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The Neurobiology of Alcoholism


This resource page is part of an Online Course
The Neurobiology of Alcoholism

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Harm Reduction/Controlled Drinking Organizations for Clients

HAMS: Harm Reduction for Alcohol (Harm Reduction, Abstinence and Moderation Support)
A peer led, no-charge support and informational group for those who want to change their drinking habits for the better. Articles, on-line support and chat groups, and harm reduction information.

Although there are only about 20 moderation management groups meeting in the United States, the website also provides listings of Internet support groups and listservs, as well as additional resources to help practice controlled drinking.

Offers online and in-person support groups, as well as other resources and materials.

Runs groups around the country and offers information for women alcoholics only.

Self-described as an organization for those who wish to abstain but are uncomfortable with the higher power orientation of AA, offers material, a newsletter, a list of in-person meetings, and online support groups.

12-Step and Abstinence Organizations for Clients



Organizations providing information and links to treatment and support groups

A service of the National Institutes of Health and the United States National Library of Medicine offers the latest news and links to articles, as well as consumer information.

National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc
Offers information and links to local support and informational groups.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Offers constantly updated information on research, treatment and other information.

An online magazine from the National Institute in Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, which is updated three times a year offering a variety of information on alcohol, alcoholism, trends, statistics, and a variety of other information, for both consumers and therapists.

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Motivational Interviewing is an extremely useful technique for harm reduction OR abstention therapy, and it is relatively easy to learn because it incorporates many elements of good, basic therapy. Additional information on Motivational Enhancement Therapy and Motivational Interviewing. You will find explanations, a complete library and references, and training materials and schedules.


Incidence of Alcohol Abuse

Grant, BF, Dawson, DA, Stinson, FS, Chou, SP, Dufour, MC and Pickering, RP. 2004. The 12-month prevalence and trends in DSM-IV alcohol abuse and dependence: United States, 1991-1992 and 2001-2002. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 74(3): 223-234.

Jauhar, S and Smith, ID. 2009. Alcohol-related brain damage: Not a silent epidemic. The British Journal of Psychiatry: The Journal of Mental Science, 194(3): 287-288.

Rehm J, Mathers C, Popova S, Thavorncharoensap M, Teerawattananon Y, Patra J. Global burden of disease and injury and economic cost attributable to alcohol use and alcohol-use disorders. Lancet. 2009;373:2223-2233.

Alcohol and Cognitive Impairments

Anstey, KJ, Mack, HA and Cherbuin, N. 2009. Alcohol consumption as a risk factor for dementia and cognitive decline: Meta-analysis of prospective studies. American Journal of Geriatric Psych, 17(7)

Cairney, S, Clough, A, Jaragba, M and Maruff, P. 2007. Cognitive impairment in aboriginal people with heavy episodic patterns of alcohol use. Addiction., 102(6): 909-915

Carlen, PL, McAndrews, MP, Weiss, RT, Dongier, M, Hill, JMMenzano, E. 1994. Alcohol-related dementia in the institutionalized elderly. Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research, 18(6): 1330-1334

Gupta, S and Warner, J. 2008. Alcohol-related dementia: A 21st-century silent epidemic?. The British Journal of Psychiatry: The Journal of Mental Science, 193(5): 351-353.

Neafsey, EJ and Collins, MA. 2011. Moderate alcohol consumption and cognitive risk. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 7: 465-484.

Oscar-Berman, M and Marinkovic, K. 2003. Alcoholism and the brain: An overview. Alcohol Research and Health, 27(2): 125-133

Oslin, DW and Cary, MS. 2003. Alcohol-related dementia: Validation of diagnostic criteria. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 11(4): 441-447

Peters, R, Peters, J, Warner, J, Beckett, N and Bulpitt, C. 2008. Alcohol, dementia and cognitive decline in the elderly: A systematic review. Age and Ageing, 37(5): 505-512.

Redish AD. Addiction as a computational process gone awry. Science. 2004;306:1944-1947.

Rourke, SB and Grant, I. 2009. "The neurobehavioral correlates of alcoholism". In Neuropsychological assessment of neuropsychiatric and neuromedical disorders, Edited by: Grant, I and Adams, KM. 398-454. New York: Oxford University Press.

Saxton, J, Munro, CA, Butters, MA, Schramke, C and McNeil, MA. 2000. Alcohol, dementia, and Alzheimer's disease: Comparison of neuropsychological profiles. Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology, 13(3): 141-149. [Web of Science ®]

Vetreno, RP, Hall, JM and Savage, LM. 2011. Alcohol-related amnesia and dementia: Animal models have revealed the contributions of different etiological factors on neuropathology, neurochemical dysfunction and cognitive impairment. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 96(4): 596-608.

How Alcohol Affects Neurobiology

Addolorato G, Leggio L, Cardone S, Ferrulli A, Gasbarrini G. Role of the GABA(B) receptor system in alcoholism and stress: focus on clinical studies and treatment perspectives. Alcohol. 2009;43:559-563.

Aragón, C, López-Corcuera, B. (2003) Structure, function and regulation of glycine neurotransporters. Eur J Pharmacol 479: 249-62.

Boehm SL, 2nd, PiercyMM,Bergstrom HC, Phillips TJ. Ventral tegmental area region governs GABA(B) receptor modulation of ethanol-stimulated activity in mice. Neuroscience. 2002;115:185-200.

Broadbent J, Harless WE. Differential effects of GABA(A) and GABA(B) agonists on sensitization to the locomotor stimulant effects of ethanol in DBA/2 J mice. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1999;141:197-205.

Camarini R, Marcourakis T, Teodorov E, Yonamine M, Calil HM. Ethanol-induced sensitization depends preferentially on D1 rather than D2 dopamine receptors. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2011;98:173-180.

Cryan JF, Kaupmann K. Don't worry 'B' happy!: a role for GABA(B) receptors in anxiety and depression. Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2005;26:36-43.

De Witte, P. (2004) Imbalance between neuroexcitatory and neuroinhibitory amino acids causes craving for ethanol. Addict Behav 29: 1325-39.

Doherty M, Gratton A. Differential involvement of ventral tegmentalGABA(A) andGABA(B) receptors in the regulation of the nucleus accumbens dopamine response to stress. Brain Res. 2007;1150:62-68.

Eulenburg, V, Armsen, W, Betz, H, Gomeza, J. (2005) Glycine transporters: essential regulators of neurotransmission. Trends Biochem Sci 30: 325-33.

Giorgetti M, Hotsenpiller G, Froestl W, Wolf ME. In vivo modulation of ventral tegmental area dopamine and glutamate efflux by local GABA(B) receptors is altered after repeated amphetamine treatment. Neuroscience. 2002;109:585-595.

Guerri, C. (2002) Mechanisms involved in central nervous system dysfunctions induced by prenatal ethanol exposure. Neurotox Res 4: 327-35.

Koob, GF. (2003) Alcoholism: allostasis and beyond. Alcohol Clin Exp Res 27: 232-43.

Krystal, JH, Staley, J, Mason, G, Petrakis, IL, Kaufman, J, Harris, RA, Gelernter, J, Lappalainen, A. (2006) Gamma-aminobutyric acid type A receptors and alcoholism: intoxication, dependence, vulnerability, and treatment. Arch Gen Psychiatry 63: 957-68.

López-Corcuera, B, Aragón, C, Geerlings, A. (2001) Regulation of glycine transporters. Biochem Soc Trans 29: 742-5.

Maccioni P, Colombo G. Role of the GABA(B) receptor in alcohol-seeking and drinking behavior. Alcohol. 2009;43:555-558.

McDonald AJ, Mascagni F, Muller JF. Immunocytochemical localization of GABABR1 receptor subunits in the basolateral amygdala. Brain Res. 2004;1018:147-158.

Passmore, R, Eastwood, M. (2003) Human Nutrition and Dietetics. Longman Group Limited, Hong Kong. New Zealand Ministry of Health.

Pfefferbaum, A, Sullivan, EV, Hedehus, M, Adalsteinsson, E, Lim, KO and Moseley, M. 2000. In vivo detection and functional correlates of white matter microstructural disruption in chronic alcoholism. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 24(8): 1214-1221.

Pivac, N, Mück-Seler D, Mustapi, M, Nenadi-Sviglin K, Kozari-Kovaci D. (2004) Platelet serotonin concentration in alcoholic subjects. Life Sci 76: 521-31.

Silberman Y, Bajo M, Chappell AM, et al. Neurobiological mechanisms contributing to alcohol-stress-anxiety interactions. Alcohol. 2009;43:509-519.

Storvik, M, Tiihonen, J, Haukijärvi, T, Tupala, E. (2006) Lower serotonin transporter binding in caudate in alcoholics. Synapse 59: 144-51.

Sun, AY and Sun, GY. 2001. Ethanol and oxidative mechanisms in the brain. Journal of Biomedical Science, 8(1): 37-43.

Tabakoff, B, Melchior, C, Urwyler, S, Hoffman, PL. Alterations in neurotransmitter function during the development of ethanol tolerance and dependence. Acta Psychiatr Scand Suppl 286: 153-60.

Theile JW, Morikawa H, Gonzales RA, Morrisett RA. Ethanol enhances GABAergic transmission onto dopamine neurons in the ventral tegmental area of the rat. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2008;32:1040-1048.

Craving and Alcohol

Bottlender M, Soyka M. Impact of craving on alcohol relapse during, and 12 months following, outpatient treatment. Alcohol Alcohol. 2004;39:357-361.

Skinner MD, Aubin HJ. Craving's place in addiction theory: contributions of the major models. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2010;34:606-623. 61

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Research on Medications for Alcohol-Related Cognitive Impairments

Addolorato G, Caputo F, Capristo E, Colombo G, Gessa GL, Gasbarrini G. Ability of baclofen in reducing alcohol craving and intake: II-preliminary clinical evidence. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2000;24:67-71.

Addolorato G, Caputo F, Capristo E, et al. Baclofen efficacy in reducing alcohol craving and intake: a preliminary double-blind randomized controlled study. Alcohol Alcohol. 2002;37:504-508.

Addolorato G, Leggio L, Ferrulli A, et al. Effectiveness and safety of baclofen for maintenance of alcohol abstinence in alcohol-dependent patients with liver cirrhosis: randomised, double-blind controlled study. Lancet. 2007;370:1915-1922.

Addolorato G, Leggio L, Ferrulli A, et al. Doseresponse effect of baclofen in reducing daily alcohol intake in alcohol dependence: secondary analysis of a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Alcohol Alcohol. 2011;46(3):312-317.

Addolorato G, Caputo F, Capristo E, et al. Rapid suppression of alcohol withdrawal syndrome by baclofen. Am J Med. 2002;112:226-229.

Addolorato G, Leggio L, Abenavoli L, et al. Suppression of alcohol delirium tremens by baclofen administration: a case report. Clin Neuropharmacol. 2003;26:258-262.

Addolorato G, Leggio L, Abenavoli L, et al. Baclofen in the treatment of alcohol withdrawal syndrome: a comparative study vs diazepam. Am J Med. 2006;119:276 e13-e18.

Agabio R, Marras P, Addolorato G, Carpiniello B, Gessa GL. Baclofen suppresses alcohol intake and craving for alcohol in a schizophrenic alcohol-dependent patient: a case report. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2007;27:319-320.

Ameisen O. Complete and prolonged suppression of symptoms and consequences of alcohol-dependence using high-dose baclofen: a self-case report of a physician. Alcohol Alcohol. 2005;40:147-150.

Ameisen O. Le dernier verre [The Last Glass]. Paris: Deno el; 2008.

Ameisen O, de Beaurepaire R. Suppression de la d'ependance 'a l'alcool et de la consommation d'alcool par le baclof'ene 'a haute dose: un essai en ouvert. Ann M'ed Psychol Rev Psychiatr. 2010;168:159-162.

Arias C, Mlewski EC, Molina JC, Spear NE. Naloxone and baclofen attenuate ethanol's locomotor-activating effects in preweanling Sprague-Dawley rats. Behav Neurosci. 2009;123:172-180.

de Beaurepaire R. Baclofen for the treatment of alcoholism. PSN Psychiatr Sci Hum Neurosci. 2011;9:1-6.

Bucknam W. Suppression of symptoms of alcohol dependence and craving using high-dose baclofen. Alcohol Alcohol. 2007;42:158-160.

Bahlmann, M, Bartenstein, P, Schütz, C and Soyka, M. 2001. Memantine treatment in alcohol dementia: Rapid PET changes and clinical course. European Neurology, 45(1): 57-58

Barth KS, Malcolm RJ. Disulfiram: an old therapeutic with newapplications. CNS Neurol Disord Drug Targets. 2010;9:5-12.

Besheer J, Lepoutre V, HodgeCW.GABA(B) receptor agonists reduce operant ethanol self-administration and enhance ethanol sedation in C57BL/6J mice. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2004;174:358-366.

Cheon, Y, Park, J, Joe, K and Kim, D. 2008. The effect of 12-week open-label memantine treatment on cognitive function improvement in patients with alcohol-related dementia. The International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology/Official Scientific Journal of the Collegium Internationale Neuropsychopharmacologicum (CINP), 11(7): 971-983.

Colombo G, Agabio R, Carai MA, et al. Ability of baclofen in reducing alcohol intake and withdrawal severity: I-preclinical evidence. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2000;24:58-66.

Colombo G, Serra S, Vacca G, Carai MA, Gessa GL. Baclofen-induced suppression of alcohol deprivation effect in Sardinian alcohol-preferring (sP) rats exposed to different alcohol concentrations. Eur J Pharmacol. 2006

Colombo G, Vacca G, Serra S, Brunetti G, Carai MA, Gessa GL. Baclofen suppresses motivation to consume alcohol in rats. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2003;167:221-224.

Colombo G. Baclofen attenuates cue-induced reinstatement of alcohol-seeking behavior in Sardinian alcohol-preferring (sP) rats. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2008 1;95:284-287.

Colombo G, Serra S, Vacca G, Gessa GL, Carai MA. Suppression by baclofen of the stimulation of alcohol intake induced by morphine and WIN 55,212-2 in alcohol preferring rats. Eur J Pharmacol. 2004 25;492:189-193.

Cousins MS, Roberts DC, de Wit H. GABA(B) receptor agonists for the treatment of drug addiction: a review of recent findings. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2002;65:209-220.

Evans SM, Bisaga A. Acute interaction of baclofen in combination with alcohol in heavy social drinkers. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2009;33:19-30.

Flannery BA, Garbutt JC, Cody MW, et al. Baclofen for alcohol dependence: a preliminary open-label study. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2004;28:1517-1523.

Fuller RK, Gordis E. Does disulfiram have a role in alcoholism treatment today? Addiction.. 2004;99:21-24.

Garbutt JC. The state of pharmacotherapy for the treatment of alcohol dependence. J Subst Abuse Treat. 2009;36:S15-S23

Garbutt JC, Kampov-Polevoy AB, Gallop R, Kalka- Juhl L, Flannery BA. Efficacy and safety of baclofen for alcohol dependence: a randomized, double-blind, placebocontrolled trial. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2010;34:1849-1857.

Garbutt JC, Flannery B. Baclofen for alcoholism. Lancet. 2007; 370:1884-1885.

Gueorguieva R, Wu R, Donovan D, et al. Baseline trajectories of drinking moderate acamprosate and naltrexone effects in the COMBINE study. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2011;35(3):523-531.

Heilig M, Egli M. Pharmacological treatment of alcohol dependence: target symptoms and target mechanisms. Pharmacol Ther. 2006;111:855-876

Knapp DJ, Overstreet DH, Breese GR. Baclofen blocks expression and sensitization of anxiety-like behavior in an animal model of repeated stress and ethanol withdrawal. Alcoholism. 2007;31:582-595.

Leggio L, Ferrulli A, Cardone S, et al. Renin and aldosterone but not the natriuretic peptide correlate with obsessive craving in medium-term abstinent alcohol-dependent patients: a longitudinal study. Alcohol. 2008;42:375-381.

Leggio L, Ferrulli A, Malandrino N, et al. Insulin but not insulin growth factor-1 correlates with craving in currently drinking alcohol-dependent patients. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2008;32:450-458.

Leggio L, Garbutt JC, Addolorato G. Effectiveness and safety of baclofen in the treatment of alcohol dependent patients. CNS Neurol Disord Drug Targets. 010;9:33-44.

Liu J, Wang L. Baclofen for alcohol withdrawal. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011;(1):CD008502.

Maccioni P, Bienkowski P, Carai MA, Gessa GL, Monterosso JR, Flannery BA, Pettinati HM, et al. Predicting treatment response to naltrexone: the influence of craving and family history. Am J Addict. 2001;10:258-268.

Quintanilla ME, Perez E, Tampier L. Baclofen reduces ethanol intake in high-alcohol-drinking University of Chile bibulous rats. Addict Biol. 2008;13:326-336.

Rolland B, Deheul S, Danel T, Bordet R, Cottencin O. A system of prescriptions without drug approval: example of baclofen. Therapie. 2010;65:511-518.

Soufia M, Plaze M, Gueguen B, Demigneux G, Olie JP, Gaillard R. Behavioral disinhibition with baclofen. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2010;30:759-760.

Soyka M, Rosner S. Emerging drugs to treat alcoholism. Expert Opin Emerg Drugs. 2010;15:695-711.

Suh JJ, Pettinati HM, Kampman KM, O'Brien CP. The status of disulfiram: a half of a century later. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2006;26:290-302.

Walker BM, Koob GF. The gamma-aminobutyricacid-B receptor agonist baclofen attenuates responding for ethanol in ethanol-dependent rats. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2007;31:11-18.

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