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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Friday, September 30, 2011

Press Release - Health Officials Eye Measures to Curb Harmful Use of Alcohol


Top health officials from North, Central and South America and the Caribbean have endorsed a series of actions that the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) says could significantly reduce the public health impact of alcohol.

Ministers of health and their representatives at PAHO’s 51st Directing Council approved a new Plan of Action to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol that seeks to lower levels of per-capita alcohol consumption and reduce alcohol-related harm. It includes measures ranging from increased taxes on alcohol sales and restrictions on marketing to training for primary health care workers in screening and treatment for risky drinkers. > > > > Read More

Length of Time from First Use to Adult Treatment Admission

Among adult first-time treatment admissions, an average of 15.6 years elapsed between first use of the primary substance of abuse and treatment entry.

The length of time between first use and treatment entry was longer for males than for females (16.5 vs. 13.8 years), and ranged from 13.3 years among Asian or Pacific Islander admissions to 17.4 years among American Indian/Alaska Native admissions. Non-Hispanic Black admissions had a longer length of time between first use and treatment entry than other race/ethnicities for primary cocaine abuse (17.0 vs. 14.5 years or less) and primary heroin abuse (21.1 vs. 15.2 years or less).

Male admissions had a longer time between first use and treatment entry than female admissions for primary cocaine abuse (15.7 vs. 12.6 years), primary heroin abuse (13.4 vs. 10.0 years), and stimulants (13.0 vs. 10.6 years).

Male and female adult first-time admissions reporting primary abuse of alcohol, marijuana, or prescription drugs had similar durations of use.

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States Putting Hopes in ‘Bottoms Up’ to Help the Bottom Line


Drink up, America. The government needs the money.

With cities across the country facing their fifth straight year of declining revenues and states cutting services and laying off workers, raising money from people who enjoy a cocktail is becoming an increasingly attractive option.

Since the recession started in earnest in 2008, dozens of states and cities have tinkered with laws that regulate alcohol sales as a way to build up their budgets. > > > > Read More

A descriptive survey of types, spread and characteristics of substance abuse treatment centers in Nigeria


Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa and the 8th most populous in the world with a population of over 154 million, does not have current data on substance abuse treatment demand and treatment facilities; however, the country has the highest one-year prevalence rate of Cannabis use (14.3%) in Africa and ranks third in Africa with respect to the one-year prevalence rate of cocaine (0.7%) and Opioids (0.7%) use. This study aimed to determine the types, spread and characteristics of the substance abuse treatment centers in Nigeria.

The study was a cross sectional survey of substance abuse treatment centers in Nigeria. Thirty-one units were invited and participated in filling an online questionnaire, adapted from the European Treatment Unit/Program Form (June 1997 version).

All the units completed the online questionnaire. A large proportion (48%) was located in the South-West geopolitical zone of the country. Most (58%) were run by Non-Governmental Organizations. Half of them performed internal or external evaluation of treatment process or outcome. There were a total of 1043 for all categories of paid and volunteer staff, with an average of 33 staff per unit. Most of the funding came from charitable donations (30%). No unit provided drug substitution/maintenance therapy. The units had a total residential capacity of 566 beds. New client admissions in the past one year totalled 765 (mean = 48, median = 26.5, min = 0, max = 147) and 2478 clients received services in the non-residential units in the past year. No unit provided syringe exchange services.

The study revealed a dearth of substance abuse treatment units (and of funds for the available ones) in a country with a large population size and one of the highest prevalence rates of substance abuse in Africa. The available units were not networked and lacked a directory or an evaluation framework. To provide an environment for effective monitoring, funding and continuous quality improvement, the units need to be organized into a sustainable network.


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Alcohol Policy in Poland and around Europe: Medical and Economic Disadvantages of Using Alcohol (MEDUSA


We are very happy to invite researchers and all the audience interested in alcohol issues to the Expert Conference "Alcohol Policy in Poland and around Europe: Medical and Economic Disadvantages of Using Alcohol (MEDUSA)" .The expert conference takes place in Poznań, in the second week of October. We are pleased to inform, that it will be a special time for Poland, time of the Polish Presidency in the European Union.

The agenda for the expert conference (October 11-12, 2011) will cover recent advances in the alcohol related issues including such important topic as: health consequences of alcohol use, FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome), epidemiology, alcohol policy. Each of them will be presented in lectures and workshops. The leading scientists will be invited to give plenary lectures.
> > > > Read More

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Impulsivity and alcohol consumption in young social drinkers



Impulsivity may have different facets that contribute to drinking patterns in young people. This research examined how aspects of impulse control, especially the ability to inhibit a response, predicted recent alcohol use patterns in young social drinkers.

Participants (N = 109) between the ages of 18 and 21 performed a cued go/no-go task that required quick responses to go targets and the inhibition of responses to no-go targets. Participants also completed several questionnaires that assessed drinking habits (TLFB) and self-reported impulsivity (BIS-11).

Regression analyses revealed that both the impulsivity questionnaire scores and the inhibitory failures observed on the behavioral task predicted various aspects of recent drinking. However, only the inhibitory failures from the behavioral task, and not the impulsivity questionnaire scores, predicted the highest number of drinks consumed on one occasion during the past month.

These findings are consistent with the notion that impulsivity may have different components that may be contributing the drinking patterns, and this research suggests that the inability to withhold a response is a strong predictor of the binge use of alcohol.



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Press Release _ UNC researcher to receive highest U.S. honor for early career science professionals


The award recognizes the promise that Thomas L. Kash, PhD, has demonstrated as a scientist and his research program on the effects of alcohol on neural circuits in the brain.

During a White House ceremony next month, Thomas L. Kash, PhD, assistant professor in the department of pharmacology and the UNC Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine will receive the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). > > > > Read More

Subjective and Neural Responses to Intravenous Alcohol in Young Adults with Light and Heavy Drinking Patterns



Heavy alcohol consumption during young adulthood is a risk factor for the development of serious alcohol use disorders. Research has shown that individual differences in subjective responses to alcohol may affect individuals’ vulnerability to developing alcoholism.

Studies comparing the subjective and objective response to alcohol between light and heavy drinkers (HDs), however, have yielded inconsistent results, and neural responses to alcohol in these groups have not been characterized.

We performed a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized crossover alcohol challenge study comparing functional magnetic resonance imaging and subjective response to intravenously administered 6% v/v ethanol to a target blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or placebo between HDs and social drinkers (SDs). During the imaging, we presented emotional cues in order to measure how emotion modulated the effects of alcohol on the brain's reward circuitry.

We found that, at equivalent blood alcohol concentrations, HDs reported lower subjective alcohol effects than SDs. Alcohol significantly activated the nucleus accumbens in SDs, but not in HDs. Self-reported ratings of intoxication correlated with striatal activation, suggesting that activation may reflect subjective experience of intoxication. Fearful faces significantly activated the amygdala in the SDs only, and this activation was attenuated by alcohol.

This study shows that HDs not only experience reduced subjective effects of alcohol, but also demonstrate a blunted response to alcohol in the brain's reward system.

Our findings indicate that reduced subjective and neural response to alcohol in HDs may be suggestive of either the development of tolerance to alcohol, or of pre-existing decreased sensitivity to alcohol's effects.


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Request Reprint E-Mail: gilmanj@mail.nih.gov

Alcohol fraud rising as illicit beer sales spike


Illicit beer now accounts for up to 14% of total UK sales according to HR Revenue and Customs figures (HMRC), reports the Morning Advertiser (MA).

The Treasury reportedly missed an estimated £800m in 2009/2010 from lost duty and VAT revenue. In 2008/2009, the figure was £550m, with illicit beer making up 10% of the market share. > > > > Read More

Alcohol Research UK launched to continue work of the AERC


This month saw the launch of Alcohol Research UK, which takes over the work of the Alcohol Education and Research Council (AERC). The AERC will be abolished in 2012 as part of the Government’s review of ‘Arms Length Bodies’.

Alcohol Research UK is an independent registered charity, governed by a board of trustees who are assisted by a small dedicated staff team and a number of associates who sit on the Grants Committee. The AERC’s assets and activities were transferred to Alcohol Research UK in March 2011. > > > > Read More

Press Release - Alcohol-Related Behaviour Changes – Blame Your Immune System



the University of Adelaide suggests that immune cells in your brain may contribute to how you respond to alcohol.

“It’s amazing to think that despite 10,000 years of using alcohol, and several decades of investigation into the way that alcohol affects the nerve cells in our brain, we are still trying to figure out exactly how it works,” says lead researcher Dr Mark Hutchinson from the University’s School of Medical Sciences.

Although scientists know much about how alcohol affects nerve cells, there is also a growing body of evidence that alcohol triggers rapid changes in the immune system in the brain. This immune response lies behind some of the well-known alcohol-related behavioural changes, such as difficulty controlling the muscles involved in walking and talking.

In research published in the latest edition of the British Journal of Pharmacology, Dr Hutchinson’s team gave a single shot of alcohol to laboratory mice and studied the effect of blocking Toll-like receptors, a particular element of the immune system, on the behavioural changes induced by alcohol. The researchers used drugs to block these receptors. They also studied the effects of giving alcohol to mice that had been genetically altered so that they were lacking the functions of selected receptors.

The results showed that blocking this part of the immune system, either with the drug or genetically, reduced the effects of alcohol. While the research was carried out on mice, Hutchinson’s team believe that similar treatments could also work in humans. > > > > Read More

TLR4-MyD88 Signaling: A Molecular Target for Alcohol Actions



Several studies implicate toll-like receptors (TLRs) in an alcohol-induced neuroinflammatory process.

The work conducted by Wu et al., and reported in this issue of the British Journal of Pharmacology indicates that TLR4 along with its intracellular adaptor protein-MyD88 may play crucial roles in the acute actions of alcohol.

The deletions of TLR4 or MyD88 gene or pharmacological inhibition of TLR4 by (+)-naloxone were able to attenuate alcohol-induced sedation, motor impairment, and acute alcohol-induced increases in IkBα protein levels in the hippocampus of mice.

These results clearly suggest that TLR4-MyD88 signaling may play a causal role in the mediation of the behavioral effects of acute alcohol.


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Inhibiting the TLR4-MyD88 signalling cascade by genetic or pharmacologic strategies reduces acute alcohol dose-induced sedation and motor impairment i



Emerging evidence implicates a role for toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) in the central nervous system effects of alcohol. The current study aimed to determine whether TLR4-MyD88-dependent signalling was involved in the acute behavioural actions of alcohol and if alcohol could activate TLR4-downstream MAPK and NFκB pathways.

The TLR4 pathway was evaluated using the TLR4 antagonist (+)-naloxone (µ-opioid receptor-inactive isomer) and mice with null mutations in the TLR4 and MyD88 genes. Sedation and motor impairment induced by a single dose of alcohol were assessed by loss of righting reflex (LORR) and rotarod tests, separately. The phosphorylation of JNK, ERK, and p38, and levels of IκBα were measured to determine the effects of acute alcohol exposure on MAPK and NFκB signalling.

After a single dose of alcohol, both pharmacological inhibition of TLR4 signalling with (+)-naloxone and genetic deficiency of TLR4 or MyD88 significantly (p < 0.0001) reduced the duration of LORR by 45-78%, and significantly (p < 0.05) decreased motor impairment recovery time to 62-88% of controls. These behavioural actions were not due to changes in the peripheral or central alcohol pharmacokinetics. IκBα levels responded to alcohol by 30 min in mixed hippocampal cell samples, from wild-type mice, but not in cells from TLR4 or MyD88 deficient mice.

These data provide new evidence that TLR4-MyD88 signalling is involved in the acute behavioural actions of alcohol in mice.



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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

NIH-supported studies show online course helps reduce harmful college drinking




An online alcohol prevention course can help reduce harmful drinking among college freshmen, but the benefits in the fall don’t last through the spring, according to a study supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health.


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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

News Release - Scripps Research Scientist Wins $3.6 Million NIH MERIT Award to Study Alcoholism in Native Americans


Scripps Research Institute Professor Cindy Ehlers has been awarded a prestigious $3.6 million MERIT (Method to Extend Research in Time) Award grant by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study the risk factors for alcoholism in Native Americans.

The five-year MERIT award will fund Ehlers' project to better understand alcohol dependence and alcohol-related problems in Native American Indians and to determine why some groups of Native Americans are at high risk for alcoholism by identifying key genetic and environmental variables. > > > > Read More

Behaviour does not fully explain the high risk of chronic liver disease in less educated men in Hungary



Hungary has among the highest mortality rates from chronic liver disease (CLD) and cirrhosis in Europe.
Usually, conventional behavioural factors are hypothesized as the cause of the high risk of CLD

A case–control study was performed with 287 cases and 892 controls to study the relationship between socio-economic and behavioural factors and the risk of CLD. Liver disease was verified by physical examination and blood tests. Blood samples were collected for detecting hepatitis B, C and E virus infection. Information on exposure factors was recorded by the participating physicians and by self-administered questionnaire. Simple regression analysis was used to study the relationship between CLD/cirrhosis and potential risk factors as alcohol intake (amount and source), problem drinking, cigarette smoking, physical activity, viral hepatitis infections, socio-economic factors (education, financial and marital status). Multiple regression analysis was used to identify whether the effect of socio-economic factors is fully mediated by health behaviour (smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity).


The univariate analysis showed that heavy alcohol consumption, problem drinking, former and heavy cigarette smoking, single, separated or divorced marital status, bad or very bad perceived financial status and lower education significantly increased the risk of CLD/cirrhosis. The effect of marital status and of education did not change after adjustment for behavioural factors, but the effect of perceived financial status disappeared.


The effect of low socio-economic status on the risk of CLD/cirrhosis is only partially explained by conventional behavioural risk factors in Hungary.




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Request Reprint E-Mail: voko@caesar.elte.hu

Diseased, Depraved or just Drunk? The Psychiatric Panic over Alcoholism in Communist Yugoslavia



In the era of Communist rule in Yugoslavia (1945–91), few problems attracted as much psychiatric attention as alcoholism. Conducting widespread epidemiological research, practitioners discovered an alarming trend as rates of the disease were seemingly rising in every territory and segment of the population. Such an upswing of problem drinking seemed to threaten the ideological, economical, and social well-being of the state and its citizens.

This widespread panic spurred psychiatric investigations into the aetiology of alcoholism. Much of this work focused on the role of the family, the workplace, class and societal changes as the genesis of problem drinking.

Ultimately, these researchers concluded that alcoholism was not merely an affliction of the individual but rather a social disease with cause and consequence extending far beyond the problem drinker.




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Request Reprint E-Mail: mathew.savelli@sant.ox.ac.uk

CDC Finds Moderate Drinking Leads To Longer Life; Buries Finding


Sometimes, it seems as if the nation’s public health mandarins are the only responsible adults in a country swarming with perpetual teenagers; and, as with teenagers or children, sometimes the adults can’t risk telling the whole truth.

Thus did Thomas Frieden, the director general of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ever so subtly spin the results of a revealing analysis of the impact of four “low risk” lifestyle behaviors on health last month: > > > > Read More

'Mixed messages': Alcohol Concern warning over alcohol and energy drinks


A new briefing paper from Alcohol Concern Wales has warned of possible dangers of mixing highly caffeinated drinks with alcohol. In particular it suggests caffeine in energy drinks can mask the effects of alcohol, meaning that drinkers may be less aware of how drunk they are, and more likely to put themselves in danger.

Download the Mixed messages briefing paper or see the press release. > > > > Read More

Monday, September 26, 2011

Alcohol in WHO Regions



Alcohol in WHO Regions

Alcohol advertising on YouTube ‘out of control’ says marketing agency


Children of any age with access to YouTube can instantly view alcohol-related content and on average, 6% of the views of adult-orientated content are by 13 to 17 year olds, according to statistics released by London-based digital agency www.AccuraCast.com. See the press release here.

The research says that if a beer or spirits commercial has had 10 million views on YouTube, on average, 600,000 children under the age of 17 will have seen it. Not only is access to content simple but as YouTube is worldwide and largely unrestricted, underage children are also able to watch alcohol promotions that link booze to sports and music celebrities and even banned advertisements that promote alcohol as ‘cool’. > > > > Read More

Alcohol as a Gender Symbol


Women and the alcohol Question in Turn-of-the Century Denmark(1)

[Foredrag på CRTI Clinical and Research Seminars. Addiction Research Foundation, Toronto, i: Scandinavian Journal of History, 24, 1999, s.45-73. ISSN 0346-8755.]

by Sidsel Eriksen

Whereas alcohol research formerly dealt with men's alcohol consumption (and abuse), recent years have seen much greater attention devoted to alcohol consumption among women.(2) Behind this attention lies the view that female alcohol consumption has been rising from a level that was "originally" low and unproblematic to an "unnaturally" high level (with the consequent rise of alcohol abuse among women) in pace with the increase in the numbers of women entering the labour market.(3) But is it so simple? What is a "natural" level of consumption for women, and how much do we know about the concrete development of alcohol consumption among women?

These are difficult questions to answer, mainly because there is no certain long term data on the extent of consumption - or for that matter abuse - of alcohol among women, but another factor is that the increased attention to the issue may in itself simply have had the effect of making women's alcohol consumption or abuse more visible. The American sociologist Kaye Middleton Fillmore, for example, has shown that assessments of the scope of women's drinking, all other things being equal, depend on the political climate for women. She says that, although there is a great deal to suggest that women's drinking patterns have been relatively constant since data became available in the 1940s, the extent of women's drinking in the 1940s and 1950s was nevertheless underestimated in research, while it has been overestimated in recent studies, simultaneously with the growing interest in women's issues.(4) Against this background, there is good reason to question the correctness of the supposedly original - and therefore natural - low level of alcohol consumption among women, and by extension, to consider how the idea arose, and above all to show what it means for what may be called specifically female patterns of drinking. > > > > Read More

Accuracy of Self-Reported Drinking: Observational Verification of ‘Last Occasion’ Drink Estimates of Young Adults



As a formative step towards determining the accuracy of self-reported drinking levels commonly used for estimating population alcohol use, the validity of a ‘last occasion’ self-reporting approach is tested with corresponding field observations of participants' drinking quantity. This study is the first known attempt to validate the accuracy of self-reported alcohol consumption using data from a natural setting.

A total of 81 young adults (aged 18–25 years) were purposively selected in Perth, Western Australia. Participants were asked to report the number of alcoholic drinks consumed at nightlife venues 1–2 days after being observed by peer-based researchers on 239 occasions. Complete observation data and self-report estimates were available for 129 sessions, which were fitted with multi-level models assessing the relationship between observed and reported consumption.

Participants accurately estimated their consumption when engaging in light to moderate drinking (eight or fewer drinks in a single session), with no significant difference between the mean reported consumption and the mean observed consumption. In contrast, participants underestimated their own consumption by increasing amounts when engaging in heavy drinking of more than eight drinks.

It is suggested that recent recall methods in self-report surveys are potentially reasonably accurate measures of actual drinking levels for light to moderate drinkers, but that underestimating of alcohol consumption increases with heavy consumption. Some of the possible reasons for underestimation of heavy drinking are discussed, with both cognitive and socio-cultural factors considered.




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Request Reprint E-Mail: j.northcote@murdoch.edu.au

The relationship between childhood depressive symptoms and problematic alcohol use in early adolescence: findings from a large longitudinal population


Depressive symptomatology can increase risk of development of alcohol problems in young people. Tension reduction and Family Interactional theories may explain the relationship between depression and problematic alcohol use in youth. This study addresses the nature of the longitudinal relationship between these two behaviours. The available literature is currently inconclusive about whether there are gender differences in these relationships; this is also examined.

The association between childhood depressive behaviours and adolescence problematic alcohol use was examined using ordered logistic regression models. Evidence of gender differences and the impact of relevant covariates on these relations were examined. Missing data were imputed using a Multiple Imputation by Chained Equation (MICE) approach.

The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), a large UK population-based birth cohort.

4220 British boys and girls.

Depressive symptomatology was assessed in childhood (mean age = 10.6, SD= 0.2) using the Short Mood and Feelings Questionnaire (SMFQ). Problematic alcohol use was assessed from several questions queried in adolescence (mean age = 13.8, SD= 0.2).

Childhood depressive symptoms were associated with increased risk of problematic alcohol use in early adolescence for girls (O.R. = 1.14, p = 0.016) but not boys. This association for girls became non-significant (O.R. = 1.12, p = 0.058) when a priori selected covariates were taken into account, particularly the family and greater social environment.

Problematic alcohol use in girls (but not boys) is associated with prior depressive symptoms. This association may be attributable to several family and social environment factors, suggesting that a family interactional theoretical model may explain these findings.


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Request Reprint E-Mail: SaracenoL@cf.ac.uk

Alcohol Policy Revolution to Get 'Green Book'



A number of interest groups and government representatives gathered at the Ministry of Social Affairs on September 23 to develop a new strategy for implementing alcohol policy.

Social Affairs Minister Hanno Pevkur says the the review will focus on how alcohol use can be curbed.

Studies have found that consumption is far higher than in Scandinavia - just under 10 liters per per person per year. Pevkur said the Swedish level - under 8 liters - could be a target. > > > > Read More

The diagnostic power of direct carbohydrate-deficient transferrin immunoassay in alcoholics. Absolute or relative values?



The objective of this study was to compare the diagnostic power of direct carbohydrate-deficient transferrin (CDT) immunoassay in alcohol abuse expressed in relative units with the diagnostic power of the results expressed in absolute units.

Serum CDT was determined in 127 alcoholics using N Latex CDT direct immunonephelometric assay (Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics, Marburg, Germany).

The diagnostic sensitivity, specificity, negative and positive predictive value, and also the positive and negative likelihood ratios do not differ between results expressed in relative or absolute units independently of cutoff chosen.

Finally, the area under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves for N Latex CDT test expressed in absolute units does not differ from the area for results expressed in relative units.

We conclude that the diagnostic usefulness of N Latex immunonephelometric assay using the relative or absolute values is the same.



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Request Reprint E-Mail: chrostek@umwb.edu.pl

Alcohol News - 39/2011



The Copenhagen Post (Denmark) - WHO concerned about Danish kids’ drinking habits
Denmark has been criticised for its dangerously high rates of teen drinking in a new World Health Organisation (WHO) report.
Bloomberg (Estonia) - Estonian Government Approves Alcohol-Tax Increase From January
Estonia’s government agreed to raise alcohol taxes from January to keep the budget deficit within European Union rules.
Herald Sun (Finland) - Study: Loners likely to drink to an early death
LIVING alone has a new downside: a greater chance of drinking yourself to death. Not only are the bills all yours, but social isolation increases the likelihood of dying of a smorgasbord of alcohol-related causes, Finnish researchers say.
Helsingin Sanomat (Finland) - Hundreds of Finnish newborn babies damaged by alcohol
Hundreds, and possibly thousands of children in Finland are born each year suffering from the ill effects caused by alcohol consumed by the mother during pregnancy. According to Research Professor Ilona Autti-Rämö of the Social Insurance Institution KELA, the problem is getting worse.
Helsingin Sanomat (Finland) - Alko not interested in home delivery of alcoholic beverages
Alko, the Finnish state-owned retail monopoly for spirits, wines, and strong beer, does not plan to follow suit if Sweden’s Systembolaget implements plans to offer home delivery of beverages.
Indian Express (Sweden) - Children with alcoholic parents likely to be driven to drink
A study has revealed that children whose parents are alcoholics are at a greater risk of consuming alcohol when they come across stressful situations. The research from the Sahlgrenska Academy, at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, sheds new light on the link between alcoholic parents and 50 per cent of children having drinking habits in the future.
The Local.se (Sweden) - Systembolaget mulls home delivery
Sweden's state-run alcohol retail monopoly Systembolaget is considering plans to expand its current e-commerce to include a home delivery service.
The Guardian - Facebook deal with Diageo fuels under-age drinking fears
A multimillion-dollar deal agreed between Facebook and drinks company Diageo will fuel the under-age drinking epidemic by exposing increasing numbers of young people to alcohol marketing, health experts are warning.
The Press Association (Wales) - Alcohol and energy drinks warning
Drinkers may be putting themselves at risk by mixing alcohol with energy drinks, a new report has warned. According to a new paper by charity Alcohol Concern, caffeine in energy drinks can mask the effects of alcohol and make drinkers less aware of how drunk they are.
The Associated Press (USA) - Local governments tap alcohol sales for revenue
Dee Gusewelle used to rail against the sale of alcohol, posting signs in her yard and encouraging neighbors and passersby to keep booze out of this patch of northern Arkansas.
Wall Street Journal - New Rules for Alcohol Companies to Advertise and Market on Social Networks
Alcohol marketers are going to have to start carding at the door to their social networking fan pages. Starting Sept. 30, spirits makers in the U.S. and Europe will be held to a new set of self-regulatory guidelines for advertising and marketing on social networking sites and other digital media designed to prevent marketing their products to kids.
Herald Scotland (Scotland) - City’s drink hot-spots to face major crackdown
HUNDREDS of licensed premises will be visited in the coming weeks and warned they have one month to get their houses in order as a new dedicated police squad moves to clean up Glasgow’s alcohol trouble spots.
MSN NZ News (New Zealand) - The problem of alcohol and sport
New Zealanders are divided on whether professional sports people should be banned from drinking when they are on tour.
French Tribune (Australia) - Alcohol Important Component of Australian Culture: Survey
A survey has found that Australian teenagers feel that alcohol has been an important component of their culture, and drinking to a certain limit does not harm anyone.
Huffington Post (USA) - Binge-Drinking Among Women Is Up: Study
People born after the World War II era -- especially women -- are more likely than their ancestors to binge drink and develop alcohol disorders, according to a new review of studies.
Sydney Morning Herald - Red repudiated to the last drop
Red wine's reputation for preventing heart attacks has come under fire from health experts who have declared every drink of alcohol can do you damage.
Indian Express (India) - Around 13000 caught driving under influence of alcohol in Delhi
Around 13,000 drunken drivers have been challaned or jailed so far this year -- the highest for any year in the city's history -- due to an aggressive drive which police claim has paid high dividends with the reduction in the number of accidents.
AllAfrica.com (Zimbabwe) - Alcohol, Tobacco Taxes - Avoid 'Killjoy' Approach
For decades, finance ministers around the world did complex calculations when setting their "sin taxes" on alcohol and tobacco products.
Philippine Star (Cambodia) - Cambodia begins to ban ads of alcohol drinks in public
Cambodia began to ban all advertisements of alcohol drinks in public with an aim to reduce the alarming rate of traffic accidents that were merely caused by drunk drivers, according to a new notice received Wednesday.
The Drum - Analysis: Do alcohol and YouTube mix?
Farhad Divecha, director of AccuraCast, discusses the relationship between alcohol marketing and YouTube's potentially under-age audience.
Myjoyonline.com (Ghana) - Comment: Feminine face of alcohol in Ghana
It’s all common to find our women dancing, exposing part of their body, and singing all in the name of alcohol. For the past one decade in the history of Ghana, our country has witnessed the proliferation of alcohol products with major advertisement in either a huge bill board in town or ads on our major television stations.
The Conversation - Last drinks: regulating alcohol to prevent non-communicable diseases
Paula O'Brien looks at the what The Lancet NCD Action Group and the NCD Alliance name as one of the priority interventions for mitigating the impact of NCDs: reduction in hazardous alcohol intake.
Primedia Broadcasting (South Africa) - Government to finalise alcohol legislation
The legislation governing alcohol advertising could be finalised by the end of November. Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini on Thursday said government was going ahead with drastic methods which included bans on alcohol marketing.
The Daily Star (Lebanon) - Decision to prohibit alcohol sale in Hadath late at night sparks controversy
While recent bans on the sale of alcohol in predominantly Shiite towns have been implemented rather quietly, a decision prohibiting the sale of alcohol late at night is dividing residents in the town of Hadath.
Irish Times (Ireland) - Shortall wants to end below-cost alcohol sales
MINISTER OF State for Health Róisín Shortall has said she is in favour of introducing a minimum price for alcohol being sold in supermarkets and other shops to make alcohol products more expensive.
Sky News (North Ireland) - Drink-Drive Limit In N Ireland Set To Halve
The drink-drive limit is set to be almost halved for most motorists in Northern Ireland - prompting speculation the change could be extended to the entire UK.
Care2.com - Is Booze Causing Europe’s Economic Woes?
It’s a long known economic joke that the only recession proof investment is alcohol — no matter what happens, consumption never seems to lag. Oddly, the opposite is holding true for European liquor outfits, which have had to cut hundreds of thousands of jobs because of declining demand and increasing prices.

Executive functioning and alcohol binge drinking in university students



Binge drinking (BD) is prevalent among college students. Studies on alcoholism have shown that the prefrontal cortex is vulnerable to the neurotoxic effects of alcohol. The prefrontal cortex undergoes both structural and functional changes during adolescence and young adulthood. Sex differences have been observed in brain maturation and in alcohol-induced damage. The objective of the present study was to analyze the relationship between BD and cognitive functions subserved by the prefrontal cortex in male and female university students.

The sample comprised 122 undergraduates (aged 18 to 20 years): 62 BD (30 female) and 60 non-BD (29 female). Executive functions were assessed by WMS-III (Backward Digit Span and Backward Spatial Span), SOPT (abstract designs), Letter Fluency (PMR), BADS (Zoo Map and Key Search) and WCST-3.

BD students scored lower in the Backward Digit Span Subtest and generated more perseverative responses in the SOPT In relation to interaction BD by sex, BD males scored lower in the Backward Digit Span test than BD females and non-BD males.

BD is associated with poorer performance of executive functions subserved by the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. The results do not support enhanced vulnerability of women to alcohol neurotoxic effects. These difficulties may reflect developmental delay or frontal lobe dysfunction.



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Alcohol Increases the Permeability of Airway Epithelial Tight Junctions in Beas-2B and NHBE Cells


Tight junctions form a continuous belt-like structure between cells and act to regulate paracellular signaling. Protein kinase C (PKC) has been shown to regulate tight junction assembly and disassembly and is activated by alcohol. Previous research has shown that alcohol increases the permeability of tight junctions in lung alveolar cells. However, little is known about alcohol’s effect on tight junctions in epithelium of the conducting airways. We hypothesized that long-term alcohol exposure reduces zonula occluden-1 (ZO-1) and claudin-1 localization at the cell membrane and increases permeability through a PKC-dependent mechanism

To test this hypothesis, we exposed normal human bronchial epithelial (NHBE) cells, cells from a human bronchial epithelial transformed cell line (Beas-2B), and Beas-2B expressing a PKCα dominant negative (DN) to alcohol (20, 50, and 100 mM) for up to 48 hours. Immunofluorescence was used to assess changes in ZO-1, claudin-1, claudin-5, and claudin-7 localization. Electric cell–substrate impedance sensing was used to measure the permeability of tight junctions between monolayers of NHBE, Beas-2B, and DN cells.

Alcohol increased tight junction permeability in a concentration-dependent manner and decreased ZO-1, claudin-1, claudin-5, and claudin-7 localization at the cell membrane. To determine a possible signaling mechanism, we measured the activity of PKC isoforms (alpha, delta, epsilon, and zeta). PKCα activity significantly increased in Beas-2B cells from 1 to 6 hours of 100 mM alcohol exposure, while PKCζ activity significantly decreased at 1 hour and increased at 3 hours. Inhibiting PKCα with Gö-6976 prevented the alcohol-induced protein changes in both ZO-1 and claudin-1 at the cell membrane. PKCα DN Beas-2B cells were resistant to alcohol-induced protein alterations.

These results suggest that alcohol disrupts ZO-1, claudin-1, claudin-5, and claudin-7 through the activation of PKCα, leading to an alcohol-induced “leakiness” in bronchial epithelial cells. Such alcohol-induced airway-leak state likely contributes to the impaired airway host defenses associated with acute and chronic alcohol ingestion.



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Alcohol drink-driving limit to be cut


In a major shake-up of drink-driving laws the legal alcohol limit for motorists is to be reduced by almost half, bringing Northern Ireland in line with most other European countries.

The present limit of 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood is to be cut to 50mg as part of a significant rethink of drink-driving laws by the Environment Minister. For inexperienced drivers and those who drive for a living, such as ambulance and taxi drivers, the limit will be slashed to 20mg.

Alex Attwood’s proposed road safety legislation will also see the introduction of random breath testing by police. > > > > Read More

A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial to Assess the Efficacy of Quetiapine Fumarate XR in Very Heavy-Drinking Alcohol-Dependent Patients



Despite advances in developing medications to treat alcohol dependence, few such medications have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Identified molecular targets are encouraging and can lead to the development and testing of new compounds. Atypical antipsychotic medications have been explored with varying results. Prior research suggests that the antipsychotic quetiapine may be beneficial in an alcohol-dependent population of very heavy drinkers.

In this double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 224 alcohol-dependent patients who reported very heavy drinking were recruited across 5 clinical sites. Patients received either quetiapine or placebo and Medical Management behavioral intervention. Patients were stratified on gender, clinical site, and reduction in drinking prior to randomization.

No differences between the quetiapine and placebo groups were detected in the primary outcome, percentage heavy-drinking days, or other drinking outcomes. Quetiapine significantly reduced depressive symptoms and improved sleep but had no effect on other nondrinking outcomes. Results from a subgroup analysis suggest that patients who reduced their drinking prior to randomization had significantly better drinking outcomes during the maintenance phase (p < 0.0001). No significant interactions, however, were observed between reducer status and treatment group. Finally, quetiapine was generally well tolerated. Statistically significant adverse events that were more common with quetiapine versus placebo include dizziness (14 vs. 4%), dry mouth (32 vs. 9%), dyspepsia (13 vs. 2%), increased appetite (11 vs. 1%), sedation (15 vs. 3%), and somnolence (34 vs. 9%).

This multisite clinical trial showed no efficacy for quetiapine compared with placebo at reducing alcohol consumption in heavy-drinking alcohol-dependent patients.


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Severity of Acute Illness is Associated with Baseline Readiness to Change in Medical Intensive Care Unit Patients with Unhealthy Alcohol Use



Unhealthy alcohol use predisposes to multiple conditions that frequently result in critical illness and is present in up to one-third of patients admitted to a medical intensive care unit (ICU). We sought to determine the baseline readiness to change in medical ICU patients with unhealthy alcohol use and hypothesized that the severity of acute illness would be independently associated with higher scores on readiness to change scales. We further sought to determine whether this effect is modified by the severity of unhealthy alcohol use.

We performed a cross-sectional observational study of current regular drinkers in 3 medical ICUs. The Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test was used to differentiate low-risk and unhealthy alcohol use and further categorize patients into risky alcohol use or an alcohol use disorder. The severity of a patient’s acute illness was assessed by calculating the Acute Physiologic and Chronic Health Evaluation II (APACHE II) score at the time of admission to the medical ICU. Readiness to change was assessed using standardized questionnaires.

Of 101 medical ICU patients who were enrolled, 65 met the criteria for unhealthy alcohol use. The association between the severity of acute illness and readiness to change depended on the instrument used. A higher severity of illness measured by APACHE II score was an independent predictor of readiness to change as assessed by the Stages of Change Readiness and Treatment Eagerness Scale (Taking Action scale; p < 0.01). When a visual analog scale was used to assess readiness to change, there was a significant association with severity of acute illness (p < 0.01) that was modified by the severity of unhealthy alcohol use (p = 0.04 for interaction term).

Medical ICU patients represent a population where brief interventions require further study. Studies of brief intervention should account for the severity of acute illness and the severity of unhealthy alcohol use as potential effect modifiers.


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