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, May 18, 2013






Neurocognition in 1-Month-Abstinent Treatment-Seeking Alcohol-Dependent Individuals: Interactive Effects of Age and Chronic Cigarette Smoking


Increasing age and chronic cigarette smoking are independently associated with adverse effects on multiple aspects of neurocognition in those seeking treatment for alcohol use disorders. However, the potential interactive effects of age and cigarette smoking on neurocognition in early abstinent alcohol-dependent individuals (ALC) have not investigated.
Cross-sectional performances of never-smoking healthy comparison participants (nvsCOM; n = 39) and 1-month-abstinent, treatment-seeking, never-smoking (nvsALC; n = 30), former-smoking (fsALC; n = 21), and actively smoking (asALC; n = 68) ALC were compared on a comprehensive neurocognitive battery. Domains of functioning evaluated were cognitive efficiency, executive functions, fine motor skills, general intelligence, learning and memory, processing speed, visuospatial functions and working memory. Participants were between 26 and 71 years of age at the time of assessment.
asALC showed steeper age-related effects than nvsCOM on the domains of visuospatial learning, auditory-verbal memory, cognitive efficiency, executive functions, processing speed, and fine motor skills. In pairwise comparisons, fsALC and asALC performed more poorly than both nvsCOM and nvsALC on multiple domains; nvsCOM and nvsALC showed no significant differences. Domain scores for the ALC groups generally fell in the low-to-high-average range of functioning. A clinically significant level of impairment was apparent in only 25% of ALC participants on visuospatial learning, visuospatial memory, and fine motor skills domains. Measures of alcohol use or consumption were not significantly related to neurocognition in the ALC cohorts.
The age-related findings suggest that the combination of active chronic smoking and alcohol dependence in this 1-month-abstinent ALC cohort was associated with greater than normal age-related effects in multiple domains. In general, a low level of clinically significant impairment was observed in the alcohol-dependent participants. The findings from this study, in conjunction with previous research, strongly support smoking cessation interventions for those seeking treatment for alcohol and substance use disorders.

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A New Method for Evaluating Compliance with Industry Self-Regulation Codes Governing the Content of Alcohol Advertising

This study evaluated the use of a modified Delphi technique in combination with a previously developed alcohol advertising rating procedure to detect content violations in the U.S. Beer Institute Code. A related aim was to estimate the minimum number of raters needed to obtain reliable evaluations of code violations in television commercials.
Six alcohol ads selected for their likelihood of having code violations were rated by community and expert participants (N = 286). Quantitative rating scales were used to measure the content of alcohol advertisements based on alcohol industry self-regulatory guidelines. The community group participants represented vulnerability characteristics that industry codes were designed to protect;  experts represented various health-related professions, including public health, human development, alcohol research, and mental health. Alcohol ads were rated on 2 occasions separated by 1 month. After completing Time 1 ratings, participants were randomized to receive feedback from 1 group or the other.
Findings indicate that (i) ratings at Time 2 had generally reduced variance, suggesting greater consensus after feedback, (ii) feedback from the expert group was more influential than that of the community group in developing group consensus, (iii) the expert group found significantly fewer violations than the community group, (iv) experts representing different professional backgrounds did not differ among themselves in the number of violations identified, and (v) a rating panel composed of at least 15 raters is sufficient to obtain reliable estimates of code violations.
The Delphi technique facilitates consensus development around code violations in alcohol ad content and may enhance the ability of regulatory agencies to monitor the content of alcoholic beverage advertising when combined with psychometric-based rating procedures.

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Sex Differences in College Student Adherence to NIAAA Drinking Guidelines

Exceeding nationally recommended drinking limits puts individuals at increased risk of experiencing harmful effects due to alcohol consumption. Both weekly and daily limits exist to prevent harm due to toxicity and intoxication, respectively. It remains unclear how well college students adhere to recommended limits, and whether their drinking is sensitive to the wider sex difference in weekly versus daily drinking limits.
This study used a daily-level, academic-year-long, multisite sample to describe adherence to NIAAA daily (no more than 4 drinks per day for men, 3 drinks per day for women) and weekly (no more than 14 drinks per week for men, 7 drinks per week for women) drinking guidelines, and to test for sex differences and time effects. College students (n = 992; 58% female) reported daily drinking on a biweekly basis using web-based surveys throughout their first year of college.
Women exceeded weekly limits more frequently (15% of weeks [14 to 17%]) than men (12% [10 to 14%]). Women and men exceeded daily drinking limits similarly often (25 and 27%, respectively). In a generalized estimating equations analysis across all 18 biweekly assessments, adjusted for covariates and a linear trend over time, women were more likely to exceed weekly guidelines compared to men. Sex differences in exceeding daily limits were not significant. Over time, rates of exceeding limits declined for daily limits but only for men for weekly limits.
Female college students are more likely to exceed weekly alcohol intake limits than men. Furthermore, trends over time suggest that college students may be maturing out of heavy episodic drinking, but women may not mature out of harmful levels of weekly drinking. The observed disparity in risk for long-term health consequences may represent a missed opportunity for education and intervention.

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Impact of Pubertal Stage at First Drink on Adult Drinking Behavior

Early alcohol use is one of the strongest predictors of later alcohol use disorders, with early use usually taking place during puberty. Many researchers have suggested drinking during puberty as a potential biological basis of the age at first drink (AFD) effect. However, the influence of the pubertal phase at alcohol use initiation on subsequent drinking in later life has not been examined so far.
Pubertal stage at first drink (PSFD) was determined in N = 283 young adults (131 males, 152 females) from an epidemiological cohort study. At ages 19, 22, and 23 years, drinking behavior (number of drinking days, amount of alcohol consumed, hazardous drinking) was assessed using interview and questionnaire methods. Additionally, an animal study examined the effects of pubertal or adult ethanol (EtOH) exposure on voluntary EtOH consumption in later life in 20 male Wistar rats.
PSFD predicted drinking behavior in humans in early adulthood, indicating that individuals who had their first drink during puberty displayed elevated drinking levels compared to those with postpubertal drinking onset. These findings were corroborated by the animal study, in which rats that received free access to alcohol during the pubertal period were found to consume more alcohol as adults, compared to the control animals that first came into contact with alcohol during adulthood.
The results point to a significant role of stage of pubertal development at first contact with alcohol for the development of later drinking habits. Possible biological mechanisms and implications for prevention are discussed.

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Impacts of the minimum legal drinking age legislation on in-patient morbidity in Canada, 1997–2007: a regression-discontinuity approach

To provide novel, population-based estimates of the influence of minimum legal drinking age (MLDA) legislation on target in-patient hospital events in Canada.
Regression–discontinuity analyses on rates of Canadian in-patient admissions.
All in-patient hospitalizations in Canada (except Qu├ębec) between 1 April 1997 and 31 March 2007.
Individuals aged 15–22 years admitted to hospital.
International Classification of Diseases-9/10 codes for alcohol-use disorders/poisoning, injury, suicide, assault and motor vehicle accidents were considered as target morbidity conditions.
Compared with the baseline hospitalization rate just prior to the MLDA, admissions at the MLDA rose significantly (P ≤ 0.001) for alcohol-use disorders/poisoning for males (17.3%) and females (21.1%), as well as for suicide events for the combined sample (9.6%, P = 0.029). Among males, there was a significant 4.4% increase (P = 0.001) in a broad class of injuries, including a 9.2% jump (P = 0.020) in admissions for motor vehicle accidents compared with the baseline hospitalization rate just prior to the MLDA.
Removal of minimum legal drinking age restrictions is associated with significant population-level increases in hospital admissions among young adults in Canada for alcohol-use disorders/poisoning, as well as for other serious injuries, especially among males. Current international minimum legal drinking age policy discussions should account for the impact of the minimum legal drinking age on severe morbidity outcomes.

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Friday, May 17, 2013

Framing the alcohol policy debate

A new open access article by Benjamin Hawkins and Chris Holden is available online. ‘Framing the alcohol debate: industry actors and the regulation of the UK beverage alcohol market’ (Critical Policy Studies) is based on an Alcohol Research UK-funded project which analysed the role of alcohol industry in the formulation of British alcohol policy. The full report is available here.

Experts speak about the need for a renewed and strong alcohol strategy

Several experts have been interviewed during the first Alcohol Awareness week organized in Brussels

In their interviews experts express their support to the awareness week and talk about the need for enhanced action at EU level to reduce the burden of alcohol harm in Europe.


Patrizia Burra - Awareness Week on Alcohol Related Harm


    Awareness Week on Alcohol Related Harm - Mariann Skar, Eurocare


    Kevin Jones - Awareness Week on Alcohol Related Harm


    Monika Kosinska - Awareness Week on Alcohol Related Harm


    MEP Cristian Silviu Busoi - Awareness Week on Alcohol Related Harm

    Long-Term Effects of Chronic Intermittent Ethanol Exposure in Adolescent and Adult Rats: Radial-Arm Maze Performance and Operant Food Reinforced Responding

    Adolescence is not only a critical period of late-stage neurological development in humans, but is also a period in which ethanol consumption is often at its highest. Given the prevalence of ethanol use during this vulnerable developmental period we assessed the long-term effects of chronic intermittent ethanol (CIE) exposure during adolescence, compared to adulthood, on performance in the radial-arm maze (RAM) and operant food-reinforced responding in male rats.

    Male Sprague Dawley rats were exposed to CIE (or saline) and then allowed to recover. Animals were then trained in either the RAM task or an operant task using fixed- and progressive- ratio schedules. After baseline testing was completed all animals received an acute ethanol challenge while blood ethanol levels (BECs) were monitored in a subset of animals. CIE exposure during adolescence, but not adulthood decreased the amount of time that animals spent in the open portions of the RAM arms (reminiscent of deficits in risk-reward integration) and rendered animals more susceptible to the acute effects of an ethanol challenge on working memory tasks. The operant food reinforced task showed that these effects were not due to altered food motivation or to differential sensitivity to the nonspecific performance-disrupting effects of ethanol. However, CIE pre-treated animals had lower BEC levels than controls during the acute ethanol challenges indicating persistent pharmacokinetic tolerance to ethanol after the CIE treatment. There was little evidence of enduring effects of CIE alone on traditional measures of spatial and working memory.

    These effects indicate that adolescence is a time of selective vulnerability to the long-term effects of repeated ethanol exposure on neurobehavioral function and acute ethanol sensitivity. The positive and negative findings reported here help to further define the nature and extent of the impairments observed after adolescent CIE and provide direction for future research.

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    Stress Reactivity, Social Anxiety, and Alcohol Consumption in People With Alcoholism: A Laboratory Study.


    Social anxiety may maintain alcohol dependence through increased reactivity to stressful events, a propensity to drink to cope with stressful events, or both. The current study is a secondary analysis of an existing data set that examined differences between individuals with alcohol dependence and concurrent high and low social anxiety in objective and subjective stress reactivity to a laboratory stressor (Trier Social Stress Test [TSST]), as well as consumption of alcohol following the stressor.

    Forty participants with alcohol dependence (20 women) were randomly assigned to the TSST condition as part of the parent study. Post hoc analysis of social anxiety measures yielded high (n = 19) and low (n = 21) social anxiety groups. Participants completed the TSST, followed by a small dose of their favorite alcoholic beverage (target blood alcohol concentration 0.03 g/dL) to prime subsequent laboratory drinking. Participants received a sham beer taste test of 2 glasses (710 mL total) of beer. Differences between high and low social anxiety groups were assessed via subjective and objective (mean arterial pressure, serum cortisol) reactivity to the TSST and consumption of alcohol during the taste test (total mLs consumed, mLs/kg of body weight, and likelihood of consuming all the beer available).

    No differences emerged in either objective or subjective measures of stress reactivity between high and low social anxiety groups. There were also no differences between social anxiety groups in amount of alcohol consumed during the taste test.

    No differences were observed between high and low social anxiety participants with concurrent alcohol dependence on stress reactivity or alcohol consumption following a stressor. Given that all participants in this study had alcohol dependence, negative results may suggest that heightened stress reactivity and drinking to cope are more relevant to the development of alcohol dependence and that other factors may maintain alcohol use once dependence has developed.

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    Reversed Scototaxis during Withdrawal after Daily-Moderate, but Not Weekly-Binge, Administration of Ethanol in Zebrafish

    Alcohol abuse can lead to severe psychological and physiological damage. Little is known, however, about the relative impact of a small, daily dose of alcohol (daily-moderate schedule) versus a large, once per week dose (weekly-binge schedule).

    In this study, we examined the effect of each of these schedules on behavioural measures of anxiety in zebrafish (Danio rerio). Adult wild-type zebrafish were administered either 0.2% ethanol on a daily-moderate schedule or 1.4% ethanol on a weekly-binge schedule for a period of 21 days, and then tested for scototaxis (preference for darkness) during withdrawal.

    Compared to a control group with no alcohol exposure, the daily-moderate group spent significantly more time on the light side of the arena (indicative of decreased anxiety) on day two of withdrawal, but not day 9 of withdrawal.

    The weekly-binge group was not significantly different from the control group on either day of withdrawal and showed no preference for either the light or dark zones.

    Our results indicate that even a small dose of alcohol on a daily basis can cause significant, though reversible, changes in behaviour.

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    Acute Alcohol Effects on Attentional Bias are Mediated by Subcortical Areas Associated with Arousal and Salience Attribution

    Acute alcohol ingestion increases attentional bias to alcohol-related stimuli; however, the underlying cognitive and brain mechanisms remain unknown. We combined functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) with performance of a dual task that probed attentional distraction by alcohol-related stimuli during ‘conflict’ processing: the Concurrent Flanker/Alcohol-Attentional bias task (CFAAT).

    In this task, an Eriksen Flanker task is superimposed on task-unrelated background pictures with alcohol-associated or neutral content. Participants respond to the direction of a central ‘target’ arrow and ignore adjacent congruent (low cognitive load) or incongruent (high cognitive load) ‘flanking’ arrows. Using a between-subject design, 40 healthy moderate-to-heavy social drinkers received either no alcohol (placebo), 0.4g/kg (low dose), or 0.8g/kg (high dose) of alcohol, and underwent fMRI while performing the CFAAT.

    The low alcohol dose, relative to placebo, increased response latencies on trials with alcohol-associated backgrounds and, under low cognitive load, increased the activity evoked by these pictures within a medial hypothalamic region. Under high cognitive load, the low alcohol dose, relative to placebo, elicited greater activity within a more lateral hypothalamic region, and reduced activity within frontal motor areas.

    The high alcohol dose, relative to placebo, did not reliably affect response latencies or neural responses to background images, but reduced overall accuracy under high cognitive load. This effect correlated with changes in reactivity within medial and dorsal prefrontal cortices.

    These data suggest that alcohol at a low dose primes attentional bias to alcohol-associated stimuli, an effect mediated by activation of subcortical hypothalamic areas implicated in arousal and salience attribution.

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    Levetiracetam Has Opposite Effects on Alcohol- and Cocaine-Related Behaviors in C57BL/6J Mice


    The antiepileptic drug levetiracetam (LEV) is a potential treatment for alcohol use disorders, yet few preclinical studies exist on its effects in animal models relevant to drug or alcohol abuse. We investigated the effects of LEV on locomotor stimulation following acute and repeated administration of alcohol or cocaine and on alcohol- and cocaine-mediated changes in responding for brain stimulation reward (BSR) in C57BL/6J mice.

    LEV alone (10.0–100.0mg/kg intraperitoneally) had no significant effect on locomotor activity or intracranial self-stimulation. Pretreatment with LEV reduced acute locomotor stimulation by 2.0g/kg alcohol, attenuated the development of locomotor sensitization to alcohol with repeated exposure, and produced a shift in the dose-response curve for alcohol on BSR threshold without affecting maximum operant response rate (MAX).
    Conversely, LEV pretreatment enhanced both acute locomotor stimulation by 15mg/kg cocaine and development of locomotor sensitization following repeated exposure and produced a leftward shift in the dose-response curve for cocaine on BSR threshold without affecting MAX.

    Electrophysiological recordings in vitro showed that LEV reduced excitatory currents in both ventral tegmental area (VTA) dopamine neurons and nucleus accumbens (NAc) medium spiny neurons, consistent with a presynaptic effect.

    The opposite effects of LEV pretreatment on alcohol- and cocaine-related behaviors may predict its clinical utility in the treatment of patients with alcohol, but not psychostimulant abuse disorders.

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    Ethanol Reduces Neuronal Excitability of Lateral Orbitofrontal Cortex Neurons Via a Glycine Receptor Dependent Mechanism


    Trauma-induced damage to the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) often results in behavioral inflexibility and impaired judgment. Human alcoholics exhibit similar cognitive deficits suggesting that OFC neurons are susceptible to alcohol-induced dysfunction.

    A previous study from this laboratory examined OFC mediated cognitive behaviors in mice and showed that behavioral flexibility during a reversal learning discrimination task was reduced in alcohol-dependent mice. Despite these intriguing findings, the actions of alcohol on OFC neuron function are unknown.

    To address this issue, slices containing the lateral OFC (lOFC) were prepared from adult C57BL/6J mice and whole-cell patch clamp electrophysiology was used to characterize the effects of ethanol (EtOH) on neuronal function.

    EtOH (66mM) had no effect on AMPA-mediated EPSCs but decreased those mediated by NMDA receptors. EtOH (11–66mM) also decreased current-evoked spike firing and this was accompanied by a decrease in input resistance and a modest hyperpolarization. EtOH inhibition of spike firing was prevented by the GABAA antagonist picrotoxin, but EtOH had no effect on evoked or spontaneous GABA IPSCs. EtOH increased the holding current of voltage-clamped neurons and this action was blocked by picrotoxin but not the more selective GABAA antagonist biccuculine. The glycine receptor antagonist strychnine also prevented EtOH’s effect on holding current and spike firing, and western blotting revealed the presence of glycine receptors in lOFC.
    Overall, these results suggest that acutely, EtOH may reduce lOFC function via a glycine receptor dependent process and this may trigger neuroadaptive mechanisms that contribute to the impairment of OFC-dependent behaviors in alcohol-dependent subjects.

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    P300 during response inhibition is associated with ad-lib alcohol consumption in social drinkers

    Reduced amplitude of the cortical P300 event-related potential (ERP) component during response inhibition is associated with vulnerability to alcohol use disorders.

    In the current study, we investigated the effect of an experimental manipulation of response conflict on the amplitude of the P300 component during response inhibition, and examined whether individual differences in the amplitude of this P300 component would predict voluntary ad-lib alcohol consumption, in social drinkers.

    Using a repeated measures design, 16 participants performed a stop-signal task after receiving instructions that either emphasised or de-emphasised response conflict while their electroencephalogram (EEG) was concurrently recorded, before their ad-lib drinking was assessed.                    

    Results revealed that task instructions had the predicted effects on behavioural indices of response inhibition and the associated P300 components. Most importantly, individual differences in the amplitude of P300 subcomponents during response inhibition were negatively correlated with ad-lib alcohol consumption.

    Results provide the first experimental support for theoretical models that posit that reduced amplitude of the P300 during response inhibition is associated with alcohol-seeking behaviour in humans.

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    High rates of head injury among homeless and low-income housed men: a retrospective cohort study

    To examine the predictors and temporal patterns of head injury (HI) presentation in the emergency department among cohorts of homeless and low-income housed men. 
    Retrospective review and logistic regression of HIs found in emergency department records for three groups of men, those: (1) who were chronically homeless with drinking problems (CHDP) (n=50), (2) in the general homeless population (GH) (n=60) and (3) in low-income housing (LIH (n=59).
    The proportion of individuals with non-minimal HIs documented in the previous year were 28%, 3% and 5% with annual rates of 0.47, 0.017 and 0.037 among the CHDP, GH and LIH groups . In the multivariate model, independent associations with having an HI included: an HI in the previous year (OR 11.8, 95% CI 3.83 to 36.4), drug dependence (OR 3.67, 95% CI 1.11 to 12.13) and seizures (OR 3.50, 95% CI 1.13 to 10.90), while mood-disorders were protective. Homelessness had a crude risk increase of HI (OR 3.15, 95% CI 1.21 to 8.23) but was not significant in the multivariate model. Among those with HIs, chronic homelessness with drinking problems was associated with a higher rate of HI. With each successive HI, the time interval to another HI was 12 days shorter (p=0.0004). The chronic subdural haematoma incidence in the under-65-year-old CHDP group was 11 per 1000 (95% CI 2.8 to 45). 

    Having an HI is better predicted by previous head injuries, drug dependence or a seizure disorder than a history of homelessness or alcohol dependence. HIs may become more frequent with time.

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    Thursday, May 16, 2013

    TAP 33: Systems-Level Implementation of Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment

    Describes core elements of screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) programs for people with or at risk for substance use disorders. Describes SBIRT services implementation, covering challenges, barriers, cost, and sustainability.

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    The CDC Goes To War Against Wine

    The May 2 editorial in Pennsylvania’s Scranton Times Tribune, said it all: “Perdition just a vote away.” The plan by Governor Tom Corbett to end the state’s monopoly on wine and spirits sales has triggered hellish prognostications from a constellation of groups who argue that the best way to prevent alcohol abuse is to have the government sell it reluctantly.  > > > >  Read More

    Alcohol Alert Number 85 - The Link Between Stress and Alcohol

    Today, more and more servicemen and women are leaving active duty and returning to civilian life. That transition can be difficult. The stresses associated with military service are not easily shed. But dealing with stress is not limited to recent Veterans. A new job, a death in the family, moving across the country, a breakup, or getting married—all are situations that can result in psychological and physical symptoms collectively known as “stress.”

    One way that people may choose to cope with stress is by turning to alcohol. Drinking may lead to positive feelings and relaxation, at least in the short term. Problems arise, however, when stress is ongoing and people continue to try and deal with its effects by drinking alcohol. Instead of “calming your nerves,” long-term, heavy drinking can actually work against you, leading to a host of medical and psychological problems and increasing the risk for alcohol dependence.

    This Alert explores the relationship between alcohol and stress, including identifying some common sources of stress, examining how the body responds to stressful situations, and the role that alcohol plays—both in alleviating and perpetuating stress.

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    The deadly consequences of a cut in the beer tax

    It’s not every day that a bill dealing with taxes is introduced with as many Republicans on board as Democrats. But the Brewers Excise and Economic Relief Act of 2013 (or BEER Act for short) qualifies. Co-sponsored by Reps. Tom Latham (R-Iowa) and Ron Kind (D-Wis.), the act would halve the excise tax on beer, currently set at $18 a barrel, taking rates back to where they were in 1990, before the last increase in the tax took effect.  > > > >  Read More

    Effects of Lifelong Ethanol Consumption on Brain Monoamine Transmitters in Alcohol-Preferring Alko Alcohol (AA) Rats

    The purpose of the present study was to examine the combined effects of aging and lifelong ethanol exposure on the levels of monoamine neurotransmitters in different regions of the brain. This work is part of a project addressing interactions of aging and lifelong ethanol consumption in alcohol-preferring AA (Alko Alcohol) line of rats, selected for high voluntary consumption of ethanol.
    Intake of ethanol on the level of 4.5–5 g/kg/day for about 20 months induced only limited changes in the neurotransmitter levels; the concentration of noradrenaline was significantly reduced in the frontal cortex. There was also a trend towards lower levels of dopamine and 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) in the frontal cortex, and towards a lower noradrenaline level in the dorsal cortex.

    Aging was associated with a decreased concentration of dopamine in the dorsal cortex and with a declining trend in the striatum. The levels of 5-HT in the limbic forebrain were higher in the aged than in the young animals, and in the striatum, there was a trend towards higher levels in older animals.
    The data suggest that a continuous intake of moderate amounts of ethanol does not enhance the age-related alterations in brain monoamine neurotransmission, while the decline in the brain level of dopamine associated with aging may be a factor contributing to age-related neurological disorders.
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    Global Actions - May 15, 2013

    Global Actions in Focus
    2013 Regional Workshops
    Organized by Global Alcohol Producers Group (GAPG) and ICAP, the 2013 Regional Workshops in Africa, Europe, Asia Pacific, and the Americas focused on implementing the Beer, Wine and Spirits Producers’ Commitments at the regional and market level. Each two-day event featured participation from signatory companies, non-signatory companies, and trade associations, and focused on priority areas for each region.
    Participants at the Africa Regional Workshop discuss issues.
    The first workshops took place in February, with the Europe Regional Workshop being held in Brussels, Belgium, and the Africa Regional Workshop taking place in Cape Town, South Africa. The Asia Pacific Regional Workshop took place in Bangkok, Thailand in April, and the final workshop for the Americas concluded in Miami, Florida on May 1.
    The goal of each meeting was to develop a Regional Action Plan that detailed industry efforts to support the Commitments. Each workshop recognized unique regional opportunities, as well as obstacles, and developed individualized plans to address them.
    · In Africa, participants recognized possible obstacles to implementing the Commitments, including the presence of a large noncommercial alcohol sector. Recommendations included broadening conversations to bring together local and regional trade associations, government, and other partners to encourage participation by non-signatories.
    · At the Asia Pacific Regional Workshop, participants identified several ways to work together to overcome pan-regional and country-specific issues including engaging all levels of government, building coalitions, enrolling non-signatory companies, and developing proactive engagement strategies.
    · At the Americas Regional Workshop, best practices were identified and shared among participants, including having leadership become involved early in the planning stages and using both internal and external experts in development. Participants also emphasized the importance of using employees as ambassadors and engaging the trade sector.
    · The Europe Regional Workshop participants were excited to utilize employees as ambassadors and develop relationships with other participants at the workshop. They also highlighted opportunities to engage with retailers by suggesting that the conversation begin at the CEO level, and approaching retailers with partnerships.
    Participants at the Europe Regional Workshop pose for a group picture.
    “While each of the four workshops was different, I was impressed by the enthusiasm of the participants and the high level of cross-company and cross-sector cooperation, which featured prominently in each of the Regional Workshops,” said GAPG Director-General Mark Leverton. “The workshops created a sense of momentum among local signatories’ staff, and I am confident that we will now see more action taken in individual countries.”
    In June, the CEOs of signatory companies will review an assessment of outcomes from the Regional Workshops and begin planning for Commitments-related activities in 2014 and beyond.
    Key Recent Milestones
    · Geneva: ICAP and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) hosted the “Regional Perspectives on Drinking and Driving” symposium at the Second Annual United Nations Global Road Safety Week in Geneva, Switzerland on May 6, 2013. Experts in road safety and public health from Europe, Australia, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East discussed issues that influence alcohol-related road traffic crashes and suggested strategies to improve road safety and prevent drink driving.
    What's Happening NOW
    · Nigeria: A capacity building workshop is being held in Lagos on May 14 and 15, 2013. The event reviews the importance of drink driving interventions for participants, which include traffic police in the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), partner NGOs, and partner union leaders. The workshop will encourage these individuals to design innovative techniques to overcome existing obstacles. Professor Oni, a road safety consultant and lecturer at the University of Lagos, and Lanre Onigbogi, country manager for Nigeria, are coordinating the event.