Many alcoholic beverages contain byproducts of the materials used in the fermenting process. These byproducts are called "congeners, " complex organic molecules with toxic effects including acetone, acetaldehyde, fusel oil, tannins, and furfural. Bourbon has 37 times the amount of congeners that vodka has. A new study has found that while drinking a lot of bourbon can cause a worse hangover than drinking a lot of vodka, impairment in people's next-day task performance is about the same for both beverages. Results will be published in the March 2010 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View. "While the toxic chemicals called congeners could be poisonous in large amounts, they occur in very small amounts in alcoholic beverages, " explained Damaris J. Rohsenow, professor of community health at the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies at Brown University. "There are far more of them in the darker distilled beverages and wines than in the lighter colored ones.
Excessive sway during quiet standing is a common and significant consequence of chronic alcoholism, even after prolonged sobriety, and can lead to fall-related injury and even death. A new study of residual postural instability in alcohol-abstinent men and women shows that alcoholics improve with prolonged sobriety, but the improvement may not fully erase the problem of instability. Results will be published in the March 2010 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View. "Caricatures depict acutely intoxicated individuals with a stumbling, weaving, wobbly gait, " said Edith V. Sullivan, professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine and corresponding author for the study. "With sobriety, gait and balance become stable. However, even with prolonged sobriety, people with long-term chronic alcohol dependence can have difficulty in standing upright. Their balance can be marked by sway that exceeds what most of us experience while standing still in one place, especially with feet together and hands down by one's side, that is, without use of natural stabilizing factors.
Students who watch as their peers endure the verbal or physical abuses of another student could become as psychologically distressed, if not more so, by the events than the victims themselves, new research suggests. Bullies and bystanders may also be more likely to take drugs and drink alcohol, according to the findings, which are reported in the December issue of School Psychology Quarterly, published by the American Psychological Association. "It's well documented that children and adolescents who are exposed to violence within their families or outside of school are at a greater risk for mental health problems than those children who are not exposed to any violence, " said the study's lead author, Ian Rivers, PhD. "It should not be a surprise that violence at school will pose the same kind of risk." Researchers surveyed 2, 002 students ages 12 to 16 at 14 public schools in England. The students were presented with a list of numerous bullying behaviors, such as name-calling, kicking, hitting, spreading rumors and threatening violence.
Prior studies have not only demonstrated a clear connection between alcohol outlets and alcohol-related problems, they have also shown that certain types of outlets are associated with different types of problem outcomes. A new study shows that a particular group, underage youth and young adults, have specific problems - injury accidents, traffic crashes, and assaults that are related to specific types of alcohol outlets - off-premise outlets, bars and restaurants. Results will be published in the March 2010 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View. "Over the past four decades, public health researchers have come to recognize that although most drinkers safely purchase and enjoy alcohol from alcohol outlets, these places are also associated with serious alcohol-related problems among young people and adults, " said Paul J. Gruenewald, senior research scientist at the Prevention Research Center and corresponding author for the study.
Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States. Roughly eight to 12 percent of marijuana users are considered "dependent" and, just like alcohol, the severity of symptoms increases with heavier use. A new study has found that use and misuse of alcohol and marijuana are influenced by a common set of genes. Results will be published in the March 2010 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View. "Results from a large annual survey of high-school students show that in 2008, 41.8 percent of 12th graders reported having used marijuana, " explained Carolyn E. Sartor, a research instructor at Washington University School of Medicine and corresponding author for the study. "Although many may have used the drug on only a few occasions, 5.4 percent of 12th graders reported using it daily within the preceding month." "The active ingredient in marijuana is THC, which mimics natural cannabinoids that the brain produces, " added Christian Hopfer, associate professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
Prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) has been linked to a wide array of developmental deficits, including significant impairments in social skills. An examination of a social- skills intervention called Children's Friendship Training found that it led to a decrease in hostile attributions or perceptions of children with PAE. Results will be published in the February 2010 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. "Children with PAE have a hard time making and keeping friends, " explained the study's corresponding author Vivien Keil, who was a staff research associate in the department of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA when the research was conducted. "More specifically, they tend to have difficulty understanding social cues and common social norms, " she said. "In order to make and keep friends, we must be able to read social cues such as facial expressions and other body language. If a child makes hostile attributions, this means that s/he is more likely to perceive that the people around them are hostile or negative and, as a result, s/he is likely to respond in a hostile manner, thus undermining successful social relationships.
The integration of alcohol screening, treatment and referral into primary care and other medical settings is not routinely done. Nor are there any studies evaluating the effectiveness of integrating care for alcohol use disorders (AUDs) into routine treatment for tuberculosis (TB), despite the high co-occurrence and mortality associated with these two diseases. Accordingly, researchers have designed a trial study to determine the effectiveness of integrating pharmacotherapy and behavioral treatments for AUDs into routine care for TB. The study will be published in the February 2010 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. "In many primary-care settings, screening for drinking problems is not necessarily a routine part of visits, " said Shelly F. Greenfield, director of clinical and health services research and education in the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Treatment Program at McLean Hospital and corresponding author for the study. "In many specialized medical settings, screening for alcohol problems is even less frequent, " she added.
Older adults who have alcohol dependence problems drink significantly more than do younger adults who have similar problems, a new study has found. The findings suggest that older problem drinkers may have developed a tolerance for alcohol and need to drink even more than younger abusers to achieve the effects they seek. Researchers at Ohio State University found that adults over age 60 who have alcohol dependence drink more than 40 alcoholic drinks a week on average, compared to between 25 and 35 drinks a week on average for those in younger age groups with similar problems. In addition, older people with alcohol dependence have more binge drinking episodes per month than do their younger counterparts. "A combination of high levels of drinking and the physiological effects of aging are particularly problematic for older adults, " said Linda Ginzer, co-author of the study and a doctoral student in social work at Ohio State. Ginzer, who conducted the research as part of her dissertation, did the study with Virginia Richardson, professor of social work at Ohio State.
News outlets report on a variety of health issues at the state level including stricter rules for drug abusers in the health industry in California, an examination of the nation's first city-run universal health care plan in San Francisco, a cigarette tax in Florida, sex offenders and ex-convicts in nursing homes in Illinois and efforts to battle medical errors in New Jersey. The Los Angeles Times : "Nurses, dentists and other professionals with addictions will be subject to more drug tests, and any restrictions to their licenses will be listed on public websites. In a major shift, California will impose tough new standards on drug-abusing health professionals, strictly scrutinizing those in treatment and immediately removing from practice anyone who relapses. ... The rules will require nurses, dentists and other health workers in state-run recovery programs to take at least 104 drug tests in their first year -- more than double any current requirement. Health professionals will be automatically pulled from practice, at least temporarily, after a single positive result" (Ornstein and Weber, 11/20).
In a New York Times magazine article, Tina Rosenberg examines how needle sharing has contributed to the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the viability of needle exchange programs as a prevention strategy. Rosenberg notes, "Drug injectors don't pass infection only among themselves. Through their sex partners, HIV is spread into the general population. In many countries, the HIV epidemic began among drug injectors. ... Though it has been scorned as special treatment for a despised population, AIDS prevention for drug users is in fact crucial to preventing a wider epidemic." She continues, "Unlike with sexual transmission, there is a proven solution here: needle-exchange programs, which provide drug injectors with clean needles, usually in return for their used ones. Needle exchange is the cornerstone of an approach known as harm reduction: making drug use less deadly." Rosenberg notes that clean needles also provide a means to connect drug users with HIV counseling, tests and treatment as well as drug rehabilitation programs.