How to Reduce Binge Drinking: Strategies for Big Parties or a Night In

The phrase “binge drinking” may conjure up images of college students chugging out of red plastic cups filled to the brim with beer or spring breakers downing round after round of tequila shots. While binge drinking is indeed most common among younger adults, they are hardly alone in their excessive alcohol consumption in short periods of time: One in six Americans binge drinks four times a month, External link  and more than half of the 17.5 billion binge drinks consumed by adults annually is attributed to those 35 and older.

Binge drinking increased 8.9% across the United States between 2005 and 2012, External link  according to a study published in the American Journal for Public HealthJohn Clapp, External link  interim dean and a professor at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, says that the public needs to pay attention to the notable changes in who is engaging in this unhealthy behavior.

Full story at usc.edu

Binge drinking affects 1 in 10 older adults in the US

Binge drinking affects more than one-tenth of older adults in the United States, according to new research.

Binge drinking can be harmful for older people because it increases the risk of injuries and falls and the chances of developing chronic health problems.

The new Journal of the American Geriatrics Society study analyzed recent national survey data on alcohol use.

The analysis estimates that 10.6% of adults in the U.S. who are 65 years of age and older are “current binge drinkers.”

Full story at Medical News Today

Binge drinking in adolescence may increase risk for anxiety later in life

A growing body of evidence supports the idea that alcohol exposure early in life has lasting effects on the brain and increases the risk of psychological problems in adulthood. Now, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have found that adolescent binge drinking, even if discontinued, increases the risk for anxiety later in life due to abnormal epigenetic programming. The findings of the study, which was conducted in animals, was published in the journal Biological Psychiatry.

“Binge drinking early in life modifies the brain and changes connectivity in the brain, especially in the amygdala, which is involved in emotional regulation and anxiety, in ways we don’t totally understand yet,” said Subhash Pandey, professor of psychiatry in the UIC College of Medicine, director of the UIC Center for Alcohol Research in Epigenetics and lead author of the study. “But what we do know is that epigenetic changes are lasting, and increase susceptibility to psychological issues later in life, even if drinking that took place early in life is stopped.”

“Epigenetics” refers to chemical changes to DNA, RNA, or specific proteins associated with chromosomes that change the activity of genes without changing the genes themselves. Epigenetic alterations are required for the normal development of the brain, but they can be modified in response to environmental or even social factors, such as alcohol and stress. These kinds of epigenetic alterations have been linked to changes in behavior and disease.

Full story at Science Daily

Binge drinking affects male and female brains differently

Gene expression in an area of the brain linked to addiction is affected differently by repeated binge drinking in males and females, finds a new study published today in Frontiers in Genetics. It reveals for the first time that genes associated with hormone signaling and immune function are affected by repeated binge drinking in female mice, whereas genes associated with nerve signaling are affected in males. These findings have significant implications for the treatment of alcohol use disorder as they emphasize the importance of tailoring effective therapies towards male and female patients.

“We show that repeated binge drinking significantly alters molecular pathways in the nucleus accumbens, a region of the brain linked to addiction. A comparison of activated pathways reveals different responses in each sex, similar to that reported in recent research on male and female mice tested during the withdrawal phase following chronic alcohol intoxication,” says Deborah Finn, a Professor of Behavioral Neuroscience at Oregon Health & Science University and a Research Pharmacologist at the VA Portland Health Care System, USA.

She continues, “These findings are important as they increase our understanding of male and female differences in molecular pathways and networks that can be influenced by repeated binge drinking. This knowledge can help us identify and develop new targeted treatments for alcohol use disorder in males and female patients.”

Full story at Science Daily

Adolescent binge drinking disrupts mouse memory in adulthood

Excessive drinking during adolescence may interfere with the activity of brain cells needed for sustaining short term memory, according to new research in adolescent male mice published in JNeurosci. The study could help scientists better understand the development of alcohol use disorders in adults.

The prefrontal cortex (PFC) and the behavior-management abilities it supports — both of which continue to mature throughout the teenage years — are particularly vulnerable to the effects of heavy alcohol use during adolescence. Teenage binge drinking is associated with reduced PFC activity, cognitive deficits, and later alcohol abuse. Yet, the mechanisms underlying these observations are unclear.

Full story at Science Daily