Think you can handle your alcohol? Study may urge some drinkers to think again

Heavy drinkers develop behavioral tolerance to alcohol over time on some fine motor tasks, but not on more complex tasks, according to a study led by a Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System researcher. While heavy drinkers showed less impairment than light drinkers on a rote fine motor test over time, they did not perform better on a test involving more short-term memory, motor speed, and more complex cognitive processing.

The study offers new insight into the changes and problems that accompany excessive drinking. As the researchers explain, “The results have implications for our understanding of alcohol-induced impairments across neurobehavioral processes in heavy drinkers and their ongoing risks for alcohol-related consequences over time.”

Lead researcher Dr. Ty Brumback adds, “The most important thing about the study is that despite heavy drinkers’ extensive experience with alcohol, increased speed of metabolism, and lower self-perceived impairment, we show that on a more demanding task they are just as impaired as light drinkers.”

Full story of behavioral alcohol tolerance at Science Daily

Research reveals how family history can affect your memory of hangovers

People with a family history of alcoholism are already known to be at a greater risk of developing a drinking problem, but new research led by Psychologist Dr Richard Stephens at Keele University has found they are also more likely to hold onto the painful memory of hangovers.

Dr Stephens’ latest research paper, “Does familial risk for alcohol use disorder predict alcohol hangover?,” involved two studies focusing on hangover frequency and severity.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism people with a family history of alcoholism are four times more likely to develop a drinking problem. Based on this, Dr Stephens’ research explores whether hangovers — unpleasant effects felt the morning after drinking alcohol — impact on this.

Full story of family history affecting memory of hangovers at Science Daily

Social rejection by those closest to you can lead to subsequent drinking

The need to belong and experience social connections is a fundamental human characteristic. Prior research has shown that social rejection is linked to increases in negative emotions, distress, and hostility. This study examined the impact of social rejection on alcohol use, and whether the impact differed when the social rejection was by close others, such as friends, spouses or family members, or by strangers or acquaintances.

Researchers gathered data from 77 community participants (41 women, 36 men) who used their smartphones to record their social interactions and alcohol use for 14 consecutive days. The analysis examined associations between rejection experiences and daily alcohol use.

Full story of social rejection and alcohol abuse at Science Daily

‘Hair of the dog’ won’t cure that hangover

In medieval Europe, when astrology and blood-letting were frequently employed in the diagnosis and treatment of disease, one therapy for rabies was to place some pieces of hair from the rabid dog onto the victim’s bite wound.

It didn’t work.

But it did give rise to the notion that “the hair of the dog that bit you” — a drink — can cure a hangover. This concept is rather ancient, too, having first appeared in print in 1546.

It doesn’t work, either.

“There’s no scientific evidence that having an alcoholic drink will cure a hangover,” said Laura Veach, Ph.D., director of screening and counseling intervention services and training in the Department of Surgery at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. “It will, at best, postpone one.”

Full story of ‘hair of the dog’ and hangovers at Science Daily

Brain potassium channels may unlock future precision medicine approaches for alcoholism

A handful of FDA-approved drugs exist for treating individuals with alcohol use disorder but they have been largely ineffective at reducing the high rates of relapse. As such, there remains a critical need to identify and develop alternative pharmacological treatment options.

Researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), through collaborative efforts with the NIH-funded INIAstress Consortium, have identified novel potassium (K+) channel genes within addiction brain circuitry that are altered by alcohol dependence and correlate with drinking levels in a mouse model of alcohol drinking.

Significant reduction of heavy alcohol drinking after administration of a KV7 channel-positive modulator validated Kcnq, one of the identified genes that encodes KV7 type K+ channels, as a potential pharmacogenetic target. These preclinical findings, published in the February 2017 special issue of Alcohol on mouse genetic models of alcohol-stress interactions, suggest that K+ channels could be promising therapeutic targets that may advance personalized medicine approaches for treating heavy drinking in alcoholics.

Full story of brain potassium channels and medicine for alcoholism at Science Daily