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, December 22, 2012

Alcohol and student performance: Estimating the effect of legal access

We consider the effect of legal access to alcohol on student achievement. 

Our preferred approach identifies the effect through changes in one's performance after gaining legal access to alcohol, controlling flexibly for the expected evolution of grades as one makes progress towards their degree. 

We also report RD-based estimates but argue that an RD design is not well suited to the research question in our setting.
We find that students’ grades fall below their expected levels upon being able to drink legally, but by less than previously documented. 

We also show that there are effects on women and that the effects are persistent.

Using the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, we show that students drink more often after legal access but do not consume more drinks on days on which they drink.

Read Full Abstract

Request Reprint E-Mail: 


Self-medication with alcohol is frequently hypothesized to explain anxiety and alcohol dependence comorbidity. Yet, there is relatively little assessment of drinking to self-medicate anxiety and its association with the occurrence or persistence of alcohol dependence in population-based longitudinal samples, or associations within demographic and clinical subgroups.

Hypothesizing that self-medication of anxiety with alcohol is associated with the subsequent occurrence and persistence of alcohol dependence, we assessed these associations using data from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, and examined these associations within population subgroups. This nationally representative survey of the US population included 43,093 adults surveyed in 2001–2002, and 34,653 reinterviewed in 2004–2005. Logistic regression incorporating propensity score methods was used.

Reports of drinking to self-medicate anxiety was associated with the subsequent occurrence (adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 5.71, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 3.56–9.18, P < .001) and persistence (AOR = 6.25, CI = 3.24–12.05, P < .001) of alcohol dependence. The estimated proportions of the dependence cases attributable to self-medication drinking were 12.7 and 33.4% for incident and persistent dependence, respectively. Stratified analyses by age, sex, race-ethnicity, anxiety disorders and subthreshold anxiety symptoms, quantity of alcohol consumption, history of treatment, and family history of alcoholism showed few subgroup differences.

Individuals who report drinking to self-medicate anxiety are more likely to develop alcohol dependence, and the dependence is more likely to persist. There is little evidence for interaction by the population subgroups assessed. Self-medication drinking may be a useful target for prevention and intervention efforts aimed at reducing the occurrence of alcohol dependence.

Read Full Abstract

Request Reprint E-Mail:

The role of cortisol in chronic binge alcohol-induced cerebellar injury: Ovine model

Women who drink alcohol during pregnancy are at high risk of giving birth to children with neurodevelopmental disorders. Previous reports from our laboratory have shown that third trimester equivalent binge alcohol exposure at a dose of 1.75 g/kg/day results in significant fetal cerebellar Purkinje cell loss in fetal sheep and that both maternal and fetal adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) and cortisol levels are elevated in response to alcohol treatment. 

In this study, we hypothesized that repeated elevations in cortisol from chronic binge alcohol are responsible at least in part for fetal neuronal deficits. Animals were divided into four treatment groups: normal control, pair-fed saline control, alcohol and cortisol. The magnitude of elevation in cortisol in response to alcohol was mimicked in the cortisol group by infusing pregnant ewes with hydrocortisone for 6 h on each day of the experiment, and administering saline during the first hour in lieu of alcohol. The experiment was conducted on three consecutive days followed by four days without treatment beginning on gestational day (GD) 109 until GD 132. Peak maternal blood alcohol concentration in the alcohol group was 239 ± 7 mg/dl. The fetal brains were collected and processed for stereological cell counting on GD 133. 

The estimated total number of fetal cerebellar Purkinje cells, the reference volume and the Purkinje cell density were not altered in response to glucocorticoid infusion in the absence of alcohol. 

These results suggest that glucocorticoids independently during the third trimester equivalent may not produce fetal cerebellar Purkinje cell loss. However, the elevations in cortisol along with other changes induced by alcohol could together lead to brain injury seen in the fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.

Read Full Abstract

Request Reprint E-Mail:

Reduction of alcohol intake by the positive allosteric modulator of the GABAB receptor, rac-BHFF, in alcohol-preferring rats

Previous research has demonstrated that treatment with the positive allosteric modulator (PAM) of the GABAB receptor (GABAB PAM), rac-BHFF, suppressed lever-responding for alcohol and amount of self-administered alcohol in Sardinian alcohol-preferring (sP) rats. 

The present study was designed to extend the investigation on the anti-alcohol effects of rac-BHFF to alcohol drinking behavior. To this end, sP rats were exposed to the homecage, 2-bottle “alcohol (10%, v/v) vs water” choice regimen, with unlimited access for 24 h/day. rac-BHFF was administered once daily and for 7 consecutive days at the doses of 0, 50, 100, and 200 mg/kg (i.g.).

Treatment with rac-BHFF resulted in an immediate, stable, and dose-related reduction in daily alcohol intake; the overall magnitude of reduction in alcohol intake averaged approximately 25%, 40%, and 65% in 50, 100, and 200 mg/kg rac-BHFF-treated rat groups, respectively. An increase in daily water intake fully compensated the reduction in alcohol intake, so that daily total fluid intake was unaffected by treatment with rac-BHFF. Daily food intake tended to be reduced only by the highest dose of rac-BHFF.

These results complement closely with previous data indicating that (a) rac-BHFF suppressed operant, oral alcohol self-administration in sP rats and (b) the prototypic GABAB PAMs, CGP7930 and GS39783, reduced alcohol drinking in sP rats. 

However, while the reducing effect of CGP7930 and GS39783 on the daily alcohol intake tended to vanish after the first 2–3 days of treatment, the reducing effect of rac-BHFF on daily alcohol intake remained unchanged over the entire 7-day treatment period. 

These data strengthen the hypothesis that GABAB PAMs may represent a step forward in the search for GABAB receptor ligands with therapeutic potential for alcoholism.

Read Full Abstract

Request Reprint E-Mail:

Impulsivity partially mediates the association between reduced working memory capacity and alcohol problems

Although alcohol use disorders (AUDs) have been associated with impulsive personality traits and reduced working memory capacity (WMC), less is known about the nature of their interrelationships. 

This study was designed to test the hypothesis that low WMC is associated with both impulsive personality and alcohol problems, and that impulsive personality mediates the association between low WMC and alcohol problems. 

Measures of impulsive personality, WMC, and alcohol problems were assessed in a sample of young adults (N = 474), that varied widely in severity of alcohol problems, 57% of whom had alcohol dependence.

Simple correlations revealed that WMC, impulsive personality traits, and alcohol problems were all significantly related. Structural equation models (SEMs) showed that impulsivity partially mediated the association between WMC and alcohol problems.

Although directionality cannot be determined from these cross-sectional data, the results suggest that reduced WMC may promote impulsivity, which in turn, predisposes to alcohol problems.

Read Full Abstract

Request Reprint -Mail:

Opioids in the perifornical lateral hypothalamus suppress ethanol drinking

The opioid system is known to enhance motivated behaviors, including ethanol drinking and food ingestion, by acting in various reward-related brain regions, such as the nucleus accumbens, ventral tegmental area and medial hypothalamus. There is indirect evidence, however, suggesting that opioid peptides may act differently in the perifornical lateral hypothalamus (PF/LH), causing a suppression of consummatory behavior.

 Using brain-cannulated Sprague–Dawley rats trained to voluntarily drink 7% ethanol, the present study tested the hypothesis that opioids in the PF/LH can reduce the consumption of ethanol, with animals receiving PF/LH injections of the δ-opioid receptor agonist D-Ala2-met-enkephalinamide (DALA), the μ-receptor agonist [D-Ala2, N-MePhe4, Gly-ol]-enkephalin (DAMGO), the κ-receptor agonist (±)-trans-U-50,488 methanesulfonate (U-50,488H), or the general opioid antagonist methylated naloxone (m-naloxone). The consumption of ethanol, lab chow, and water was monitored for 4 h after injection. The results showed that the three opioid receptor agonists injected into the PF/LH specifically and significantly reduced ethanol intake, while causing little change in chow or water intake, and the opposite effect, enhanced ethanol intake, was observed with the opioid antagonist. 

Of the three opioid agonists, the δ-agonist appears to produce the most consistent and long-lasting suppression of consumption. This effect was not observed with injections 2 mm dorsal to this area, focusing attention on the PF/LH as the main site of action. 

These results suggest that the opioid peptides have a specific role in the PF/LH of reducing ethanol drinking, which is distinct from their more commonly observed appetitive actions in other brain areas. The additional finding, that m-naloxone in the PF/LH stimulates ethanol intake in contrast to its generally suppressive effect in other regions, focuses attention on this hypothalamic area and its distinctive role in contributing to the variable effects sometimes observed with opioid antagonist therapy for alcoholism.

Read Full Abstract

Request Reprint E-Mail:

Dissociable brain signatures of choice conflict and immediate reward preferences in alcohol use disorders

Impulsive delayed reward discounting (DRD) is an important behavioral process in alcohol use disorders (AUDs), reflecting incapacity to delay gratification. Recent work in neuroeconomics has begun to unravel the neural mechanisms supporting DRD, but applications of neuroeconomics in relation to AUDs have been limited. 

This study examined the neural mechanisms of DRD preferences in AUDs, with emphasis on dissociating activation patterns based on DRD choice type and level of cognitive conflict. 

Heavy drinking adult men with (n = 13) and without (n = 12) a diagnosis of an AUD completed a monetary DRD task during a functional magnetic resonance imaging scan. Participant responses were coded based on choice type (impulsive versus restrained) and level of cognitive conflict (easy versus hard). 

AUD+ participants exhibited significantly more impulsive DRD decision-making. Significant activation during DRD was found in several decision-making regions, including dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), insula, posterior parietal cortex (PPC), and posterior cingulate. An axis of cognitive conflict was also observed, with hard choices associated with anterior cingulate cortex and easy choices associated with activation in supplementary motor area. AUD+ individuals exhibited significant hyperactivity in regions associated with cognitive control (DLPFC) and prospective thought (PPC) and exhibited less task-related deactivation of areas associated with the brain's default network during DRD decisions. 

This study provides further clarification of the brain systems supporting DRD in general and in relation to AUDs.

Read Full Abstract

Request Reprint E-Mail:

Fronto-striatal functional connectivity during response inhibition in alcohol dependence

Poor response inhibition has been implicated in the development of alcohol dependence, yet little is known about how neural pathways underlying cognitive control are affected in this disorder. Moreover, endogenous opioid levels may impact the functionality of inhibitory control pathways.

This study investigated the relationship between alcohol dependence severity and functional connectivity of fronto-striatal networks during response inhibition in an alcohol-dependent sample. A secondary aim of this study was to test the moderating effect of a functional polymorphism (A118G) of the μ-opioid receptor (OPRM1) gene. 

Twenty individuals with alcohol dependence (six females; 90% Caucasian; mean age = 29.4) who were prospectively genotyped on the OPRM1 gene underwent blood oxygen level-dependent functional magnetic resonance imaging while performing a Stop-Signal Task. The relationship between alcohol dependence severity and functional connectivity within fronto-striatal networks important for response inhibition was assessed using psychophysiological interaction analyses. 

Analyses revealed greater alcohol dependence severity was associated with weaker functional connectivity between the putamen and prefrontal regions (e.g. the anterior insula, anterior cingulate and medial prefrontal cortex) during response inhibition. Furthermore, the OPRM1 genotype was associated with differential response inhibition-related functional connectivity. 

This study demonstrates that individuals with more severe alcohol dependence exhibit less frontal connectivity with the striatum, a component of cognitive control networks important for response inhibition. These findings suggest that the fronto-striatal pathway underlying response inhibition is weakened as alcoholism progresses.

Read Full Abstract

Request Reprint E-Mail:

Alcohol drinking and deprivation alter basal extracellular glutamate concentrations and clearance in the mesolimbic system of alcohol-preferring (P) rats

The present study determined the effects of voluntary ethanol drinking and deprivation on basal extracellular glutamate concentrations and clearance in the mesolimbic system and tested the hypothesis that chronic ethanol drinking would persistently increase basal glutamate neurotransmission. 

Three groups of alcohol-preferring (P) rats were used: ‘water group (WG),’ ‘ethanol maintenance group (MG; 24-hour free choice water versus 15% ethanol)’ and ‘ethanol deprivation group (DG; 2 weeks of deprivation).’ Quantitative microdialysis and Western blots were conducted to measure basal extracellular glutamate concentrations, clearance and proteins associated with glutamate clearance. 

Chronic alcohol drinking produced a 70–100% increase of basal extracellular glutamate concentrations in the posterior ventral tegmental area (4.0 versus 7.0 μM) and nucleus accumbens shell (3.0 versus 6.0 μM). Glutamate clearances were reduced by 30–40% in both regions of MG rats compared with WG rats. In addition, Western blots revealed a 40–45% decrease of excitatory amino transporter 1 (EAAT1) protein, but no significant changes in the levels of EAAT2 or cystine-glutamate antiporter in these regions of MG versus WG rats. The enhanced glutamate concentrations returned to control levels, accompanied by a recovery of glutamate clearance following deprivation. 

These results indicated that chronic alcohol drinking enhanced extracellular glutamate concentrations in the mesolimbic system, as a result, in part, of reduced clearance, suggesting that enhanced glutamate neurotransmission may contribute to the maintenance of alcohol drinking. However, because the increased glutamate levels returned to normal after deprivation, elevated glutamate neurotransmission may not contribute to the initiation of relapse drinking.

Read Full Abstract

Request Reprint E-Mail:

Friday, December 21, 2012

Neurotoxic Effects of Alcohol in Adolescence

This review examines neuroimaging and neurocognitive findings on alcohol-related toxicity in adolescents.
Teens who meet criteria for alcohol use disorders, as well as those who engage in subdiagnostic binge drinking behaviors, often show poorer neurocognitive performance, alterations in gray and white matter brain structure, and discrepant functional brain activation patterns when compared to nonusing and demographically matched controls.

Abnormalities are also observed in teens with a family history of alcoholism, and such differences in neuromaturation may leave youths at increased risk for the development of an alcohol use disorder or increased substance use severity.

More prospective investigations are needed, and future work should focus on disentangling preexisting differences from dose-dependent effects of alcohol on neurodevelopment. Intervention strategies that utilize neuroimaging findings (e.g., identified weaknesses in particular neural substrates and behavioral correlates) may be helpful in both prevention and intervention campaigns for teens both pre- and postinitiation of alcohol use.

Read Full Abstract

Request Reprint E-Mail:

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Is aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 a credible genetic instrument for alcohol use in Mendelian randomization analysis in Southern Chinese men?

Mendelian randomization studies provide a means of assessing causal relations without interventions, but require valid genetic instruments. We assessed the credibility of aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2) as a genetic instrument for alcohol use in Southern Chinese men.

We genotyped the single nucleotide polymorphism rs671 of ALDH2 in 4867 men from the Guangzhou Biobank Cohort Study. We used linear regression to assess the strength of the association of ALDH2 variants with alcohol use, whether ALDH2 variants were independently associated with socio-economic position or other potential confounders and whether associations of ALDH2 variants with cardiovascular risk factors (systolic and diastolic blood pressure, HDL- and LDL-cholesterol, fasting glucose), triglycerides, body mass index, self reported cardiovascular disease, self-reported ischaemic heart disease, cognitive function (delayed 10-word recall and Mini Mental State Examination score) and liver function (alanine transaminase and aspartate transaminase) were fully mediated by alcohol use.
The minor allele frequency (A) of ALDH2 was 0.29. The F statistic for ALDH2 variants was 75.0, suggesting that substantial weak instrument bias is unlikely. ALDH2 variants were not associated with socio-economic position, smoking or physical activity. ALDH2 variants were only associated with diastolic blood pressure and HDL-cholesterol, but these genetic associations with blood pressure and HDL-cholesterol were attenuated after adjusting for alcohol use, suggesting the apparent genetic associations were possibly mediated by alcohol use.

ALDH2 variants are a credible genetic strument for Mendelian randomization studies of alcohol use and many attributes of health in Southern Chinese men.

Read Full Ahstract 

Request Reprint E-Mail:      

Is the prevalence of driving after drinking higher in entertainment areas?


This study aimed to estimate the prevalence of driving after drinking (DUI) and its associated factors in low and high alcohol outlet density areas (LAOD and HAOD) in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

A probability 3-stage sampling survey was conducted, and 683 drivers who were leaving alcohol outlets (AOs) and had been drinking were interviewed, breathalyzed and saliva was collected for drug screening. Prevalences were assessed using domain estimation and DUI predictors were assessed using logistic models.

It was estimated that 151,573 drivers drank at the AO, and intention to DUI was more prevalent in LAOD (59.3 versus 46.1% in HAOD, P = 0.003). On the other hand, HAOD had higher proportions of interviewees with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of >0.06% (46.6 versus 30.7%, P = 0.002) as well as a more frequent use of cocaine (9.3 versus 2.4%, P = 0.086). In the logistic models, drinking in a LAOD stratum was found to be associated with DUI (OR 1.72 (1.17–2.5)) and the two AO density areas presented different factors independently associated with DUI: THC use was significantly associated with the outcome in the HAOD stratum (OR 17.7 (5.1–61.8)), whereas an AUDIT score of >20 was positively associated with DUI in LAOD (OR 23.75 (1.5–364.0)).

High prevalences of driving under the influence of alcohol were evident in both the high and the low outlet density areas, although with different characteristics. Thorough enforcement of the legislation by random breath testing and sobriety checkpoints should be combined with AO licensing in order to reduce high levels of DUI and traffic accidents.

Read Full Abstract

Request Reprint E-Mail:

Correlation between shift-work-related sleep problems and heavy drinking in Japanese male factory workers

To investigate the effects of shift work on increased alcohol intake associated with poor sleep quality.

This cross-sectional survey evaluated the correlation between work schedule, poor sleep quality and heavy drinking among 909 factory workers aged 35–54 years in Japan. Subjects included 530 day workers, 72 shift workers who did not work at night and 290 shift workers who engaged in night work. Heavy drinking was defined as a mean volume of alcohol consumption exceeding 60 g/day.

Compared with other workers, night-shift workers who suffered poor sleep quality exhibited the highest frequency of heavy drinking (17.6%). Multiple logistic regression analysis demonstrated that compared with day workers with good sleep, night-shift workers who experienced poor sleep had more than twice the odds of heavy alcohol consumption (odds ratio 2.17 [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.20–3.93]). Shift workers who did not work at night and day workers with poor sleep were not at increased odds of heavy drinking.

Shift workers who engage in night work may try to modify their health behavior to cope with sleep problems. Such modification may be a risk factor for heavy drinking.

Read Full Abstract

Request Reprint E-Mail:

Socioeconomic Disadvantage and Indicators of Risky Alcohol-drinking Patterns

The purpose was to establish how the association between socioeconomic disadvantage and risky drinking depends on the indicator of risky alcohol-drinking patterns.

Alcohol-drinking Finnish men (n = 9316) and women (n = 11,888) aged 20–54 years at baseline participated in the Health and Social Support (HeSSup) postal survey in 1998. Socioeconomic disadvantage was measured by low educational level, history of previous unemployment among those currently employed, current unemployment, being on disability pension and history of experiencing financial hardships. Indicators of risky drinking were hazardous weekly intake (≥24 and ≥16 Finnish standard drinks for men and women, respectively), frequency of intoxications/drunkenness, hangovers and alcohol-induced pass-outs. The study participants were also followed up for 7 years for alcohol-specific hospitalizations and deaths.

Socioeconomic gradient in risky drinking was observed across all indicators of risky drinking, but the gradient was relatively larger in patterns of risky drinking representing high-intensity drinking occasions such as alcohol-induced hangovers and pass-outs. No marked gender differences were observed.

These results highlight the need to take into account the multidimensionality of risky alcohol-drinking patterns as a contributing factor in the socioeconomic gradient in alcohol use.                

Read Full Abstract

Request Reprint E-Mail:

Vol 1, No 2 (2012) Global Footprints of Travelling Cultural Image – The 38th Annual Symposium of KBS










Table of Contents


Symposium Abstracts: Alphabetical by Author A-E    PDF

Symposium Abstracts: Alphabetical by Author F-KPDF

Symposium Abstracts: Alphabetical by Author L-PPDF

Symposium Abstracts: Alphabetical by Author R-ZPDF

Affective Cue-Induced Escalation of Alcohol Self-Administration and Increased 22-kHz Ultrasonic Vocalizations during Alcohol Withdrawal: Role of Kappa-Opioid Receptors

Negative affect promotes dysregulated alcohol consumption in non-dependent and alcohol-dependent animals, and cues associated with negative affective states induce withdrawal-like symptoms in rats.

This study was designed to test the hypotheses that: (1) the kappa-opioid receptor (KOR) system mediates phenotypes related to alcohol withdrawal and withdrawal-like negative affective states and (2) cues associated with negative affective states would result in dysregulated alcohol consumption when subsequently presented alone.
To accomplish these goals, intracerebroventricular infusion of the KOR antagonist nor-binaltorphimine (nor-BNI) was assessed for the ability to attenuate the increase in 22-kHz ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) associated with alcohol withdrawal and KOR activation in adult male wistar rats. Furthermore, cues associated with a KOR agonist-induced negative affective state were assessed for the ability to dysregulate alcohol consumption and the efficacy of intracerebroventricular KOR antagonism to reduce such dysregulation was evaluated.
KOR antagonism blocked the increased number of 22-kHz USVs observed during acute alcohol withdrawal and a KOR agonist (U50,488) resulted in a nor-BNI reversible increase in 22-kHz USVs (mimicking an alcohol-dependent state). Additionally, cues associated with negative affective states resulted in escalated alcohol self-administration, an effect that was nor-BNI sensitive.
Taken together, this study implicates negative affective states induced by both alcohol withdrawal and conditioned stimuli as being produced, in part, by activity of the DYN/KOR system.
Request Reprint E-Mail:

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Alcohol Marketing Receptivity, Marketing-Specific Cognitions, and Underage Binge Drinking

Exposure to alcohol marketing is prevalent and is associated with both initiation and progression of alcohol use in underage youth. The mechanism of influence is not well understood, however. This study tests a model that proposes alcohol-specific cognitions as mediators of the relation between alcohol marketing and problematic drinking among experimental underage drinkers.
This study describes a cross-sectional analysis of 1,734 U.S. 15- to 20-year-old underage drinkers, recruited for a national study of media and substance use. Subjects were queried about a number of alcohol marketing variables including TV time, Internet time, favorite alcohol ad, ownership of alcohol-branded merchandise (ABM), and exposure to alcohol brands in movies. The relation between these exposures and current (30-day) binge drinking was assessed, as were proposed mediators of this relation, including marketing-specific cognitions (drinker identity and favorite brand to drink), favorable alcohol expectancies, and alcohol norms. Paths were tested in a structural equation model that controlled for sociodemographics, personality, and peer drinking.
Almost one-third of this sample of ever drinkers had engaged in 30-day binge drinking. Correlations between mediators were all statistically significant (range 0.16 to 0.47), and all were significantly associated with binge drinking. Statistically significant mediation was found for the association between ABM ownership and binge drinking through both drinker identity and having a favorite brand to drink, which also mediated the path between movie brand exposure and binge drinking. Peer drinking and sensation seeking were associated with binge drinking in paths through all mediators.
Associations between alcohol marketing and binge drinking were mediated through marketing-specific cognitions that assess drinker identity and brand allegiance, cognitions that marketers aim to cultivate in the consumer.

Read Full Abstract

Request Reprint E-Mail:

Monday, December 17, 2012

Not Early Drinking but Early Drunkenness Is a Risk Factor for Problem Behaviors Among Adolescents from 38 European and North American Countries

Many studies have reported that the earlier the age at first
drink (AFDrink) the higher the later drinking levels and related problems. However, unless adolescents proceed into drunkenness, it is unclear why consuming small quantities at early age should lead to later problems. This study investigates the link between AFDrink and problem behaviors (smoking, cannabis use, injuries, fights, and low academic performance) among 15-year-olds who did and did not proceed into drunkenness. Among those with drunkenness experience, we tested whether AFDrink predicted problem behaviors over and above the age at first drunkenness (AFDrunk).

Multilevel structural equation models were estimated based on a sample of 44,801 alcohol-experienced 15-year-olds from 38 North American and European countries and regions who participated in the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children cross-national survey.

Overall, there was a significant association between AFDrink and all 5 problem behaviors. However, this was the case only among those with drunkenness experiences but not among those never drunk. Among the former, AFDrunk was a strong predictor for all 5 problem behaviors, but time from first drink to first drunk did not predict problem behaviors.

Not early alcohol initiation but early drunkenness was a risk factor for various adolescent problem behaviors at the age of 15, that is, there was not consistent relationship for the time before the first drunkenness (i.e., since first drinking). Besides targeting early drinking, particular efforts are needed to impede early drunkenness to prevent associated harm in adolescence and beyond.

Read Full Abstract

Request Reprint E-Mail:


Global Functional Connectivity Abnormalities in Children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Previous studies, including those employing diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), have revealed significant disturbances in the white matter of individuals with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). Both macrostructural and microstructural abnormalities have been observed across levels of FASD severity. Emerging evidence suggests that these white matter abnormalities are associated with functional deficits. This study used resting-state functional MRI (fMRI) to evaluate the status of network functional connectivity in children with FASD compared with control subjects.
Participants included 24 children with FASD, ages 10 to 17, and 31 matched controls. Neurocognitive tests were administered including Wechsler Intelligence Scales, California Verbal Learning Test (CVLT), and Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Functioning. High-resolution anatomical MRI data and 6-minute resting-state fMRI data were collected. The resting-state fMRI data were subjected to a graph theory analysis, and 4 global measures of cortical network connectivity were computed: characteristic path length, mean clustering coefficient, local efficiency, and global efficiency.

Results revealed significantly altered network connectivity in those with FASD. The characteristic path length was 3.1% higher (p = 0.04, Cohen's d = 0.47), and global efficiency was 1.9% lower (p = 0.04, d = 0.63) in children with FASD compared with controls, suggesting decreased network capacity that may have implications for integrative cognitive functioning. Global efficiency was significantly positively correlated with cortical thickness in frontal (r = 0.38, p = 0.005), temporal (r = 0.28, p = 0.043), and parietal (r = 0.36, p = 0.008) regions. No relationship between facial dysmorphology and functional connectivity was observed. Exploratory correlations suggested that global efficiency and characteristic path length are associated with capacity for immediate verbal memory on the CVLT (r = 0.41, p = 0.05 and r = 0.41, p = 0.01, respectively) among those with FASD.
Resting-state functional connectivity measures provide new insight into the integrity of brain networks in clinical populations such as FASD. Results demonstrate that children with FASD have alterations in core components of network function and that these aspects of brain integrity are related to measures of structure and cognitive functioning.

Read Full Abstract

Request Reprint E-Mail:

Alcohol and British Society


The Alcohol Research UK Conference 2013

Wellcome Collection Conference Centre, London

12th March 2013.

Understanding the role of alcohol in contemporary British society is key to targeting the harms it can cause. This conference presents some of the latest developments in alcohol research. It will address issues such as:

Why alcohol harms are unevenly spread across different social groups

How policy interventions impact on different communities
Methods for the identification and prevention of harmful drinking

The role of science in developing alcohol policy

Speakers include Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, Professor Keith Humphreys and Baroness Finlay of Llandaff.

The conference will be of interest to academics, journalists, policymakers, service providers, and anyone interested in understanding the key debates in alcohol research today.  > > > >  Read More

An Update of Research Examining College Student Alcohol-Related Consequences: New Perspectives and Implications for Interventions

The objective of this review is to provide an update on existing research examining alcohol-related consequences among college students with relevance for individual-based interventions.

While alcohol-related consequences have been a focus of study for several decades, the literature has evolved into an increasingly nuanced understanding of individual and environmental circumstances that contribute to risk of experiencing consequences. A number of risk factors for experiencing alcohol-related consequences have been identified, including belonging to specific student subgroups (e.g., Greek organizations) or drinking during high-risk periods, such as spring break. In addition, the relationship between students' evaluations of both negative and positive consequences and their future drinking behavior has become a focus of research.

The current review provides an overview of high-risk student subpopulations, high-risk windows and activities, and college students' subjective evaluations of alcohol-related consequences.

Future directions for research are discussed and include determining how students' orientations toward consequences change over time, identifying predictors of membership in high-risk consequence subgroups and refining existing measures of consequences to address evolving research questions.

Read Full Abstract

Request Reprint E-Mail:

Approaching the Prevalence of the Full Spectrum of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders in a South African Population-Based Study

The prevalence and characteristics of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) were determined in this fourth study of first-grade children in a South African community.
Active case ascertainment methods were employed among 747 first-grade pupils. The detailed characteristics of children within the continuum of FASD are contrasted with randomly selected, normal controls on (i) physical growth and dysmorphology; (ii) cognitive/behavioral characteristics; and (iii) maternal risk factors.
The rates of specific diagnoses within the FASD spectrum continue to be among the highest reported in any community in the world. The prevalence (per 1,000) is as follows: fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS)—59.3 to 91.0; partial fetal alcohol syndrome (PFAS)—45.3 to 69.6; and alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder (ARND)—30.5 to 46.8. The overall rate of FASD is therefore 135.1 to 207.5 per 1,000 (or 13.6 to 20.9%). Clinical profiles of the physical and cognitive/behavioral traits of children with a specific FASD diagnosis and controls are provided for understanding the full spectrum of FASD in a community. The spectral effect is evident in the characteristics of the diagnostic groups and summarized by the total (mean) dysmorphology scores of the children: FAS = 18.9; PFAS = 14.3; ARND = 12.2; and normal controls, alcohol exposed = 8.2 and unexposed = 7.1. Documented drinking during pregnancy is significantly correlated with verbal (r = −0.253) and nonverbal ability (r = −0.265), negative behaviors (r = 0.203), and total dysmorphology score (r = 0.431). Other measures of drinking during pregnancy are significantly associated with FASD, including binge drinking as low as 3 drinks per episode on 2 days of the week.
High rates of specific diagnoses within FASD were well documented in this new cohort of children. FASD persists in this community. The data reflect an increased ability to provide accurate and discriminating diagnoses throughout the continuum of FASD.

Read Full Abstract

Request Reprint E-Mail:

Longitudinal Associations Between Smoking Cessation Medications and Alcohol Consumption Among Smokers in the International Tobacco Control Four Country Survey

Available evidence suggests that quitting smoking does not alter alcohol consumption. However, smoking cessation medications may have a direct impact on alcohol consumption independent of any effects on smoking cessation. Using an international longitudinal epidemiological sample of smokers, we evaluated whether smoking cessation medications altered alcohol consumption independent of quitting smoking.
Longitudinal data were analyzed from the International Tobacco Control Four Country (ITC-4) Survey between 2007 and 2008, a telephone survey of nationally representative samples of smokers from the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and the United States (n = 4,995). Quantity and frequency of alcohol consumption, use of smoking cessation medications (varenicline, nicotine replacement [NRT], and no medications), and smoking behavior were assessed across 2 yearly waves. Controlling for baseline drinking and changes in smoking status, we evaluated whether smoking cessation medications were associated with reduced alcohol consumption.
Varenicline was associated with a reduced likelihood of any drinking compared with nicotine replacement (OR = 0.56; 95% CI = 0.34 to 0.94), and consuming alcohol once a month or more compared to nicotine replacement (OR = 0.43; 95% CI = 0.27 to 0.69) or no medication (OR = 0.63; 95% CI = 0.41 to 0.99). Nicotine replacement was associated with an increased likelihood of consuming alcohol once a month or more compared to no medication (OR = 1.14; 95% CI = 1.03 to 1.25). Smoking cessation medications were not associated with more frequent drinking (once a week or more) or typical quantity consumed per episode. Medication effects on drinking frequency were independent of smoking cessation.
This epidemiological investigation demonstrated that varenicline was associated with a reduced frequency of alcohol consumption. Continued work should clarify under what conditions nicotine replacement therapies may increase or decrease patterns of alcohol consumption.

Read Full Abstract

Request Reprint E-Mail:

Imbalanced Synaptic Plasticity Induced Spatial Cognition Impairment in Male Offspring Rats Treated with Chronic Prenatal Ethanol Exposure

As chronic prenatal ethanol (EtOH) exposure (CPEE) may cause deficiencies in a variety of behavioral and cognitive functions, the aim of present study is to investigate the effects of CPEE on spatial learning and memory and examine the action of CPEE on synaptic plasticity balance in the hippocampus of adolescent male rats.
The animal model was produced by EtOH exposure throughout gestational period with 4 g/kg bodyweight, while the male offspring rats were used in the study. Morris water maze (MWM) test was performed, and then, long-term potentiation (LTP) and depotentiation were recorded from Schaffer collaterals to CA1 region in the hippocampus.
It was shown that escape latencies in learning period and re-acquisition period were prolonged in CPEE-treated group compared with that in control group. Furthermore, LTP was drastically inhibited, and depotentiation was distinctly enhanced in CPEE-treated group compared with that in control group.

It is suggested that the balance between cognitive stability and flexibility was broken by the bidirectional effects of long-term synaptic plasticity. In addition, the spatial cognition was attenuated by the alteration of synaptic plasticity balance in CPEE-treated male adolescent rats.

Read Full Abstract

Request Reprint E-Mail:

Subjective Response to Alcohol Among Alcohol-Dependent Individuals: Effects of the Mu-Opioid Receptor (OPRM1) Gene and Alcoholism Severity

Subjective response to alcohol has been examined as a marker of alcoholism risk. The A118G single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) of the mu-opioid receptor (OPRM1) gene has been previously associated with subjective response to alcohol in heavy drinkers. This study seeks to extend the literature by examining the effect of OPRM1 genotype on responses to alcohol in a sample of alcohol-dependent individuals. A secondary aim of this study is to examine alcoholism severity as a predictor of subjective responses to alcohol.
Nontreatment seeking problem drinkers (n = 295) were assessed in the laboratory for clinical dimensions of alcohol dependence. Following prospective genotyping, 43 alcohol-dependent individuals across the 2 genotype conditions (AA, n = 23 and AG/GG, n = 20) were randomized to 2 intravenous infusion sessions: 1 of alcohol (target breath alcohol concentration = 0.06 g/dl) and 1 of saline. Measures of subjective responses to alcohol were administered in both infusion sessions.
Alcohol-dependent G-allele carriers reported greater alcohol-induced stimulation, vigor, and positive mood, as compared to A-allele homozygotes. There was no genotype effect on alcohol-induced sedation or craving. There was a statistical trend-level severity × alcohol interaction such that individuals at higher levels of severity reported greater alcohol-induced tension reduction.
These results support the hypothesis that OPRM1 genotype moderates the hedonic effects of alcohol, but not the sedative and unpleasant effects of alcohol, in a sample of alcohol-dependent patients. Results are discussed in light of a clinical neuroscience framework to alcoholism.

Read Full Abstract

Request Reprint E-Mail:

Alcohol News - 51/2012

The Foreigner (Norway) - Christmas stress ups Norway drinking

25 percent of Norwegians drink to relieve the stress of the Christmas period. One in three in Oslo admits to doing so, a survey conducted by Ipsos MMI suggests.

ERR News (Estonia) - Searching for Historical Roots of Affair With Bottle

Which of Estonia's historical foreign occupiers is most responsible for the firewater epidemic? The Germans were the first to set a bad example, according to historians, but only the first.

Eubusiness - Alcohol causes a quarter of Europe road deaths

Alcohol abuse is responsible for around a quarter of the 30,000 people who die in road accidents across the European Union every year, the bloc's drugs agency said in a report published on Friday.

Helsinki Times (Finland) - Holidays induce a spike in alcohol sales

The sales of Alko, Finland’s alcoholic beverage retailing monopoly, are projected to surge by 90 per cent in terms of litres over the two weeks leading up to Christmas.

Reuters (Denmark/Finland) - Lundbeck's alcohol dependency drug wins EU green light

A novel drug to fight alcohol dependency was given a green light by European regulators on Friday, providing a boost to Danish drugmaker Lundbeck at a time when its top product faces a big drop in sales.

The Local (Sweden) - Pilot sticker lands French wine with Swedish ban

The Swedish state alcohol-monopoly has banned a French wine from its shelves because the label shows a pilot in action, prompting the importer of the "Flying Solo" wine to appeal the ban.

The Local (Sweden) - Systembolaget to bring booze to Swedes' offices

After its home delivery trials failed to created a stir, Sweden’s state-run liquor store monopoly Systembolaget announced on Friday that it would be trialing delivery to customers’ work places. (UK) - Cameron defies Clegg over 'illiberal' alcohol pricing policy

David Cameron is continuing to commit to a policy of minimum alcohol pricing of 45p per unit, despite many Cabinet members opposing the move.

Deutsche Welle (Germany) - Too much meat and alcohol

Many Germans still stick to their unhealthy diet of too much meat and alcohol. Though there are some positive trends, too many Germans are still overweight and also at risk of other illnesses like cancer. (UK) - David Cameron fights to save minimum alcohol pricing

David Cameron is fighting to save his plans for minimum alcohol pricing to tackle Britain's binge drinking epidemic, after a revolt among senior Cabinet ministers.

Deccan Herald - Alcohol, marijuana worsen white-matter integrity

Chronic alcohol and marijuana consumption during youth is associated with compromised neurocognitive abilities in later adolescence and adulthood, researchers say.

WalesOnline (Wales) - Minimum price on alcohol will help save lives

ALCOHOL consumption in the UK has increased rapidly in recent years, and now, according to the World Health Organisation, it is the leading risk factor for premature death and disability in developed countries after tobacco and blood pressure.

Radio 1 (UK) - Thousands of people at risk through Christmas drinking

Thousands of people will be putting their lives at risk over Christmas because of accidents and illnesses caused by alcohol, say A&E doctors.

Eurekalert - Alcohol marketers use drinker identity and brand allegiance to entice underage youth

While exposure to alcohol marketing is prevalent, and associated with both initiation and progression of alcohol use in underage youth, exactly how it works is not well understood. A new study of alcohol-specific cognitions – whether someone thinks of him/herself as a drinker or having a favorite brand of alcohol – has found that drinker identity and brand allegiance are indeed factors linking alcohol marketing and problematic drinking among experimental underage drinkers.

The Hindu - In 2010, high BP, smoking and alcohol were the big killers

The leading risk factors for global disease burden in 2010 were high blood pressure, tobacco smoking (including second-hand smoking) and alcohol use; 20 years earlier, they were childhood underweight, household pollution from sold fuels and tobacco smoking, including passive smoking.

BBC News - Alcohol dependency: When social drinking becomes a problem

Alcohol-related health issues among baby boomers are on the rise. Daily drinking can start off as a social event but turn into dependency, addiction experts say. So when does social drinking become alcoholism?

The Nation (Thailand) - Alcohol sales set to be banned at roadside stalls

Starting from the New Year holiday period, roadside food stalls will be banned from selling alcoholic drinks, while all sales of alcoholic beverages will be limited to 11am-2pm and 5pm-midnight, Public Health Minister Pradit Sinthawanarong said yesterday.

The Guardian (UK) - Social workers need more training on drug and alcohol issues

Alcohol and other drug issues are a central part of much of social work practice, and if key issues in this area are missed, interventions linked to other behaviours or problems will not be so effective. So why are so many social work degrees leaving students uneducated about problematic substance use?

Science Daily - Alcohol Pricing Policies Save Lives and Increase Profits, Experts Say

Setting minimum prices for alcohol increases health and economic benefits, say international experts, who met December 10 for a seminar on alcohol pricing and public health.

Forbes (USA) - A Sober Assessment of High-Risk Drinking on College Campuses

A few years ago, in the middle of a snowy night, an officer of the Cornell University Police Department found a shirtless young man sitting on a rock in the creek in one of our gorges, dangling his feet in the water. Asked what he thought he was doing, the student explained that he was calling a friend to pick him up.

Medical Xpress - Alcohol hinders recovery from injury, research finds

A Massey University researcher has found drinking alcohol after suffering a soft tissue injury significantly increases recovery times. (New Zealand) - Kapiti Police: strong line to prevent alcohol-related harm

Kapiti Police are extremely happy with the decision of the Liquor Licensing Authority (LLA) to not renew the on-licence for the Retro Bar in the Kapiti Lights Complex.

Sydney Morning Herald (Australia) - New alcohol alliance predicts 300 drink deaths this summer

HEAVY drinking will kill 300 people and cause thousands more to be assaulted or put in hospital this summer, according to fresh analysis from a new body, the NSW/ACT Alcohol Policy Alliance.

The Age (Australia) - The national abuse of alcohol makes it our most harmful drug

THE hundreds of ways we describe being drunk, many of an unprintable nature, are a measure of a pervasive and damaging drinking culture. In this season of schoolies week, Christmas and New Year, Australia's drinking habits are on display in all their mindless and all-too-often tragic excess.