to cope with negative affect had increased attentional bias for alcohol cues after stress induction. This effect of stress induction on attentional bias was evident when cues were presented for 100 ms and 500 ms, which suggests that stress increases both the initial orienting of attention toward and the delayed disengagement of attention from alcohol-related cues.

Theoretical implications of this robust finding are discussed.

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Deficits in Affective Prosody Comprehension: Family History of Alcoholism versus Alcohol Exposure Alcohol and Alcoholism Advance Access published online on October 9, 2009

Abstinent alcoholics have deficits in comprehending the affective intonation in speech. Prior work suggests that these deficits are due to alcohol exposure rather than preexisting risk factors for alcoholism. The present paper examines whether family history of alcoholism is a contributor to affective prosody deficits in alcoholics.

The present study lends support to previous research suggesting that deficits in affective prosody comprehension observed in detoxified alcoholics are associated with a history of heavy drinking rather than with a family history of alcoholism.

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Allowing children to drink occasionally may prevent problems later, says study
Owen Bowcott
The Guardian, Friday 9 October 2009

Parents who allow school-age children to drink occasionally may be protecting them from alcohol damage, violence and sexual danger, a health study published today suggests.

The survey of almost 10,000 15- to 16-year-olds' drinking patterns in north-west England by researchers at the Centre for Public Health at Liverpool John Moores University found that enforcing abstinence within the family may push youngsters out into more dangerous environments and increase the risk of excessive drinking.


News Release - Tanked-up teens: Cheap alcohol strongly linked to harmful underage drinking in the UK

Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Public Health studied the drinking habits of 9833 15-16 year olds in the North West of England, finding that excessively low cost alcohol products and illicit purchase are strongly related to harmful underage drinking.

The researchers found a strong relationship between consumption of cheaper alcohol products and increased proportions of respondents reporting violence when drunk, alcohol related regretted sex and drinking in public places. Drinking large cider bottles was, in particular, associated with drinking in public areas such as streets, parks and outside shops. At the time of the study, alcopops were not associated with increased risk of harm, perhaps because their relatively high price per unit of alcohol limited their abuse potential.

Bellis said, "The negative impacts of alcohol on children's health are substantial. Those parents who choose to allow children aged 15-16 years to drink may limit harms by restricting consumption to lower frequencies (e.g. no more than once a week) and under no circumstances permitting binge drinking. However, parental efforts should be matched by genuine legislative and enforcement activity to reduce independent access to alcohol by children and to increase the price of cheap alcohol products".

Scientific Management Review Board: Substance Use, Abuse and Addiction Working Group

The Scientific Management Review Board was authorized by the NIH Reform Act of 2006 and signed into law by the President in January 2007. The NIH Reform Act provides certain organizational authorities to HHS and NIH officials regarding NIH institutes and centers and the Office of the Director. The purpose of the Scientific Management Review Board is to advise HHS and NIH officials on the use of those organizational authorities.

This Working Group of the SMRB is convened to recommend to the full Board whether organizational change within NIH could further optimize research into substance use, abuse, and addiction and maximize human health and/or patient well being. In addressing this issue, the SUAA Working Group will consider the scientific opportunities, public health needs, and research technologies in substance use, abuse, and addiction, in addition to research in these areas under the existing NIH structure.

Air date: Wednesday, October 14, 2009, 9:00:00 AM
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Assessing why substance use disorder patients drop out from or refuse to attend 12-step mutual-help groups: The “REASONS” questionnaire
Addiction Research & Theory 01 October 2009

Substance use disorder (SUD) patients who become involved in 12-step mutual-help groups (MHGs), such as Alcoholics Anonymous, experience better outcomes and have reduced healthcare costs. In spite of this, many do not attend at all and other initial attendees drop out.

Reasons for non-attendance and dropout have not been systematically studied, yet such knowledge could enhance the efficiency of twelve-step facilitation (TSF) efforts or help clinicians decide which patients might prefer non-12-step MHGs (e.g., SMART Recovery).

This study developed and tested a measure of reasons for non-participation and dropout from 12-step MHGs. Items were generated and clustered into eight domains using a rational keying approach.

Co-morbid psychiatric issues and, to a lesser degree, spiritual concerns, were found to be particularly important dimensions relating to this phenomenon. The measure could serve as a useful screening tool for barriers to 12-step participation and subsequently focus TSF efforts or inform referral to non-12 step MHGs.

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Glutamate Dehydrogenase as a Marker of Alcohol Dependence
Alcohol and Alcoholism Advance Access published online on October 7, 2009

The aim of this study was to examine glutamate dehydrogenase (GLDH) in the diagnostic combinations as a result of new findings.

GLDH is an equally accurate marker of alcoholism in comparison to others, if its significantly faster decrease is taken into consideration. We strongly believe that watching changes in the activity of laboratory markers of alcoholism is an effective yet overlooked aid.

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Substance Abuse Treatment Admissions Referred by the Criminal Justice System

In 2007, the criminal justice system was the largest referral source for all treatment admissions in the US (37 percent of all admissions). These admissions were almost twice as likely to be employed either full or part-time as other admissions (42 percent v. 22 percent) and slightly less likely to drop out of treatment (22 percent v. 27 percent). Over the past 15 years, the fastest growth in criminal justice referrals has been among admissions younger than 18 and admissions for marijuana and methamphetamine abuse.

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Teenage drinking, alcohol availability and pricing: a cross-sectional study of risk and protective factors for alcohol-related harms in school children
BMC Public Health 2009, 9:380

There is a lack of empirical analyses examining how alcohol consumption patterns in children relate to harms. Such intelligence is required to inform parents, children and policy relating to the provision and use of alcohol during childhood. Here, we examine drinking habits and associated harms in 15-16 year olds and explore how this can inform public health advice on child drinking.

There is no safe level of alcohol consumption for 15-16 year olds. However, while abstinence removes risk of harms from personal alcohol consumption, its promotion may also push children into accessing drink outside family environments and contribute to higher risks of harm. Strategies to reduce alcohol-related harms in children should ensure bingeing is avoided entirely, address the excessively low cost of many alcohol products and tackle the ease with which it can be accessed, especially outside of supervised environments.

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Alcohol Alert No. 78

Dramatic developmental changes unfold as individuals mature from birth to childhood, from childhood to adolescence, and from adolescence to early adulthood. These include physiological changes—such as physical growth, brain development, and puberty—as well as psychological and social changes—such as an evolving sense of self, forming more mature relationships with friends, and transitioning from middle school to high school.

Developmental changes factor into underage drinking. For example, as a high school student transitions to college, he or she may experience greater freedom and autonomy, creating more opportunities to use alcohol. Underage drinking also can influence development, potentially affecting the course of a person’s life. For example, alcohol use can interfere with school performance and/or negatively affect peer relationships.

This Alcohol Alert examines the complex relationship between underage drinking and development: how developmental factors influence drinking, the social and physical consequences of alcohol use, and how various developmental stages can be specifically targeted to design more effective measures for preventing or treating underage drinking
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Dutch Minister doesn’t follow advise on labeling alcoholic energy drinks

By order of Minister Klink of Health, Welfare and Sports, the office for risk evaluation of the Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority, made a risk inventory of alcoholic energy drinks. This report with recommendations was sent to the parliament together with a reaction of Minister Klink on September 11th 2009.

The three recommendations of the report followed by this inventory are:- Asses the safety of (alcoholic) energy drinks and seek for an EU approach- Make an inventory of the sincere harmful effects of drinking alcohol in combination with energy drinks- Enact detailed regulations for labeling alcoholic energy drinks as well as energy drinks

The letter of the minister shows, unfortunately, that the minister doesn’t attend to take action on this matter. He states: “There is no indication that drinking alcoholic energy drinks is an extensive problem, at this moment. The results of this risk inventory and of the research on the effects of labeling alcoholic drinks give no rise for me to introduce warning labels on alcoholic energy drinks or to take other actions.”

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This report summarises Substance Misuse Statistics for Wales for 2008-09. It is structured as follows:

· Part 1 includes statistics from the Welsh National Database for Substance Misuse. The profile of referrals during 2008-09 to substance misuse treatment services is described as well as treatment service activity between 2006-07 and 2008-09. Results are presented in a series of tables and summarised on pages 4 and 5.

· Part 2 provides additional substance misuse related information currently available from routinely published sources in Wales to support and add to the information gained through the Welsh National Database for Substance Misuse. Evidence is drawn from a number of data sources including information from the hospital admission data (Patient Episode Database
Wales (PEDW)), Office for National Statistics (ONS) information, Home Office and Education data. The information is summarized in a Summary on page 38.

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Effects of Alcohol and Sleep Restriction on Simulated Driving Performance in Untreated Patients With Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Annals of Internal Medicine 6 October 2009 Volume 151 Issue 7 Pages 447-455

Because of previous sleep disturbance and sleep hypoxia, patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) might be more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol and sleep restriction than healthy persons.

To compare the effects of sleep restriction and alcohol on driving simulator performance in patients with OSA and age-matched control participants.

Patients with OSA are more vulnerable than healthy persons to the effects of alcohol consumption and sleep restriction on various driving performance variables.

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

New estimates of the number of children living with substance misusing parents: results from UK national household surveys
BMC Public Health 2009

The existing estimates of there being 250,000 - 350,000 children of problem drug users in the UK (ACMD, 2003) and 780,000 - 1.3 million children of adults with an alcohol problem (AHRSE, 2004) are extrapolations of treatment data alone or estimates from other countries, hence updated, local and broaderestimates are needed.

Whilst harm from parental substance use is not inevitable, the number of children living with substance misusing parents exceeds earlier estimates. Widespread patterns of binge drinking and recreational drug use may expose children to sub-optimal care and substance-using role models. Implications for policy, practice and research are discussed.

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Tories stick to plans to tax high strength alcohol

Higher taxes would be targeted at 'cheap drinks that fuel anti-social behaviour', shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling announced at yesterday's Conservative party conference.

In his speech, Grayling said the Tories would "...start with the problem of fourteen year olds hanging around with bottles of super-strength beers or ciders. It's much too easy for them to get very drunk quickly and cheaply."

Grayling also announced the Tories would 'tear up this Government's lax licensing regime' by giving more powers to restrict and fine licensed premises.

According to the Conservative party website, measures would be brought in to include:

  • Significant tax increases including on alcopops, strong beer and strong cider that contribute to violence and disorder on our streets. As a result, a 4-pack of super-strength beer will be £1.30 more expensive, a 2-litre bottle of super-strength cider will be 84p more expensive and a large bottle of alcopops will be up to £1.50 more expensive.

  • Supermarkets and other retailers will be banned from selling alcohol below cost price. This will help tackle the ‘pre-loading’ trend – young people and binge drinkers consuming cheap alcohol at home before going to town centres.
  • A much tougher licensing regime. Local councils and the police will be given new powers to restrict the large number of late licences awarded to shops, takeaways and other venues.
. . . . . .

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Process evaluation of the implementation of a screening and brief intervention program for alcohol risk in primary health care: An experience in Brazil
Drug and Alcohol Review Early View 5 Oct 2009

Screening and brief intervention (SBI) are considered good prevention strategies for alcohol-related problems in Primary Health Care (PHC).
The aim of this study was to evaluate the process of an SBI implementation program for alcohol risk use and evaluate the factors that facilitated or impeded this implementation, in two PHC settings at the Brazilian city of Juiz de Fora.

The barriers and facilitators were related to two main factors: organisational culture and personal attitudes. The action research provided the opportunity to bridge the gap between research and practice, but it also showed that SBI faces significant challenges before it can be implemented as a routine procedure in PHC settings in Brazil.

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Packages of Care for Mental, Neurological, and Substance Use Disorders in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: PLoS Medicine Series
PLoS Medicine Series. PLoS Med 6(10)

This Perspective introduces a new series in PLoS Medicine on mental health disorders in low- and middle-income countries that reviews the evidence for packages of care for ADHD, alcohol misuse disorders, dementia, depression, epilepsy, and schizophrenia.

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Relationship between Alcohol Consumption and Active Helicobacter pylori Infection
Alcohol and Alcoholism Advance Access published online on October 6, 2009

Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a cause of chronic gastritis and maybe responsible for functional dyspepsia in a subset of patients. Many risk factors, such as alcohol consumption and smoking, may contribute to the colonization and infection of H. pylori in humans. However, studies on the relationship between H. pylori infection and drinking or smoking have produced conflicting results.

The aim of this study was to examine whether consumption of alcohol or smoking is associated with active H. pylori infection in functional dyspepsia patients.

H. pylori infection was positive in 27.3% of the 139 functional dyspepsia patients. Both age and gender were not significantly associated with H. pylori infection. A multiple logistic model found that alcohol consumption and pathology (active gastritis) were associated with H. pylori infection. Active gastritis was associated with alcohol consumption, smoking and age .

In patients with functional dyspepsia, there is no significant association between active H. pylori infection and smoking. However, alcohol consumption appears to be associated with H. pylori infection.

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The Long Arm of Expectancies: Adolescent Alcohol Expectancies Predict Adult Alcohol Use
Alcohol and Alcoholism Advance Access published online on October 6, 2009

Alcohol expectancies are strong concurrent predictors of alcohol use and problems, but the current study addressed their unique power to predict from adolescence to midlife.

Cohort members with more positive alcohol expectancies at age 16 reported greater alcohol quantity concurrently, increases in alcohol quantity relative to their peers between ages 16 and 35, and a higher likelihood of lifetime and previous year alcohol misuse at age 35, independent of gender, social class in family of origin, age of alcohol use onset, adolescent delinquent behavior and age 16 exam scores.

Alcohol expectancies were strong proximal predictors of alcohol use and predicted relative change in alcohol use and misuse across two decades into middle adulthood.

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The Access to Research Initiative (HINARI) provides free or very low cost online access to the major journals in biomedical and related social sciences to local, not-for-profit institutions in developing countries.

HINARI was launched in January 2002, with some 1500 journals from 6 major publishers: Blackwell, Elsevier Science, the Harcourt Worldwide STM Group, Wolters Kluwer International Health & Science, Springer Verlag and John Wiley, following the principles in a Statement of Intent signed in July 2001. Since that time, the numbers of participating publishers and of journals and other full-text resources has grown continuously. Today more than 150 publishers are offering more than 6,200 journals in HINARI and others will soon be joining the programme. . . . . .

Alcohol consumption in homicide victims in the city of São Paulo
Addiction Early View 5 Oct 2009

To assess the association between alcohol use and victimization by homicide in individuals autopsied at the Institute of Legal Medicine in São Paulo, Brazil.

Alcohol was detected in blood samples of 43% of the victims, and mean BAC levels were 1.55 ± 0.86 g/l. The prevalence of positive BAC levels was higher among men (44.1%) than women (26.6%). Firearms caused most of the deaths (78.6%), and alcohol consumption was greater among victims of homicide by sharp weapons .
A greater proportion of victims with positive BAC were killed at weekends compared to weekdays (56.4 and 38.5%, respectively;, and the correlation between homicide rates and the average BAC for the central area of the city was positive .
These results highlight alcohol as a contributing factor for homicide victimization in the greatest urban center in South America, supporting public strategies and future research aiming to prevent homicides and violence related to alcohol consumption.

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Anxiety and depression among abstainers and low-level alcohol consumers. The Nord-Trøndelag Health Study
Addiction Volume 104 Issue 9, Pages 1519 - 1529

The aim of this study was to examine the levels of anxiety and depression among individuals consuming low levels of alcohol.

A U-shaped association between alcohol consumption and the risk of anxiety and depression was found. Abstention was related to increased odds for both case-level anxiety and depression ). This association was accounted for partly by adjustments for socio-economic status, social network, somatic illness, age (depression only), gender (anxiety only) and 'sick-quitting'.

We also identified significant differences between participants who label themselves as abstainers compared to those who report no usual alcohol consumption, but who do not label themselves as abstainers.

The risk of case-level anxiety and depression is elevated in individuals with low alcohol consumption compared to those with moderate consumption. Individuals who label themselves as abstainers are at particularly increased risk. This increased risk cannot fully be explained by somatic illness, social activity or 'sick-quitting'.

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Relationship of heavy drinking, lipoprotein (a) and lipid profile to infrarenal aortic diameter
Vascular Medicine, Vol. 14, No. 4, 323-329 (2009)

The objective of this study was to examine the association of alcohol drinking and lipid profile with infrarenal aortic dimension. The diameter of the infrarenal aorta was measured using ultrasound in 395 individuals (mean 66.6 ± 10.3 years) with atherosclerotic diseases or risk factors. The associations between heavy drinking, serum lipoprotein (a) levels, lipid profile and infrarenal aorta diameters were examined.

Heavy drinking and lipoprotein (a) were positively related with infrarenal aortic dimension, while low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C)/high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), LDL-C and total cholesterol (TC)/HDL-C were negatively associated with infrarenal aortic diameter

In addition, there were negative associations of LDL-C/HDL-C, TC/HDL-C and positive associations of HDL-C and apolipoprotein AI (Apo AI) with heavy drinking.

In conclusion, there was a positive association between infrarenal aortic diameters and heavy drinking, as well as lipoprotein (a) levels. Furthermore, the novel and unexpected inverse association between LDL-C/HDL-C, LDL-C, TC/HDL-C and abdominal aortic diameter may suggest a possible role for anti-atherogenic lipid profile (characterized by a higher level of HDL-C and lower level of LDL-C) in aortic dilatation processes, which need to be clarified by further studies.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Methodological Assessment of Economic Evaluations of Alcohol Treatment: What Is Missing?
Alcohol and Alcoholism Advance Access published online on October 6, 2009

The aim of this study is to review the methodology that has been adopted in previous economic evaluations of alcohol treatment and offer research recommendations with a view to enhancing the consistency and harmonization of economic evaluations in the alcohol field.

Twenty- seven studies were selected. Almost half of the studies did not include society-level consequences in their analysis. Some consequences of alcohol treatment at a societal level, such as the impact of treatment on health-related quality of life of family and friends of the drinker, have never been considered in the economic analysis. There was no agreement regarding the individual health consequences used in the evaluations. Measures capturing life years and morbidity have not been extensively used in the alcohol field. The level of reporting treatment costs on the reviewed studies is generally well detailed.

The literature is still rather sparse in this area and further research is required to fulfil the gaps. If a common methodology is adopted in future economic evaluations of alcohol treatment, more stable cost-effectiveness estimates will be produced and informed decisions for resources allocation to alcohol treatments will be possible.

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Towards DSM-V: Exploring Diagnostic Thresholds for Alcohol Dependence and Abuse
Alcohol and Alcoholism Advance Access published online on October 6, 2009

The expected release of the DSM-V in 2012 has renewed the longstanding debate around whether alcohol use disorders are best conceptualized as dimensional or categorical constructs.

The current study aimed to validate the current diagnostic thresholds for alcohol dependence and abuse using epidemiological indicators including mental health, disability, psychological distress, functional impairment, service use, suicidality and early age of drinking onset.

There was some albeit limited support for the current diagnostic threshold of three criteria for alcohol dependence and one criterion for abuse. A number of other cut-offs also showed consistent variation for both disorders.

It is essential to define diagnostic thresholds in a systematic way. The current diagnostic thresholds for alcohol dependence and abuse are adequate but require further validation using a variety of methods and external indicators. Combining these disorders in some way may also prove useful as well as including other potential diagnostic criteria in future research.

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Applying Health Care Reform Principles to Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services
JAMA. 2009;302(13):1463-1464.

The US political system is debating the desirability and feasibility of health care reform. Discussions focus on expanding coverage while reforming delivery to contain costs and ensure quality, but there has been little discussion about how to apply reform principles to mental health and substance abuse (MHSA) conditions and services.

The passage of federal parity bills for private plans and outpatient Medicare services underscores the policy interest in ensuring financial access and the timeliness of considering application of reform principles to these services.

This Commentary highlights features of MHSA conditions and services that affect onsideration of reform principles.

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Endogenous Opiates and Behavior: 2008
Peptides Article in Press 29 September 2009

This paper is the thirty-first consecutive installment of the annual review of research concerning the endogenous opioid system. It summarizes papers published during 2008 that studied the behavioral effects of molecular, pharmacological and genetic manipulation of opioid peptides, opioid receptors, opioid agonists and opioid antagonists.

The particular topics that continue to be covered include the molecular-biochemical effects and neurochemical localization studies of endogenous opioids and their receptors related to behavior (Section 2), and the roles of these opioid peptides and receptors in pain and analgesia (Section 3); stress and social status (Section 4); tolerance and dependence (Section 5); learning and memory (Section 6); eating and drinking (Section 7); alcohol and drugs of abuse (Section 8); sexual activity and hormones, pregnancy, development and endocrinology (Section 9); mental illness and mood (Section 10); seizures and neurologic disorders (Section 11); electrical-related activity and neurophysiology (Section 12); general activity and locomotion (Section 13); gastrointestinal, renal and hepatic functions (Section 14); cardiovascular responses (Section 15); respiration and thermoregulation (Section 16); and immunological responses (Section 17).

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Modulation of alcohol and nicotine responses through the endogenous opioid system
Progress in Neurobiology Article in Press 1 Oct 2009

It has been estimated that more than 80% of alcoholics are also nicotine dependent and that, vice versa, the rate of alcoholism is substantially increased by a factor of 4 to 10 in the nicotine-dependent population. However, the cause for this very high degree of comorbidity is still largely unknown.

At the molecular and cellular level, both drugs have very different mechanisms of action. Nicotine specifically activates ligand-gated ion channels in the brain, which are normally gated by acetylcholine, while alcohol interacts with various neurotransmitter receptors. Despite this diversity, both drugs seem to engage the endogenous opioid system as a modulator of some of its pharmacological effect. An acute exposure to nicotine or alcohol leads to a release of opioids peptides in specific brain regions, thus resulting in an activation of their corresponding receptors. If the brain is exposed repeatedly or chronically to these drugs, adaptive changes in the level and expression of opioid peptides and receptors occur. These adaptive changes are thought contribute to the homeostatic or allostatic adaptations of the brain, which have been associated with drug dependence.

This review summarizes pharmacological and genetic studies in animal models and in humans that have addressed the role of specific opioid peptides and receptors in various stages of the addiction process.

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Matters of Substance August 2009 contents
Volume 19, Number 3

The Director's Cut
The Law Commission's liquor review presents a wonderful opportunity for constructive debate. it's time for New Zealand to get talking.

Cover Story - Alcohol in our lives: Travelling to a better place

The Law Commission has spent the last year gathering information about the extent of New Zealand's alcohol problems. Stage one of its liquor review is now complete, and it's time for public debate on potential solutions.

Counting the cost: The BERL report has put the social cost of alcohol and drug misuse at nearly $7b per annum, but there are those who say the report has got things terribly wrong.

Tackling sport's alcohol culture: New Zealanders play hard, and all too often they drink hard. Can anything be done to mend our boozy sporting ways?

It's our loss: Lianne Dalziel on what the Liquor licensing Authority said about loss-leading.

Guest Editorial - Let's offer treatment!
Michael Bird challenges the treatment sector to stop its navel gaing and start moving forward. He presents a 12-point plan to get things underway.

Opinion - It's time for the facts to get in the way of a good story
Liz Read, corporate Affairs Director of Lion Nathan, says it's wrong to blame the alcohol industry for New Zealand's binge drinking woes.
Making sense of Mexico's drug wars
Sanji Gunesekara writes about the political, economic and social background to Mexico's violent and bloody drug wars.
Research Update - Driving High: findings from the Great New Zealand Drug-Driving Survey
The results are in. What do kiwis think they know about drugs and driving?

Mythbusters - Busting alcohol policy myths
In this Mythbusters special, we counter some of the current myths about alcohol policy, by seeing what the evidence really says.

Mythbusters - Blown away: Defeating the breathylser

Alcohol abuse and dependence symptoms: A multidimensional model of common and specific etiology.
Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. Vol 23(3), Sep 2009, 415-427

This study tested a theoretical model hypothesizing differential pathways from 5 predictors to alcohol abuse and dependence symptoms.

The participants were college students (N = 2,270) surveyed on 2 occasions in a 6-month prospective design. Social norms, perceived utility of alcohol use, and family history of alcohol problems were indirectly associated with Time 2 abuse and dependence symptoms through influencing level of alcohol consumption.

Poor behavioral control had a direct effect on alcohol abuse but not on dependence symptoms at Time 2, whereas affective lability exhibited a direct prospective effect on alcohol dependence but not on abuse symptoms. A multigroup analysis showed that high levels of poor control increased the strength of paths from both consumption level and affective lability to abuse symptoms.

Implications for prevention of alcohol problems among college students are discussed.

(PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2009 APA, all rights reserved)

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The alcohol industry and public interest science
Addiction Early View 5 Oct 2009

This report argues that the growing involvement of the alcohol industry in scientific research needs to be acknowledged and addressed. It suggests a set of principles to guide ethical decision-making in the future.

We review relevant issues with regard to relationships between the alcohol industry and the international academic community, especially alcohol research scientists. The guiding principles proposed are modelled after expert committee statements, and describe the responsibilities of governmental agencies, the alcohol industry, journal editors and the academic community. These are followed by recommendations designed to inform individuals and institutions about current 'best practices' that are consistent with the principles.

Growing evidence from the tobacco, pharmaceutical and medical fields suggests that financial interests of researchers may compromise their professional judgement and lead to research results that are biased in favour of commercial interests. It is recommended that the integrity of alcohol science is best served if all financial relationships with the alcoholic beverage industry are avoided. In cases where research funding, consulting, writing assignments and other activities are initiated, institutions, individuals and the alcoholic beverage industry itself are urged to follow appropriate guidelines that will increase the transparency and ethicality of such relationships.

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Association of IL-1B genetic polymorphisms with an increased risk of opioid and alcohol dependence
Pharmacogenetics and Genomics: POST AUTHOR CORRECTIONS, 1 October 2009

To examine the association between genetic variability of IL-1B, which encodes for the proinflammatory cytokine IL-1[beta] and the risk of developing opioid dependence. To confirm a previous study, we also examined the association between the IL-1B genetic polymorphism and alcohol dependence.

This study confirms the previous finding that IL-1B polymorphism is associated with altered risk of alcohol dependence. IL-1B single nucleotide polymorphisms at position -511 and -31, which increase IL-1[beta] production, occur at a higher frequency in opioid-dependent populations and may be associated, albeit weakly, with an increased risk of opioid dependence.

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Monday, October 5, 2009

EGFR may couple moderate alcohol consumption to increased breast cancer risk
Breast Cancer: Targets and Therapy 2009:1 31–38

Alcohol consumption is an established risk factor for breast cancer. Nonetheless, the mechanism by which alcohol contributes to breast tumor initiation or progression has yet to be definitively established.

Studies using cultured human tumor cell lines have identified signaling molecules that may contribute to the effects of alcohol, including reactive oxygen species and other ethanol metabolites, matrix metalloproteases, the ErbB2/Her2/Neu receptor tyrosine kinase, cytoplasmic protein kinases, adenylate cyclase, E-cadherins, estrogen receptor, and a variety of transcription factors. Emerging data suggest that the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase may contribute to breast cancer genesis and progression.

Here we integrate these findings and propose three mechanisms by which alcohol contributes to breast cancer. A common feature of these mechanisms is increased EGFR signaling.

Finally, we discuss how these mechanisms suggest strategies for addressing the risks associated with alcohol consumption.

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Cessation of alcohol drinking, tobacco smoking and the reversal of head and neck cancer risk
IJE Advance Access published online on October 5, 2009

Quitting tobacco or alcohol use has been reported to reduce the head and neck cancer risk in previous studies. However, it is unclear how many years must pass following cessation of these habits before the risk is reduced, and whether the risk ultimately declines to the level of never smokers or never drinkers. \

Quitting tobacco smoking for 1–4 years resulted in a head and neck cancer risk reduction [OR 0.70, confidence interval (CI) 0.61–0.81 compared with current smoking], with the risk reduction due to smoking cessation after 20 years (OR 0.23, CI 0.18–0.31), reaching the level of never smokers. For alcohol use, a beneficial effect on the risk of head and neck cancer was only observed after 20 years of quitting (OR 0.60, CI 0.40–0.89 compared with current drinking), reaching the level of never drinkers.

Our results support that cessation of tobacco smoking and cessation of alcohol drinking protect against the development of head and neck cancer.

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Young people's alcohol-related social norms in Sefton

'Understanding young people’s alcohol-related social norms in Sefton- Interim Report' has been released by the Liverpool John Moore University (JMU).

The report identifies that campaigns in the U.S aiming to tackle social norms were used as a way of reducing alcohol consumption amongst college students. The report was therefore commissioned by Sefton Primary Care Trust to investigate school pupils levels of alcohol consumption and prevailing attitudes and norms in order to effectively target a social norms campaign. A final sample of 149 pupils partook via an online survey, all aged between 14 to 16. The report explores areas such as drinking behaviour, motivations and perceptions of own and other's drinking. . . . . .


Alcohol Drinking Pattern During Pregnancy and Risk of Infant Mortality.
Epidemiology: POST AUTHOR CORRECTIONS, 29 September 2009

The safety of small amounts of alcohol drinking and occasional binge-level drinking during pregnancy remains unsettled. We examined the association of maternal average alcohol intake and binge drinking (>=5 drinks per sitting) with infant mortality, both in the neonatal and postneonatal period.

Among term infants, intake of at least 4 drinks of alcohol per week or binging on 3 or more occasions during pregnancy are associated with an increased risk of infant mortality, especially during the postneonatal period.

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