Aims

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.

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

The OPRD1 and OPRK1 loci in alcohol or drug dependence: OPRD1 variation modulates substance dependence risk
Molecular Psychiatry advance online publication 10 July 2007




Eleven single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) spanning OPRD1 were examined in 1063 European Americans (EAs) (620 cases with substance dependence (SD), including 557 with alcohol dependence (AD), 225 with cocaine dependence (CD) and 111 with opioid dependence (OD), and 443 controls).

Nominally significant associations of five SNPs with SD were observed; only the association of the non-synonymous variant G80T with OD remained significant after correction for multiple testing using SNPSpD. Haplotype analyses with six tag SNPs indicated that a specific haplotype GCAACT, which harbors G80T G-allele and C921T C-allele, was significantly associated with AD , CD and OD.

Logistic regression analyses, with sex and age being considered, demonstrated that this haplotype had a risk effect on AD and especially on OD. Moreover, seven SNPs covering OPRK1 were examined in the majority of the above subjects.

Although no significant differences in allele, genotype or haplotype frequency distributions were seen between cases and controls, a specific OPRK1 haplotype, GGCTTCT, was significantly associated with AD. Logistic regression analyses also revealed its risk effect on AD. Population stratification artifact was not observed in the sample.

Taken together, our findings supported a positive association between OPRD1 variants and SD, and a positive haplotypic association between OPRK1 and AD in EAs.

Read Full Abstract

Reprint Request E-Mail: joel.gelernter@yale.edu

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Friday, July 27, 2007

Barcelona - International Harm Reduction Association







HRA’s harm reduction conferences have been held around the world each year since 1990, and the next event in this highly successful series takes place in the stunning Mediterranean city of Barcelona in the heart of Catalonia and Spain.

Over five days, this conference will be the main meeting point for all those interested in harm reduction, and an invaluable platform for debate, discussion, and the dissemination of new and evolving good practice in addressing drug use and associated harm. For nearly two decades, these events have been the key forum for the dissemination of harm reduction ideas and practice, and have helped to put harm reduction on the map.

Conference Website

Contributor:
Jamie Bridge
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Understanding Alcohol Misuse in Scotland



About this report

This report looks at the number and nature of self-harm presentations to emergency departments in Scotland, particularly those related to the use of alcohol.

Future work

Further reports will follow over the next 6 months, designed to fill the information gap that exists in our knowledge and understanding about alcohol misuse. An overview report summarising the findings and considering the next steps will be published in March 2008.

Read Full Announcment

Download Report Harmful Drinking 3: Alcohol and Self-harm (PDF)

Source: The Daily Dose
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Press Release - Immediate license suspension for DWI saves 800 lives each year

26-year comprehensive study is the first to measure reduced fatalities across many states

WASHINGTON, DC, July 24, 2007 -- State laws that require immediate suspension of the driver’s license for failing an alcohol breath test have had a deterrent effect on drunk driving and saved 800 lives from fatal crashes each year, new research shows. However, laws that suspend licenses or impose fines or jail sentences after conviction have little noticeable deterrent effect, according to one of the most comprehensive studies on the impact of drunk driving laws in the United States.

“The threat of immediate suspension of the driver’s license is a larger deterrent than the threat of more severe penalties that may occur at a later date. It has reduced fatalities from car crashes involving light, moderate and heavy drinkers,” according to study lead author Alexander C. Wagenaar, Ph.D., a professor of epidemiology at the University of Florida, College of Medicine.
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Read Full Press Release

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News Release - Malt Liquor Linked to Marijuana Use Among Young Adults

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Drinking malt liquor -- the cheap, high-alcohol beverage often marketed to teens -- may put young adults at increased risk for alcohol problems and use of illicit drugs, particularly marijuana, according to a new study of malt liquor drinkers and marijuana use by scientists at the University at Buffalo's Research Institute on Addictions (RIA).

"In our study of young adults who regularly drink malt liquor," reports lead researcher R. Lorraine Collins, senior research scientist at RIA, "we found that malt liquor use is significantly related to reports of alcohol problems, problems specific to the use of malt liquor and to marijuana use above and beyond typical alcohol use." Collins also is a research professor in the Department of Psychology, UB College of Arts and Sciences.
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Read Full News Release

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Differential Rearing Conditions Alter Operant Responding for Ethanol in Outbred Rats
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research (OnlineEarly Articles) 25 July 2007


Differential rearing environments affect a number of behaviors displayed by rats in adulthood. For example, rats reared in an impoverished condition (IC; reared alone in hanging metal cages), social condition (SC; reared in standard shoebox cages, 2 per cage), or enriched condition (EC; reared in a large metal cage with bedding, 14 novel objects, and 10 cohorts) display clear differences in the amount of drug they consume and/or self-administer through operant responding.

Animals reared in an EC consume greater amounts of ethanol compared with rats reared in an IC when provided free access, but it is not known how differential rearing conditions affect operant responding for ethanol.

Rats reared in an IC responded for 10% ethanol at significantly higher rates than SC and EC rats. A greater percentage of IC rats were able to switch lever responding when the ethanol availability was changed to a second lever. Lastly, the IC group was the only one to display a clear preference for 10% ethanol when both this fluid and water were available.

Rats reared in an IC show greater proclivity to respond operantly for 10% ethanol compared with rats raised in either SC or EC (which did not differ from each other).

These findings agree with a number of studies that have shown isolate reared animals to consume greater amounts of ethanol compared with their socially reared counterparts yet contrast some studies showing EC animals consume greater amounts of ethanol than IC rats.

The current findings illustrate that rearing environment also plays an important role in an animal’s proclivity to respond for ethanol.

Read Full Abstract

Reprint Request E-Mail: abynorml@ksu.edu

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Distribution of Alcohol Consumption and Expenditures and the Impact of Improved Measurement on Coverage of Alcohol Sales in the 2000 National Alcohol Survey
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research (OnlineEarly Articles). 25 July 2007

To validate improved survey estimates of alcohol volume and new expenditures questions, these measures were aggregated and evaluated through comparison to sales data. Using the new measures, we examined their distributions by estimating the proportion of mean intake, heavy drinking days, and alcohol expenditures among drinkers grouped by volume.

Coverage of alcohol sales by the new measures was estimated to be 52.3% for consumption and 59.3% for expenditures. Coverage was best for wine at 92.1% of sales, but improved most for spirits from 37.2% to 55.2%, when empirical drink ethanol content was applied.

Distribution estimates showed that the top 10% of drinkers drank 55.3% of the total alcohol consumed, accounted for 61.6% of all 5+ and nearly 80% of all 12+ drinking days. Spirits consumption was the most concentrated with the top decile consuming 62.9% of the total for this beverage. This decile accounted for 33% of total expenditures, even though its mean expenditure per drink was considerably lower ($0.79) than the bottom 50% of drinkers ($4.75).

The distributions of mean alcohol intake and heavy drinking days are highly concentrated in the U.S. population. Lower expenditures per drink by the heaviest drinkers suggest substantial downward quality substitution, drinking in cheaper contexts or other bargain pricing strategies.

Empirical drink ethanol estimates improved survey coverage of sales particularly for spirits, but significant under-coverage remains, highlighting need for further self-report measurement improvement.

Read Full Abstract

Reprint Request E-Mail: wkerr@arg.org

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Patterns and Correlates of Drinking in Offspring From the San Diego Prospective Study
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research (OnlineEarly Articles). 25 July 2007


The decision among young people to drink is complex and reflects multiple domains of influence. This paper applies the results from a previous test of an externalizing-based model predicting heavy drinking and alcohol problems in the probands from the San Diego Prospective Study to evaluate how similar characteristics relate to the decision to drink in their offspring.

Significant correlations to the drinking status in offspring were observed for age, but not for sex. Using age-adjusted backgrounds and data supplied by the offspring at T25, the most robust correlations to the drinking status were seen for a disinhibition measure, peer drinking, expectations of the effects of alcohol, and the history of having worked outside the home.

When placed into an SEM, the former 3 variables performed in a manner similar to that observed in the original probands in the prediction of the drinking status, in a model with good fit characteristics.

These data from a prospective study support the importance of similar domains across 2 generations in characterizing age-appropriate alcohol-related outcomes.

Read Full Abstract

Request Reprint E-Mail: mschuckit@ucsd.edu

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Ethanol Preference Is Inversely Correlated With Ethanol-Induced Dopamine Release in 2 Substrains of C57BL/6 Mice

Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research (OnlineEarly Articles). 25 July 2007


The C57BL/6 mouse model has been used extensively in alcohol drinking studies, yet significant differences in ethanol preference between substrains exist. Differences in ethanol-induced dopamine release in the ventral striatum could contribute to this variability in drinking behavior as dopamine has been implicated in the reinforcing properties of ethanol.

C57BL/6J mice exhibited significantly greater ethanol preference and less ethanol-stimulated dopamine release compared with C57BL/6NCrl mice. The intraperitoneal injections of ethanol caused a significant increase in dopamine in both substrains at all 3 doses with significant differences between substrains at the 2 highest alcohol doses.

Saline injections had a significant effect on dopamine release when given in a volume equivalent to the 3 g/kg ethanol dose.

Ethanol pharmacokinetics were similar in the 2 substrains at all 3 doses.

Ethanol-induced dopamine release in the ventral striatum may contribute to the differences in alcohol preference between C57BL/6J and C57BL/6NCrl mice.

Read Full Abstract

Request Reprint E-mail: rgonzales@mail.utexas.edu
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Medical MisnomerAddiction isn't a brain disease, Congress.


A full-scale campaign is under way to change the public perception of drug addiction, from a moral failing to a brain disease. Last spring, HBO aired an ambitious series that touted addiction as a "chronic and relapsing brain disease." In early July, a Time magazine cover story suggested that addiction is the doing of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which courses through the brain's reward circuits. And now Congress is weighing in.

A new bill sponsored by Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., would change the name of the National Institute on Drug Abuse to the National Institute on Diseases of Addiction and change the name of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to the National Institute on Alcohol Disorders and Health. Called the Recognizing Addiction As a Disease Act of 2007, it explains, "The pejorative term 'abuse' used in connection with diseases of addiction has the adverse effect of increasing social stigma and personal shame, both of which are so often barriers to an individual's decision to seek treatment." Addiction should be known as a brain disease, the bill proclaims, "because drugs change the brain's structure and manner in which it functions. These brain changes can be long lasting, and can lead to the harmful behaviors seen in people who abuse drugs."
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Read Full Article
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Press Release - Alcohol killed 1145 Indigenous Australians in five years; 'One-size-fits all' doesn't work: researchers

February 12, 2007

Alcohol causes the death of an Indigenous Australian every 38 hours on average, according to new research from the National Drug Research Institute (NDRI).

NDRI has found that the deaths of 1145 Indigenous Australians between 2000 and 2004 were caused by alcohol. The cause of death for more than half was alcoholic liver cirrhosis or suicide, and the average age of death from an alcohol-attributable cause was about 35.

The figures are contained in the National Alcohol Indicators Project (NAIP) Bulletin 11, Trends in alcohol-attributable deaths among Indigenous Australians, 1998-2004, released today.

Researchers say trends and numbers of alcohol-attributable deaths vary widely both between and within State borders, which means targeted region-specific approaches are needed to improve Indigenous health.
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Read Full Press Release

Download NAIP Bulletin 11 (PDF)

Contributor: Prasantha De Silva

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Types of Alcoholic Beverages Usually Consumed by Students in 9th--12th Grades --- Four States, 2005

July 27, 2007 / Vol. 56 / No. 29

Excessive alcohol consumption contributes to approximately 4,500 deaths* among underage youths in the United States each year (e.g., from homicides, motor-vehicle crashes, and suicides) and an average of 60 years of life lost per death (1). However, little is known about the specific types of alcoholic beverages consumed by youths. These data are important because numerous evidence-based strategies for reducing underage drinking rates are beverage-specific, including increasing alcohol excise taxes and increasing restrictions on the distribution and sale of alcoholic beverages. To examine types of alcoholic beverages usually consumed by students in 9th--12th grades, CDC analyzed 2005 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) data from the four state surveys that included a question on the type of alcohol consumed (Arkansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Wyoming). This report describes the results of that analysis, which indicated that liquor (e.g., bourbon, rum, scotch, vodka, or whiskey) was the most prevalent type of alcoholic beverage usually consumed among students in 9th--12th grades who reported current alcohol use or binge drinking. These findings suggest that considering beverage-specific alcohol consumption by youths is important when developing alcohol-control policies, specifically those related to the price and availability of particular types of alcoholic beverages.
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Read Full Article

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Media Release - Alcohol still tops the list for drug treatment
26 July 2007

The latest report on alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia, released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), shows that alcohol still tops the list when it comes to the drugs for which people seek treatment.

The report, Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia 2005-06, profiles over 150,000 treatment episodes from 664 government-funded alcohol and other drug treatment agencies across Australia.

The AIHW's Dr Chris Stevenson said 'Alcohol is the most widely used drug in Australia and is also the most common drug for which people seek treatment.
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Read Full Media Release
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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Alcohol: a missed opportunity. A survey of all accident and emergency departments in England
Emergency Medicine Journal 2007;24:529-531;

To determine the extent to which the recommendations of the alcohol harm reduction strategy for England and the Choosing Health white paper for the provision of screening and brief interventions for hazardous and harmful drinkers have been adopted by accident and emergency departments.

The survey was part of a larger study investigating the impact of the changes in the licensing act (2004) on alcohol-related attendances.

4 departments use formal screening tools and 24 ask general questions about consumption (98.9% response rate). Blood alcohol levels were measured as required by 100 departments. No departments routinely measure blood alcohol, and 84 departments never assess blood alcohol levels. Alcohol-related attendances were formally recorded by 131 departments. Access to an alcohol health worker or a clinical nurse specialist was reported by 32 departments.

Although departments may be willing to address hazardous alcohol consumption, the low numbers of departments utilising formal screening tools suggests that patients who may benefit from help or advice remain undetected.

Read Full Abstract

Reprint Request E-Mail: r.patton@iop.kcl.ac.uk
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Impact of the new UK licensing law on emergency hospital attendances: a cohort study

Emergency Medicine Journal 2007;24:532-534

To assess the effect of the new UK alcohol licensing law on overnight attendances to the emergency department.

In March 2005 there were 2736 overnight attendances to the ED, of which 79 (2.9%) were classified as alcohol related. In comparison, in March 2006 there were a total of 3135 overnight attendances, of which 250 (8%) were alcohol related, representing a significant increase. There were also significant increases in percentage of alcohol related attendances as a consequence of injury and assault; and in admission rates for alcohol related attendances between the two study periods.

Overnight alcohol related emergency attendances to St Thomas’ hospital increased after the introduction of new alcohol licensing legislation. If reproduced over longer time periods and across the UK as a whole, the additional burden on emergency care could be substantial.

Read Full Abstract

Reprint Request E-Mail: alastair.newton@gstt.nhs.uk

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Relationship between the cardiac response to acute intoxication and alcohol-induced subjective effects throughout the blood alcohol concentration curve
Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental,
Early View, published on-line 24 July 2007



There is evidence to suggest that individual differences in the subjective response to alcohol exist and exaggerated cardiac response to alcohol has been suggested to be a marker of increased sensitivity to the stimulant properties of alcohol.

The present investigation examines the relationship between cardiac reactivity to alcohol measured on the ascending limb of the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) curve and the subjective stimulant and sedative effects of alcohol throughout the BAC curve.



Cardiac response to ethanol measured on the ascending limb of the BAC curve was positively correlated with intoxicated stimulant effects at numerous time points during the ascending and descending limbs of the BAC curve. No associations were found between cardiac change following alcohol and alcohol-related sedative effects at any time point.

Objective and subjective reports of stimulation post-alcohol ingestion may increase risk for problematic drinking.

Read Full Abstract

Reprint Request E-Mail: cbrunell@unbsj.ca
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Brief Motivational Interviews Work Best Long Term For College Students Sent To Alcohol Counseling

Science Daily

July 25, 2007


Students who break university rules on alcohol and drug use in residence halls are often sent to counseling or educational programs. Little is known about the long-term effectiveness of these interventions. New findings show that the effects of brief motivational interviews on drinking problems are still apparent 15 months after initiation.

"Here at Rutgers University, all colleges require students who have violated university rules regarding alcohol and drug use in residence halls to attend three sessions at our Alcohol and Other Drug Assistance Program for Students (ADAPS)," said Helene Raskin White, professor of sociology with a joint appointment in the Center of Alcohol Studies and the Sociology Department.

Read Full Article
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Alcohol abuse pioneer's work is honoured
Edinburgh Evening News Wed 25 Jul 2007


THE pioneer of a specialist service for people with alcohol problems at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital has been honoured for his work.

Dr Bruce Ritson, now retired, was present at a recent ceremony that saw the hospital unit in Morningside change its name to the Ritson Clinic.

The unit - Scotland's first- came about through Dr Ritson's philosophy that all people experiencing problems with alcohol had the right to access specialist professional services.
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Read Full Article

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Binge-drinking 'causes drop in omega-3 levels'


By Nic Fleming, Science Correspondent
Last Updated: 2:07am BST 25/07/2007

Binge-drinking reduces levels of essential fatty acids which play crucial roles in concentration and memory, scientists have found.

Research shows that not only do heavy drinkers need to consume more omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs), but that their diets contain lower amounts of the important nutrients.

Omega-3 is broken down into the fatty acids which form the structure of brain cell membranes and carry electrical signals between brain cells.

Read Full Article
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Lifetime and baseline alcohol intake and risk of colon and rectal cancers in the European prospective investigation into cancer and nutrition (EPIC)

International Journal of Cancer Early View published on-line 19 July 2007


Alcohol consumption may be associated with risk of colorectal cancer (CRC), but the epidemiological evidence for an association with specific anatomical subsites, types of alcoholic beverages and current vs. lifetime alcohol intake is inconsistent.

Within the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC), 478,732 study subjects free of cancer at enrolment between 1992 and 2000 were followed up for an average of 6.2 years, during which 1,833 CRC cases were observed.

After adjustment for potential confounding factors, lifetime alcohol intake was significantly positively associated to CRC risk , with higher cancer risks observed in the rectum than distal colon , and proximal colon.

Similar results were observed for baseline alcohol intake. When assessed by alcoholic beverages at baseline, the CRC risk for beer was higher than wine, although the two risk estimates were not significantly different from each other. Higher HRs for baseline alcohol were observed for low levels of folate intake compared to high folate intake.

In this large European cohort, both lifetime and baseline alcohol consumption increase colon and rectum cancer risk, with more apparent risk increases for alcohol intakes greater than 30 g/day.

Read Full Abstract

Reprint Request E-Mail: ferrari@iarc.fr
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Tobacco ban proposed for NY drug and alcohol treatment programs


7/24/2007, 3:55 p.m. EDT The Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — All drug and alcohol prevention and treatment programs in New York would have to operate tobacco-free under an initiative announced Tuesday by state officials.

The regulation, which is still subject to approval by the governor, would make New York the first state in the country to prohibit smoking at outpatient addiction programs, according to the state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services.

Workers and patients in treatment programs would be prohibited from using tobacco in all facilities and programs would have to provide nicotine dependence treatment along with drug and alcohol treatment. An $8 million grant from the Department of Health would be used for smoking cessation training and items such as nicotine patches and gum. Approximately 90 percent of people with alcohol or drug dependence also smoke cigarettes, according to health officials.

Read Full Article
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Drinking While Pregnant May Alter Child's Brain


07.24.07, 12:00 AM ET TUESDAY, July 24 (HealthDay News)

-- Being exposed to alcohol before birth may lead to behavioral problems later on, U.S. researchers report.

Heavy prenatal alcohol exposure does not always lead to fetal alcohol syndrome, noted a team reporting in the August issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. In some cases, it can cause cognitive and behavioral problems without the facial features characteristic of fetal alcohol syndrome.
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Read Full Article

Contributor: Peggy Seo Oba

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Molecular mechanisms of alcohol-mediated carcinogenesis

Nature Reviews Cancer 7, 599-612 (August 2007) |





Approximately 3.6% of cancers worldwide derive from chronic alcohol drinking, including those of the upper aerodigestive tract, the liver, the colorectum and the breast.

Although the mechanisms for alcohol-associated carcinogenesis are not completely understood, most recent research has focused on acetaldehyde, the first and most toxic ethanol metabolite, as a cancer-causing agent.

Ethanol may also stimulate carcinogenesis by inhibiting DNA methylation and by interacting with retinoid metabolism.

Alcohol-related carcinogenesis may interact with other factors such as smoking, diet and comorbidities, and depends on genetic susceptibility.

Read Full Abstract

Reprint Request E-Mail: helmut_karl.seitz@urz.uni-heidelberg.de
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Chronic Alcoholism Alters Systemic and Pulmonary Glutathione Redox Status
American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine
Vol 176. pp. 270-276, (2007)


Previous studies have linked the development and severity of acute respiratory distress syndrome with a history of alcohol abuse. In clinical studies, this association has been centered on depletion of pulmonary glutathione and subsequent chronic oxidant stress.

The impact on redox potential of the plasma or pulmonary pools, however, has never been reported.

Chronic alcoholism was associated with alveolar oxidation and, with smoking, systemic oxidation. However, systemic oxidation did not accurately reflect the dramatic alcohol-induced oxidant stress in the alveolar space. Although there was compensation for the oxidant stress caused by smoking in control groups, the capacity to maintain a reduced environment in the alveolar space was overwhelmed in those who abused alcohol.

The significant alcohol-induced chronic oxidant stress in the alveolar space and the subsequent ramifications may be an important modulator of the increased modulator of the increased incidence and severity of acute respiratory distress
syndrome in this vulnerable population.


Read Full Abstract

Reprint request E-Mail: lbrow03@emory.edu

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Plenary sessions
European Parliament Press Release - Excise duty on alcohol: Parliament votes against any increase in minimum rates

Economic and monetary affairs - 11-07-2007 - 11:07

update
MEPs voted against a Commission proposal to raise the EU-wide minimum rates of excise duty on alcoholic drinks other than wine. They opposed amendments calling for the minimum rates to rise by 4.5 per cent, then voted against the whole Commission proposal.

The first block of amendments supporting an increase in minimum rates were rejected with 307 votes in favour to 350 against with 23 abstentions. The only logical option for both sides (those favouring an increase in the minimum rates and those who wanted to scrap them altogether) was then to reject the proposal as a whole. This was confirmed in a vote on a legislative resolution, with 46 MEPs voting in favour, 627 against and 13 abstentions.

As is usual when it comes to taxation matters, Parliament's position is advisory. The final decision is now for the Council, which needs to act unanimously.

This was the second time the plenary had voted on this issue: at the previous vote in May, Parliament sent the matter back to the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee after a series of close votes left an unclear result. The Committee subsequently proposed to back an increase by 4.5 per cent, reflecting inflation since the 2004 enlargement. This position is now backed by the European Commission with the aim of getting the required unanimous agreement within the Council. The full Parliament, however, did not support the Committee's position.

Read Full Press Release

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Editorial - Vetoing Children’s Health


Published: July 22, 2007

President Bush is threatening to veto any substantial increase in spending for a highly successful children’s health program on the bizarre theory that expanding it would be the “beginning salvo” in establishing a government-run health care system. His shortsighted ideological opposition would leave millions of children without health insurance at a time when medical costs are soaring.
. . . . . .

The Senate would still leave millions of children uninsured and would discourage any additional states from covering low-income parents — reducing the likelihood that they would enroll their children. Senate Democrats believe this is the best that could be achieved. Now it will be up to the full Senate to approve the bill by a veto-proof margin. Meanwhile, House Democrats have their sights on a bigger increase — some $50 billion over five years to cover even more uninsured children.

If more revenue sources are needed, the House should consider a new tax on alcohol, which would also have health benefits, or a reduction in the large subsidies paid to private health plans to participate in Medicare. The important thing is to cover as many uninsured children as politically feasible, and hang the ideological warfare.

Read Full Editorial

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Monday, July 23, 2007


Annual Symposium 2007

Thursday 15 – Friday 16 November

THEME:

Theory, practice and treatment in addictions: how are they related?

What are the new developments in addictions treatment?

Theory into practice Internet-based interventions for addictions
Pathways through adolescent substance use and crime The Stop Smoking Centre: access to evidence based self-help versus mutual aid
Contingency Management Screening and brief intervention (e-SBI) for unhealthy alcohol use in students
Digital therapy with new technologies Internet self-assessment of drinking
Mindfulness Theory

On-line intervention for non-dependent heavy drinkers

Do we need to know why it works if it works Pragmatic perspectives on evaluation research


Plus

  • Implications of the social exclusion agenda for treatment populations
  • Treating alcohol & tobacco addiction together

Delegates’ oral and poster presentations

With speakers including:

  • Robert West
  • Richard Hammersley
  • Pål Kraft
  • Nancy Petry
  • Kim Hoppes
  • Simon Coulton
  • Adrian Bonner
  • Peter Selby
  • John Cunningham
  • Anja Koski-Jännes
  • Elizabeth Murray
  • Antoni Gual i Solé
  • Kypros Kypri

The SSA Annual General Meeting will be held at the Park Inn on Thursday 15, 13.45-14.45. All members welcome.

Click here for the application form for the 2007 Symposium.


CALL FOR PAPERS

There will be the opportunity for both oral and poster presentations. Papers are not required to adhere strictly to the conference theme and any addiction subject will be considered.

Structured abstracts should describe briefly the purpose of the study, its methodology and findings in the same format as in the Guidance to Authors in Addiction and Addiction Biology. Details are here.

The final decision regarding acceptance and the form of presentation will be made by the conference organisers. A panel of independent judges will select a poster to be awarded the annual poster prize.

Papers to be considered for oral or poster presentation should be submitted to Graham Hunt at the Executive Office address, or graham.hunt@leedsmh.nhs.uk to arrive no later than 1 September 2007.

VENUE

The Park Inn hotel, North Street, York, UK. The staff show a professional, helpful attitude and the well-equipped hotel is excellently situated on the river-bank, in the centre of the city. Within easy walking distance of both the Minster and the railway station, it has proved popular with delegates for several years.

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News Release - Alcohol Concern responds to the recommendation by the Social Justice Policy Group that taxes on alcohol should be raised to help fund alcohol treatment services

For Immediate Release

00:01 hrs Monday 09 July 2007


Alcohol Concern responds to the recommendation by the Social Justice Policy Group that taxes on alcohol should be raised to help fund alcohol treatment services

Srabani Sen, Chief Executive, said:

We welcome this proposal by Iain Duncan Smiths team and urge the Conservative partys leadership to adopt it. Alcohol-related harm continues to place a heavy burden on our society and our economy. Raising prices through taxation would particularly impact on the amount of alcohol that vulnerable groups, including young people are able to buy. Indeed, a study by the Academy of Medical Sciences concluded that a 10% hike in the price of alcoholic beverages could reduce alcohol-related mortality figures by up to 37%.

Moreover, we are pleased to see recognition of the fact that alcohol services operate in an environment of chronic funding shortages. Channelling a proportion of the revenue Government collects from alcohol taxes into a programme of coherent and sustainable treatment services is a neat solution to boosting efforts to minimise the damage done to peoples lives through alcohol misuse.

Read Full News Release
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EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT



European Parliament Fact Sheets

4.17.3. Excise duties: alcohol and tobacco

LEGAL BASIS

Under Article 93 of EC Treaty, the Council is required to adopt measures for the harmonisation of ‘turnover taxes, excise duties and other forms of indirect taxation’ where this is ‘necessary to ensure the establishment and functioning of the internal market’.

OBJECTIVES

The rates and structures of excise duties vary between Member States, affecting competition.

Levying duties on products from other Member States at higher rates than on those domestically produced is discriminatory, and forbidden by Article 90 of the EC Treaty.

Very large discrepancies in the duty on a particular product can result in tax-induced movements of goods, loss of revenue and fraud.

Attempts have therefore been made since the early 1970s to harmonise both structures and rates, but progress has been slight, in part because of considerations other than the purely fiscal. For example, high levels of duty have been imposed in some Member States as part of general policies to discourage drinking and smoking. On the other hand, wine and tobacco are important agricultural products in some Member States.

ACHIEVEMENTS

A. Alcoholic beverages
A further difficulty in the case of alcohol has been disagreement about the extent to which different products are in competition with each other. In 1983 the Court ruled on the levels of duty in the UK on wine and beer (Case 170/78 ECR (1985)). The Court’s view was that the products could be considered substitutes since ‘the two beverages are capable of meeting identical needs’. The Commission has traditionally taken the view that ‘all alcoholic drinks are more or less in competition’ (COM(79)261). However, research for the Commission (see Study on the competition between alcoholic drinks: final report, Customs Associates Ltd., February 2001) indicates that the degree of competition varies between different products.

1. Structures
The Commission’s initial proposals to harmonise excise duties on beer, wine and spirits were made in 1972 (COM(72)225). Work on these in the Council was suspended at the end of 1974, and remained so despite Communications in 1977 (COM(77)338) and 1979 (COM(79)261). New draft legislation (COM(85)15) was also blocked. The Single Market programme of 1985, however, created a new impetus. All the existing texts on structures were eventually replaced by a new proposal (COM(90)432), which became Directive 92/83/EEC in October 1992. It defines the products on which excise is to be levied, and the method of fixing the duty (e.g. in the case of beer by reference to hl/degree plato or hl/alcohol content).

2. Rates
The Commission’s initial proposals under the Single Market programme (COM(87)328) were that for each product there would be a single Community rate, fixed as the average of existing national rates. For both wine and beer this would have been ECU 0.17 per litre, and for spirits ECU 3.81 per 0.75 litre bottle. Unlike VAT, however, few national alcohol excise rates are close to the average rate. No Member State found the proposals acceptable. The Commission then proposed a more flexible approach (COM(89)527). Instead of single, harmonised rates there would be minimum rates and target rates, on which there would be long-term convergence. Only the minimum rates were retained in Directive 92/84/EEC. The levels agreed were:

- alcohol and alcoholic beverages (i.e. spirits): ECU 550 per hl/alcohol;
- intermediate products: ECU 45 per hl;
- still wine and sparkling wine: ECU 0 per hl;
- beer: ECU 0.748 per hl/degree plato or ECU 1.87 per degree of alcohol.

Under the terms of the Directive, the Council should have reviewed these rates by the end of 1994 and adopted any necessary changes. However, no Commission proposals were published. A draft text suggested raising the minimum rates on spirits, intermediate products and beer to maintain their real value, and raising the minimum for wine from zero to ECU 9.925 per hl, but the text was not adopted. A Commission Report on the rates of excise duties was eventually published in September 1995 (COM(95)285 final). Instead of suggesting new levels of minimum excise rates, this proposed that the whole issue should be examined in the course of general consultations on excise duties with national administrations and with trade and other interest groups.

Following debate in the Council, the Commission presented a proposal in September 2006 to review the minimum rates and carry out an inflation adjustment for the period after 1992. The Commission’s preceding report (COM(2004)223) was presented to the Council on 26 May 2004. However, the Commission then had not made any proposal concerning levels of alcohol taxation because there was no agreement on how a rate adjustment should be achieved. Member States have very different views on the importance of alcohol excise duty rates, reflecting their own national circumstances, cultures and traditions. In 2006, however, the inflation adjustment was strongly brought forward by the Finnish Presidency.

Below are the current minimum rate levels laid down in EU legislation, which Member States are required to observe when setting their national rates. The following table shows the minimum rates for each product category expressed in euros per hectolitre per degree of alcohol, as well as the minimum rate expressed per litre of product at a degree of alcohol at which it is commonly sold.

Product categoryMinimum rate in euros per 100 litres per degree of alcoholMinimum rate in euros per litre of product at the degree at which it is commonly sold
Wine0Wine (12°) 0
Beer1.87Beer (5°) 0.1
Fermented beverages other than wine and beer (e.g. cider and perry)0Cider (5°) 0
Intermediate products (e.g. fortified wines such as port wines, sherry etc. up to 22° alcohol)2.5Intermediate products (18°) 0.45
Ethyl alcohol and spirit drinks5.5Spirits (40°) 2.2
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Index EUROPEAN PARLIAMENTRates of excise duty on alcohol and alcoholic beverages

European Parliament legislative resolution of 10 July 2007 on the proposal for a Council directive amending Directive 92/84/EEC on the approximation of the rates of excise duty on alcohol and alcoholic beverages (COM(2006)0486 – C6-0319/2006 – 2006/0165(CNS))

(Consultation procedure)

The European Parliament ,

– having regard to the Commission proposal to the Council (COM(2006)0486)(1) ,

– having regard to Article 93 of the EC Treaty, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C6-0319/2006),

– having regard to Rule 51 and Rule 52(3) of its Rules of Procedure,

– having regard to the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (A6-0148/2007),

1. Rejects the Commission proposal;

2. Invites the Commission to withdraw its proposal;

5. Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council and Commission.

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Press Release - The European Parliament may endorse tax distortion

Brussels, 6 July 2007

– The Brewers of Europe today called on the European Parliament to reject a proposal to increase Europe’s minimum rates of excise duty on beer. On 10th July, the European Parliament (meeting in a plenary session in Strasbourg) will consider a proposal to increase the European minimum rates of excise duty on beer by 4.5%, This increase would worsen the current tax discrimination between beer and other fermented beverages, particularly wine, which will continue to enjoy a zero minimum rate. Europe’s brewers say this proposal is pointless, unprincipled and unlawful and that it cannot be properly approved by the Parliament or adopted by the Council.
. . . . . .

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Gordon Brown orders review of 24-hr drinking


By George Jones and Sarah Womack
Last Updated: 8:01pm BST 23/07/2007

Gordon Brown has ordered a review of 24-hour drinking laws following concern that it is leading to binge drinking and more alcohol-related violence.

Mr Brown, who has already scrapped plans for a super casino and called for a rethink of the classification of cannabis, acknowledged public concern over late-night drinking.

A Home Office report last week disclosed that offences of assault, criminal damage and harassment between 3am and 6am rose sharply in the 12 months following the reforms.
. . . . . .

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The Substances and Choices Scale (SACS) - the development and testing of a new alcohol and other drug screening and outcome measurement instrument for young people
Addiction (OnlineEarly Articles). 23 July 2007


To describe the development and evaluation of the Substances and Choices Scale (SACS), an adolescent alcohol and other drug (AOD) self-report instrument designed in a similar format to the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ).

Reliability of the SACS was sound, with coefficient alpha 0.91 and 3-week test–retest correlation 0.88. Congruent validity coefficients of the SACS versus the CRAFFT and the POSIT were 0.79 and 0.91, respectively.

A ROC curve demonstrated the SACS as having a predictive value of 92%. Repeat SACS scores in a treatment sample indicated that the SACS had utility in measuring change. Feedback from participants indicated that the SACS was highly acceptable.

The SACS is a simple AOD instrument that is reliable, valid and acceptable to young people. It has utility in screening and measuring outcome and should enhance the identification and treatment of AOD difficulties in adolescents across a range of health settings.

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Reprint Request E-Mail: grant.christie@waitematadhb.govt.nz

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Reducing alcohol-related damage in populations: rethinking the roles of education and persuasion interventions
Addiction (OnlineEarly Articles). online 23 July 2007


In order to potentially enhance the impact of most effective policies and interventions in reducing the population level damage from alcohol, a new perspective with regard to education and persuasion interventions is offered.

There is a relative absence of evidence of the effectiveness of education and persuasion in reducing consumption, curtailing high-risk drinking or reducing damage from alcohol. This is in contrast to the rising levels of damage from alcohol, and also to the demonstrated effectiveness of certain alcohol policies and interventions, as summarized in Babor et al.

Given that only a small fraction of education and persuasion interventions have any positive impact, generating ‘more of the same’ is not an impact-effective and cost-efficient approach.

Therefore, interventions that have not been shown to be effective need to be phased out and those most effective and of widest scope should receive more attention and enhanced resources.

A reframing of the roles and foci of persuasion interventions is advised, including, for example, focusing on informing policy-makers, and stimulating public discussions about the rationale of alcohol policies and the roles that
citizens can play in promoting and supporting these policies.

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Reprint Request E-Mail: norman_giesbrecht@camh.net
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Preventing Homelessness among Substance Users in Europe
The Journal of Primary Prevention
Volume 28, Numbers 3-4 / August, 2007






Prior to the 1970s, neither homelessness nor drug addiction
was seen as issues of major concern in Europe. At most, they were of local interest and of particular importance only in some larger metropolitan centres.

Over the last three decades they have come much more into public prominence and risen up in local and national policy agendas.

At the level of the European Union (EU), however, while the use and abuse of drugs has attracted substantial financial resources and institutional involvement, homelessness, in comparison, has been relatively neglected and remains predominantly the concern of non-government and voluntary organisations.

At all three levels—local, national, and European—it is only in recent years that the link between homelessness and problematic substance use has come to the fore as an issue of singular concern.

This paper examines the recent emergence of policies and programmes which seek to tackle and prevent homelessness among substance users.

Our investigation suggests that although new initiatives at the EU level are limited, at the national and especially sub-national level, effective programmes addressing both treatment and prevention are being designed and implemented.

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Sober Housing and Motivational Interviewing: The Treatment Access Project

The Journal of Primary Prevention
Volume 28, Numbers 3-4 / August, 2007






This paper describes an innovative program that provides rental subsidies for sober housing and supportive services to persons in early recovery who are homeless and have substance use disorders.

Preliminary data point to the success of this program in enhancing recovery and exiting from homelessness.

In supporting sober house placements, the Treatment Access Project creates a bridge that supports these individuals in their transition from clinical treatment services to the community.

Integration with natural community supports can help to build self-efficacy, which can enhance the likelihood that this population will obtain and maintain abstinence, gainful employment, and permanent housing.


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News Release - Females More Prone To Brain Damage From Alcohol Abuse


( July 18, 2007)

OHSU, VAMC study on mice shows more brain cells die in females than males

PORTLAND, Ore.Alcoholism has traditionally been considered a male disease because there are many more alcoholic males than females.

But a new study by researchers at Oregon Health & Science University and the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center suggests that women are more prone to brain damage from alcohol abuse than men.

The study led by Kristine Wiren, Ph.D., associate professor of behavioral neuroscience and medicine, OHSU School of Medicine, and research biologist, PVAMC Research Service, found that female mice are more susceptible to neurotoxic effects of alcohol withdrawal, including significantly increased brain cell death, than male mice. It also found the gender difference exists whether the animals are prone to severe withdrawal due to a genetic predisposition, or resistant to it.
. . . . . .

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Alcohol Inhibits NR2B-Containing NMDA Receptors in the Ventral Bed Nucleus of the Stria Terminalis
Neuropsychopharmacology advance online publication 11 July 2007;




Components of the mesolimbic dopamine system, in particular dopaminergic cells in the ventral tegmental area (VTA), have been implicated in the acute reinforcing actions of ethanol. The ventral bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (vBNST) potently regulates dopaminergic cell firing in the VTA, and has been implicated in the behavioral actions of ethanol.

The N-methyl-D-asparate receptor (NMDAR) is a major molecular target of ethanol, however, current evidence suggests that ethanol regulation of NMDAR function is widely variable and likely depends on a number of factors. Thus, it is critical to investigate ethanol regulation of NMDAR function at synapses relevant to ethanol-regulated behaviors, such as in the vBNST.

Here we show, using multiple techniques, that ethanol inhibits NMDAR function in vBNST neurons in a postsynaptic fashion.

Further, we demonstrate the functional presence of both NR2A and NR2B-containing NMDARs in the vBNST. While genetic removal of NR2A did not alter the magnitude of ethanol inhibition, pharmacological blockade of NR2B rendered synaptically activated NMDARs insensitive to ethanol inhibition.

Finally, we demonstrate that ethanol inhibits NMDARs in cells in the vBNST that project to the VTA, providing a direct means by which ethanol in the vBNST can modulate the dopaminergic system.

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Reprint Request E-Mail: d
anny.winder@vanderbilt.edu
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