Members: A. Jara, O. Tsimerman, H. Husain

Alcohol dependence is defined as “a maladaptive pattern of alcohol use, leading to clinically ignificant impairment or distress, as manifested by three or more of the following seven criteria, occurring at any time in the same 12-month period” (1).The criteria include: tolerance, withdrawal, binging, desire, obtaining alcohol, reduced activity, and use despite of knowledge of adverse effects (1). Researchers have been particularly interested in the genetics, neurobiology, physiological effects and rehabilitative treatments of Alcohol related Disorders. Since most addictive behaviours have been associated with a genetic basis, numerous attempts have been made to identify the gene(s) that may be responsible for an increased susceptibility to AD. Ethanol has profound effects on the neurochemical pathways (such as the dopamine “reward” pathway) in the brain (2). Along with the neurochemical effects, AD also involves an extensive array of reinforcements which lead to the development of addictive behaviour. Alcohol dependence has been proven to have both short-term and long-term effects on an individual’s health. Currently, the biggest interest of research is the effects of alcohol on the brain. Thus far, research has identified the role of ethanol in the reduction of neurogenesis (3), the effect on the LOAD risks (4) and other deleterious effects. Significant advancements have also been made in the diagnosis and treatment of AD. Current methods of treatment involve different combinations of pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy. Common pharmacotherapeutical approaches involve the treatment of withdrawal effects caused by abstinence as well as an enhancement of the negative effects (such as hangovers) of alcohol consumption to cause an aversion.

  1. Genetics of Alcohol Addiction(Oleksandr Tsimerman)
    • Seretonin Transporter Gene
    • Glutamate Decarboxylase
    • Chloride Inner Channels (CLICs)
  2. Effects of Alcohol Addiction(Andrew Jara)
    • Short Term effects / Long Term effects
    • Hippocampal neurogenesis
    • Late onset of Alzheimer’s Disease (LOAD)
    • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)
  3. Diagnosis(Hunaid Husain)
    • AUDIT
    • CAGE
    • Physiological Markers
  4. Treatment(Hunaid Husain)
    • Detoxification
      • Benzodiazepines
    • Pharmacotherapy
      • Naltrexone
      • Acamprosate
      • Disulfiram

References/External links:

  1. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fourth Edition.// DSM-IV. American Psychiatric Association (1994): 181-183
  2. Heilig M, Goldman D, Berrettini W, O'Brien CP. Pharmacogenetic approaches to the treatment of alcohol addiction Nature Reviews Neuroscience (2011) **12**: 670-684
  3. Morris S, Eaves W, Smith A, Nixon K. Alcohol Inhibition of Neurogenesis: A Mechanism of Hippocampal Neurodegeneration in an Adolescent Alcohol Abuse Model. Hippocampus. (2010) **20**: 596–607
  4. Ohta S, Ohsawa I, Kamino K, Ando F, Shimokata H. Mitochondrial ALDH2 Deficiency as an Oxidative Stress. Acad. Sci. (2004) **1011**: 36–44