WHAT!? This article gave me a new perspective on the massive effects alcohol can have beyond just the life of the individual. 2.6 billion euro, plus an additional 1 billion if crimes committed and damage done is included. For good reason, this has the people of Scotland petitioning for a sanction to be placed on the availability of alcohol.
This article stood out to me because it talks about Ian Thorpe's (5-time Olympian gold medalist in swimming) battle with depression and alcoholism. I think it is important to realize that alcoholism is everywhere, even amongst those who are heroes like Thorpe. Luckily for Thorpe, his addiction didn't interfere with his career, and he swears the naltrexone was an intervention that may have saved his life.
"Findings from a new study using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to examine volumetric measurements of segmented brain structures suggest that executive function and general mental status are affected differently by long-term use of alcohol."
It's well known, as was discussed in class, that there have been volumetric discrepancies between the frontal lobes of addicts and control groups. This article took this general observation and correlated it with performance on executive functioning tasks, and found that the brain abnormalities appear before a decline in mental performance is observed behaviorally. This brings up interesting question regarding the pathology of alcoholism; does the brain just reach a point where it can't compensate any longer?
This article was massively mind-opening as it reviews the potential epigenetic changes associated with alcohol consumption. Alcohol prevents the body from efficiently processing folate, which is an essential chemical in triggering methylation. Thus, alcohol can lead to hypomethylation, which is one of the main mechanisms of epigenetic activity. The direct consequences are less clear, but interfering with the way the body adapts has potentially dire consequences.
This article is about a study that was to be published in February 2012, in which alcoholic and sober individuals performed a finger-tapping task under surveillance by fMRI. They found that alcoholics were able to perform the task equally well, but that different areas of the brain were utilized to complete the task. I found this study interesting because it speaks to the plasticity of the brain and its ability to compensate for damaged or low-functioning brain regions by utilizing a different pathway.
Compared to a survey conducted nearly 20 years ago, about twice the proportion of addiction counselors now find it acceptable for at least some of their patients to have a drink occasionally – either as an intermediate goal or as their final treatment goal, according to a new study published by the American Psychological Association.
This article provides a fresh look an alcohol rehabilitation as it reviews the program of Rational Recovery. The main idea behind this paradigm is to silent the "alcoholic voice", or "The Beast". Honestly, I'm not sure I whole-heartedly agree with this approach. It's designed to be a counter-point to AA and other such programs to provide an alternative, which is good, but I don't know about the efficacy. I'd have to delve more into the research to make an informed decision, but based on anecdotal evidence from my own life this method isn't the best option. With that said, I'm sure there exists a sub-group of alcoholics for which this is a desirable alternative.
A new study has indicated a potential for the anti-smoking medication Chantix (varenicline) to be effective in curbing alcohol cravings in addicted individuals. I find pharmaceutical accidents such as this to be amazing. Researchers are not positive what the mechanism of efficacy is for this drug, but the results have been outstanding. Again, does this point to an underlying brain mechanism that gears an individual towards addiction? Similarly, methadone and other drugs initially developed for other drugs have been shown to work for alcohol as well.
Research from McGill University suggests that people who are vulnerable to developing alcoholism exhibit a distinctive brain response when drinking alcohol, according to a new study by Prof. Marco Leyton, of McGill University's Department of Psychiatry."
I loved the way this article talked about addiction in the brain. A study was done involving individual determined to be high-risk for alcohol abuse compared with individuals determined to be low-risk. They found that the dopamine pathways of high risk individuals was dramatically more active than in the brains of low-risk individuals. This may speak to an underlying brain mechanism that plays a role in the development of addiction.
This article summarizes a correlational study done on alcohol-dependent men and woman, which suggests that alcohol abuse may be more deadly in the long-term than smoking. This is interesting to me because alcohol is promoted as a socially acceptable behavior, while smoking has been under severe scrutiny for the last couple of decades. I'm not sure how direct the correlation is, however, considering the other behaviors that may accompany drinking (like smoking for example).
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