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.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

IFS suggest taxation over minimum pricing

The Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) has suggested minimum pricing could transfer as much as £700 million from consumers to retailers and producers, advising tax increases as a preferred longer-term strategy.

In a press release, the IFS said:
“Minimum alcohol prices would transfer large sums from consumers to those firms that retail and produce alcohol, but may target households that consume the most alcohol more directly than increases in alcohol taxes. However, higher taxes would generate much needed revenue. The Government should seek to change European regulations on how alcohol taxes can be structured, so that taxes can mimic the impact of minimum prices whilst ensuring the resulting revenues go to the Government and not firms.”    > > > >

Read More

Factsheet: Alcohol, crime and disorder in the night-time economy

A new Alcohol Concern factsheet, written by Dr Phil Hadfield (University of Leeds) and Dr Andrew Newton (University of Huddersfield) is now available:

The factsheet provides a comprehensive review of the NTE in relation to alcohol and the many interlocking crime and public health issues.   > > > >

Read More

Monday, October 11, 2010

Heavier drinking American college students may self-select into study abroad programs: An examination of sex and ethnic differences within a high-risk group

As with other heavier drinking groups, heavier drinking American college students may self-select into study abroad programs with specific intentions to use alcohol in the foreign environment. 

This cross-sectional study used a sample of 2144 students (mean age = 20.00, SD = 1.47) to explore differences in alcohol use and related negative consequences among (1) students intending to study abroad while in college, (2) students not intending to study abroad, and (3) students reporting prior study abroad participation. 

Results revealed that participants with no intention to study abroad drank less and experienced fewer alcohol-related consequences than participants intending to study abroad.

In addition, students reporting prior completion of study abroad programs drank more and reported more hazardous alcohol use than those not intending to study abroad.

Ethnic and sex differences existed; with White students, males, and females intending to study abroad and non-White students who previously completed study abroad programs demonstrating the most risk. 

These findings provide empirical support that study abroad students may be a heavier drinking subgroup necessitating intervention prior to beginning programs abroad.

Read Full Abstract 

Request Reprint E-Mail: 

When in Rome: Factors associated with changes in drinking behavior among American college students studying abroad.

Study abroad programs have the potential to promote cultural, experiential, and personal development for escalating numbers of American college students each year. 

Despite reports that study abroad students may be at particular risk for increased and problematic alcohol use, there is limited empirical documentation of this risk. Thus, the present study used a longitudinal design to examine the factors associated with changes in alcohol use among college students studying in foreign countries.

A sample of 177 students completed measures of demographics, drinking behavior, and perceived peer drinking behavior 1 month before departure and 1-month postreturn from study abroad trips. 

Analyses revealed that participants more than doubled their drinking during study abroad trips and those who drank at heavier levels while abroad returned home drinking at significantly elevated levels.

This pattern of increased use while abroad was moderated by several factors, with participants studying abroad in Europe (e.g., Italy, France) and Oceania (e.g., Australia, New Zealand), those under the age of 21, those with higher intentions of drinking while abroad, and those with higher drinking perceptions of other study abroad students in their host country increased their alcohol consumption to a greater extent than other participants.

Results suggest drinking while abroad is a concern warranting further investigation, especially regarding how changes in drinking may contribute to the experience of alcohol-related consequences abroad. 

Continued identification of the risk factors associated with increased drinking can help inform targeted predeparture preventive interventions with these students.

Read Full Abstract

Request Reprint E-Mail:  


UK Alcohol Alert incorporating Alliance News Issue 2, 2010


1 Which direction for alcohol policy under the Coalition?

4 Overhaul of Licensing Act to give communities more power to tackle crime

5 Will the Coalition Government lower the drink drive limit?
7 Majority of Britons support better alcohol labelling and higher age limit
8 People dependent on drugs or alcohol who refuse treatment could lose their welfare benefits

9 Alcohol No Ordinary Commodity - New edition
10 Government ‘health watchdog’ calls for minimum price of alcohol
12 Alcohol and obesity mix to create deadly liver disease cocktail
14 Free NHS treatment to be pared back by 2020, says new
15 Scottish doctors say ‘minimum pricing for alcohol only credible option available’
15 More than 100 children a week contact Childline with worries about their parents’ drinking or drug use

17 The alcoholic beverage industry’s use of new media a ‘cause for concern’
18 Rowntree reviews ethnicity and alcohol
19 St Mary’s Alcohol Health Work Project named HubCAPP Project of the Year
20 Book Review: Tackling Addiction - Pathways to Recovery - Edited by Rowdy Yates and Margaret S Malloch

Read Full Alert     (PDF)

Alcohol News - 41/2010

The Foreigner (Norway) – Alcohol taxes will raise by 5%
The Government expects to earn less next year from inheritance tax, gift tax, and road use tax for petrol-driven cars. Revenue from most other taxes, excluding customs duties, is expected to rise. Tax levels for alcohol, snuff, and tobacco products will also be increased by 5 and 10 percent, respectively.
Read more (Denmark) - Old (alcohol) habits die hard
School initiatives banning alcohol for minors gets cold reception Two secondary schools in Jutland have decided to forbid alcohol for their student at any festivities held on school grounds. The ban came just two days after the Health Ministry earlier this week made the recommendation in its annual report, which was sent out to the nation’s secondary schools along with accompanying brochures aimed at curbing teen drinking.
Read more

The Local (Sweden) - New government faces ambitious autumn
The Ministry of Industry is set to present a motion to introduce alcohol ignition locks for convicted drunk drivers which should be completed on October 26th.
Read more

Views and News (Norway) - Norwegian youth lax with condoms
Norwegian teenagers scored the worst in a new survey on condom use among young Europeans, and they seem to blame their lack of responsibility on alcohol.
Read more

YLE News (Finland) - Alcohol Causes Finns to Pack on Pounds
Alcohol consumption is a main factor in Finnish weight gain. Fat gained from alcoholic beverages tends to gather around the waistline.
Read more

Internal Medicine News Digital Network - Teen Drunkenness on Rise in Eastern Europe, Falling in West
Teens in Eastern Europe became more prone to drunkenness in the late 1990s, while excessive alcohol consumption among Western adolescents declined, and the gap between boys’ and girls’ drinking habits narrowed significantly, Swiss investigators report.
Read more

Sify – Study: abroad students increase alcohol consumption
New research from University of Washington has revealed that studying abroad is more like a prolonged spring break for some students - it can be months with fewer academic responsibilities, plentiful bars and alcohol, and parents far away.
Read more

The Press Association (UK) - Ban on happy hours draws closer
A ban on happy hours and all-you-can-drink promotions in Northern Ireland has moved a step closer as proposed laws went to public consultation.
Read more

Psychology Today - Why Intelligent People Drink More Alcohol
Drinking alcohol is evolutionarily novel, so the Hypothesis would predict that more intelligent people drink more alcohol than less intelligent people.
Read more

International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics - 'No alcohol means no risk' for pregnant women
Pregnant women who drink a lot during their gestation could harm the "development of the[ir] baby [which] can lead to brain damage and behavioural problems", it has been suggested.
Read more

Behavioral Health Central (USA) - 1 in 4 High School Students and Young Adults Report Binge Drinking
More than 1 in 4 high school students and adults ages 18 to 34 engaged in a dangerous behavior known as binge drinking during the past month, according to the findings from a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Read more

The Zimbabwe Standard (Zimbabwe) - Govt to ban beer sales after 7 PM
THE government is set to come up with a raft of regulations that will see supermarkets, shops and bottle stores only being allowed to sell alcoholic drinks between 6am and 7pm, while the selling of beer will be banned after midday on Sundays.
Read more

Medical News Today - Breast Cancer Groups Critical Of Donations From Alcohol Companies
Breast cancer fundraising campaigns by alcohol companies are drawing criticism from some breast cancer advocacy groups and survivors, who argue that it is inappropriate to use a product that can increase the risk of developing breast cancer to raise money for research, USA Today reports.
Read more

Scotsman (Scotland) - Drinkers to get message on a bottle
Alcohol safety messages are to appear on the necks of bottles sold from off-licences in a bid to promote safe drinking. West Lothian's Community Safety Unit is encouraging off-licence premises to place the messages round the necks of bottles that they sell.
Read more

Chemist+Druggist - Pharmacists should advise pregnant women to avoid alcohol, despite latest research
Pharmacists should continue to advise pregnant women to abstain from drinking alcohol, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has advised.
Read more

BBC News (Wales) - Chief medic wants alcohol licensing powers for Wales
Wales' chief medical officer has called for powers to be able to introduce tougher controls on alcohol to tackle "the binge drinking culture".
Read more

The Guardian (UK) - Parents adopting more open attitude to alcohol, drugs and sex
British parents are increasingly relaxed about their children drinking alcohol from as young as 10 years old, taking drugs and having sex, according to research released today.
Read more - Binge-drinking smokers run risk of oral cancers
Young adults who smoke, drink and eat low levels of fruit and vegetables are at higher risk of contracting cancers of the mouth, oesophagus and larynx.
Read more

Herald Scotland (Scotland) - Supermarkets should pay share of alcohol responsibility levy
Clearly individuals ought to drink in a fashion that does not harm others or themselves and, de facto, taxpayers pick up the tab for the costs to the police and the NHS. Yet responsibility also rests with those who sell alcohol.
Read more (New Zealand) - Risky student drinking, adverse sexual experiences
New Zealand university students who drink heavily report considerably more unsafe sex, unhappy sexual experiences and unwanted advances than their lightly drinking peers, according to a new survey of students at five universities.
Read more

Prague Daily Monitor (Czech Republic) - MfD: Young Czechs lead in alcohol consumption
Alcohol consumption of underage Czechs is the highest in Europe, according to both European studies, and this is why the government is to approve a new action plan of the fight against alcohol and drugs, the daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) writes yesterday.
Read more

Inside Facebook - Facebook Implements Additional Alcohol Advertisement Guidelines
Facebook updated its advertisement policy guidelines with significant new restrictions to ads for or depicting alcohol last month. All alcohol ads must be targeted by country, cannot target any users in a set of predominantly Middle Eastern countries, and can’t include creative that misleads users to think alcohol is healthy, suitable for minors, or a contributor to success.
Read more

BCM (Russia) - As of 2011, Russia to have price floor on brandy
The following year, brandy and cognac await the fate of vodka - these alcoholic beverages will also have a price floor. As of 2011, the cheapest half-liter bottle of brandy is going to cost 190-210 rubles ($6.3-7), to say nothing of the taste or quality of this beverage.
Read more

Read Full Newsletter 

Govt to ban beer sales after 7 PM

THE government is set to come up with a raft of regulations that will see supermarkets, shops and bottle stores only being allowed to sell alcoholic drinks between 6am and 7pm, while the selling of beer will be banned after midday on Sundays.

The regulations, which are contained in the National Alcoholic Policy which was launched on Thursday, are set to have far-reaching effects on the sale of beer and related drinks in the country.    > > > >

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Stress and Alcohol Cues Exert Conjoint Effects on Go and Stop Signal Responding in Male Problem Drinkers

Stress, cues, and pharmacological priming are linked with relapse to addictive behavior. 

Increased salience and decreased inhibitory control are thought to mediate the effects of relapse-related stimuli. However, the functional relationship between these two processes is unclear. 

To address this issue, a modified Stop Signal Task was employed, which used Alcohol, Neutral, and Non-Words as Go stimuli, and lexical decision as the Go response. 

Subjects were 38 male problem drinkers (mean Alcohol Dependence Scale (ADS) score: 18.0). Uncontrollable noise (~10 min at 110dB) was the stressor; nonalcoholic placebo beer (P-Beer) was the cue manipulation, and alcohol (0.7g/kg), the pharmacological prime. Half the sample received alcohol, and half P-Beer. Stress and beverage (test drink vs soft drink) were manipulated within subjects on two sessions, with half the sample receiving active manipulations together and half receiving them separately. 

Go response time (RT) and Stop Signal RT (SSRT) were slower to Alcohol than Neutral words. Stress augmented this bias. Alcohol and P-Beer impaired overall SSRT. Stress impaired neither overall SSRT nor Go RT. SSRT to Neutral words and Non-Words correlated inversely with Go RT to Alcohol and Neutral words, and Non-Words. ADS correlated directly with SSRT to Alcohol words. 

A resource allocation account was proposed, whereby diversion of limited resources to salient cues effectively yoked otherwise independent Go and Stop processes. 

Disturbances of prefrontal norepinephrine and dopamine were cited as possibly accounting for these effects.
Treatments that optimize prefrontal catecholamine transmission may deter relapse by reducing disinhibitory effects of salient eliciting stimuli.

Request Reprint E-Mail:

News release - WHO simplifies treatment of mental and neurological disorders

Millions of people with common, but untreated, mental, neurological and substance use disorders can now benefit from new simplified diagnosis and treatment guidelines released today by WHO. The guidelines are designed to facilitate the management of depression, alcohol use disorders, epilepsy and other common mental disorders in the primary health-care setting.

The Intervention guide extends competence in diagnosis and management to non-mental health specialists including doctors, nurses and other health providers. These evidence-based guidelines are presented as flow charts to simplify the process of providing care in the primary health-care setting.  > > > >

Read Full News Release

Prepubertal ethanol exposure alters hypothalamic transforming growth factor-α and erbB1 receptor signaling in the female rat

Glial-derived transforming growth factor alpha (TGFα) activates the erbB1/erbB2 receptor complex on adjacent glial cells in the medial basal hypothalamus (MBH). 

This receptor activation stimulates the synthesis and release of prostaglandin-E22) from the glial cells, which then induces the release of prepubertal luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) secretion from nearby nerve terminals; thus, showing the importance of glial–neuronal communications at the time of puberty. 

Ethanol (EtOH) is known to cause depressed prepubertal LHRH secretion and delayed pubertal development. 

In this study, we assessed whether short-term EtOH exposure could alter the hypothalamic glial to glial signaling components involved in prepubertal PGE2 secretion. 

Immature female rats began receiving control or EtOH diets beginning when 27 days old. The animals were killed by decapitation after 4 and 6 days of treatment and confirmed to be in the late juvenile stage of development. Blood and brain tissues were collected for gene, protein, and hormonal assessments.

Real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis demonstrated that EtOH did not affect basal levels of erbB1 gene expression in the MBH. Expression of total erbB1 protein was also unaffected; however, the EtOH caused suppressed phosphorylation of erbB1 protein in the MBH at both 4 and 6 days (P<.01) as revealed by Western blotting. 

Phosphorylation and total protein levels of erbB2 receptor were not affected by EtOH exposure. Because this receptor is critical for PGE2 synthesis/release, which mediates the secretion of LHRH, we assessed whether in vivo EtOH exposure could affect the release of PGE2

EtOH exposure for 6 days suppressed (P<.01) basal levels of PGE2P<.001), but declined to near basal levels by 6 days in the EtOH-treated animals. The EtOH caused increases in TGFα protein expression at both 4 (P<.001) and 6 (P<.01) days; hence, suggesting that the EtOH inhibited release of the peptide. We confirmed this inhibition by showing decreased (P<.01) TGFα released from MBHs incubated in vitro following 6 days of EtOH exposure in vivo. 

Thus, these results demonstrate that EtOH is capable of interfering with hypothalamic glial to glial signaling processes involved in prepubertal PGE2 secretion.

Request Reprint E-Mail:  

Noribogaine, but not 18-MC, exhibits similar actions as ibogaine on GDNF expression and ethanol self-administration

Ibogaine is a naturally occurring alkaloid that has been reported to decrease various adverse phenotypes associated with exposure to drugs of abuse and alcohol in human and rodent models. 

Unfortunately, ibogaine cannot be used as a medication to treat addiction because of severe side effects. 

Previously, we reported that the desirable actions of ibogaine to reduce self-administration of, and relapse to, alcohol consumption are mediated via the upregulation of the expression of the glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) in the midbrain ventral tegmental area (VTA), and the consequent activation of the GDNF pathway. 

The ibogaine metabolite, noribogaine, and a synthetic derivative of ibogaine, 18-Methoxycoronaridine (18-MC), possess a similar anti-addictive profile as ibogaine in rodent models, but without some of its adverse side effects. 

Here, we determined whether noribogaine and/or 18-MC, like ibogaine, increase GDNF expression, and whether their site of action to reduce alcohol consumption is the VTA. 

We used SH-SY5Y cells as a cell culture model and found that noribogaine, like ibogaine, but not 18-MC, induces a robust increase in GDNF mRNA levels. Next, we tested the effect of intra-VTA infusion of noribogaine and 18-MC on rat operant alcohol self-administration and found that noribogaine, but not 18-MC, in the VTA decreases responding for alcohol. 

Together, our results suggest that noribogaine and 18-MC have different mechanisms and sites of action.

Read Full Abstract 

Request Reprint E-Mail: 

Neurotoxicity and persistent cognitive deficits induced by combined MDMA and alcohol exposure in adolescent rats

Recent trend assessments of drug consumption reveal an increase in the simultaneous use of several drugs at raves, clubs and college settings among youngsters and young adults.

We studied in adolescent rats the effects of repeated exposure to cocaine and 3,4-methylenedioxymethanphetamine (MDMA, ecstasy), given alone or in combination with alcohol, on memory performance, adult hippocampal neurogenesis and neurotoxicity. Rats were trained two weeks after the drug treatments in the radial arm maze. 

The results showed that only rats exposed to combinations of alcohol and MDMA exhibited significant memory deficits. Alcohol, MDMA and combinations thereof significantly decreased 5-bromodeoxyuridine labeling in the dentate gyrus (DG), indicating reduced survival of neuronal precursors. 

None of the treatments altered the length of the dendritic arbors of doublecortin (DCX)-positive neurons or the number and length of DCX-negative gaps in the DG. 

Thus, changes in adult neurogenesis were not causally related to the cognitive alterations induced by the treatments. 

Only the combination of alcohol and MDMA significantly decreased the population of mature granule neurons in the DG and increased the presence of cluster of differentiation 11b+ reactive microglia in the bordering areas of the subgranular zone. Critically, memory impairment was correlated with granule cell depletion. 

These observations demonstrate that exposure to alcohol and MDMA during adolescence, at doses that do not provoke apparent cognitive impairment when given separately, causes neurotoxic alterations affecting the DG region as well as persistent memory deficits. 

The findings highlight the elevated risk associated with the concurrent recreational use of alcohol and MDMA.

Request Reprint E-Mail:  

An integrated genome research network for studying the genetics of alcohol addiction

Alcohol drinking is highly prevalent in many cultures and contributes to the global burden of disease. In fact, it was shown that alcohol constitutes 3.2% of all worldwide deaths in the year 2006 and is linked to more than 60 diseases, including cancers, cardiovascular diseases, liver cirrhosis, neuropsychiatric disorders, injuries and foetal alcohol syndrome.

Alcoholism, which has been proven to have a high genetic load, is one potentially fatal consequence of chronic heavy alcohol consumption, and may be regarded as one of the most prevalent neuropsychiatric diseases afflicting our society today. 

The aim of the integrated genome research network ‘Genetics of Alcohol Addiction’—which is a German inter-/trans-disciplinary life science consortium consisting of molecular biologists, behavioural pharmacologists, system biologists with mathematicians, human geneticists and clinicians—is to better understand the genetics of alcohol addiction by identifying and validating candidate genes and molecular networks involved in the aetiology of this pathology. For comparison, addictive behaviour to other drugs of abuse (e.g. cocaine) is studied as well. 

Here, we present an overview of our research consortium, the current state of the art on genetic research in the alcohol field, and list finally several of our recently published research highlights. 

As a result of our scientific efforts, better insights into the molecular and physiological processes underlying addictive behaviour will be obtained, new targets and target networks in the addicted brain will be defined, and subsequently, novel and individualized treatment strategies for our patients will be delivered.

Request Reprint E-Mail: