Untangling the Effects of Past Adversity and Alcohol Use Disorder on Acute Stress Responses

The hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis is the body’s key stress response system. By driving production of the stress hormone cortisol, and then ensuring a return to baseline levels, the HPA axis regulates our reaction to stressful events. Chronic alcohol use, however, can lead to persistently elevated cortisol, reducing the body’s capacity to respond appropriately to stress. Among people in treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the blunted stress response predicts risk of relapse and a return to drinking. Longer-term life stress, including childhood adversity, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and chronic stress, can also dampen HPA axis function, complicating interpretation of the alterations evident in people with AUD. However, it is not known how stress and trauma intereact with AUD to affect HPA-axis reactivity. A new report in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research by researchers from the universities of Texas, Florida, and Colorado addresses this issue, u

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Female college students more affected academically by high alcohol use than men

Female college students appear to be more affected by high alcohol use than men, which may lead to less interest in academics, according to new research including by faculty at Binghamton University, State University of New York.

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Students Who Up Their Cannabis Use Face Increased Risk of Alcohol Problems

Cannabis use can worsen some consequences of alcohol use among young adult drinkers over time, according to a new study which tracked the frequency of cannabis use and negative drinking outcomes among college students over three years. More than one in five young drinkers use cannabis, often (but not always) at the same time as drinking alcohol. This is a concern because the effects of cannabis might combine with those of alcohol to increase negative outcomes of drinking, such as impaired driving or developing an alcohol use disorder Although previous research has suggested a link between cannabis use and alcohol consequences, there have been few long-term evaluations of the impact of fluctuations in cannabis use on alcohol consequences over time. The latest study, published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, was conducted by researchers in Toronto, Ontario, and Buffalo, New York.

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Alcohol, adolescence, and anesthesia: identifying risk factors for alcohol use disorder

Alcohol misuse is common among adolescents, and increases the risk of developing a chronic alcohol use disorder (AUD) in the future. Adolescents respond differently to alcohol compared with adults — they tend to be less sensitive to some of the negative effects of drinking that help protect against excessive intake, but more sensitive to its rewarding and memory-impairing effects. This may contribute to the high rates of alcohol misuse in adolescence, as well as to an elevated risk of developing AUD. However, as not all adolescents who drink alcohol will develop an AUD, it is important to identify factors that may further increase propensity to abuse alcohol in this age-group. Researchers from the State University of New York at Binghamton are interested in the potential impact of having a general anaesthetic, in view of evidence that exposure to anesthesia in adolescence can cause behavioral alterations similar to those induced by alcohol. In a new study published in the journal Alcoh

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Does simultaneous use of marijuana affect alcohol intake and consequences among young adults?

Simultaneous use of alcohol and marijuana (SAM) is common among young people, and is sometimes a deliberate choice to enhance the effects of intoxication. However, compared with alcohol use alone, SAM has been linked to a greater risk of interpersonal problems, physical and mental health issues, and road accidents. Despite this, there has been little research at the occasion level – for example, it is not known if individuals who engage in SAM drink more (or less) alcohol on the occasions when they also use marijuana, and experience more (or fewer) alcohol-related consequences, than on alcohol-only days. Researchers in Seattle and Minneapolis have conducted a new study, published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, to evaluate these aspects, by conducting multiple daily assessments of alcohol and SAM use among the same individuals over time. The study took place in and around Seattle in Washington state, where non-medical marijuana use is legal for those over

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