Cutting Down But Not Out: Very-Heavy Drinkers Needn’t Quit Completely for Cardiovascular Benefit

High-risk drinkers who substantially reduce their alcohol use can lower their risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) despite not completely abstaining, according to study findings published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. CVD encompasses a range of conditions involving the heart or blood vessels, and is the leading cause of death in the US. It is also one of many negative health outcomes associated with heavy drinking and alcohol use disorder (AUD). Reductions in drinking can be defined using World Health Organization (WHO) ‘risk drinking levels’, which classify drinkers into ‘very high’, ‘high’, ‘moderate’ and ‘low’ risk categories based on their average daily alcohol consumption. Previous research has shown that a reduction of two or more levels (for example, from ‘very high’ to ‘moderate’) can lower the risk of multiple health issues, but did not assess the impact on CVD specifically. The latest study has examined associations between reductions in WHO risk drinking

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Which Comes First: The Heavy Drinking Young Adult or the Alcohol-Saturated Social Culture?

Heavy-drinking peer groups increase young adults’ desire to drink, according to a study in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. Investigators used behavioral economic theory — the science of how people make choices — to assess motivations for consuming alcohol among a diverse sample of young adult drinkers. Young adults’ motivation to drink alcohol, as well as their likelihood of misusing it, is associated with how it is consumed within their social networks. But it is not well understood how these factors influence each other, and how those effects may vary depending on sex, race, and education level. For example, does the culture of heavy drinking in US colleges drive the high demand for alcohol there, or is alcohol demand high among young adults generally?

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Neuroimaging Highlights Links between Self Control and Alcohol Use Disorder

Excessive and harmful drinking is a key feature of an alcohol use disorder. The causes of substance use disorders are complex, but deficiences in certain aspects of self-control have been implicated. A tendency to react hastily and seek out risky situations has been linked to the process of addiction, and alterations in certain frontal regions of the brain have been associated both with impulsive and sensation-seeking behavior. In a study published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, researchers have used brain imaging to further assess the links between self control and alcohol dependence.

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Study Highlights Impact of Drinking in Pregnancy and Informs Regional Prevention Strategies

Drinking in pregnancy can harm a developing baby. The term fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) describes the range of effects that can be caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol. Children with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), the most severe form, have poor growth, atypical facial features, and central nervous system problems. Less severe forms include partial fetal alcohol syndrome (pFAS) and alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder (ARND). However, all three require evidence of neurobehavioral impairment affecting cognition or behavior (or both). A recent study in a US Pacific Southwest city estimated that, at a minimum, 2% of first-grade schoolchildren had an FASD. A new report in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research describes the range of FASD among these children and the characteristics of their mothers.

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Severe Alcohol Problems Predicted Among Heavy-Drinking College Students using Behavioral Economics

Most people drink less in situations where there are constraints on alcohol use. The sensitivity of alcohol use to the constraint of drink price can be assessed using an ‘alcohol purchase task’, whereby individuals specify how many drinks they would buy in one drinking episode across a range of prices. The data indicate an individual’s ‘demand’ for alcohol, which correlates with severity of alcohol use and related consequences. A new study published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research builds on such research by assessing the constraint of next-day responsibility on alcohol-related consequence in college students.

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