To support the free and open dissemination of research findings and information on alcoholism and alcohol-related problems. To encourage open access to peer-reviewed articles free for all to view.

For full versions of posted research articles readers are encouraged to email requests for "electronic reprints" (text file, PDF files, FAX copies) to the corresponding or lead author, who is highlighted in the posting.


Saturday, August 24, 2013

'Making recovery a reality through integrated mental health, drug and alcohol services'

A recent briefing on mental health, drug and alcohol services urges commissioners to tackle the poorly integrated support received by those with overlapping substance misuse and mental health needs, or 'dual diagnosis'. 
DdsThe two page report was produced by The Centre for Mental Health, Drugscope and Alcohol Concern.
The briefing explores the idea of 'recovery', the new commissioning landscape and opportunities for improving services. It highlights five recommended actions:
  • First, that health and wellbeing boards should include people with both mental health conditions and substance misuse problems in joint strategic needs assessments.
  • Second, that joint health and wellbeing strategies should focus on the groups whose needs are least well met.
  • Third, that health and wellbeing boards should nominate a 'recovery lead' to build up local partnerships to support neglected groups of people.
  • Fourth, that clinical commissioning groups and directors of public health should ensure they jointly commission integrated support for people with overlapping mental health and substance use problems.
  • And finally that both sets of services focus on helping people to achieve recovery on their own terms.  > > > >  Read More

Critique 121: Differences between wine and other alcoholic beverages in terms of adverse consequences of alcohol consumption

The present study was based on questionnaire data related to alcohol intake that were obtained from just over one half of military conscripts from the general population who were invited to participate. Their average age was just over 19 years. “Risky single occasion drinking” (RSOD) was defined as consuming at least six standard drinks (10-12 g of alcohol/drink), and “At risk RSOD” was defined as risky drinking episodes at least once a month. Beverage preference was based on reporting that 2/3rds or more of the total intake of a subject came from one type of beverage. The intake of apertifs, alcopops, beer pops, wine pops, chillers, and coolers were all classified as “other preferences.” Overall, 31.7% preferred beer, 5.4% preferred wine, and 11.5% had “other preferences.”

Only 0.3% of subjects reported an average intake of > 21 drinks/week. Hence, these young subjects were primarily light drinkers or “binge” drinkers.

Many previous studies have shown healthier outcomes associated with the consumption of wine than of other alcoholic beverages. Such beneficial effects are generally attributed both to the polyphenols and other constituents of wine, other than alcohol, as well as to the drinking pattern and more moderate other lifestyle factors of wine consumers.   > > > >  Read More

Friday, August 23, 2013

Beverage preferences and associated drinking patterns, consequences and other substance use behaviours

Studies about beverage preferences in a country in which wine drinking is relatively widespread (like Switzerland) are scarce. Therefore, the main aims of the present study were to examine the associations between beverage preferences and drinking patterns, alcohol-related consequences and the use of other substances among Swiss young men.

The analytical sample consisted of 5399 Swiss men who participated in the Cohort Study on Substance Use Risk Factors (C-SURF) and had been drinking alcohol over the preceding 12 months. Logistic regression analyses were conducted to study the associations between preference for a particular beverage and (i) drinking patterns, (ii) negative alcohol-related consequences and (iii) the (at-risk) use of cigarettes, cannabis and other illicit drugs.

Preference for beer was associated with risky drinking patterns and, comparable with a preference for strong alcohol, with the use of illicit substances (cannabis and other illicit drugs). In contrast, a preference for wine was associated with low-risk alcohol consumption and a reduced likelihood of experiencing at least four negative alcohol-related consequences or of daily cigarette smoking. Furthermore, the likelihood of negative outcomes (alcohol-related consequences; use of other substances) increased among people with risky drinking behaviours, independent of beverage preference.

In our survey, beer preference was associated with risky drinking patterns and illicit drug use. Alcohol polices to prevent large quantities of alcohol consumption, especially of cheaper spirits like beer, should be considered to reduce total alcohol consumption and the negative consequences associated with these beverage types.

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Alcohol use and abuse in young adulthood: Do self-control and parents’ perceptions of friends during adolescence modify peer influence? The TRAILS Study

To assess the influence of peer alcohol use during adolescence on young adults’ alcohol use and abuse, and to assess to what extent parents’ perception of their adolescent child’s friends and adolescent’s self-control modify this influence.

We analyzed data from the first, third, and fourth wave of a population-based prospective cohort study of 2230 adolescents conducted between 2001 and 2010 (mean ages: 11.1, 16.3, and 19.1, respectively). Alcohol use and abuse were measured at T4 by self-report questionnaires and by the Composite International Diagnostics Interview (CIDI), respectively. Peer alcohol use, self-control, and parents’ perception of their adolescent child’s friends were measured at T3. We adjusted for gender, age, socioeconomic-status, parental alcohol use, and adolescent baseline alcohol use.

Peer alcohol use during adolescence was related to young adults’ alcohol use and abuse [odds ratio (95% confidence interval): 1.31 (1.11-1.54) and 1.50 (1.20-1.87), respectively]. Neither parents’ perception of their adolescent child’s friends nor self-control modified this relationship. Alcohol abusers were more likely to have low self-control than alcohol users. No differences were found between alcohol users and abusers regarding their parents’ perception of their friends and peer alcohol use.

Peer alcohol use during adolescence affects young adults’ alcohol use and abuse. We found that self-control was only related to alcohol abuse. Peer influence was not modified by parents’ perception of peers or by self-control. Peer alcohol use and self-control should thus be separate targets in the prevention of alcohol use/abuse.

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Predicting steep escalations in alcohol use over the teenage years: age-related variations in key social influences

This study examined how family, peer and school factors are related to different trajectories of adolescent alcohol use at key developmental periods.
Latent class growth analysis was used to identify trajectories based on five waves of data (from grade 6, age 12 to grade 11, age 17), with predictors at grades 5, 7 and 9 included as covariates.
Adolescents completed surveys during school hours.
A total of 808 students in Victoria, Australia.
Alcohol use trajectories were based on self-reports of 30-day frequency of alcohol use. Predictors included sibling alcohol use, attachment to parents, parental supervision, parental attitudes favourable to adolescent alcohol use, peer alcohol use and school commitment.
A total of 8.2% showed steep escalation in alcohol use. Relative to non-users, steep escalators were predicted by age-specific effects for low school commitment at grade 7 (P = 0.031) and parental attitudes at grade 5 (P = 0.003), and age-generalized effects for sibling alcohol use (Ps = 0.001, 0.012, 0.033 at grades 5, 7 and 9, respectively) and peer alcohol use (Ps = 0.041, < 0.001, < 0.001 at grades 5, 7 and 9, respectively). Poor parental supervision was associated with steep escalators at grade 9 (P < 0.001) but not the other grades. Attachment to parents was unrelated to alcohol trajectories.
Parental disapproval of alcohol use before transition to high school, low school commitment at transition to high school, and sibling and peer alcohol use during adolescence are associated with a higher risk of steep escalations in alcohol use.

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

News Release - NIH study finds chronic alcohol use shifts brain’s control of behavior

Chronic alcohol exposure leads to brain adaptations that shift behavior control away from an area of the brain involved in complex decision-making and toward a region associated with habit formation, according to a new study conducted in mice by scientists at the National Institutes of Health.

The finding provides a biological mechanism that helps to explain compulsive alcohol use and the progression to alcohol dependence. A report appears online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The brain’s prefrontal cortex is involved in decision-making and controlling emotion, while the dorsal striatum is thought to play a key role in motivation and habit formation. Past studies have shown that alcohol dependent individuals show problems with skills mediated by the prefrontal cortex such as impulse control. These same individuals often show exaggerated neural response in the dorsal striatum to alcohol-related cues.  > > > >  Read More

Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs Volume 74, 2013 > Issue 5: September 2013

Editor's Corner: DSM-5—Ready or Not, Here It Comes [OPEN ACCESS]

Marc A. Schuckit

A Twin Study of Alcohol Dependence, Binge Eating, and Compensatory Behaviors  [OPEN ACCESS]

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Alcohol-Specific Parenting as a Mechanism of Parental Drinking and Alcohol Use Disorder Risk on Adolescent Alcohol Use Onset
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Parental Socialization and Children's Susceptibility to Alcohol Use Initiation

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Causal Influence of Age at First Drink on Alcohol Involvement in Adulthood and Its Moderation by Familial Context

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Adolescent Athletic Participation and Nonmedical Adderall Use: An Exploratory Analysis of a Performance-Enhancing Drug

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College Cannabis Use: The Unique Roles of Social Norms, Motives, and Expectancies

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Transitional Life Events and Trajectories of Cigarette and Alcohol Use During Emerging Adulthood: Latent Class Analysis and Growth Mixture Modeling

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Perceived Norms Moderate the Association Between Mental Health Symptoms and Drinking Outcomes Among At-Risk Adolescents

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Early Risk Factors for Alcohol Use Across High School and Its Covariation With Deviant Friends
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Is the Pregame to Blame? Event-Level Associations Between Pregaming and Alcohol-Related Consequences

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Identifying Theoretical Predictors of Risky Alcohol Use Among Noncollege Emerging Adults

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Treatment May Influence Self-Report and Jeopardize Our Understanding of Outcome

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Characterizing College Systems for Addressing Student Alcohol Use: Latent Class Analysis of U.S. Four-Year Colleges

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Potential Side Effects of Unhealthy Lifestyle Choices and Health Risks on Basal and Reactive Heart Rate Variability in College Drinkers

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Craving and Subjective Responses to Alcohol Administration: Validation of the Desires for Alcohol Questionnaire in the Human Laboratory

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Factor Structure of the Modified Timeline Followback: A Measure of Alcohol-Related Consequences

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Brief Report: The Brief Alcohol Social Density Assessment (BASDA): Convergent, Criterion-Related, and Incremental Validity

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Methoxetamine Misuse and Toxicity [OPEN ACCESS]

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Chronic alcohol produces neuroadaptations to prime dorsal striatal learning

Drug addictions including alcoholism are characterized by degradation of executive control over behavior and increased compulsive drug seeking. These profound behavioral changes are hypothesized to involve a shift in the regulation of behavior from prefrontal cortex to dorsal striatum (DLS). Studies in rodents have shown that ethanol disrupts cognitive processes mediated by the prefrontal cortex, but the potential effects of chronic ethanol on DLS-mediated cognition and learning are much less well understood.                             

Here, we first examined the effects of chronic EtOH on DLS neuronal morphology, synaptic plasticity, and endocannabinoid-CB1R signaling. We next tested for ethanol-induced changes in striatal-related learning and DLS in vivo single-unit activity during learning.

Mice exposed to chronic intermittent ethanol (CIE) vapor exhibited expansion of dendritic material in DLS neurons. Following CIE, DLS endocannabinoid CB1 receptor signaling was down-regulated, and CB1 receptor-dependent long-term depression at DLS synapses was absent. CIE mice showed facilitation of DLS-dependent pairwise visual discrimination and reversal learning, relative to air-exposed controls. CIE mice were also quicker to extinguish a stimulus–reward instrumental response and faster to reduce Pavlovian approach behavior under an omission schedule.

In vivo single-unit recording during learning revealed that CIE mice had augmented DLS neuronal activity during correct responses.

Collectively, these findings support a model in which chronic ethanol causes neuroadaptations in the DLS that prime for greater DLS control over learning. The shift to striatal dominance over behavior may be a critical step in the progression of alcoholism.

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Genome-wide association studies of maximum number of drinks

Maximum number of drinks (MaxDrinks) defined as “Maximum number of alcoholic drinks consumed in a 24-h period” is an intermediate phenotype that is closely related to alcohol dependence (AD). Family, twin and adoption studies have shown that the heritability of MaxDrinks is approximately 0.5.

We conducted the first genome-wide association (GWA) study and meta-analysis of MaxDrinks as a continuous phenotype. 1059 individuals were from the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA) sample and 1628 individuals were from the Study of Addiction – Genetics and Environment (SAGE) sample. Family sample with 3137 individuals was from the Australian twin-family study of alcohol use disorder (OZALC). Two population-based Caucasian samples (COGA and SAGE) with 1 million single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were used for gene discovery and one family-based Caucasian sample was used for replication.

Through meta-analysis we identified 162 SNPs associated with MaxDirnks (p < 10−4). The most significant association with MaxDrinks was observed with SNP rs11128951 (p = 4.27×10−8) near SGOL1 gene at 3p24.3. Furthermore, several SNPs (rs17144687 near DTWD2, rs12108602 near NDST4, and rs2128158 in KCNB2) showed significant associations with MaxDrinks (p < 5×10−7) in the meta-analysis.

Especially, 8 SNPs in DDC gene showed significant associations with MaxDrinks (p < 5×10−7) in the SAGE sample. Several flanking SNPs in above genes/regions were confirmed in the OZALC family sample. In conclusions, we identified several genes/regions associated with MaxDrinks.

These findings can improve the understanding about the pathogenesis of alcohol consumption phenotypes and alcohol-related disorders

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Global Actions: Commitments to Reduce Harmful Drinking. Auigust 21, 2013

Global Actions in Focus
discussing partnerships with government leaders in india Country Coordinator in India Dr. Hetal Gandhi met with the Joint Commissioner of the Mumbai Traffic Police Mr. Vivek Phansalkar on August 13, 2013. Dr. Gandhi distributed copies of the recent India Initiatives booklet and discussed the status and progress of ongoing projects within India. The results and feedback from the life skills workshop, which involved approximately 200 police officers from Mumbai, were reviewed by Mr. Phansalkar. He proposed the possibility of designing training modules that discuss drink driving and road safety international best practices. These training presentations would be included in the six-day introduction training module for Indian traffic police officers.
Law enforcement officers in Mumbai attend a life skills workshop
Dr. Gandhi also met with Principal Secretary for Excise and Transport Mr. Shaileshkumar Sharma and was joined by Mr. Prasanna Mohile from Pernod Ricard on August 14. When discussing the results from the life skills workshop in Mumbai, the Secretary suggested launching a pilot program that involved training commercial drivers from Maharashtra. His main goal for collaborating with ICAP would be to formalize a standard training module to create awareness among the driving community and decrease alcohol-related road traffic crashes and fatalities.
Key Recent Milestones
· Colombia: Global Actions hosted Patrullero Phase One seminars for the Drink Driving Initiative in Jamundia and Candelaria August 15 and 16, 2013. On August 17, a Patrullero Phase Two alcohol checkpoint seminar was held in Yumbo. Drink driving seminars are planned to be conducted on August 29 and 30 in Palmira.
What's Happening Next
· Nigeria: A Global Actions capacity building event for the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), NGOs, and Road Transport Employers’ Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) officials will be held in Abuja on August 27 and 28, 2013.

A Twin Study of Alcohol Dependence, Binge Eating, and Compensatory Behaviors

Rates of alcohol dependence are elevated in women with eating disorders who engage in binge eating or compensatory behaviors compared with women with eating disorders who do not report binge eating or compensatory behaviors and with healthy controls. Alcohol dependence, binge eating, and compensatory behaviors are heritable; however, it is unclear whether a shared genetic liability contributes to the phenotypic association among these traits, and little information exists regarding this shared liability in men. We investigated genetic and environmental correlations among alcohol dependence, binge eating, and compensatory behaviors in male and female twins.

Participants included 5,993 same- and opposite-sex twins from the Australian Twin Registry who completed a modified version of the Semi-Structured Assessment for the Genetics of Alcoholism that assessed lifetime alcohol dependence and binge eating as defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Third Edition, Revised. Compensatory behaviors were assessed via a general health questionnaire in women only. Biometrical twin models estimated genetic and environmental influences on alcohol dependence, binge eating, and compensatory behaviors.

In women, the multivariate twin model suggested that additive genetic and nonshared environmental effects influenced alcohol dependence, binge eating, and compensatory behaviors, with heritability estimates ranging from 38% to 53%. The best-fitting sex-limitation model was a common effects model that equated all genetic and nonshared environmental influences in men and women. The heritability estimates were 50% and 38% for alcohol dependence and binge eating, respectively. Overall, there were significant genetic correlations between alcohol dependence and binge eating, alcohol dependence and compensatory behaviors, and binge eating and compensatory behaviors.

These findings indicate that common genetic factors may underlie the vulnerability to alcohol dependence and the liability to binge eating and compensatory behaviors.

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Commentary on Defining Substance Use Disorders: Do We Really Need More Than Heavy Use?


Defining Substance Use Disorders as heavy use will help to reduce fruitless discussions about labeling, reduce stigma and increase the likelihood of people coming forward for help of whatever level of intensity best matches their needs.

 Clinicians will still need to assess propensity for withdrawal symptoms and help the heaviest drinkers to work out whether they can successfully maintain a reduced consumption level rather than abstinence.

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Why Not Add Consumption Measures to Current Definitions of Substance Use Disorders? Commentary on Rehm et al. ‘Defining Substance Use Disorders: Do We Really Need More Than Heavy Use?’

The article by Rehm and colleagues in this issue of the Journal argues
that diagnoses of substance use disorders should be based solely on measures of consumption.

Although the authors provide convincing arguments for inclusion of consumption measures in the diagnostic criteria for substance use disorders, we do not agree that diagnostic criteria should be restricted to measures of consumption alone.

Our clinical and research experience with alcohol use disorders suggests that use of consumption measures alone would fail to identify many patients whose alcohol or drug use is adversely impacting their health. Instead, we advocate—as others have done—that measures of consumption be added to current diagnostic criteria.

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Drinkaware 2012 report reviews impact of activities - but will health groups be convinced?

The industry funded alcohol education charityDrinkaware has released a 2012 impact report, detailing its recent activities and reported impacts on target groups. Report here (pdf).
Drinkaware's existence not surprisingly divides opinions; some health groups are sceptical of indsutry led intiatives, or raise concerns over a policy focus on education based approaches. Earlier this year anindependent audit gave Drinkaware a mixed review of its impact over recent years.
Regardless, Drinkaware have the lion's share of the 'alcohol awareness market' with a far greater web presence than say the NHS Choices alcohol pages. The report highlights four million people visited the Drinkaware website in 2012 and front-line public services used 1 million of their factsheets, unit and calorie wheels and unit measure cups.  > > > >  Read More

Monday, August 19, 2013

Alcohol News - 33/2013

The Guardian (UK) - Public health: cutting a deal on the minimum price of alcohol
The fallout from the government u-turn on plain cigarette packaging and a minimum unit price for alcohol continues. To date, the Faculty of Public Health, the Association of Directors of Public Health and Birmingham city council have all withdrawn from the "public health responsibility deal".
CBS News (USA) - Study: Many alcohol-related ER visits involve Budweiser
Budweiser is the number one beverage behind alcohol-related emergency room visits, a small study conducted by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health revealed.
Pravda (Russia) - Sale of alcohol prohibited on flood-affected territories in Russia
The sale of alcohol has been prohibited on the territory of all towns and settlements that suffered from massive floods in the Far East of Russia. (UK) - Health ministers want to take the alcohol out of wine
Ministers have become so concerned about levels of wine drinking among the middle classes that they have launched a campaign across Europe to redefine “wine” to include drinks that contain little or no alcohol.
Wall Street Journal - Latest Research on the Effects of Alcohol on Your Waistline
It isn't just the beer that contributes to beer bellies. It could also be the extra calories, fat and unhealthy eating choices that may come with moderate drinking.
Voice of America (USA) - Excessive Alcohol Drinking Has $223B Price Tag
Excessive alcohol drinking costs Americans more than $220 billion a year, or almost $2 a drink. And the biggest costs come from a loss of worker productivity.
Hurriyet Daily News (Turkey) - Removal of alcohol logos from shop signs to hit Turkish vendors in pocket
Craftsmen and restaurant owners in Turkey are concerned about a law that forces all retailers to remove alcoholic beverage logos and advertiesements from their signboards until September. (Australia) - Seven reasons life is better without booze
I WAS the consummate party girl for 20 years before I finally realised that alcohol was taking more than it was giving. I quit drinking two and a half years ago at the age of 35 and have never felt happier, more confident, or as in control of my own destiny than I do now that I'm sober.
Ct Post (USA) - Government should slow the flow of alcohol ads
When it comes to alcohol advertisements, we could use an agreement similar to the one we have with Big Tobacco. Children are awash in media messages, and we keep missing opportunities to do the right thing. (Australia) - Australian drinkers defying health guidelines, Centre for Alcohol Research finds
HALF of Australia's drinkers consume alcohol in excess of the nation's health guidelines putting themselves at risk of violence and health problems. (UK) - UK Government: 'On holiday, don’t let drink do your talking'
The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office is encouraging young travelers to think before they drink, to avoid putting themselves at risk of serious harm while holidaying in foreign countries.
Medical Daily (USA) - Binge Drinking Remedy? Washington State University Imposes Early-Morning Friday Classes To Combat ‘Thirsty Thursday’
In response to a student who died from alcohol poisoning last school year, Washington State University (WSU) is taking precautionary measures to reduce the amount of drug use and binge drinking. Changes include more early-morning Friday classes, more alcohol-free floors in residence halls, and alcohol screening for at-risk students. (UK) - Pubs could face increased enforcement activity from police in 'week of action'
Pub and bar operators could face enforcement action from police during a "week of action" on licensing and alcohol-related harm during 16 - 22 September.
Yorkshire Post (UK) - Call to use ‘drunk tanks’ to ease strain on the police
BRINGING in US-style ‘drunk tanks’ could relieve the strain on the emergency services and allow officers to deal with other crimes, one of the region’s police and crime commissioners has claimed.
7thSpace Interactive - Alcohol consumption and sport: a cross-sectional study of alcohol management practices associated with at-risk alcohol consumption at community football clubs
Excessive alcohol consumption is responsible for considerable harm from chronic disease and injury. Within most developed countries, members of sporting clubs participate in at-risk alcohol consumption at levels above that of communities generally.


A Parliamentary Inquiry has found that more needs to be done if New South Wales is to better respond to the needs of individuals seeking drug and alcohol treatment.

The Inquiry by the General Purpose Standing Committee No. 2 was established last November to inquire into and report on the effectiveness of current alcohol and drug policies with respect to deterrence, treatment and rehabilitation.  > > > >  Read More
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News Release - Pilot Study Finds ER Patients Drinking High-Octane Beer

Budweiser, Steel Reserve, Colt 45, Bud Ice and Bud Light – were consumed in the highest quantities by emergency room patients, according to a new pilot study from researchers at The Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Three of these are “malt liquors” with higher alcohol content than regular beer

The pilot study, published by Substance Use and Misuse, is the first study of its kind to assess alcohol consumption by brand and type from patients reporting to the emergency department with injury.
“Recent studies reveal that nearly a third of injury visits to Level I trauma centers were alcohol-related and frequently a result of heavy drinking,” said lead study author David Jernigan, PhD, CAMY director. “Understanding the relationship between alcohol brands and their connection to injury may help guide policy makers in considering taxation and physical availability of different types of alcohol given the harms associated with them.”  > > > >  Read More

An Empirical Evaluation of the US Beer Institute’s Self-Regulation Code Governing the Content of Beer Advertising


We evaluated advertising code violations using the US Beer Institute guidelines for responsible advertising.

We applied the Delphi ratingtechnique to all beer ads (n = 289) broadcast in national markets between 1999 and 2008 during the National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball tournament games. Fifteen public health professionals completed ratings using quantitative scales measuring the content of alcohol advertisements (e.g., perceived actor age, portrayal of excessive drinking) according to 1997 and 2006 versions of the Beer Institute Code.

Depending on the code version, exclusion criteria, and scoring method, expert raters found that between 35% and 74% of the ads had code violations. There were significant differences among producers in the frequency with which ads with violations were broadcast, but not in the proportions of unique ads with violations. Guidelines most likely to be violated included the association of beer drinking with social success and the use of content appealing to persons younger than 21 years.

The alcohol industry’s current self-regulatory framework is ineffective at preventing content violations but could be improved by the use of new rating procedures designed to better detect content code violations.



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