alcohol abuse

More young people are choosing not to drink alcohol

October 9, 2018

Science Daily/BioMed Central

Young people in England aren't just drinking less alcohol -- a new study shows that more of them are never taking up alcohol at all, and that the increase is widespread among young people.

 

Researchers at University College London analysed data from the annual Health Survey for England and found that the proportion of 16-24 year olds who don't drink alcohol has increased from 18% in 2005 to 29% in 2015.

 

The authors found this trend to be largely due to an increasing number of people who had never been drinkers, from 9% in 2005 to 17% in 2015. There were also significant decreases in the number of young people who drank above recommended limits (from 43% to 28%) or who binge drank (27% to 18%). More young people were also engaging in weekly abstinence (from 35% to 50%)

 

Dr Linda Ng Fat, corresponding author of the study said: "Increases in non-drinking among young people were found across a broad range of groups, including those living in northern or southern regions of England, among the white population, those in full-time education, in employment and across all social classes and healthier groups. That the increase in non-drinking was found across many different groups suggests that non-drinking may becoming more mainstream among young people which could be caused by cultural factors."

 

Dr Ng Fat said: "These trends are to be welcomed from a public-health standpoint. Factors influencing the shift away from drinking should be capitalised on going forward to ensure that healthier drinking behaviours in young people continue to be encouraged."

 

Dr Linda Ng Fat added: "The increase in young people who choose not to drink alcohol suggests that this behaviour maybe becoming more acceptable, whereas risky behaviours such as binge drinking may be becoming less normalised."

 

Increases in non-drinking however were not found among ethnic minorities, those with poor mental health and smokers suggesting that the risky behaviours of smoking and alcohol continue to cluster.

 

The researchers examined data on 9,699 people aged 16-24 years collected as part of the Health Survey for England 2005-2015, an annual, cross-sectional, nationally representative survey looking at changes in the health and lifestyles of people across England. The authors analysed the proportion of non-drinkers among social demographic and health sub-groups, along with alcohol units consumed by those that did drink and levels of binge drinking.

 

The authors caution that the cross-sectional, observational nature of this study does not allow for conclusions about cause and effect.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181009210727.htm

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Early age of drinking leads to neurocognitive and neuropsychological damage

October 30, 2017

Science Daily/Research Society on Alcoholism

Although drinking by U.S. adolescents has decreased during the last decade, more than 20 percent of U.S. high-school students continue to drink alcohol before the age of 14 years. This can have adverse effects on their neurodevelopment. Little is known about how the age of alcohol-use onset influences brain development. This is the first study to assess the association between age of adolescent drinking onset and neurocognitive performance, taking into account pre-existing cognitive function.

 

The researchers examined data from a longitudinal study on the neurocognitive effects of substance use in adolescents: 215 adolescents (127 boys, 88 girls) with minimal alcohol use experience were administered a neuropsychological test battery, which was repeated an average of 6.8 years later. Analyses examined whether earlier ages of onset for first and weekly alcohol use adversely affected neurocognition, controlling for substance-use severity, and familial and social environment factors.

 

Results showed that an earlier onset of drinking increases the risk for alcohol-related neurocognitive vulnerabilities, and that the initiation of any or weekly alcohol use at younger ages is a risk factor for poorer, subsequent neuropsychological functioning. More specifically, an earlier age of onset of first drinking predicted poorer performance in the domains of psychomotor speed and visual attention, and an earlier age of onset of weekly drinking predicted poorer performances on tests of cognitive inhibition and working memory. The authors suggested that these findings have important implications for public policies related to the legal drinking age and prevention strategies and further research on these effects is warranted.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/10/171030131607.htm

Large declines seen in teen substance abuse, delinquency

Surveys over a decade indicate positive behavioral shifts

October 25, 2017

Science Daily/Washington University School of Medicine

In recent years, teens have become far less likely to abuse alcohol, nicotine and illicit drugs, according to researchers. Teens also are less likely to engage in behaviors like fighting and stealing, and the researchers believe the declines in substance use and delinquency are connected.

 

More than a decade of data indicates teens have become far less likely to abuse alcohol, nicotine and illicit drugs, and they also are less likely to engage in delinquent behaviors, such as fighting and stealing, according to results of a national survey analyzed by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

 

The data come from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an annual survey of 12- to 17-year-olds from all 50 states that is sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The data include information from 2003 through 2014, the last year for which survey numbers are available. A total of 210,599 teens -- 13,000 to 18,500 each year -- were part of the study.

 

The findings are reported Oct. 25 in the journal Psychological Medicine.

 

The researchers found that the number of substance-use disorders among 12- to 17-year olds had declined by 49 percent over the 12-year span, along with a simultaneous 34 percent decline in delinquent behaviors, such as fighting, assault, stealing, selling drugs or carrying a handgun.

 

The drop in substance abuse among teens parallels findings in other recent surveys, but until now no one has looked at how the drop-off may be linked to other behavioral issues.

 

"We've known that teens overall are becoming less likely to engage in risky behaviors, and that's good news," said first author Richard A. Grucza, PhD, a professor of psychiatry. "But what we learned in this study is that the declines in substance abuse are connected to declines in delinquency. This suggests the changes have been driven more by changes in adolescents themselves more than by policies to reduce substance abuse or delinquent behavior."

 

Other researchers have found that teens are delaying sex and using seat belts more often than their parents and grandparents. Grucza's team focused on substance-use disorders -- involving alcohol, nicotine, marijuana, opioids and the abuse of other prescription drugs or nonprescription drugs -- and delinquent behaviors.

 

"It's not clear what is driving the parallel declines," Grucza said. "New policies -- including things like higher cigarette taxes and stricter anti-bullying policies -- certainly have a positive effect. But seeing these trends across multiple behaviors suggests that larger environmental factors are at work. These might include reductions in childhood lead exposure, lower rates of child abuse and neglect, and better mental health care for children."

 

Although heroin and opioid abuse have become epidemic in many areas of the United States, the use among teens has fallen, according to the survey data.

 

"Opioid problems continue to increase among adults," he said. "But among the 12- to 17-year-old population, we saw a drop of nearly 50 percent."

 

Based on the survey data, Grucza and his team estimated that in 2014 there were nearly 700,000 fewer adolescents with substance-use disorders than in 2003. And because it's possible for a person to be addicted to nicotine while abusing alcohol or marijuana, the researchers estimate the total number of substance-use disorders among adolescents declined by about 2 million.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/10/171025090515.htm

Alcohol-related cues, stress strongly impact females and increase 'craving'-like behavior

April 1, 2015

Science Daily/Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB)

A study conducted in rats measuring risk factors that contribute to alcohol abuse suggests females are particularly sensitive to alcohol-related cues and stress which elicits a “craving” response.

 

"Traditionally, heavy drinking has been shown to be more prevalent in men, though more recent studies point to a narrowing in the gender gap," said Megan Bertholomey, Ph.D., a postdoctoral associate in the laboratory of Mary Torregrossa, Ph.D., at the University of Pittsburgh who conducted the research. "Further, alcohol-dependent women tend to show more negative emotional responses to drinking, including greater stress and anxiety."

 

To investigate sex differences in the role stress plays in alcohol abuse, the researchers first trained male and female rats to press a lever, which would then administer alcohol simultaneously paired with an audiovisual cue. After three weeks of drinking, the rats associated the cue with alcohol.

 

The rats then underwent a period of abstinence with no audiovisual cue and no alcohol intake; regardless of how many times they pressed the lever. However, those original alcohol-cue memories do not go away during abstinence, allowing the researchers to determine factors that can cause the rats to start responding again.

 

"It's well established that exposure to alcohol-associated cues and to stress can lead to reinstatement of the drug seeking response, which is thought to be a model of craving or relapse in rats," said Bertholomey, who will present the research at the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET) Annual Meeting during Experimental Biology 2015.

 

Prior studies show that exposure to both cues and stress can have an additive effect on the propensity to cause craving and relapse in both people and in rats, and that females trained to respond for cocaine may be more sensitive to this effect. Thus, the researchers tested whether reinstatement of alcohol responding was different in male and female rats in the presence of the alcohol-paired cue with or without an injection of a drug that increases stress. The drug used, yohimbine, also produces a stress response in humans, which assists in making comparisons across species.

 

The researchers found that overall, the female rats pressed more on the lever that previously led to alcohol access than the males following either cue or stress exposure alone. Strikingly, when the cues and stress were combined, females had an even greater increase in alcohol seeking behavior compared to males and when either stimulus was given alone.

 

The results indicate that females are more influenced by environmental cues and stress in promoting a "craving"-like response that can drive them to seek and consume alcohol. These findings provide the basis for dissecting the brain pathways that causes the interactions between cues, stress and sex in alcohol seeking and drinking behavior.

 

"Individuals attempting to maintain abstinence are exposed to a number of factors that elicit craving and can lead to an increased risk of relapse," said Bertholomey. "The next step for us will be to understand the mechanisms responsible for this enhanced sensitivity in females, which will direct further development of pharmacological and behavioral interventions that might reduce craving and prevent relapse."

 

Alcohol use disorders are diagnosed in approximately 17 million adults in the United States, representing 9.9 and 4.6 percent of men and women in that age group, respectively, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that alcohol-related problems cost the United States $223.5 billion and represent the third leading cause of preventable death.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150401132854.htm

Stress drives alcoholics' children to drink

September 24, 2011

Science Daily/University of Gothenburg

If either of your parents has a drink problem, there is a greater risk that you will consume more alcohol after stressful situations, new research from Sweden suggests.

 

It has long been known that alcoholics' children are 50% more likely to have a drink problem in the future, and new research from the Sahlgrenska Academy is shedding new light on this link. Carried out by researcher Anna Söderpalm Gordh, the study has been published in the most recent issue of the journal Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behaviour.

 

"The results show that people with parents who have a history of alcohol abuse drink more than others when exposed to stress," says Söderpalm Gordh.

 

This behaviour can have negative consequences in the long term. It is no secret that people who consume large quantities of alcohol every time they drink run a higher risk of developing a dependency in the future.

 

"If alcohol relaxes you when you're stressed, then you should try to find other ways of calming yourself down -- relaxation exercises, for example," says Söderpalm Gordh.

About Alcoholism

Alcoholism is usually divided into two categories: type I and type II. Type I is largely dependent on our genes' interaction with the environment, for example the people we socialise with or the crises in our lives, while type II involves a considerable genetic risk of developing a drink problem, irrespective of our environment.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110920075518.htm

 

Vets' alcohol problems linked to stress on home front

July 31, 2014

Science Daily/Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health

Regardless of traumatic events experienced during deployment, returning National Guard soldiers were more likely to develop a drinking problem if faced with civilian life setbacks, including job loss, legal problems, divorce, and serious financial and legal problems -- all commonplace in military families. Researchers found having at least one civilian stressor or a reported incident of sexual harassment during deployment raised the odds of alcohol use disorders.

 

Alcohol abuse is a major concern for reservists returning home. Nearly 7% of Americans abuse or are dependent on alcohol, but among reserve soldiers returning from deployment, the rate of alcohol abuse is 14%, almost double that of the civilian population.

 

The study looked at a group of 1,095 Ohio National Guard soldiers who had primarily served in either Iraq or Afghanistan in 2008 and 2009. Over three years, the soldiers were interviewed three times via telephone and were asked about their alcohol use, exposure to deployment-related traumatic events and stressors like land mines, vehicle crashes, taking enemy fire, and witnessing casualties, and any stress related to everyday life since returning from duty.

 

More than half (60%) of the responding soldiers experienced combat-related trauma, 36% of soldiers experience civilian stressors, and 17% reported being sexually harassed during their most recent deployment. Among the group, 13% reported problems consistent with an alcohol use disorder in the first interview, 7% during the second, and 5% during the third. Alcohol use disorder is defined as alcohol abuse or dependence.

 

The researchers found having at least one civilian stressor or a reported incident of sexual harassment during deployment raised the odds of alcohol use disorders. The effect of the stressors was restricted to cases of new-onset alcohol use disorders, and wasn't seen among those with a history of problem drinking. In contrast, combat-related traumatic events were only marginally associated with alcohol problems.

 

The study highlights the important role civilian life and the accompanying stress plays in cases of alcohol use disorder in the National Guard.

 

"Exposure to the traumatic event itself has an important effect on mental health in the short-term, but what defines long-term mental health problems is having to deal with a lot of daily life difficulties that arise in the aftermath -- when soldiers come home," explains lead investigator Magdalena Cerdá, DrPH, MPH, assistant professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health. "The more traumatic events soldiers are exposed to during and after combat, the more problems they are likely to have in their daily life -- in their relationships, in their jobs -- when they come home. These problems can in turn aggravate mental health issues, such as problems with alcohol, that arise during and after deployment."

 

With high rates of alcohol abuse among soldiers, there is a critical need for targeted interventions to help soldiers handle stressful life events without alcohol, the investigators observe. More than 1.6 million service members have been deployed in support of war efforts Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation New Dawn.

 

"Guardsmen who return home need help finding jobs, rebuilding their marriages and families, and reintegrating into their communities," says Karestan Koenen, PhD, professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School and senior author of the study. "Too many of our warriors fall through the cracks in our system when they return home. This is particularly true of Guardsmen who do not have the same access to services as regular military personnel. We need to support our soldiers on the home front just as we do in the war zone."

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140731095005.htm

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