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Effects of Binge Drinking on the Developing Brain

Binge drinking is a pattern of alcohol drinking that raises a person’s blood alcohol concentration to at least .08%, which amounts to consuming five alcoholic drinks for men and four alcoholic drinks for women in about 2 hours. It is the most common form of alcohol misuse in adolescents and young adults. Heavy drinking includes the same criterion as binge drinking, but with higher frequency (i.e...

Alcohol Metabolism and Epigenetics Changes

The concept that only DNA and proteins can impact disease states is an oversimplification. It does not take into account different metabolic pathways in which key metabolites bind to transcription factors and alter gene expression patterns that contribute to the observable characteristics (the phenotype) of a given disease. Simple metabolites dictate the actions of specific transcription factors...

Alcohol’s Effects on the Brain: Neuroimaging Results in Humans and Animal Models

Brain imaging technology has allowed researchers to conduct rigorous studies of the dynamic course of alcoholism through periods of drinking, sobriety, and relapse and to gain insights into the effects of chronic alcoholism on the human brain. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies have distinguished alcohol-related brain effects that are permanent from those that are reversible with abstinence...

Alcohol Use Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury

Alcohol use and traumatic brain injury (TBI) are inextricably and bidirectionally linked. Alcohol intoxication is one of the strongest predictors of TBI, and a substantial proportion of TBIs occur in intoxicated individuals. An inverse relationship is also emerging, such that TBI can serve as a risk factor for, or modulate the course of, alcohol use disorder (AUD). Critically, alcohol use after...

Epigenetics—New Frontier for Alcohol Research - Editor's Note

The term “epigenetics” is rapidly becoming one of the more important watchwords in the field of alcohol research. Put simply, epigenetics is the study of changes in gene function that occur without a change in the body’s genetic code, instead relying on epigenetic markers on, among others, the DNA and certain nuclear proteins to turn genes “on” and “off.” Epigenetic changes also are brought about...

Advances in Medications and Tailoring Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder

Despite decades of research on various methods for treating alcohol use disorder (AUD), AUD remains prevalent throughout the world, making it critical to develop a more comprehensive approach to address the issue. Heavy drinking is the third largest risk factor for global disease burden, leading to enormous social and economic decline (World Health Organization 2014). Each year, alcohol misuse...

Alcohol's Effect on Host Defense

Alcohol has been the most common substance of use and abuse in human history. Moderate amounts of alcohol are enjoyed for its anxiolytic effects; however, its addictive properties can lead to chronic, excessive alcohol use and alcohol use disorder. In addition to its commonly recognized behavioral effects, alcohol affects many organs, including the immune system that controls the body’s defense...

Brain Structure and Function in Recovery

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) commonly is associated with compromise in neurobiological and/or neurobehavioral processes. The severity of this compromise varies across individuals and outcomes, as does the degree to which recovery of function is achieved. This narrative review first summarizes neurobehavioral, neurophysiological, structural, and neurochemical aberrations/deficits that are frequently...

Binge Drinking’s Effects on the Body

Alcohol misuse is the fifth-leading risk factor for premature death and disability worldwide, and, adjusting for age, alcohol is the leading risk factor for mortality and the overall burden of disease in the 15 to 59 age group. According to the World Health Organization, in 2004, 4.5% of the global burden of disease and injury was attributable to alcohol: 7.4% for men and 1.4% for women.