Moderate drinking may not ward off heart disease

Many people believe that having a glass of wine with dinner — or moderately drinking any kind of alcohol — will protect them from heart disease. But a hard look at the evidence finds little support for that.

That’s the conclusion of a new research review in the May 2017 issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Over the years, studies have found that adults who drink moderately have lower heart disease rates than non-drinkers. That has spurred the widespread belief that alcohol, in moderation, does a heart good.

But the new analysis, of 45 previous cohort studies, reveals the flaws in that assumption: A central issue is that “non-drinkers” may, in fact, be former drinkers who quit or cut down for health reasons.

Full story of drinking warding off heart disease at Science Daily

Drivers Killed in Crashes More Likely to Have Used Drugs Than Alcohol

For the first time, U.S. drivers killed in crashes in 2015 were more likely to have used drugs than alcohol, according to a new study.

The study found 43 percent of drivers tested in fatal crashes in 2015 had used a legal or illegal drug, compared with 37 percent who showed alcohol levels above a legal limit, Reuters reports.

Full story of drivers killed in crashes and drug use at drugfree.org

For young adults, cigarettes more pleasurable with alcohol than with pot

Young adults get more pleasure from smoking cigarettes while they are drinking alcohol than they do while using marijuana, according to a new UC San Francisco study.

The study is the first to document that tobacco accompanied by alcohol provides cigarette smokers with a greater perceived reward than when they smoke cigarettes while using marijuana.

The study will be published online April 18 in the journal Addiction Research & Theory.

“What we’ve learned may have important implications for understanding differences in co-use of cigarettes with alcohol versus marijuana,” said co-first author Noah R. Gubner, PhD, a postdoctoral scholar at the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies at UCSF.

Full story of cigarettes and alcohol use in young adults at Science Daily

Alcohol use in veterans with schizophrenia less common than thought; no level safe

U.S. military veterans who are being treated for schizophrenia are much less likely to drink any alcohol than the general population. However, they are equally likely to misuse alcohol. And when they do misuse alcohol, it leads to worsening of their symptoms, according to a new study led by Dr. Alexander Young, a psychiatry professor at UCLA.

Alcohol and drug use disorders are believed to have substantial negative effects on outcomes in people with schizophrenia. However, it has not been possible to know the extent of this problem, because diagnoses and details regarding substance use are typically not documented in people’s medical records, previous research shows.

Prior studies of veterans with serious mental illness have found that heavy drinking prevents them from sticking to prescribed medication regimens. Efforts to reduce alcohol misuse and better ensure that veterans with schizophrenia take their medications would improve outcomes for them and could reduce the incidence of hospitalization.

Full story of veteran alcohol use with schizophrenia at Science Daily

Research Finds Many Links Between Alcohol and Suicide

A growing body of research points to the relationship between alcohol and suicide. Taking steps to reduce the availability of alcohol may help to reduce the number of suicides, says Raul Caetano, MD, PhD, Senior Research Scientist at the Prevention Research Center of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in Oakland, California.

Dr. Caetano was a co-author of a study published in the journal Addiction in 2015 that found in the United States, the density of both on- and off-premises alcohol outlets in a county is associated positively with alcohol-related suicide.

“It’s pretty clear from that study that there is a relationship between alcohol outlets, such as bars, restaurants and liquor stores, and suicide,” he said. “That suggests that public health policies that affect the availability of alcohol in the community can also help prevent suicide. It’s an opportunity for prevention that hasn’t been fully utilized.”

Full story of links between alcohol and suicide at drugfree.org