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Drug eases recovery for those with severe alcohol withdrawal -- ScienceDaily

According to the researchers, subjects with more severe symptoms -- including shakes, heightened cravings and anxiety, and difficulty sleeping -- who received prazosin significantly reduced the number of heavy drinking episodes and days they drank compared to those who received a placebo. The drug had little effect on those with few or no withdrawal symptoms. "There has been no treatment readily available for people who experience severe withdrawal symptoms and these are the people at highest risk of relapse and are most likely to end up in hospital emergency rooms," said corresponding author Rajita Sinha, the Foundations Fund Professor of Psychiatry, a professor of neuroscience, and director of the Yale Stress Center.

Chronic alcohol use reshapes the brain's immune landscape, driving anxiety and addiction -- ScienceDaily

In mice with chronic alcohol use, IL-10 was significantly reduced in the amygdala and didn't signal properly to neurons, contributing to increased alcohol intake. By boosting IL-10 signaling in the brain, however, the scientists could reverse the aberrant effects. Notably, they observed a stark reduction in anxiety-like behaviors and motivation to drink alcohol. "We've shown that inflammatory immune responses in the brain are very much at play in the development and maintenance of alcohol use disorder," Roberto says. "But perhaps more importantly, we provided a new framework for therapeutic intervention, pointing to anti-inflammatory mechanisms."

Smartphones can tell when you're drunk by analyzing your walk -- ScienceDaily

"In 5 years, I would like to imagine a world in which if people go out with friends and drink at risky levels," Suffoletto says, "they get an alert at the first sign of impairment and are sent strategies to help them stop drinking and protect them from high-risk events like driving, interpersonal violence and unprotected sexual encounters."

A pill to fight alcoholism causes an uproar in France

Among the issues they cited was the ANSM decision to approve baclofen before the second study was publicly available. Even before publication, the academics noted the trial sponsor — the Public Assistance Hospital in Paris — touted results in a press release. The hospital also sold study data to Ethypharm, a small company that sought regulatory approval to market the drug, although this was not disclosed in the paper. Curiously, Ethypharm also performed the analysis that was the basis for the ANSM decision. When the Bacloville study was finally published last December, the group of researchers discovered an unexplained change in the primary outcome, a practice that is frowned upon because it can suggest an attempt to achieve desired results. The researchers contend the change in outcomes made it harder to analyze what, if any, difference baclofen had on patients, leading to a bias in favor of the drug. “Biased trials lead to biased decisions, and biased decisions mean that people get treatment that doesn’t work, possibly don’t get treatment that does work, can be harmed by treatment and it costs the health care system more,” said Joel Lexchin, a professor of family and community medicine at the University of Toronto, and one of the researchers who have criticized the Bacloville study.

An Alcoholic Parent Can Affect How a Child's Brain Switches Tasks - Scientific American

The scans showed that individuals without FHA went through a transient period between the game task and the resting state in which some brain regions—frontal, parietal and visual areas, in particular—reconfigured the way in which they communicated with one another. People with FHA experienced fewer changes—even after the researchers controlled for factors such as age, gender, motion in the fMRI scanner, drinking and depression. “It looks like FHA impacts the mental preparation to switch from performing one task to another,” Amico says. “This could be analogous to the process of clearing the cache of your smartphone when you want it to switch faster between apps. The problem is that this ‘cache-clearing process’ might be impaired in brains with family history of alcoholism.”

What Does It Mean to Have a Serious Drinking Problem? - The New York Times

I didn’t join A.A., though I don’t rule it out. I sought support from my husband, daughter and friends — those I’d offended, those surprised I even had a problem. I devoured others’ stories, watching movies about alcoholics, reading memoirs, lurking in sub-Reddits for people struggling to quit. But what really kept me on the path was the remarkable difference between the drinking and not drinking me. I hadn’t grasped the degree to which a sense of shame had insidiously undergirded my life. Now it was gone, replaced by an unaccustomed pride. The longer I abstained, the better I felt, in ways that spilled into marriage, work, parenting, friendships. Recently, someone unaware I’d quit told me I looked years younger. I’m more patient. My headaches are infrequent, my energy up. Those results fit with a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, among the first focused on moderate drinkers’ mental health. Researchers studying cohorts of people in Hong Kong and the United States found even “safe” drinkers, women in particular, showed improved well-being if they stopped. Today, I can label myself. I had moderate alcohol use disorder, a “chronic relapsing brain disease” marked by loss of control over alcohol. The National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse says 6.2 percent of American adults, more than 15 million people, are on the alcohol use disorder spectrum. (Other research puts the numbers higher.) I’d guess many, like me, drink modestly enough that they don’t believe they have a problem. I feel lucky I quit before anything worse happened.

In mice, alcohol dependence results in brain-wide remodeling of functional architecture -- ScienceDaily

"The neuroscience of addiction has made tremendous progress, but the focus has always been on a limited number of brain circuits and neurotransmitters, primarily dopaminergic neurons, the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex," said senior author Olivier George, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UC San Diego School of Medicine. "Research groups have been fighting for years about whether 'their' brain circuit is the key to addiction. Our results confirm these regions are important, but the fact that we see such a massive remodeling of the functional brain architecture was a real shock. It's like studying the solar system and then discovering that there is an entire universe behind it. It shows that if you really want to understand the neurobiological mechanisms leading to addiction, you can't just look at a handful of brain regions, you need to look at the entire brain, you need to take a step back and consider the whole organ." George said the findings further undermine the idea that addiction is simply a psychological condition or consequence of lifestyle. "You would be surprised at how prevalent this view remains," he said. "The brain-wide remodeling of the functional architecture observed here is not 'normal.' It is not observed in a naïve animal. It is not observed in an animal that drinks recreationally. It is only observed in animals with a history of alcohol dependence and it is massive. Such a decrease in brain modularity has been observed in numerous brain disorders, including Alzheimer's disease, traumatic brain injury and seizure disorders." Brain modularity is the theory that there are functionally specialized regions in the brain responsible for different, specific cognitive processes. For example, the frontal lobes of the human brain are involved in executive functions, such as reasoning and planning, while the fusiform face area located in the lower rear of the brain is involved in recognizing faces. Reduced modularity, said George, likely interferes with "normal neuronal activity and information processing and contributes to cognitive impairment, emotional distress and intense craving observed in mice during abstinence from alcohol." Due to the format of the testing, George said it was not clear if the reduced modularity was permanent. "So far, we only know that it lasts at least one week into abstinence. We have not tested longer durations of abstinence, but it's one of our goals."

The Art of Dying | The New Yorker

I was climbing stairs and paused, too exhausted for another step. I harbored a nebulous conviction that I could tolerate only so much pain, short of a red zone in which I would go mad or die or something terrible would happen. And that anyone should see as much and want me to do anything—have a drink or a drug, for starters—to make it stop. I thought, They say one day at a time. How about one second? I stared at my ticking watch. A black abyss opened. I was numbly aware that I wasn’t insane. I wasn’t dying. Reality was droning on as usual, with impartial sunlight streaming through a nearby window and picking out swirls of dust motes. A perfectly demented thought blazed up. Roughly: What if they find out I’m not really an alcoholic and throw me out of here? I need this place! I believe it was the last, deepest rootlet of my denial, expelled. Not an alcoholic?

The Art of Dying | The New Yorker

See, Brooke is a child of alcoholics, as I’m not. I grew up and became one. She grew up and married one. She knew I was a mess but thought the drinking part was normal, until she got wise and kicked me out of the house. (Note to anyone who knows an active alcoholic: never, ever sympathize. If you suspect you’re going to, shut your eyes, plug your ears, and hum.)

What Chris said

I figuratively put all the chemicals in a funnel, and they came out bourbon. Jack Daniel’s-on-the-rocks, with a splash, except when scarce funds reduced me to Heaven Hill. Alcohol was liberating for me at first. A standard progression: great, good, fair, poor, bad, very bad, and then a phase for which any word but “Hell” fails. Halfway through the second drink, there may be a flicker of the old euphoria, quickly snuffed. You chase it in vain for the rest of a wretched night. It’s over for you. A line has been crossed. Yet you cannot imagine yourself not drinking. The obsession is at one with your core sense of self.

Consuming alcohol leads to epigenetic changes in brain memory centers -- ScienceDaily

n, in mouse models, how acetate -- a byproduct of the alcohol breakdown produced mostly in the liver -- travels to the brain's learning system and directly alters proteins that regulate DNA function. This impacts how some genes are expressed and ultimately affects how mice behave when given environmental cues to consume alcohol. Their findings were published today in Nature. "It was a huge surprise to us that metabolized alcohol is directly used by the body to add chemicals called acetyl groups to the proteins that package DNA, called histones," said the study's senior author Shelley Berger, PhD, the Daniel S. Och University Professor in the departments Cell and Developmental Biology and Biology, and director of the Penn Epigenetics Institute. "To our knowledge, this data provides the first empirical evidence indicating that a portion of acetate derived from alcohol metabolism directly influences epigenetic regulation in the brain."

Light drinking may be beneficial in type 2 diabetes: Further research needed -- ScienceDaily

The authors found ten relevant RCTs involving 575 participants that were included in this review. Meta-analysis showed that alcohol consumption was associated with reduced triglyceride levels and insulin levels, but had no statistically significant effect on fasting blood glucose levels, glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c, a measure of blood glucose control), or total cholesterol, low density lipoprotein (bad) cholesterol, and high density lipoprotein (good) cholesterol. Subgroup analysis indicated that drinking light to moderate amounts of alcohol decreased the levels of triglycerides (blood fats) and insulin in people with T2DM. Light to moderate drinking was defined by the authors as 20g or less of alcohol per day. This translates to approximately 1.5 cans of beer (330ml, 5% alcohol), a large (200ml) glass of wine (12% alcohol) or a 50ml serving of 40% alcohol spirit (for example vodka/gin).

Or was it the "speed"?

The rates of traffic and moving violations were also significantly higher among young drivers with ADHD as compared to those without ADHD. Among these drivers, nearly 37 percent were issued a traffic violation and nearly 27 percent a moving violation within their first year of driving, compared to 25 percent and 18 percent respectively among their peers without ADHD. Drivers with ADHD had higher rates of alcohol or drug violations and moving violations (including speeding, nonuse of seat belts, and electronic equipment use). Their rate was 3.5 times that of young drivers without ADHD in the first year of driving and 1.5 times that of young drivers without ADHD in the first four years of driving.

Oxytocin could help treat alcohol use disorder -- ScienceDaily

Administering oxytocin can decrease consumption, withdrawal symptoms, and drug-seeking behavior associated with several drugs of abuse, and shows promise as a pharmacological approach to treat drug addiction. But first, researchers need to understand how oxytocin mediates these effects in animal models. To address this question, Tunstall and colleagues tested the hypothesis that oxytocin administration could normalize the maladaptive brain changes that occur in alcohol dependence and thereby reduce alcohol drinking in an established rat model of alcohol dependence. The authors investigated oxytocin's effects on dependence-induced alcohol consumption and altered signaling of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA in the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA) -- a key brain region in the network affected by alcohol dependence.

Heavy drinking may change DNA, leading to increased craving for alcohol: Genetic vicious cycle may reinforce risky drinking behavior -- ScienceDaily

Scientists at Rutgers and Yale University School of Medicine focused on two genes implicated in the control of drinking behavior: PER2, which influences the body's biological clock, and POMC, which regulates our stress-response system. By comparing groups of moderate, binge and heavy drinkers, the researchers found that the two genes had changed in the binge and heavy drinkers through an alcohol-influenced gene modification process called methylation. The binge and heavy drinkers also showed reductions in gene expression, or the rate at which these genes create proteins. These changes increased with greater alcohol intake. Additionally, in an experiment, the drinkers viewed stress-related, neutral or alcohol-related images. They also were shown containers of beer and subsequently tasted beer, and their motivation to drink was evaluated. The result: alcohol-fueled changes in the genes of binge and heavy drinkers were associated with a greater desire for alcohol.

Just a few drinks can change how memories are formed -- ScienceDaily

One of the downstream dominos in the signaling pathway affected by alcohol is a gene called dopamine-2-like receptor, which makes a protein on neurons that recognizes dopamine, the "feel-good" neurotransmitter. "The dopamine-2-like receptor is known to be involved in encoding whether a memory is pleasing or aversive," Petruccelli said. And alcohol hijacks this conserved memory pathway to form cravings. In the case of the alcohol reward pathway studied, the signaling cascade didn't turn the dopamine receptor gene on or off, or increase or decrease the amount of protein made, Kaun said. Instead, it had a subtler effect -- it changed the version of the protein made by a single amino acid "letter" in an important area. "We don't know what the biological consequences of that small change are, but one of the important findings from this study is that scientists need to look not only at which genes are being turned on and off, but which forms of each gene are getting turned on and off," Kaun said. "We think these results are highly likely to translate to other forms of addiction, but nobody has investigated that."

New target of alcohol in the brain -- ScienceDaily

"The KCNK13 channel is absolutely required for alcohol to stimulate the release of dopamine by these neurons," said Mark Brodie, professor of physiology and biophysics in the UIC College of Medicine and lead author of the study. "Without the channel, alcohol can't stimulate the release of dopamine, and so drinking is likely less rewarding. We think that the KCNK13 channel presents an extremely exciting new target for drugs that could potentially help people with alcohol use disorder to stop drinking."

The Truth About Prescription Pills: One Writer's Story of Anxiety and Addiction — Vogue - Vogue

Like me, she wasn’t a vodka-in-the-morning drinker, but when she drank—usually California Chardonnays—she couldn’t stop. She’d get high and silly and then, at the drop of a dime, she’d turn mean, lashing out at those closest to her. It was so contrary to her fundamental nature—kind, compassionate, sensitive—and she hated herself for the times she hurt our family. But ultimately, no pill or drink, no amount of love, could soothe her sadness. When I was 22, she took her life. I worried that her suffering was a warning, a glimpse of what my future might be if I didn’t change things.

How a single binge drinking episode affects gene that regulates sleep: Discovery explains alcohol's link to brain activity, sleep disturbances -- ScienceDaily

Using a mouse model, Thakkar monitored the effect of binge drinking on sleep patterns. Thakkar found mice exposed to binge drinking experienced a significant increase in non-rapid eye movement sleep four hours post-binge, followed by increased wakefulness and reduced sleep during subsequent sleep periods. Thakkar also discovered post-binge mice did not experience an increase in a sleep promoting chemical, adenosine, in the brain nor increased sleep pressure during sleep deprivation. The research also revealed binge alcohol consumption affects the gene that regulates sleep, resulting in sleep disturbances. "What we have shown in this research is that a particular gene -- which is very important for sleep homeostasis -- is altered by just one session of binge drinking," Thakkar said. "We were not expecting this. We thought it would be affected after multiple sessions of binge drinking, not one. That tells you that as soon as you consume four drinks, it can alter your genes."

Binge drinking during youth may impact future offspring: Rat model finds parent's alcohol exposure limits offspring's growth, alters play behavior -- ScienceDaily

Researchers found that a rat model of binge-pattern drinking during puberty had several consequences for the animals' offspring, including smaller body weight, fewer play behaviors, and decreased circulating testosterone. In addition, the parents did not pass down to the offspring any adaptive traits that allowed them to better tolerate alcohol.

The real reason why women drink — Quartz

That’s the summer I realize that everyone around me is tanked. But it also dawns on me that the women are super double tanked — that to be a modern, urbane woman means to be a serious drinker. This isn’t a new idea — just ask the Sex and the City girls (or the flappers). A woman with a single malt scotch is bold and discerning and might fire you from her life if you fuck with her. A woman with a PBR is a Cool Girl who will not be shamed for belching. A woman drinking MommyJuice wine is saying she’s more than the unpaid labor she gave birth to. The things women drink are signifiers for free time and self-care and conversation — you know, luxuries we can’t afford. How did you not see this before? I ask myself. You were too hammered, I answer back. That summer I see, though. I see that booze is the oil in our motors, the thing that keeps us purring when we should be making other kinds of noise.

Wasted lives: The cost of alcohol addiction - British Columbia - CBC News

Last year, at least 36 per cent of emergency room visits to St. Paul's and Vancouver General Hospital for substance abuse were alcohol-related.  That number is conservative and just relates to cases where excessive drinking was the cause, Ahamad said. It doesn't include broken bones, injuries related to impaired driving, violence caused by someone who had been drinking or other long-term consequences of alcohol abuse.   By comparison, 24 per cent of emergency room visits relating to substance abuse were because of opioids. In Canada, as a whole, there were more hospital admissions for alcohol-related conditions than for heart attacks last year and the cost to the medical system is high, with the average stay entirely caused by alcohol estimated at more than $8,000.

Spatial and Sex-Dependent Responses of Adult Endogenous Neural Stem Cells to Alcohol Consumption: Stem Cell Reports

hronic alcohol abuse results in alcohol-related neurodegeneration, and critical gaps in our knowledge hinder therapeutic development. Neural stem cells (NSCs) are a subpopulation of cells within the adult brain that contribute to brain maintenance and recovery. While it is known that alcohol alters NSCs, little is known about how NSC response to alcohol is related to sex, brain region, and stage of differentiation. Understanding these relationships will aid in therapeutic development. Here, we used an inducible transgenic mouse model to track the stages of differentiation of adult endogenous NSCs and observed distinct NSC behaviors in three brain regions (subventricular zone, subgranular zone, and tanycyte layer) after long-term alcohol consumption. Particularly, chronic alcohol consumption profoundly affected the survival of NSCs in the subventricular zone and altered NSC differentiation in all three regions. Significant differences between male and female mice were further discovered.

Young binge drinkers show altered brain activity: Scientists have found distinctive changes in brain activity in binge-drinking college students, which may be an early marker of brain damage -- ScienceDaily

Compared with the non-bingers, the binge drinkers demonstrated altered brain activity at rest. They showed significantly higher measurements of specific electrophysiological parameters, known as beta and theta oscillations, in brain regions called the right temporal lobe and bilateral occipital cortex. Surprisingly, previous studies have found very similar alterations in the brains of adult chronic alcoholics. While the young bingers in this study might occasionally consume alcohol to excess, they did not fit the criteria for alcoholism. So, what does this mean? The changes might indicate a decreased ability to respond to external stimuli and potential difficulties in information processing capacity in young binge drinkers, and may represent some of the first signs of alcohol-induced brain damage.

Tanning dependence linked to other addictive behaviors, new study finds -- ScienceDaily

The connections between tanning dependence and other disorders revealed by the study represent an opportunity for clinicians to address those related conditions. "People who are tanning dependent could also be assessed for SAD," said Cartmel. "There are ways of addressing SAD other than indoor tanning. Regarding the alcohol dependence association, it may be possible that addressing that behavior could help address tanning dependence." The underlying mechanisms for the addiction to UV light are not yet fully understood. According to other studies, "The biological rationale for tanning dependence is that exposure to UV light results in both melanin, and endorphin production," said Cartmel. She also added that there was another interesting preliminary finding: those with tanning dependence were five times more likely to exhibit "exercise addiction." She said it is too early, however, to determine the implication. "Exercise addiction" itself has really not been well researched," she said. "One hypothesis behind the finding is that people who exercise excessively do so because they are very aware of their appearance, and they also feel that being tanned improves their appearance. Or it may be that we will eventually find out that these individuals have more of an addictive or risk-taking personality type. If you have one type of dependence, you may be more likely to have another addiction," Cartmel said.

How Exercise Helped Me Stop Drinking | Fitness Magazine

What's a sure way to convince yourself you don't have a drinking problem? Waking up at 5 a.m. every Saturday for training runs. Being productive and accomplished gave me a free pass to reward myself and celebrate into the wee hours of the morning. I tried to manage and control my drinking via my "work hard, play hard" motto, but then came my early 30s and four small children. My husband often worked at night, which left me flying solo with the kids. I'd laugh with my other mom-friends about drinking a bottle of wine to cope with the stress. What I didn't share was that I hated who I was when I drank. And I certainly didn't tell them about the blackouts and intense anxiety that came with it.