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.


Friday, November 9, 2007

HIV Rates and Risk Behaviors Are Low in the General Population of Men in Southern India but High in Alcohol Venues: Results From 2 Probability Surveys.
Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, December 1, 2007, Volume 46, Issue 4, pp. 491-497

As the HIV epidemic continues to expand in India, empiric data are needed to determine the course of the epidemic for high-risk populations and the general population.

Two probability surveys were conducted in Chennai slums among a household sample of men and alcohol venue patrons ("wine shops") to compare HIV and other sexually transmitted disease (STD) prevalence and to identify STD behavioral risk factors.

The wine shop sample (n = 654) had higher rates of HIV and prevalent STDs (HIV, herpes simplex virus 2 [HSV-2], syphilis, gonorrhea, or chlamydia) compared with the household sample (n = 685) (3.4% vs. 1.2%, P = 0.007 and 21.6% vs. 11.8%, P <>

High-risk behaviors in the household sample was rare (<4%),>2 partners, 58.4% had unprotected sex with a casual partner, and 54.1% had exchanged sex for money in the past 3 months.

A multivariate model found that older age, ever being married, ever being tested for HIV, and having unprotected sex in the past 3 months were associated with STD prevalence in wine shop patrons.

Prevalent HIV and STDs, and sexual risk behaviors are relatively low among the general population of men. We found that men who frequent alcohol venues practice high-risk behaviors and have high rates of STDs, including HIV, and may play an important role in expanding the Indian epidemic.

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Medical experts want 10pc rise in drinks tax

By Sarah Womack, Social Affairs Correspondent

An unprecedented alliance of 22 health groups are to lobby for tighter regulation of the drinks industry amid increasing concerns about the effects of alcohol abuse.

Britain's most respected and influential medical organisations are joining forces with charities to campaign for measures to counter binge drinking.

The alliance - which is significant in its scale and the amount of influence it wields - will be launched on Tuesday, with the Royal College of Physicians at the forefront.

. . . . . .

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Law Would Ban Alcohol Ads from New York Public Transit

Beverage World
Friday, 09 November 2007

NEW YORK: A group including Marin Institute, the national alcohol industry watchdog group, New York State Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (D-Brooklyn), a group of students from Hunter College, City University of New York, and Bruce Carmel of the Brooklyn youth development nonprofit, Turning Point, called this week for an end to alcohol and tobacco advertising on New York's public transit systems.

"New York City is a world class city and a leader in so many ways; but when it comes to protecting its youth from being targeted by the alcohol industry, the Big Apple is falling behind," said Michele Simon, research and policy director at Marin Institute.

"Our public transit systems are not the appropriate places for alcohol or tobacco products to be displayed," stated Ortiz. "Young people and teens travel these systems regularly and we know that they are negatively affected by these images." Ortiz introduced two bills in Albany to outlaw alcohol and tobacco ads on New York mass transit facilities. The legislation also imposes fines against advertising companies who violate the new policy.
. . . . . .

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Using registry data to suggest which birth defects may be more susceptible to artifactual clusters and trends
Birth Defects Research Part A: Clinical and Molecular Teratology
Volume 79, Issue 11 , Pages 798 - 805

Some birth defects appear to be more susceptible than others to artifactual prevalence variability over time or geographically. This article uses an empirical approach to try to identify them.

Variation in clinical practice and other artifactual sources of variability impact observed variation in prevalence of mild cases more than severe cases for a given birth defect.

Data were examined from Texas Birth Defects Registry deliveries from 1999-2003. For each of 312 delivery hospitals, birth prevalence for mild cases was calculated for birth defect X. The 5th percentile was subtracted from the 95th percentile to measure spread in the frequency distribution of all hospitals. That was repeated for severe cases. The ratio of the mild:severe spread was calculated for 49 defects, and the defects ranked into quintiles. That was repeated using birth prevalence based on county, and using isolated cases. The percentages of severe cases were calculated and also ranked into quintiles. A sensitivity analysis and simulation were conducted.

Forty-nine birth defects were ranked from those least susceptible to differences in mild:severe prevalence variability (e.g., anencephaly, hypoplastic left heart syndrome) to most susceptible (e.g., atrial septal defect, fetal alcohol syndrome). Resulting quintile ranks based on the three measures were highly correlated, whether based on all cases or isolated cases.

This empirical approach may be helpful for a number of public health applications. Birth defects and other health outcomes more susceptible to prevalence variability may be more likely to exhibit artifactual trends or clusters.

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The DASIS Report: Older Adults in Substance Abuse Treatment, 2005


  • Substance abuse treatment admissions aged 50 or older accounted for about 184,400 (10%) of the 1.8 million substance abuse treatment admissions reported to SAMHSA's Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) in 2005.
  • Alcohol was the most frequently reported primary substance of abuse for all substance abuse treatment admissions aged 50 or older. However, the highest proportions of substance abuse treatment admissions reporting alcohol as their primary substance were among those aged 65 to 69 (76%) and aged 70 or older (76%).
  • Substance abuse treatment admissions aged 50 to 64 had more extensive substance abuse treatment histories than admissions aged 65 or older.
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Thursday, November 8, 2007

Avoid alcohol, Government to tell pregnant women

By Colin Brown, Deputy Political Editor

Published: 09 November 2007

The Government's health experts are to tell pregnant women to avoid alcohol. The advice, which is planned for the new year, is aimed at clearing up confusion caused by the Government's key independent health advisory body, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (Nice), which suggested one or two glasses of wine a couple of times a week was safe.

Other health experts challenged this, and the chief medical officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, appeared to contradict it, making it clear pregnant women and those trying to conceive should avoid alcohol. Obstetricians said that Nice had caused a "complete mess".

Dawn Primarolo, the Public Health minister, told her officials that she wants the confusion to end when fresh guidance to pregnant women is brought out next March by Nice to follow the US advice to "just say no".
. . . . . . .

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An Exploration of the Effect of On-Site 12-Step Meetings on Post-Treatment Outcomes among Polysubstance-Dependent Outpatient Clients
Evaluation Review, Vol. 31, No. 6, 613-646 (2007)

Rates of return to active substance use after addiction treatment tend to be high; participation in 12-step fellowships (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous) reduces relapse rates but many clients do not attend or attend for a short period only.

This quasi-experimental study uses repeated measurement to explore the role of presence/absence of on-site 12-step meetings during treatment on post-treatment outcomes. Polysubstance-dependent clients (N = 219) recruited at a program with and one without 12-step on-site, were followed for one year post-treatment.

On-site 12-step enhanced 12-step attendance, especially during treatment, and predicted continuous abstinence for the post-treatment year. Holding 12-step meetings on-site is a low-cost strategy that programs should consider to foster post-treatment remission maintenance.

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An Eight-Year Perspective on the Relationship Between the Duration of Abstinence and Other Aspects of Recovery
Evaluation Review, Vol. 31, No. 6, 585-612 (2007)

Using data from 1,162 people entering treatment and followed up (> 94%) for 8 years, this article examines the relationship between the duration of abstinence (1 month to 5 or more years) and other aspects of recovery (e.g., health, mental health, coping responses, legal involvement, vocational involvement, housing, peers, social and spiritual support), including the trend and at what point changes occur.

It also examines how the duration of abstinence at a given point is related to the odds of sustaining abstinence in the subsequent year. The findings demonstrate the rich patterns of change associated with the course of long-term recovery.

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Treated and Untreated Alcohol-Use Disorders
Course and Predictors of Remission and Relapse

Evaluation Review, Vol. 31, No. 6, 564-584 (2007)

The research described here focused on personal, life context, and help-related factors to trace the long-term course of treated and untreated alcohol-use disorders.

A group of 461 individuals who sought help for alcohol problems was surveyed at baseline and 1, 3, 8, and 16 years later.

Compared with individuals who remained untreated, individuals who entered treatment and/or Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), and participated in these modalities for a longer interval, were more likely to attain remission.

Personal resources associated with social learning, stress and coping, behavior economic, and social control theories predicted the maintenance of remission.

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Trade faces battle with health lobby over alcohol

7 November, 2007
By James Wilmore

The Publican Conference hears warning over the "most concerted and sustained threat to commercial viability ever"

The pub industry has been urged to prepare itself for a major and lengthy battle with health lobby groups over the issue of alcohol.

Speaking at the Publican Conference in central London today, Mark Hastings, director of communications at the British Beer & Pub Association, said the industry faced one of the most “concerted and sustained threats to its commercial viability ever” over lobbying on alcohol.

“That’s coming from the level of the World Health Organisation, from the European Union and our own government,” he added.

“Alcohol is the big issue at the moment and it’s absolutely essential that our industry gears up for what is going to be a considerable battle over the next few months and years.”
. . . . . .

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Veterans Affairs facility performance on Washington Circle indicators and casemix-adjusted effectiveness
Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment Volume 33, Issue 4, December 2007, Pages 333-339

Self-administered Addiction Severity Index (ASI) data were collected on 5,723 patients who received substance abuse treatment in 1 of 110 programs located at 73 Veterans Affairs facilities.

The associations between each of three Washington Circle (WC) performance indicator scores (identification, initiation, and engagement) and their casemix-adjusted facility-level improvement in ASI drug and alcohol composites 7 months after intake were estimated.

Higher initiation rates were not associated with facility-level improvement in ASI alcohol composite scores but were modestly associated with greater improvements in ASI drug composite scores. Identification and engagement rates were unrelated to 7-month outcomes.

WC indicators focused on the early stages of treatment may tap necessary but insufficient processes for patients with substance use disorder to achieve good posttreatment outcomes.

Ideally, the WC indicators would be supplemented with other measures of treatment quality.

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Alcohol in emerging adulthood: 7-year study of problem and dependent drinkers
Addictive Behaviors Volume 33, Issue 1, January 2008, Pages 134-142

This study examined the level, changes and predictors of alcohol consumption and binge drinking over a 7-year period among young adults (18–25 years) who met the criteria for problem drinking.

Overall alcohol consumption declined over time but leveled off around 24 years of age. Being male, not attending AA over time, as well as more baseline dependence symptoms and greater ASI alcohol and legal severity were associated with greater consumption and binge drinking. In addition, greater levels of binge drinking were associated with less education, earlier age of first use, and a larger social network of heavy drinkers.

In conclusion, more attention should be paid to heavy drinking among young adults and to the factors that influence their drinking patterns.

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Differences among substance abusers in Spain who recovered with treatment or on their own
Addictive Behaviors Volume 33, Issue 1, January 2008, Pages 94-105

This exploratory study compared the differences among substance abusers in Spain who recovered with treatment or on their own.

Advertisements were used to recruit 58 individuals (29 self-changers and 29 treatment-changers) who had had problems with alcohol or drugs, and who had been recovered for at least one year.

The groups differed significantly in severity of dependence, psychiatric treatment prior to recovery, and coping strategies to maintain recovery. Consistent with previous studies, those who had recovered through treatment had a more serious substance use history than those who changed on their own. In addition, social support was associated with maintenance of change for both groups.

These findings parallel those for English-speaking populations.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Response inhibition deficit is involved in poor decision making under risk in nonamnesic individuals with alcoholism.
Neuropsychology. 2007 Nov Vol 21(6) 778-786

Individuals with alcoholism exhibit poor decision making as reflected by their continued alcohol use despite encountering problems and by low performance in laboratory tasks of decision making.

Here, the authors investigated the relative contribution of several distinct processes of executive functions in performance on the Iowa Gambling Task in recently detoxified individuals with alcoholism.

Compared to matched healthy participants, individuals with alcoholism showed below-normal scores in the last 20 trials of the IGT as well as on other tasks of executive functions, specifically those assessing the capacity to manipulate information stored in working memory, detect abstract rules, or inhibit prepotent responses.

Prepotent response inhibition best predicted performance in the late trials of the IGT, that is, when participants have likely acquired knowledge about the reward/punishment contingencies of the task.

These results underline the important role that response inhibition plays in decision making, especially in risky situations, when knowledge of the probability of a given outcome becomes available (i.e. decisions under risk)

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Meta-Analysis of the Association of the Taq1A Polymorphism with the Risk of Alcohol Dependency: A HuGE Gene-Disease Association Review
American Journal of Epidemiology Advance Access published online on November 7, 2007

The human dopamine 2 receptor Taq1A allele has been implicated as a vulnerability factor for alcohol dependence in a number of studies and reviews.

To determine whether this allele is associated with alcoholism, the authors conducted a Human Genome Epidemiology review and meta-analysis. Forty-four studies with 9,382 participants were included. An odds ratio of 1.38 was found for the A1A1 + A1A2 versus the A2A2 genotype.

Sensitivity analyses suggested lack of ethnic matching as a possible source of heterogeneity; a small, significant association was detected in studies with ethnic-matched controls. Significant associations were also found in analyses restricted to studies reporting use of blinding and those with adequate screening of controls for alcohol dependency. For the A1A1 versus the A1A2 + A2A2 genotype, the odds ratio was 1.22 .

Sensitivity analyses on groups of studies reporting use of ethnic-matched controls and those that screened controls for alcohol dependency still showed significant associations.

The relatively small effect for the association of the A1 allele, or another genetic variant linked to it, with alcohol dependence indicates a multigene causality for this complex disorder.

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Deconstruction of Vulnerability to Complex Diseases: Enhanced Effect Sizes and Power of Intermediate Phenotypes
TheScientificWorldJOURNAL, Vol 7, S2, pp. 124-130, 2007

The deconstruction of vulnerability to complex disease with the help of intermediate phenotypes, including the heritable and disease-associated endophenotypes, is a legacy of Henri Begleiter.

Systematic searches for genes influencing complex disorders, including bipolar disorder, have recently been completed using whole genome association (WGA), identifying a series of validated loci.

Using this information, it is possible to compare effect sizes of disease loci discovered in very large samples to the effect sizes of replicated functional loci determining intermediate phenotypes that are of essential interest in psychiatric disorders.

It is shown that the genes influencing intermediate phenotypes tend to have a larger effect size.

Furthermore, the WGA results reveal that the number of loci of large effect size for complex diseases is limited, and yet multiple functional loci have already been identified for intermediate phenotypes relevant to psychiatric diseases, and without the benefit of WGA.

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Effects of moderate beer consumption on blood lipid profile in healthy Spanish adults
Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases
Article in Press, Corrected Proof, 31 October 2007

To analyse the association of moderate beer consumption on the blood lipid profile in healthy Spanish adults.

HDL-cholesterol, erythrocytes, haematocrit and MCV levels increased significantly after moderate beer consumption in women. In men, a decrease in HDL-cholesterol levels was observed after alcohol abstention. Haematocrit and MCV counts also increased significantly in men after moderate beer consumption. There were no dietary changes during the study.

In healthy Spanish adults, the effects of moderate beer consumption during 1 month were associated with favourable changes on the blood lipid profile.

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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Children 'can afford cheap alcohol'

By Rebecca Smith Medical Editor

Children as young as 12 can buy up to 17 units of alcohol - four times the daily limit for adult men - with their weekly pocket money, a conference will hear today.

Delegates at the Alcohol Concern conference, Cheap at Twice the Price, will hear how teenagers can binge-drink with their average weekly pocket money of £9.53.

A report for the group found that at a Co-Op supermarket £10 would buy three large bottles of Budweiser, and two big bottles of WKD Vodka Blue coming to a total of 17 units of alcohol. It also said that Sainsbury's sells 10 207ml bottles of Budweiser for £6.59, the equivalent of 10.35 units.

Don Shenker, the director of policy and services for Alcohol Concern, said: "Cheap alcohol promotions help explain just why those young people who drink can afford to do so at far greater levels than in the past."

Alcohol Concern is calling on the Government to introduce higher taxes on alcohol.
. . . . . . .

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Specific visuomotor deficits due to alcohol intoxication: Evidence from the pro- and antisaccade paradigms
Psychopharmacology, Online First, 3 November 2007

Alcohol affects a variety of human behaviors, including visual perception and motor control. Although recent research has begun to explore mechanisms that mediate these changes, their exact nature is still not well understood.

The present study used two basic oculomotor tasks to examine the effect of alcohol on different levels of visual processing within the same individuals. A theoretical framework is offered to integrate findings across multiple levels of oculomotor control.

Error rates were not influenced by alcohol intoxication in either task. However, there were significant effects of alcohol on saccade latency and peak velocity in both tasks. Critically, a specific alcohol-induced impairment (hypermetria) in saccade amplitudes was observed exclusively in the anti-saccade task.

The saccade latency data strongly suggest that alcohol intoxication impairs temporal aspects of saccade generation, irrespective of the level of processing triggering the saccade. The absence of effects on anti-saccade errors calls for further research into the notion of alcohol-induced impairment of the ability to inhibit prepotent responses.

Furthermore, the specific impairment of saccade amplitude in the anti-saccade task under alcohol suggests that higher level processes involved in the spatial remapping of target location in the absence of a visually specified saccade goal are specifically affected by alcohol intoxication.

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Impulsivity and addiction: a tribute to Henri Begleiter.
TheScientificWorldJOURNAL 7(S2), 121–123

The 2007 NIDA-NIAAA Symposium, part of NIDA's Mini-Convention on Frontiers in Addiction Research, chaired by Drs. Nora Volkow and T.K. Li, and featuring speakers K. Kendler, B. Porjesz, and D. Goldman, was held in honor of Henri Begleiter, Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, who passed away on April 6, 2006. Henri was an exceptional scientist of international acclaim, whose innovative approaches to research and scientific vision were an inspiration to us all. He was one of the truly great, wise, and charismatic leaders in the field, who possessed incredible professional and personal gifts. He enjoyed reading voraciously on wide ranging topics, always in pursuit of new knowledge and exciting ideas. He had the astonishing ability to integrate information from a wide variety of fields. With his scientific vision and encyclopedic knowledge in multiple fields, he almost single-handedly brought together the fields of neurophysiology, genetics, and alcoholism, and his ideas are the basis and inspiration for this symposium. Henri very much lived in accordance with his favorite quote from Louis Pasteur, which he hung in large letters over his desk:

"Dans les champs de l'observation, l´hazard ne favorise que les esprits préparés"
[When it comes to observation, chance only favors the prepared minds.]
. . . . . .

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The relationship of 5HTT (SLC6A4) methylation and genotype on mRNA expression and liability to major depression and alcohol dependence in subjects from the Iowa Adoption Studies
American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics, Early View, 6 November 2007

Serotonin Transporter (5HTT or SLC6A4) mRNA transcription is regulated by both genetic and epigenetic mechanisms. Unfortunately, despite intense scrutiny, the exact identity and contribution of each of these regulatory mechanisms, and their relationship to behavioral illness remain unknown. This lack of knowledge is critical because alterations in SLC6A4 function are posited to be central to a wide variety of CNS disorders.

In order to address this shortcoming, we quantified 5HTTLPR genotype, SLC6A4 mRNA production and CpG methylation using biomaterial from 192 lymphoblast cell lines derived from subjects who participated in the latest wave of the Iowa Adoption Studies. We then analyzed the resulting data with respect to clinical characteristics.

We confirmed prior findings that the short (s) 5HTTLPR allele is associated with lower amounts of mRNA transcription, but there was no significant effect of the Long G allele on mRNA transcription. We also found that CpG methylation was higher (P <>P <>SLC6A4 mRNA. There was a trend for an association of increased overall methylation with lifetime history of major depression.

Finally, we confirm our prior findings that the exact levels of 5HTT mRNA expression are dependent on how it is measured.

We conclude that both genetic variation and epigenetic modifications contribute to the regulation of SLC6A4 function and that more in-depth studies of the molecular mechanisms controlling gene activity and the relationship of these mechanisms to behavioral illness are indicated.

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6 November 2007, NZ Drug Foundation

Interviews with 14 to 17 year olds indicate that the ready availability of alcohol is a factor in how often they drink and how much they drink on a typical occasion.

Research findings from 1171 telephone interviews with Auckland-based 12-17 year olds indicate that, for 14 to 17 year olds, the ready availability of alcohol, obtained either from their social networks or bought for themselves, is a significant factor in the number of occasions they drink alcohol, and in the amount they typically consume.

This information was presented by Paul Sweetsur and a research team from the SHORE Research Centre at the Two Nations, Ten Cultures? The Combined APSAD and Cutting Edge Addiction Conference.

The aim of the study was to determine factors associated with patterns of drinking among young people and data was collected on alcohol consumption over the last year, weekly drinking, the frequency of drinking and amount of alcohol drunk on a typical occasion.
. . . . . .

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Drinking alcohol while pregnant helps 'create unruly children

Daily Mail
6th November 2007

Women who drink during pregnancy are more likely to have badly behaved children, warn researchers.

A study of thousands of mothers found the risk of anti-social behaviour even among young children increased as the frequency of alcohol consumption went up.

U.S. academics claim the research shows alcohol's effect on the unborn baby has consequences for the child's behaviour several years later, even after genetic and parenting factors are taken into account.
. . . . . . .

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Interactive effects of ethanol and nicotine on learning in C57BL/6J mice depend on both dose and duration of treatment
Online First 30 October 2007

Alcohol and nicotine are commonly co-abused; one possible explanation for co-abuse is that each drug ameliorates the aversive effects of the other. Both drugs have dose-dependent effects on learning and memory. Thus, this study examined the interactive effects of acute ethanol and acute, chronic, or withdrawal from chronic nicotine on fear conditioning in C57BL/6J mice.

Acute nicotine (0.09 mg/kg) reversed ethanol-induced deficits (1.0 and 1.5 g/kg) in contextual and cued fear conditioning, whereas a low dose of ethanol (0.25 g/kg) reversed nicotine (6.3 mg kg−1 day−1) withdrawal-induced deficits in contextual conditioning. Tolerance developed for the effects of nicotine on ethanol-induced deficits in conditioning and cross-tolerance between chronic nicotine and acute ethanol was seen for the enhancing effects of ethanol on conditioning.

The complex and sometimes polar actions of ethanol and nicotine on behavior may contribute to co-abuse of these drugs. Specifically, smoking may initially reduce the aversive effects of ethanol, but tolerance develops for this effect. In addition, low doses of alcohol may lessen nicotine withdrawal symptoms.

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News - International Harm Reduction Association

News - International Harm Reduction Association

  • __________________________________________________________
Processes Linking Adolescent Problems to Substance-Use Problems in Late Young Adulthood
Reprinted with permission from Journal of Studies on Alcohol (now called Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs), Vol. 66, No. 6, Nov. 2005, pp. 766-775.

The current study explores three avenues in early young adulthood through which adolescent problems may be linked to later substance use problems: problematic substance use, failure to assume adult roles and responsibilities, and exposure to pro-drug social influences.

Reporting more deviant behavior and heavier drinking at age 18 was associated with a higher likelihood of abuse and dependence at age 29. Alcohol use and pro-drug social influences at age 23 appeared to mediate the effects of adolescent substance use; lack of role assumption did not. The effect of poor mental health at age 18 was not mediated by any set of variables but instead appeared to directly predict dependence at age 29.

Findings highlight the importance of early young adult drinking and substance-using peers in continuing patterns of heavy substance use developed during adolescence and also underscore the long-term impact of poor mental health during adolescence on substance use problems in late young adulthood.

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Interpopulation linkage disequilibrium patterns of GABRA2 and GABRG1 genes at the GABA cluster locus on human chromosome 4
Genomics Article in Press, Corrected Proof 5 November 2007

GABRA2 and GABRG1, which encode the α-2 and γ-1 subunits, respectively, of the GABAA receptor, are located in a cluster on chromosome 4p. The GABRA2 locus has been found to be associated with alcohol dependence in several studies, but no functional variant that can account for this association has been identified.

To understand the reported associations, we sought to understand the linkage disequilibrium (LD) patterns and haplotype structures of these genes. With close intergenic distance, not, vert, similar 90 kb, it was anticipated that some markers might show intergenic LD.

Variation in 13-SNP haplotype block structure was observed in five different populations: European American, African American, Chinese (Han and Thai), Thai, and Hmong. In the Hmong, a 280-kb region of considerably higher LD spans the intergenic region, whereas in other populations, there were two or more LD blocks that cross this region.

These findings may aid in understanding the genetic association of this locus with alcohol dependence in several populations.

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Re-framing ‘binge drinking’ as calculated hedonism—Empirical evidence from the UK
International Journal of Drug Policy
Article in Press, Corrected Proof 5 November 2007

Recent debates on ‘binge drinking’ in the UK have represented the activities of young drinkers in urban areas as a particular source of concern, as constituting a threat to law and order, a drain on public health and welfare services and as a source of risk to their own future health and well being. The discourse of moral panic around young people's ‘binge drinking’ has pervaded popular media, public policy and academic research, often differentiating the excesses of ‘binge drinking’ from ‘normal’ patterns of alcohol consumption, although in practice definitions of ‘binge drinking’ vary considerably. However, recent research in this area has drawn on the notion of ‘calculated hedonism’ to refer to a way of ‘managing’ alcohol consumption that might be viewed as excessive.

The paper presents a critical analysis of contemporary discourses around ‘binge drinking’ in the British context, highlighting contradictory messages about responsibility and self control in relation to the recent liberalisation of licensing laws and the extensive marketing of alcohol to young people. The paper analyses marketing communications which present drinking as a crucial element in ‘having fun’, and as an important aspect of young people's social lives. The empirical study involves analysis of focus group discussions and individual interviews with young people aged 18–25 in three areas of Britain: a major city in the West Midlands, a seaside town in the South-West of England and a small market town also in the South-West.

The initial findings present the varied forms and meanings that socialising and drinking took in these young people's social lives. In particular the results illustrate the ways in which drinking is constituted and managed as a potential source of pleasure.

The paper concludes that the term ‘calculated hedonism’ better describes the behaviour of the young people in this study and in particular the way they manage their pleasure around alcohol, than the emotive term ‘binge drinking’.

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ESRC RESEARCH SEMINAR SERIES ON Identities and Consumption

3rd –4th September 2007, University of Bath

Disorders of consumption’: Health, identities and

social policies on consumption


Sally Casswell, Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand

From a public health perspective: Alcohol harms, players and policies.’

Robert Hollands, University of Newcastle

Putting binge drinking into context: Alcohol consumption, corporatisation and the night-time economy.’

Christine Griffin, Willm Mistral and Andrew Bengry-Howell, University of Bath; Isabelle Szmigin, Universityof Birmingham; Chris Hackley, Royal HollowayCollege, London

Presentation on ESRC ‘Young people and alcohol’ study
Re-framing ‘Binge drinking’ as a culture of intoxication.’

Giuseppina Cersosimo, University of Salerno, Southern Italy

L’equilibrio desiderata: Women and alcohol in Southern Italy.’

Mandi Hodges, De Montfort University

Talking in ‘addiction-speak’ in calls to an alcohol helpline.’

Fiona Measham and Karenza Moore, University of Lancaster

Policing pleasure: Official and user constructions of ‘pleasure’ in illicit alcohol and
drug use.’

Martin Holt, University of New South Wales, Australia

Defined by disorder: Drug treatment clients and the search for normal consumption.’

Sarah Riley, Christine Griffin and Yvette Morey, University of Bath

Presentation on ESRC ‘Reverberating rhythms’ study: Social Identity and Political Participation in Clubland.

Fin Cullen, Goldsmith’s College, London

Where are we gonna go?”: Cotching, respectability and teenage girls’ drinking

Peter Thomas, University of Newcastle

I don’t care how I feel tomorrow because it’s worth it. Everybody’s just in a party
mood and having a good time with each other, and I don’t see how you could do that sober”: The place of alcohol in producing social spaces at Glastonbury Music

Shane Blackman, Christ’s College, Canterbury

Abstinence on the offensive?’ critical reflections on drug normalisation, youth
subcultural identities and the new forms of drug prevention, desistance, normative education and the ‘Blueprint.’

Ciaran O’Hagan, Hackney Drug Action Team, London

A model of contemporary drug use at dance events’

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Monday, November 5, 2007

Welcome to the latest
'What's new on the Alcohol Information Scotland website'

arrow New on the site

Latest publications include:

Evaluation of Test Purchasing Pilot for Sales of Alcohol to Under-18's - Final Report

Scottish Government

A Practical Guide to Test Purchasing in Scotland

Scottish Government

arrow Highlights from latest media comment




30th October

Documentary series on substance misuse

Channel 4

26th October

Doctor speaks out over pregnancy drink ban

BBC News

23rd October

'Scare tactics' fails to prevent binge drinking warns expert

The Scotsman

22nd October

Tackling Scotland's drinking culture

The Sunday Herald

22nd October

Glasgow's City Centre Alcohol Action Group

The Sunday Herald

22nd October

Alcohol Awareness Week

Scottish Government

19th October

Hospital clinic offers anti-alcohol abuse medicine to clients.

Evening News

19th October

Doctors back call for compulsory labelling of alcoholic drinks

BBC News

17th October

More than one million Scots thought to drink at harmful levels

Various Sources

arrow Forthcoming Events

A list of forthcoming workshops, training courses, seminars and conferences

arrow Parliamentary Questions - See the latest questions