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

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


Saturday, May 31, 2008

Ed Balls to target rowdy teenage drinkers

Police will be given new powers to prosecute youths who are repeatedly found drinking in public and to break up gangs.

Officers will also be told to take more action against children who try to buy beer and alcopops from supermarkets and off-licences.

The Youth Alcohol Action Plan – to be unveiled on Monday – will also make it easier to take away the licences of shopkeepers who sell drink to under-18s.
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Press Release - Look Before You Leap: New Study Examines Self-Control

Reckless decision-making can lead to dire consequences when it comes to food, credit cards, or savings. What’s the key to making good decisions? A new study in the Journal of Consumer Research outlines a novel method for measuring people’s abilities to consider the consequences of their actions. It also provides hope for consumers who want to make more prudent decisions.

Authors Gergana Y. Nenkov (Boston College), J. Jeffrey Inman, and John Hulland (both University of Pittsburgh) developed a 13-question survey that rated participants on a scale called the Elaboration on Potential Outcomes (EPO) scale. The scale proved to be a reliable measure of how much participants considered the consequences of their actions. For example, when undergraduates considered whether to get LASIK surgery or whether to charge an expensive electronics item on an already heavily charged credit card, high EPO scores were associated with more consequence-related thoughts.

In a number of settings, researchers found that consumers who think about the pros and cons before making decisions reported that they were more likely to exercise and consume healthy foods. They had lower rates of alcohol abuse, procrastination, and overspending. They were also more likely to be saving money for retirement.

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Considering the Future: The Conceptualization and Measurement of Elaboration on Potential Outcomes
JOURNAL OF CONSUMER RESEARCH, Inc. • Vol. 35 • June 2008

We examine a new construct dealing with individuals’ tendency to elaborate on potential outcomes, that is, to generate and evaluate potential positive and negative consequences of their behaviors.

We develop the elaboration on potential outcomes (EPO) scale and then investigate its relationships with conceptually related traits and its association with consumer behaviors such as exercise of self-control, procrastination, compulsive buying, credit card debt, retirement investing, and healthy lifestyle.

Finally, we show that consumers with high EPO levels exhibit more effective self-regulation when faced with a choice and that EPO can be primed, temporarily improving self-regulation for consumers with low EPO levels.

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Friday, May 30, 2008

Alcohol, intestinal bacterial growth, intestinal permeability to endotoxin, and medical consequences: Summary of a symposium
Alcohol In Press Corrected Proof , Available online 27 May 2008

This report is a summary of the symposium on Alcohol, Intestinal Bacterial Growth, Intestinal Permeability to Endotoxin, and Medical Consequences, organized by National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Office of Dietary Supplements, and National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of National Institutes of Health in Rockville, Maryland, October 11, 2006.

Alcohol exposure can promote the growth of Gram-negative bacteria in the intestine, which may result in accumulation of endotoxin. In addition, alcohol metabolism by Gram-negative bacteria and intestinal epithelial cells can result in accumulation of acetaldehyde, which in turn can increase intestinal permeability to endotoxin by increasing tyrosine phosphorylation of tight junction and adherens junction proteins.

Alcohol-induced generation of nitric oxide may also contribute to increased permeability to endotoxin by reacting with tubulin, which may cause damage to microtubule cytoskeleton and subsequent disruption of intestinal barrier function.

Increased intestinal permeability can lead to increased transfer of endotoxin from the intestine to the liver and general circulation where endotoxin may trigger inflammatory changes in the liver and other organs. Alcohol may also increase intestinal permeability to peptidoglycan, which can initiate inflammatory response in liver and other organs. In addition, acute alcohol exposure may potentiate the effect of burn injury on intestinal bacterial growth and permeability.

Decreasing the number of Gram-negative bacteria in the intestine can result in decreased production of endotoxin as well as acetaldehyde which is expected to decrease intestinal permeability to endotoxin. In addition, intestinal permeability may be preserved by administering epidermal growth factor, l-glutamine, oats supplementation, or zinc, thereby preventing the transfer of endotoxin to the general circulation.

Thus reducing the number of intestinal Gram-negative bacteria and preserving intestinal permeability to endotoxin may attenuate alcoholic liver and other organ injuries.

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Acid Sensitive Channel Inhibition Prevents Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Cerebellar Purkinje Cell Loss
Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol (May 28, 2008)

Ethanol is now considered the most common human teratogen. Educational campaigns have not reduced the incidence of ethanol mediated teratogenesis leading to a growing interest in the development of therapeutic prevention or mitigation strategies.

Based on the observation that maternal ethanol consumption reduces maternal and fetal pH, we hypothesized that a pH-sensitive pathway involving the TWIK-related acid sensitive potassium channels (TASKs) is implicated in ethanol-induced injury to the fetal cerebellum, one of the most sensitive targets of prenatal ethanol exposure.

in the total number of fetal cerebellar Purkinje cells, the cell type most sensitive to developmental ethanol exposure. Extracellular pH manipulation to create the same degree and pattern of pH fall caused by ethanol (manipulations large enough to inhibit TASK 1 channels), resulted in a 24% decrease in Purkinje cell number.

We determined immunohistochemically that TASK 1 channels are expressed in Purkinje cells and that the TASK 3 isoform is expressed in granule cells of the ovine fetal cerebellum.

Pharmacological blockade of both TASK 1 and TASK 3 channels simultaneous with ethanol effectively prevented any reduction in fetal cerebellar Purkinje cell number.

These results demonstrate for the first time functional significance of fetal cerebellar two pore domain pH-sensitive channels and establishes them as a potential therapeutic target for prevention of ethanol teratogenesis.

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Genetic and pharmacological manipulations of the CB1 receptor alter ethanol preference and dependence in ethanol preferring and nonpreferring mice
Synapse 62:574-581, 2008

Recent studies have indicated a role for the endocannabinoid system in ethanol-related behaviors.

This study examined the effect of pharmacological activation, blockade, and genetic deletion of the CB1 receptors on ethanol-drinking behavior in ethanol preferring C57BL/6J (B6) and ethanol nonpreferring DBA/2J (D2) mice.

The deletion of CB1 receptor significantly reduced the ethanol preference. Although the stimulation of the CB1 receptor by CP-55,940 markedly increased the ethanol preference, this effect was found to be greater in B6 than in D2 mice. The antagonism of CB1 receptor function by SR141716A led to a significant reduction in voluntary ethanol preference in B6 than D2 mice.

A significant lower hypothermic and greater sedative response to acute ethanol administration was observed in both the strains of CB1 -/- mice than wild-type mice. Interestingly, genetic deletion and pharmacological blockade of the CB1 receptor produced a marked reduction in severity of handling-induced convulsion in both the strains.

The radioligand binding studies revealed significantly higher levels of CB1 receptor-stimulated G-protein activation in the striatum of B6 compared to D2 mice. Innate differences in the CB1 receptor function might be one of the contributing factors for higher ethanol drinking behavior.

The antagonists of the CB1 receptor may have therapeutic potential in the treatment of ethanol dependence.

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Postnatal binge-like alcohol exposure reduces spine density without affecting dendritic morphology in rat mPFC
Synapse 62:566-573, 2008.

Among the deficits associated with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), cognitive impairments are the most debilitating and permanent. These impairments, including deficits in goal-directed behavior, attention, temporal planning, and other executive functions, could result from damage to the prefrontal cortex (PFC), an area that has not been studied sufficiently in the context of FAS.

Neuronal connectivity in this area, as measured by distribution of dendritic spines and the complexity of dendritic tree structure, can be influenced by exogenous variables other than alcohol, and the neuronal connectivity in other brain regions can be affected by alcohol exposure.

The goal of this study was to determine whether binge-like alcohol exposure on postnatal days (PD) 4-9 affects dendritic spine density and other dendritic tree parameters in mPFC that could possibly underlie functional damage.

Spine density was significantly decreased in AE animals relative to SI and SC controls, but no differences in dendritic complexity were found across experimental groups.

Our findings demonstrate that neonatal alcohol exposure has a persistent effect on the spine density in mPFC that can explain functional deficits in this cortical area.

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Comparative psychometric study of a range of hazardous drinking measures administered online in a youth population
Drug and Alcohol Dependence Volume 96, Issues 1-2, 1 July 2008, Pages 121-127

To compare the psychometric performance of a range of existing alcohol measures when data are collected online with young people, and thereby to gain insights into the reliability and validity of this mode of data collection.

One hundred and sixty-seven U.K. resident young people aged 16–24 who had drunk alcohol within the past week participated in a cross-sectional psychometric study with a test–retest reliability component. Eight hazardous drinking measures were used: the alcohol use disorders identification test (AUDIT) summary instrument and dedicated assessments of consumption (timeline follow-back and diary-format recall of alcohol drunk in the last 7 days), dependence (Leeds dependence questionnaire and severity of dependence scale) and problems (Rutgers alcohol problem index, alcohol problems scale and academic role expectations and alcohol scale).

Internal consistency and test–retest correlation statistics were generally satisfactory, providing evidence of reliability. Validation data obtained in principal components analyses, investigation of the correlation matrix and in a multiple regression model of total AUDIT score were also supportive of the online use of these measures. Evidence was weakest for the alcohol problems scale.

A range of hazardous drinking measures exhibit sound psychometric properties when administered online. Further comparative study of the relationships between different measures is needed.

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Drinkers and bettors: Investigating the complementarity of alcohol consumption and problem gambling
Drug and Alcohol Dependence Volume 96, Issues 1-2, 1 July 2008, Pages 155-164

Regulated gambling is a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States with greater than 100% increases in revenue over the past decade. Along with this rise in gambling popularity and gaming options comes an increased risk of addiction and the associated social costs.

This paper focuses on the effect of alcohol use on gambling-related problems. Variables correlated with both alcohol use and gambling may be difficult to observe, and the inability to include these items in empirical models may bias coefficient estimates.

After addressing the endogeneity of alcohol use when appropriate, we find strong evidence that problematic gambling and alcohol consumption are complementary activities.

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A test of alcohol dose effects on multiple behavioral measures of impulsivity
Drug and Alcohol Dependence Volume 96, Issues 1-2, 1 July 2008, Pages 111-120

Acute alcohol administration affects impulsive behavior, although these effects vary as a function of alcohol dose, assessment instrument, and time of measurement following administration.

We concurrently examined the dose-dependent effects of alcohol on three distinct types of impulsivity tasks (continuous performance [IMT], stop-signal [GoStop], and delay-discounting [SKIP] tasks). Ninety healthy alcohol drinkers were assigned to one of the three task groups (n = 30 each), each group experienced placebo, 0.2, 0.4, 0.6, and 0.8 g/kg alcohol doses across 5 experimental days, and task performance was assessed at 0.5 h before and 0.25, 1.0, and 2.0 h after alcohol administration.

We hypothesized that impulsive responding on all tasks would be increased by acute alcohol administration both across time and during the peak BrAC, but the magnitude would depend on the task being tested. Analyses included the time course and the peak BrAC effects. Task comparisons of peak behavioral changes following each dose are illustrated using standardized scores.

While alcohol consumption increased impulsive responding during all three tasks to some extent, our hypothesis was only partially supported. During the IMT, the 0.6 and 0.8 g/kg doses produced increased impulsive responding across time and at the peak BrAC. However, during the GoStop and SKIP, impulsivity increased across time regardless of the alcohol dose size, with no differences in impulsive responding among dose conditions at peak BrAC.

This study demonstrated alcohol-induced changes in impulsivity are not uniformly affected by alcohol. These data, in conjunction with previous studies, further support that impulsivity is not a unitary construct.

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Protective effect against alcohol dependence of the thermolabile variant of MTHFR
Drug and Alcohol Dependence Volume 96, Issues 1-2, 1 July 2008, Pages 30-36

Hyperhomocysteinemia is frequently observed in alcohol-dependent subjects, in particularly in those with marked withdrawal symptoms. The common C677T transition on the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) gene influences homocysteinemia.

Our objective was to study the prevalence of the MTHFR C677T polymorphism in alcohol-dependent subjects and the influence of this polymorphism on symptoms associated with alcoholism.

MTHFR C677T polymorphism was determined in 93 control subjects and 242 alcohol-dependent subjects. Serum homocysteine, folate and vitamin B12 levels together with hepatic biological parameters were determined in the control and alcohol-dependent subjects.

Hyperhomocysteinemia is frequently observed in alcohol-dependent subjects, particularly in those with marked withdrawal symptoms. Alcohol-dependent subjects showed a significant decrease in MTHFR 677TT prevalence (9%, 21/242) compared to controls (18%, 17/93) (p <>p <>

MTHFR 677TT genotype could play a protective role against alcohol dependence. Moreover, when subjects with MTHFR 677TT genotype become dependent to alcohol, they seem to constitute a subgroup of alcoholic patients with a decreased risk for developing neurotoxic withdrawal symptoms and hepatic toxicity.

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Expression of N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor subunits and splice variants in an animal model of long-term voluntary alcohol self-administration
Drug and Alcohol Dependence Volume 96, Issues 1-2, 1 July 2008, Pages 16-21

Long-term, free-choice, alcohol self-administration with repeated alcohol deprivation phases is known to enhance N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor activity.

We hypothesized that this might not only reflect an increase in NMDA receptor density, but that differential transcriptional regulation and alternative splicing of the various subunits comprising the NMDA receptor may lead to changes in receptor composition and subsequent function. We, therefore, aimed to further investigate this effect in various brain regions.

The relative mRNA expression of exon 5 inclusion/exclusion variants of the NR1 subunit, and the relative expression of NR2A, NR2B and NR2C subunits was examined in rats subjected to long-term free-choice, alcohol self-administration with repeated alcohol deprivation phases.

We observed a relative decrease of the NR2C/NR2A mRNA ratio and an increase of NR1 splice variants including exon 5 (NR1 + E5) in the striatum but not in the cortex, hippocampus or cerebellum in the experimental group.

Our results demonstrate that long-term voluntary alcohol self-administration, affects the regulation of genes encoding the various subunits and splice variants of the NMDA receptor in a brain regional-specific manner.

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How much are people in Scotland really drinking?

26 May 2008

This review assesses the extent to which Scotland’s routine national surveys reflect true drinking behaviour. Comparing survey estimates with sales data, it shows that survey underestimation of alcohol consumption has increased (due to larger and stronger drinks) and suggests that people in Scotland may be drinking twice as much as surveys have previously reported. It presents survey trends in drinking over the last decade for both adults and children and interprets them in light of their validity. It concludes with recommendations for the improvement of Scottish survey data on alcohol consumption so that they provide a more accurate picture of Scottish drinking.

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3rd National Conference on Women, Addiction and Recovery

September 15–17, 2008, Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel and Marina in Tampa, FL

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, in partnership with New Century Institute and the Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association, is pleased to host The 3rd National Conference on Women, Addiction and Recovery: Inspiring Leadership, Changing Lives.

This 2 ½ day conference will bring together a diverse audience with an interest in substance abuse treatment for women and women with children. The audience will find a broad mix of topics addressed, including best practices as well as innovative and emergent approaches to treating women, issues pertaining to recovery support, health and wellness, as well as program administration and management. The conference theme, “Inspiring Leadership, Changing Lives,” provides a framework for the conference and will be addressed by nationally recognized speakers.

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Cut tax on light booze: Police Commissioner

Tue May 27, 2008

New South Wales Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione says taxes should be reduced on drinks with lower alcohol content to help curb binge drinking.

The idea is one of several Commissioner Scipione has discussed with his counterparts in other states, territories and New Zealand as they focus on how to curb alcohol-related crime.

The Commissioner backs the Federal Government's plan to increase taxes on alcopops by 70 per cent but has suggested it should also lower the taxes on drinks with a small percentage of alcohol.

"We would believe that would make it more attractive to purchase those alcoholic drinks that have a lower alcohol content," he said.

"I think it's probably important here that we concentrate more on the positives by looking at tax incentives for low-alcohol equivalents."
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Conference to brainstorm alcohol solutions

Thu May 29, 2008

Business, community and government representatives will come together today in Port Macquarie to try and find solutions to alcohol-related problems.

The conference will include the Gloucester, Great Lakes, Manning, Macleay and Hastings liquor accords.
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Promoter specific methylation of the dopamine transporter gene is altered in alcohol dependence and associated with craving
Journal of Psychiatric Research Article in Press, 27 May 2008

Dopaminergic neurotransmission plays a crucial role in the genesis and maintenance of alcohol dependence. Epigenetic regulation via promoter specific DNA methylation of the dopamine transporter gene (DAT) may influence altered dopaminergic neurotransmission in alcoholism.

Aim of the present study was to investigate DNA promoter methylation of DAT in early alcohol withdrawal and in relation to alcohol craving.

Compared to healthy controls we found a significant hypermethylation of the DAT-promoter (Mann–Whitney U-test: p = 0.001). Ln-transformed methylation of the DAT-promoter was negatively associated with the OCDS (linear regression: Beta = −0.275, p = 0.016), particularly with the obsessive subscale (Beta = −0.300, p = 0.008).

Findings of the present study show that the epigenetic regulation of the DAT-promoter is altered in patients undergoing alcohol withdrawal. Furthermore, hypermethylation of the DAT-promoter may play an important role in dopaminergic neurotransmission and is associated with decreased alcohol craving.

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In vivo and in vitro ethanol exposure in prenatal rat brain: GABAB receptor modulation on dopamine D1 receptor and protein kinase A
Synapse 62:534-543, 2008

We have investigated the effects of prenatal ethanol exposure on GABAB receptors (GABABRs), protein kinase A (PKA), and DA D1 receptor (DAD1R) expressions. GABAB1R and GABAB2R showed different age-dependent expressions in in vivo fetal rat forebrain from gestational days (GD) 15.5 to 21.5 upon 10% ethanol treatment to mother, with and without baclofen at a dose of 10 mg/kg body weight/day. The protein level changes could not be attributed to changes in the level of transcription since GABABR mRNA presented different expression patterns upon in vivo ethanol treatment.

Using in vitro cultivated cortical neurons from GD 17.5 fetuses, we also explored the modulatory effects of ethanol on PKA and DAD1R through GABABRs, under 50 M baclofen and 100 M phaclofen administrations, with or without 100 mM of ethanol treatment in the culture media.

The results showed that 20 min ethanol treatment without baclofen or phaclofen had increasing effects on both the GABABRs. Further, baclofen and phaclofen administration significantly affected PKA and GABABR levels upon 20 min and 1 h ethanol treatment. In contrast, DAD1R showed increasing effects upon ethanol treatment, which was modulated by GABABR's agonist baclofen and antagonist phaclofen.

Therefore the present study suggested that the GABABR activity could modulate ethanol's cellular effects, which possibly including PKA and DAD1R activities, and may be an underlying cause of ethanol's effects.

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Value of ethyl glucuronide in plasma as a biomarker for recent alcohol consumption in the emergency room
Alcohol and Alcoholism Advance Access published online on May 25, 2008

This emergency department (ED) study compared the value of plasma ethyl glucuronide (EtG) testing with the information about alcohol consumption obtained using the standard alcohol biomarkers gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT) and carbohydrate-deficient transferring (CDT) and the AUDIT questionnaire.

Out of the 81 patients, 23 (28%) were positive (≥8 points) on the AUDIT questionnaire. Only 3 (4%) showed a detectable ethanol concentration (range 0.01–0.07 g/L) but 31 (38%) showed a detectable EtG (0.16–39.5 mg/L). In four patients, EtG was detectable in plasma for >48 h after estimated completed elimination of ethanol. EtG was not correlated with the long-term biomarkers %CDT or GGT, or the AUDIT results, but with the time since estimated completed ethanol elimination.

EtG testing in blood was found useful in the ED as a way to detect recent drinking, even in cases of a negative ethanol test, and to confirm abstinence from alcohol. This sensitive and specific short-term biomarker provides valuable additional information about individual drinking habits and might also be helpful to identify an alcohol hangover.

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TheDrosophila homolog of jwa is required for ethanol tolerance
Alcohol and Alcoholism Advance Access published online on May 25, 2008

Alcohol abuse poses a serious public health problem, and repeated ingestion can produce tolerance, leading to dependence and addiction. However, the mechanisms underlying alcohol tolerance and addiction are not fully understood.

Drosophilae have been employed as a suitable model to study the molecular mechanisms underlying ethanol tolerance. JWA, a newly identified microtubule-binding protein, was shown to regulate cell stress responses, transportation of intracellular excitatory amino acids, and the MAPK signal transduction pathway. The JWA mouse homologue addicsin, was postulated to play a role in the development of morphine tolerance and dependence.

This study was designed to determine whether JWA participates in ethanol tolerance in Drosophila.

The djwa and the human jwa genes share a significant sequence similarity. Their genomic nucleotide and deduced amino acid sequence identities are 41.4% and 53.6%, respectively. In inebriation tests, the wild type w1118 flies and the cDNA-djwa flies acquired ethanol tolerance after several exposures whereas the anti-djwa flies did not.

The JWA genes are evolutionarily conserved. The djwa function is required for acquiring ethanol tolerance in Drosophila. JWA is likely a novel molecule playing an important role in ethanol tolerance and drug addiction.

Our results present a new direction for research related to alcohol tolerance and addiction.

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Individual characteristics of the literally homeless, marginally housed, and impoverished in a US substance abuse treatment-seeking sample
Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology May 27, 2008

Many researchers and clinicians believe that understanding substance use problems is key to understanding homelessness. This study’s purpose was to test, in a national sample of urban substance abuse treatment seekers, whether (1) income was related to amount of money spent on substances and (2) homeless chronic substance users had more severe psychosocial problems or histories than housed chronic substance users.

The literally homeless was not the poorest group, although these clients did spend the most money on substances. All four groups’ incomes were positively related to amount of money spent on drugs, but only the marginally housed’s income was related to money spent on alcohol. The literally homeless had the most severe alcohol, mental health, and social support problems. The literally homeless and marginally housed had similar incomes and human capital and the most severe cocaine problems. In general the housed poor and housed not poor fared better than the literally homeless and marginally housed groups.

Practitioners should continue to intervene with the homeless and consider working with the marginally housed’s social support systems. Future research should examine the marginally housed as an at-risk group for homelessness.

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Mind & body magazine
28 May 2008

Adding up your units

Do you know how strong your favourite drink is? A recent YouGov poll found that many people in England don't know the strength of common alcoholic drinks. For example:

  • 77% of the people interviewed didn't know how many units are in a large glass of wine,
  • 55% thought a large glass of wine contains two units - it contains three,
  • 35% didn't know that an average pint of beer contains two units, and
  • 58% didn't know that a double gin and tonic contains two units.
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Drugs and alcohol: Alcohol education - here's what we want

Teacher Cliff Evans tests out a dramatic new approach to alcohol education

Wednesday May 28, 2008

In this programme, PSHE teacher Cliff Evans tests out a dramatic new approach to alcohol education.

Cliff asks his KS3 students what they wish they'd been taught a year earlier. This gives him plenty to think about as he plans a lesson that really meets their needs.

With expert help from specialist alcohol educator Gavin Bryce, Cliff re-examines his approach and then devises and tests out fresh material.

We discover what works for pupils, see how a mixed lesson explores a range of issues and watch as an experienced teacher grapples with new idea.

Watch the video now in Quicktime or RealPlayer or Windows Media Player.
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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Cellular and Behavioral Interactions of Gabapentin with Alcohol Dependence
The Journal of Neuroscience, May 28, 2008, 28(22):5762-5771

Gabapentin is a structural analog of GABA that has anticonvulsant properties. Despite the therapeutic efficacy of gabapentin, its molecular and cellular mechanisms of action are unclear. The GABAergic system in the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA) plays an important role in regulating voluntary ethanol intake.

Here, we investigated the effect of gabapentin on GABAergic transmission in CeA slices, on ethanol intake, and on an anxiety measure using animal models of ethanol dependence.

Gabapentin increased the amplitudes of evoked GABA receptor-mediated IPSCs (GABA-IPSCs) in CeA neurons from nondependent rats, but decreased their amplitudes in CeA of ethanol-dependent rats. Gabapentin effects were blocked in the presence of a specific GABAB receptor antagonist. The sensitivity of the GABA-IPSCs to a GABAB receptor antagonist and an agonist was decreased after chronic ethanol, suggesting that ethanol-induced neuroadaptations of GABAB receptors associated with ethanol dependence may account for the differential effects of gabapentin after chronic ethanol. Systemic gabapentin reduced ethanol intake in dependent, but not in nondependent, rats and reversed the anxiogenic-like effects of ethanol abstinence using an acute dependence model. Gabapentin infused directly into the CeA also blocked dependence-induced elevation in operant ethanol responding.

Collectively, these findings show that gabapentin reverses behavioral measures of ethanol dependence and, in turn, dependence reverses the effects of gabapentin on CeA neurons, and suggest that gabapentin represents a potential medication for treatment of alcoholism.

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Scientific Report 2007
Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders

Chairman's Overview

The faculty of the Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders consists of 6 faculty members with a common goal of understanding the function of the brain emotional systems and how these systems malfunction in disease. We focus on the neurobiological mechanisms involved in motivated and emotional behavior and how these mechanisms are altered with the development of addiction, stress, and eating disorders. We integrate and translate basic research findings across multiple domains, from molecular cell biology to neurocircuitry to clinical studies. The committee also forms the foundation for the Pearson Center for Alcoholism and Addiction Research, with the goal of developing novel medications for the treatment of addictive disorders. Here, I summarize what we are doing and the background that led to this work.
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Findings support new possible treatment for alcohol abuse

Washington, DC May 27, 2008– A study released today reveals a cellular mechanism involved in alcohol dependence. The study, in the May 28 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience, shows that gabapentin, a drug used to treat chronic pain and epilepsy, reduces alcohol intake in alcohol-dependent rats by normalizing chemical communication between neurons, which is altered by chronic alcohol abuse.

The central amygdala, a part of the brain involved in emotions such as stress and fear, is important in regulating alcohol consumption. Most central amygdala neurons communicate via a chemical signal known as GABA, which is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. Alcohol dependence has been associated with the strengthening of inhibitory synapses in this brain region.

Gabapentin (known commercially as Neurontin) is structurally similar to GABA and increases GABA neurotransmission. In alcoholics, gabapentin has been shown to effectively treat alcohol withdrawal and reduce alcohol consumption and cravings following detoxification. However, how gabapentin acts in the brain to combat alcohol dependence has been unclear.
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Alcohol Consumption and the CAGE Questionnaire in Korean Adults: Results from the Second Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey
J Korean Med Sci. 2008 Apr;23(2):199-206.

We evaluated alcohol consumption and alcohol-related problems in Korean adults by evaluating alcohol consumption and responses to the CAGE questionnaire obtained from the second Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

The age-adjusted prevalence of males who consumed 0, 0.1-20, 20.1-40, or >40 g/day of alcohol were 28.0, 51.5, 12.5, and 8.0%, respectively; 26.9% of male drinkers were CAGE-positive (> or =2 affirmative responses to the CAGE). The age-adjusted prevalence of females who consumed 0, 0.1-10, 10.1-20, or >20 g/day of alcohol were 67.7, 26.6, 3.9, and 1.8%; 11.9% of female drinkers were CAGE-positive.

The risk factors for high alcohol consumption were old age, low education level, smoking, and drinking onset at young ages in male drinkers, whereas low education level and smoking in female drinkers.

The risk factors for a positive CAGE were young age, marriage, low education level, smoking, high amount of alcohol consumed on a single occasion, and high drinking frequency in male drinkers, whereas high household income, ex-smoking, high amount of alcohol consumed on a single occasion, and high drinking frequency in female drinkers.

Our results suggest that high alcohol consumption and alcohol-related problems in Korean adults are not negligible and require intervention.

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Revised Alcohol Consumption Estimates from the
2003 Scottish Health Survey

This Statistics Publication Notice contains revised estimates on alcohol consumption from the 2003 Scottish Health Survey following the development of new alcohol unit conversion factors.

This publication covers the headline results. A more detailed publication on 24 June 2008 will update all of the analyses included in the 2003 Scottish Health Survey alcohol chapter for adults (Volume 2: Chapter 1) and one table from the children's report (Volume 3: Chapter 1) published in November 2005.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Spotlight on the National Association of Prevention on Alcohol and Addiction (ANPAA)

Who we are

Created in 1872, [ANPAA] has been an official French public organisation since 1880 and has held an educational label since 1974.

Our mission

Consumption of alcohol, tobacco and other psychoactive substances cause important health and social damages.

Our purpose is to promote a general policy of prevention of the risks of alcohol and other psychoactive substances notably:
- by constant action towards public authorities and decision-makers,
- by health education and by training all sectors of society,
- by help, care and a medico-psycho-socio support
- by monitoring the improvement and enforcement of legislation

ANPAA employs 1.400 medical doctors, nurses, psychologists, social workers, social engineers, trainers and 1 000 elected volunteers in France. Teams work in about 100 localities coordinated on a regional level. We manage 130 outpatient centers and clinics, mostly located in the cities, that welcome about 50 000 patients.
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Modulation of brain response to emotional images by alcohol cues in alcohol-dependent patients
Addiction Biology OnlineEarly Articles 27 May 2008

Alcohol is often used to modulate mood states. Alcohol drinkers report that they use alcohol both to enhance positive affect and to reduce dysphoria, and alcohol-dependent patients specifically state reduction of negative affect as a primary reason for drinking.

The current study proposes that alcohol cues may reduce negative affect in alcoholics. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine brain activation in response to combination images that juxtaposed negative or positive International Affective Picture System (IAPS) images with an alcohol or non-alcohol-containing beverage.

We found that in the absence of the alcohol cue, alcoholics showed more activation to negative than to positive images and greater activation than controls to negative images. When the IAPS images were presented with the alcohol cue, there was a decreased difference in activation between the positive and negative images among the alcoholics, and a decreased difference in response to the negative images between controls and alcoholics.

Additionally, in the neutral-beverage conditions, anxiety ratings significantly predicted activation in the right parahippocampal gyrus but did not predict activation when the alcohol cues were presented.

In conclusion, the alcohol cues may have modulated cortical networks involved in the processing of emotional stimuli by eliciting a conditioned response in the alcoholics, but not in the controls, which may have decreased responsiveness to the negative images.

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Ministers fast-track binge drinking plan

May 23, 2008

The ministerial council on drugs strategy will fast-track the development of the federal government's $53.5 million national binge drinking strategy.

Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon made the announcement after the group met in Melbourne on Friday and said they agreed to tackle alcohol abuse urgently.

The national approach aims to reduce the incidence of alcohol-related violence and the impact of alcohol abuse on individuals, the community and the health system.
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Battle of the bulge targets drink labels

  • The Observer,
  • Sunday May 25 2008
Alcoholic drinks should display the number of calories contained in them to help tackle the growing obesity crisis, say council leaders.

They want bottles of wine and cans of beer to carry labels to help drinkers who may not realise how many calories are in their favourite tipple.
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Health, United States, 2007

Health, United States, 2007, is the 31st annual report on the health status of the Nation prepared by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services for the President and Congress. In a chartbook and 151 detailed tables, it provides an annual picture of the health of the entire Nation. Trends are presented on health status and health care utilization, resources, and expenditures. This year’s report includes a focus on access to needed or recommended health care services.
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Prevalence of risky behaviors among children and young adults remains at unacceptable levels. About 20% of adolescents age 16–17 years, and more than 40% of young adults age 18–25 years, reported binge alcohol use in 2005, and 20% of young adults age 18–25 years reported using illicit drugs in the past month (Table 66). The percentage of high school students who seriously considered suicide has declined since 1991, but the percentage who attempted suicide has remained stable (7%–9%) (Table 62).

Table 68. Alcohol consumption among adults 18 years of age and over, by selected characteristics: United States, 1997, 2005, and 2006 Click to open PDF file 6.2 MB

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Journal of Pharmacology And Experimental Therapeutics Fast Forward

First published on May 23, 2008

While ethanol has behavioral actions consistent with increased GABAergic function, attempts to demonstrate a direct enhancement of GABA-gated currents by ethanol have produced mixed results. Recent work has suggested that a part of the GABAergic profile of ethanol may result from enhanced GABA release from presynaptic terminals.

The present study examines the effect of ethanol on GABA release in several brain regions to assess the regional nature of ethanol-induced GABA release. Whole-cell voltage clamp recording of spontaneous inhibitory post-synaptic currents (sIPSCs) from mechanically dissociated neurons, and miniature inhibitory post-synaptic currents (mIPSCs) and paired-pulse ratio (PPR) from a slice preparation were used to quantify GABA release.

Ethanol produced a concentration-dependent increase in the frequency of sIPSCs recorded from mechanically dissociated cerebellar Purkinje neurons and mIPSCs from substantia nigra neurons without having an effect on sIPSCs recorded from lateral septal or cerebrocortical neurons. This regional difference in the effect of ethanol on GABA release was confirmed with PPR recording from brain slices.

These data indicate that ethanol can act on presynaptic terminals to increase GABA release in some brain regions while having little or no effect on GABA release in others. This regional difference is consistent with earlier in vivo studies in which ethanol affected neural activity and sensitivity to GABA in some, but not all, brain sites.

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The Search for Mechanisms of Change In Evidence-Bsaed Behavioral Teatments

4th Annual Pre-Conference Satellite Meeting on
Mechanisms of Behavior Change in Behavioral Treatment:
Today and Tomorrow

Saturday June 28, 2008
Annual Research Society on Alcoholism
Washington, D.C.

Jointly Sponsored by:
CASAA, Columbia University; Rutgers University Center of Alcohol Studies;
UCLA; Richard Longabaugh, Ed.D.; and NIAAA.

Speakers: Bruce Wampold, Ph.D.; David MacKinnon, Ph.D.; Danielle McCarthy, Ph.D.; Donald Saari, Ph.D.; Mark Willenbring, M.D. and more.
  • A Contextual Perspective on Behavioral Interventions.
  • A Critical Look at Constructs in Mechanisms of Behavior Change.
  • New Directions and a Fresh Look at Mediation Modeling.
  • Impulsivity, Self-Regulation and Self Control.
  • Applying Mediation Modeling in Smoking Cessation.
  • Dynamical Systems Modeling in Behavioral Science.
  • Update on NIAAA Mechanisms of Behavior Change Initiative
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Monday, May 26, 2008

European Alcohol Health Forum: Overview of commitments received as of 29-02-2008

Provision of advice and training for advertising industry on the voluntary self-regulatory codes in the area of alcohol advertising. Two voluntary regulations will be in the focus of the training: Firstly the various obligations to prevent commercial communication for alcoholic beverages from being misconstrued as promoting alcohol abuse or harmful consumption of alcoholic beverages. Secondly the regulations that prohibit commercial communication for alcoholic beverages from beeing misconstrued as beeing addressed at minors. The training covers the scope of the self-regulatory provisions in practice and their significance for a responsible behaviour when promoting alcoholic beverages.

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Teacher Resources and Curricular Materials

Science Education Program at NIAAA

Science Edcation Programs at NIAAA (Flyer)

Research studies reveal that 53% of our youth begin drinking in the 8th grade (14 years old). Other studies show that students who drink before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcoholism than those who started drinking at age 20 or later. The science classroom is an excellent environment to create awareness about this issue and, through the application of an inquiry-based approach, combat the problem.

FASD Toolbox for Teachers

Do2Learn's FASD Teacher Toolbox

Easy-to-use web resources that are useful in the classroom and at home for children with FASD grades pre-k to k-12. Practical Learning Strategies are explained using problem solving examples and forms, language learning tools, mathematics guides and manipulatives, and study tips for both homework and test taking. Education Resources that can be downloaded for use in the classroom include teacher Literacy Tools, Behavior Management Plans and Forms, Problem Solving visuals, printable math grids and charts, and alphabet and writing handouts. Instructional games like Word War, Go Fish Letters, and Sound Bingo are provided to teach specific skills like planning, letter recognition, boundaries, listening, and turn-taking.

Check out the thousands of pages of free helpful visual communication cards, printable support material, and games that have been developed for FASD deficits at the Toolbox for Teachers on the popular, over 7 million hits a month, website.

Better Safe Than Sorry - Preventing a Tragedy

Better Safe Than Sorry-Preventing a Tragedy: A Science and Health Curriculum "

This highly engaging, flexible (1-4 class periods), inquiry-based curriculum module was developed by researchers at UNC-Chapel Hill as well as teachers and other educational consultants. Materials and lessons are adapted for use in a middle school science classroom, aligned with the National Science Education Standards (NSES) and are based on current research relevant to a life-science curriculum. All kits are FREE and include guided teacher instructions for implementation, data tables and background materials, a video with guided lab instruction and background on FAS, a CD-ROM with all hardcopy materials and a post-assessment game, color transparencies, brochures, and ordering information for an accompanying hands-on experiment involving varying concentration levels of ethanol and the growth and development of brine shrimp. All components are available for current download, and will soon be made available for shipment through Carolina Biological Supply Company.

Understanding Alcohol: Investigations into Biology and Behavior

“Understanding Alcohol: Investigations into Biology and Behavior” (online ordering )

A middle school curriculum supplement involving 6 hands-on, inquiry-based lessons that fit into the 5E’s Instructional Model (Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate), also aligned with NSES Content Standards. It includes web-based components that include simulations of intoxicated and sober mice (varying alcohol concentrations, time and genetics, calculations and impact on BAC levels as well as depictions of intoxicated drivers, requiring students to make observations and inferences. Finally, the last lesson is a highly-interdisciplinary piece that requires students to synthesize information from a variety of primary sources in developing a justification for positions on various legal and social issues related to the science of alcohol. All activities and lessons were field tested in a variety of educational settings, and all teacher background and overall science content was verified by experts at NIAAA. In order to access web ctivities, downloadable teacher materials, and technical information, go to

My Body

"My Brain My Body"-A Comprehensive Web-Based Curriculum Module Image of an arrow "Click here to view a demonstration 5E's lesson and ordering information"

My Brain

My Brain My Body ( is an educational tool for middle school students. It promotes discussions about the sensitive psychosocial issues of alcohol abuse and also increases and extends the scientific understanding of students. This series of online lessons, each approximately 45 minutes in duration, is supplemented by videos, overhead transparencies, live Internet polls, lab activities, and hardcopy classroom activities.