Can moderate doses of alcohol disrupt the functional organization of the human brain? Acute alcohol administration decreases overall brain glucose metabolism, which serves as a marker of brain activity!
The behavioral effects of alcohol however, are likely to reflect not only changes in regional brain activity but also on the patterns of brain functional organization.
Here we assessed the effects of a moderate dose of alcohol on the patterns of brain activity and cerebral differentiation. We measured brain glucose metabolism in 20 healthy controls with PET and FDG during baseline and during alcohol intoxication (0.75 g/kg). We used the coefficient of variation (CV) to assess changes in brain metabolic homogeneity, which we used as a marker for cerebral differentiation.
We found that alcohol decreased the CV in the brain and this effect was independent of the decrements in overall glucose metabolism. Our study revealed marked disruption in brain activity during alcohol intoxication including decreases in global and regional brain differentiation, a loss of right versus left brain metabolic laterality and a shift in the predominance of activity from cortical to limbic brain regions.
The widespread nature of the changes induced by a moderate dose of alcohol is likely to contribute to the marked disruption of alcohol on behavior, mood, cognition and motor activity.
Wei Zhu, Ph.D., Department of Applied Mathematics and Statistics, State University of New York
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* Alcohol and your health.
Concurrent and Simultaneous Drug and Alcohol Use: Unfortunately, a reality in the lives of many people looking for the ultimate high in their day to day existence.
This study estimates the prevalence, assesses predictors and evaluates factors associated with concurrent and simultaneous use of drugs and alcohol in the United States population. Using data from the 2000 National Alcohol Survey (n = 7,612), respondents were asked if they used specific drugs in the last 12 months.
Current drinkers who reported using each type of drug were asked if they used alcohol and the drug at the same time. Approximately 10% reported using marijuana in the last 12 months (concurrent use); 7% reported drinking alcohol and using marijuana at the same time (simultaneous use). Approximately 5% of current drinkers reported using drugs other than marijuana in the last 12 months; 1.7% reported drinking alcohol and using drugs other than marijuana at the same time.
Being younger, having a less than high school education, not having a regular partner and having heavier drinking patterns were associated with using alcohol and marijuana simultaneously. Simultaneous use of marijuana and alcohol as well as other drugs and alcohol were significantly related to social consequences, alcohol dependence, and depression. These results mirror clinical populations in which increasingly younger clients report use of alcohol and drugs and need treatment for both.
Lorraine Midanik, Ph.D., University of California at Berkeley, School of Social Welfare
Cigarette Smoking and the Lifetime Alcohol Involvement Continuum.
Greater understanding of how alcohol use relates to the initiation, progression, and persistence of cigarette smoking is of great significance for efforts to prevent and treat smoking and excessive drinking and their substantial combined iatrogenic effects on health.
Studies investigating the relationship between levels of alcohol involvement and smoking have typically been limited by analytic approaches that treat drinking behavior and alcohol use disorder diagnoses as separate phenomena rather than as indicators of a single latent alcohol involvement dimension.
The purposes of the present study were (a) to create a lifetime index of alcohol involvement that integrates information about alcohol consumption and alcohol problems into a single measure and (b) to relate this index to initiation of smoking, progression from initiation to daily smoking, progression from initiation to dependence, and persistence of smoking.
Rasch model analyses of data from 1,508 middle-aged (34-44 years) adults showed that creating an additive index of lifetime alcohol involvement was psychometrically supported. Significant quadratic effects of alcohol involvement on initiation, progression, and persistence of smoking demonstrated that there were specific regions of the alcohol involvement continuum that were particularly strongly related to increased smoking.
These results provide the most comprehensive depiction to date of the nature of the relationship between lifetime alcohol involvement and lifetime cigarette smoking and suggest potential avenues for research on the etiology and maintenance of smoking and tobacco dependence.
Christopher W. Kahler, Ph.D., Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, Brown University, Providence.
Specificity of Social Anxiety Disorder as a Risk Factor for Alcohol and Cannabis Dependence
Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is highly comorbid with alcohol use disorders (AUDs) and cannabis dependence. However, the temporal sequencing of these disorders has not been extensively studied to determine whether SAD serves as a specific risk factor for problematic substance use.
The present study examined these relationships after controlling for theoretically-relevant variables (e.g., gender, other Axis I pathology) in a longitudinal cohort over approximately 14 years. The sample was drawn from participants in the Oregon Adolescent Depression Project. After excluding those with substance use disorders at baseline, SAD at study entry was associated with 6.5 greater odds of cannabis dependence (but not abuse) and 4.5 greater odds of alcohol dependence (but not abuse) at follow-up after controlling for relevant variables (e.g., gender, depression, conduct disorder).
The relationship between SAD and alcohol and cannabis dependence remained even after controlling for other anxiety disorders. Other anxiety disorders and mood disorders were not associated with subsequent cannabis or alcohol use disorder after controlling for relevant variables. Among the internalizing disorders, SAD appears to serve as a unique risk factor for the subsequent onset of cannabis and alcohol dependence.
Department of Psychology, Florida State University & Oregon Research Institute
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