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Concept: Binge drinking


High levels of alcohol consumption and increases in heavy episodic drinking (binge drinking) are a growing public concern, due to their association with increased risk of personal and societal harm. Alcohol consumption has been shown to be sensitive to factors such as price and availability. The aim of this study was to explore the influence of glass shape on the rate of consumption of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

Concepts: Alcohol, Alcoholism, Alcohol abuse, Alcoholic beverage, Beer, Drinking culture, Binge drinking, Kefir


Prolonged intake of excessive amounts of ethanol is known to have adverse effects on the central nervous system (CNS). Here we investigated the effects of acute and chronic ethanol exposure and withdrawal from chronic ethanol exposure on glymphatic function, which is a brain-wide metabolite clearance system connected to the peripheral lymphatic system. Acute and chronic exposure to 1.5 g/kg (binge level) ethanol dramatically suppressed glymphatic function in awake mice. Chronic exposure to 1.5 g/kg ethanol increased GFAP expression and induced mislocation of the astrocyte-specific water channel aquaporin 4 (AQP4), but decreased the levels of several cytokines. Surprisingly, glymphatic function increased in mice treated with 0.5 g/kg (low dose) ethanol following acute exposure, as well as after one month of chronic exposure. Low doses of chronic ethanol intake were associated with a significant decrease in GFAP expression, with little change in the cytokine profile compared with the saline group. These observations suggest that ethanol has a J-shaped effect on the glymphatic system whereby low doses of ethanol increase glymphatic function. Conversely, chronic 1.5 g/kg ethanol intake induced reactive gliosis and perturbed glymphatic function, which possibly may contribute to the higher risk of dementia observed in heavy drinkers.

Concepts: Central nervous system, Nervous system, Brain, Alcoholism, Neurology, Toxicology, Binge drinking, Peripheral nervous system


Social relationships have important effects on alcohol drinking. There are conflicting reports, however, about whether early-life family structure plays an important role in moderating alcohol use in humans. We have previously modeled social facilitation of alcohol drinking in peers in socially monogamous prairie voles. We have also modeled the effects of family structure on the development of adult social and emotional behaviors. Here we assessed whether alcohol intake would differ in prairie voles reared by both parents compared to those reared by a single mother. We also assessed whether meadow voles, a closely related species that do not form lasting reproductive partnerships, would differ in alcohol drinking or in the effect of social influence on drinking. Prairie voles were reared either bi-parentally (BP) or by a single mother (SM). BP- and SM-reared adult prairie voles and BP-reared adult meadow voles were given limited access to a choice between alcohol (10%) and water over four days and assessed for drinking behavior in social and non-social drinking environments. While alcohol preference was not different between species, meadow voles drank significantly lower doses than prairie voles. Meadow voles also had significantly higher blood ethanol concentrations than prairie voles after receiving the same dose, suggesting differences in ethanol metabolism. Both species, regardless of rearing condition, consumed more alcohol in the social drinking condition than the non-social condition. Early life family structure did not significantly affect any measure. Greater drinking in the social condition indicates that alcohol intake is influenced similarly in both species by the presence of a peer. While the ability of prairie voles to model humans may be limited, the lack of differences in alcohol drinking in BP- and SM-reared prairie voles lends biological support to human studies demonstrating no effect of single-parenting on alcohol abuse.

Concepts: Alcohol, Ethanol, Sociology, Alcohol abuse, Behavior, Emotion, Drinking culture, Binge drinking


BACKGROUND: Alcohol misuse amongst young people is a serious concern. The need for effective prevention is clear, yet there appear to be few evidenced-based programs that prevent alcohol misuse and none that target both high and low-risk youth. The CAP study addresses this gap by evaluating the efficacy of an integrated approach to alcohol misuse prevention, which combines the effective universal internet-based Climate Schools program with the effective selective personality-targeted Preventure program. This article describes the development and protocol of the CAP study which aims to prevent alcohol misuse and related harms in Australian adolescents. METHODS: A cluster randomized controlled trial (RCT) is being conducted with Year 8 students aged 13 to 14-years-old from 27 secondary schools in New South Wales and Victoria, Australia. Blocked randomisation was used to assign schools to one of four groups; Climate Schools only, Preventure only, CAP (Climate Schools and Preventure), or Control (alcohol, drug and health education as usual).The primary outcomes of the trial will be the uptake and harmful use of alcohol and alcohol related harms. Secondary outcomes will include alcohol and cannabis, related knowledge cannabis related harms, intentions to use and uptake of alcohol and other drugs, and mental health symptomatology. All participants will complete assessments on five occasions; baseline; immediately post intervention, and at 12, 24 and 36 months post baseline. DISCUSSION: This study protocol presents the design and current implementation of a cluster RCT to evaluate the efficacy of the CAP study; an integrated universal and selective approach to prevent alcohol use and related harms among adolescents. Compared to students who receive the stand-alone universal Climate Schools program or alcohol and drug education as usual (Controls), we expect the students who receive the CAP intervention to have significantly less uptake of alcohol use, a reduction in average alcohol consumption, a reduction in frequency of binge drinking, and a reduction in alcohol related harms.Trial registrationThis trial is registered with the Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials registry, ACTRN12612000026820.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Clinical trial, Randomized controlled trial, Alcoholism, Alcohol abuse, High school, Drinking culture, Binge drinking


Excessive drinking accounted for approximately 4,300 deaths each year among persons aged <21 years during 2006-2010,* and underage drinking cost the United States $24.3 billion in 2010 (1). CDC analyzed data from the national Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) for the years 1991-2015 to examine trends in drinking by U.S. high school students, and from the 2015 YRBS to assess the usual source of alcohol consumed(†) and binge drinking intensity (i.e., the average number of drinks consumed per binge drinking occasion).(§) During 1991-2007, the prevalence of current drinking(¶) among high school students declined significantly, from 50.8% (1991) to 44.7% (2007), and then significantly declined to 32.8% in 2015. The prevalence of binge drinking** increased from 31.3% in 1991 to 31.5% in 1999, and then significantly declined to 17.7% in 2015. Most high school students who drank were binge drinkers (57.8%), and 43.8% of binge drinkers consumed eight or more drinks in a row. Despite progress, current drinking and binge drinking are common among high school students, and many students who binge drink do so at high intensity (i.e., eight or more drinks in a row). Widespread use of evidence-based strategies for preventing excessive drinking (e.g., increasing alcohol taxes, regulating alcohol outlet density, and having commercial host liability laws) could help reduce underage drinking and related harms.(††).

Concepts: Alcoholism, Alcohol abuse, Beer, Drinking culture, Binge drinking, Drink, Get Your Sexy Back


Background: This study predicts the implications of under-reporting of alcohol consumption in England for alcohol consumption above Government drinking thresholds. Methods: Two nationally representative samples of private households in England were used: General LiFestyle survey (GLF) and Health Survey for England (HSE) 2008. Participants were 9608 adults with self-reported alcohol consumption on heaviest drinking day in the last week (HSE) and 12 490 adults with self-reported average weekly alcohol consumption (GLF). Alcohol consumption in both surveys was revised to account for under-reporting in three hypothetical scenarios. The prevalence of drinking more than UK Government guidelines of 21/14 (men/women) alcohol units a week, and 4/3 units per day, and the prevalence of binge drinking (>8/6 units) were investigated using logistic regression. Results: Among drinkers, mean weekly alcohol intake increases to 20.8 units and mean alcohol intake on heaviest drinking day in the last week increases to 10.6 units. Over one-third of adults are drinking above weekly guidelines and over three-quarters drank above daily limits on their heaviest drinking day in the last week. The revision changes some of the significant predictors of drinking above thresholds. In the revised scenario, women have similar odds to men of binge drinking and higher odds of drinking more than daily limits, compared with lower odds in the original survey. Conclusion: Revising alcohol consumption assuming equal under-reporting across the population does not have an equal effect on the proportion of adults drinking above weekly or daily thresholds. It is crucial that further research explores the population distribution of under-reporting.

Concepts: Demography, Alcoholism, Revision, Alcohol abuse, Wine, Beer, Drinking culture, Binge drinking


Alcohol is popular in Western culture, supported by a perception that modest intake is cardioprotective. However, excessive drinking has detrimental implications for cardiovascular disease. Atrial fibrillation (AF) following an alcohol binge or the “holiday heart syndrome” is well characterized. However, more modest levels of alcohol intake on a regular basis may also increase the risk of AF. The pathophysiological mechanisms responsible for the relationship between alcohol and AF may include direct toxicity and alcohol’s contribution to obesity, sleep-disordered breathing, and hypertension. We aim to provide a comprehensive review of the epidemiology and pathophysiology by which alcohol may be responsible for AF and determine whether alcohol abstinence is required for patients with AF.

Concepts: Disease, Heart, Atrial fibrillation, Alcoholism, Alcohol abuse, Drinking culture, Binge drinking, Holiday heart syndrome


BACKGROUND: Previous studies have demonstrated that high alcohol consumption is a predictor of divorce. However, there is a lack of studies with prospective data from both spouses. The effects of drinking among husbands versus wives and of concordant versus discordant drinking in couples are therefore unknown. Concordant drinking may lead to increased divorce rates because the malignant effects of heavy drinking are experienced in double doses; alternatively it may lead to marital stability due to partner compatibility. METHODS: All inhabitants in a Norwegian county were invited to participate in a health study. We identified 19,977 married couples where both spouses participated. Respondents provided information on alcohol use and mental distress. Survival analysis was applied to study the risk of divorce over the next 15 years. Demographics and mental distress were used as covariates. RESULTS: Heavy drinking among men (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.39) and women (HR = 1.41) increased the risk of future marital dissolution, even after adjusting for demography (reference group “light drinkers”). The HR for divorce was 1.51 when only the husband was a heavy drinker, while it was 3.07 when only the wife was a heavy drinker. Moreover, there were strong interaction effects: concordant abstainers (HR = 0.40) and concordant heavy drinkers (HR = 0.35) had lower risks of divorce compared to the risk expected from combining the main effects. Nevertheless, couples with 2 heavy drinkers (HR = 1.63) had higher risk of divorce than couples with 2 light drinkers. CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrated that both the level of alcohol use and compatibility in alcohol use are important predictors of marital dissolution.

Concepts: Marriage, Demography, Alcoholism, Husband, Drinking culture, Binge drinking, Wife, Spouse


Abnormal decision making under risk is associated with a number of psychiatric disorders. Here, we focus on binge drinkers (BD), characterized by repeated episodes of heavy alcohol intoxication. Previous studies suggest a decreased sensitivity to aversive conditioning in BD. Here, we asked whether BD might be characterized by enhanced risk seeking related to decreased sensitivity to the anticipation of negative outcomes.

Concepts: Decision making, Risk, Alcoholism, Decision theory, Alcohol abuse, Mental disorder, Drinking culture, Binge drinking


The aim of this study was to evaluate the characteristics of traffic offenders with unusually high blood-alcohol concentrations (BAC>0.4g%) when arrested. The BAC that kills one person might be easily tolerated by another, depending on, among other things, the person’s age, pattern of drinking, and the development of tolerance. The archives of two forensic laboratories, one in Sweden and the other in Wisconsin (USA), were searched to find traffic offenders with BACs>0.4g%. The results were compared in relation to the person’s age and gender, mean BAC and the weekday and time of day of the arrest. The mean age (±standard deviation) of N=158 Swedish offenders was 45±9.0y, which was not significantly different from the 43±9.4y in N=233 Wisconsin drivers (p>0.05). Overall there were more men (78%) than women (22%) arrested with BAC’s>0.4g%, although the proportion of women in Wisconsin (35%) was higher than in Sweden (9%) (p<0.001). The mean (median) and highest BAC did not differ between jurisdictions; 0.429g% (0.422) and 0.546g% in Sweden and 0.428g% (0.421g%) and 0.526g% in Wisconsin. In Sweden 40% of the arrests occurred on Fridays and Saturdays, whereas in Wisconsin the arrests of people with such high BAC's were more evenly distributed throughout the week. Forty eight percent of the arrests in Sweden were made between 12 noon and 6pm compared with 37% in Wisconsin. Neither the mean age of offenders nor their mean BAC seemed to depend on the weekday or time of day of the arrest. Attempting to drive with a BAC above 0.4g% verifies the development of an appreciable tolerance to ethanol-induced cognitive and psychomotor impairment. Reaching such a high BAC probably requires continuous heavy drinking over several days as opposed to an evening's binge drinking.

Concepts: Alcoholism, Arithmetic mean, Alcohol abuse, Blood alcohol content, Drinking culture, Binge drinking, Arrest, Law enforcement agency powers