Monthly Archives: August 2014

Translating the Semi-Structured Assessment for Drug Dependence and Alcoholism in the Western Pacific: Rationale, Study Design and Reliability of Alcohol Dependence

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Aims: The aims of this study were to develop a bilingual version of the Semi-Structured Assessment for Drug Dependence and Alcoholism (SSADDA) in English and Samoan and determine the reliability of assessments of alcohol dependence in American Samoa. Methods: The study consisted of development and reliability-testing phases. In the development phase, the SSADDA alcohol module was translated and the translation was evaluated through cognitive interviews. In the reliability-testing phase, the bilingual SSADDA was administered to 40 ethnic Samoans, including a sub-sample of 26 individuals who were retested. Results: Cognitive interviews indicated the initial translation was culturally and linguistically appropriate except items pertaining to alcohol tolerance, which were modified to reflect Samoan concepts. SSADDA reliability testing indicated diagnoses of DSM-III-R and DSM-IV alcohol dependence were reliable. Reliability varied by language of administration. Conclusion: The English/Samoan version of the SSADDA is appropriate for the diagnosis of DSM-III-R alcohol dependence, which may be useful in advancing research and public health efforts to address alcohol problems in American Samoa and the Western Pacific. The translation methods may inform researchers translating diagnostic and assessment tools into different languages and cultures.

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A Pharmaco-EEG-Based Assessment of the Interaction Between Ethanol and Zonisamide

  1. Bogusława Pietrzak*,
  2. Ewa Zwierzyńska and
  3. Agata Krupa
  1. Department of Pharmacodynamics, Medical University of Łódź, Muszyńskiego 1, 90-151 Łódź, Poland
  1. *Corresponding author: Department of Pharmacodynamics, Medical University, Muszyńskiego 1, 90-151 Łódź, Poland. Fax: +48-42-678-83-98; E-mail: boguslawa.pietrzak{at}
  • Received October 17, 2013.
  • Revision requested December 9, 2013.
  • Revision received April 22, 2014.
  • Accepted April 28, 2014.

Aims: Recent research suggests a potential role for a new generation of anticonvulsant drugs, including zonisamide, in the treatment of alcohol dependence. Some elements of the central mechanism of action that zonisamide has in common with ethanol, give rise to the question of whether there is an interaction between these two agents and whether there is any risk associated with the enhanced depressive effect of these agents on the central nervous system. Methods: This study uses a pharmaco-EEG method to examine the interaction of ethanol with zonisamide. The influence of zonisamide on the effect of ethanol on EEG of rabbits (midbrain reticular formation, hippocampus, frontal cortex) was determined. Zonisamide was administered p.o. as a single dose (20 or 60 mg/kg) or repeatedly at a dose of 30 mg/kg/day for 14 days. Ethanol was injected i.v. at a dose of 0.8 g/kg 180 min after the administration of zonisamide. Results: Ethanol caused an increase in the low frequencies (0.5–4 Hz) in the recording, as well as a marked decrease in the higher frequencies (13–30 and 30–45 Hz). Changes in the EEG recordings after zonisamide alone were more significant compared with these after repeated doses. In the hippocampus after single dose of drug the proportion of the low frequency (0.5–4 Hz) increased, whereas the proportion of high frequencies decreased. Combined administration of ethanol and zonisamide (60 mg/kg) resulted in a markedly synergistic effect in the examined structures. A beneficial effect of repeatedly administered zonisamide on ethanol-induced EEG changes was observed, especially in the hippocampus. Conclusion: Zonisamide in repeated doses decreases the sensitivity of the hippocampus to ethanol, an observation that may be important in the treatment of alcohol addiction.

The Moderating Effect of Stimulus Attractiveness on the Effect of Alcohol Consumption on Attractiveness Ratings

  1. Xiong Chen1,2,3,,
  2. Xiaoyu Wang2,3,,
  3. Dong Yang2,3 and
  4. Youguo Chen1,2,*
  1. 1Center of Studies for Psychology and Social Development, Southwest University, Chongqing 400715, China
  2. 2Key Laboratory of Cognition and Personality (Ministry of Education), School of Psychology, Southwest University, Chongqing 400715, China
  3. 3Center for Metal Health Research, Southwest University, Chongqing 400715, China
  1. *Corresponding author: School of Psychology, Southwest University, Beibei, Chongqing 400715, China. Tel.: +86-13752942592; E-mail: cyg1001{at}
  • Received November 26, 2013.
  • Revision received January 27, 2014.
  • Accepted April 12, 2014.

Aims: To explore the enhancing effect of alcohol consumption on attractiveness ratings, in that few studies on the Beer Goggles effect control the stimuli attractiveness level and researchers have seldom considered extending the effect to stimuli other than faces. Methods: Male and female participants (n = 103) were randomly assigned to alcohol consumption or placebo groups. Both groups were asked to assess the attractiveness of two types of pictures (faces and landscapes) with three levels of attractiveness for each stimulus category (high, moderate and low). Results: We found significant interactions between beverage type and attractiveness level. Attractiveness ratings for moderate- and low-attractiveness faces were significantly higher in the alcohol compared with placebo condition, while there was no significant difference for high-attractiveness stimuli between these two conditions. As for landscapes, only low-attractiveness stimuli were rated significantly higher in the alcohol condition. Conclusion: Whether or not alcohol consumption leads to an increase in attractiveness ratings depends on the initial attractiveness of the stimulus materials. Alcohol consumption tends to affect ratings for stimuli with relatively low attractiveness. Furthermore, this effect is not limited to faces; it extends to other types of stimuli like landscapes.

Increase in Nucleus Accumbens Dopamine Levels Following Local Ethanol Administration Is Not Mediated by Acetaldehyde

  1. Rhona B.C. Clarke1,*,
  2. Louise Adermark1,
  3. PeiPei Chau1,
  4. Bo Söderpalm1,2 and
  5. Mia Ericson1
  1. 1Addiction Biology Unit, Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
  2. 2Beroendekliniken, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Gothenburg, Sweden
  1. *Corresponding author: Addiction Biology Unit, Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry, Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, PO Box 410, 405 30 Gothenburg, Sweden. Tel.: +46-31-786-39-19; Fax: +46-31-82-81-63; E-mail: rhona.clarke{at}
  • Received April 11, 2014.
  • Revision requested May 27, 2014.
  • Revision received June 11, 2014.
  • Accepted June 26, 2014.

Aims: Ethanol (EtOH) activates the mesolimbic dopamine system and increases dopamine levels in the nucleus accumbens (nAc), which is believed to underlie the rewarding effects of alcohol. Accumulating evidence now implicates that acetaldehyde, the first metabolite of EtOH, may play an important role in mediating some of the rewarding properties of its parent compound. The objective of this study was to investigate if the increase in accumbal dopamine output observed when administering EtOH locally in the nAc by reversed microdialysis is mediated by acetaldehyde. Methods: Acetaldehyde (1, 10, 100 or 200 µM) or EtOH (300 mM) was administered via reversed microdialysis in the nAc of male Wistar rats. In a separate experiment, animals were administered EtOH (300 mM) in the nAc, following pre-treatment with the acetaldehyde-sequestering agent d-penicillamine (50 mg/kg injected intraperitoneally 60 min before drug challenge). Microdialysates from the nAc were collected every 20 min and dopamine content was quantified using high-performance liquid chromatography. Results: Acetaldehyde administered in the nAc did not influence accumbal dopamine levels at any of the concentrations applied, whereas EtOH induced a significant increase in accumbal dopamine. The dopamine-elevating properties of EtOH were not attenuated by pre-treatment with d-penicillamine. Conclusion: The current results show that EtOH administered in the nAc induces an elevation in accumbal dopamine levels, which is not mimicked by acetaldehyde alone, nor is it influenced by acetaldehyde sequestering. This would suggest that the increase in accumbal dopamine following nAc EtOH administration is not mediated by acetaldehyde.

Comparison of Phosphatidylethanol Results to Self-Reported Alcohol Consumption Among Young Injection Drug Users

  1. Jennifer Jain,
  2. Jennifer L. Evans,
  3. Alya Briceño,
  4. Kimberly Page and
  5. Judith A. Hahn*
  1. University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA
  1. *Corresponding author: Department of Medicine, UCSF School of Medicine, 50 Beale St., 13th Floor Box 0886, San Francisco, CA 94143-0886, USA. Tel.: +1-415-597-4961. E-mail: judy.hahn{at}
  • Received August 6, 2013.
  • Revision requested October 17, 2013.
  • Revision received April 22, 2014.
  • Accepted May 23, 2014.

Aims: To test the value of phosphatidylethanol (PEth) as a biomarker for alcohol consumption among injecting drug users (IDUs). Methods: As part of a longitudinal study of young IDUs, dried blood spots and self-reported alcohol by structured interview were collected at baseline. We compared self-reported alcohol use to detectable PEth (≥8 ng/ml) in the blood spots as well as the relationships between quantitative PEth results and quantity measures of alcohol consumption. Results: There were strong associations between PEth and self-reported categorical measures of alcohol consumption (all P < 0.01). There was high specificity for reporting abstaining from alcohol; 94% of those who reported not consuming alcohol in the prior month tested negative for PEth. PEth was well correlated with measures of alcohol use (e.g. with reported number of days drinking in the prior month: Spearman r = 0.70 (P < 0.001)). Conclusions: The positive correlation of PEth with reported alcohol consumption suggests that PEth may be a useful marker in settings where alcohol consumption is difficult to assess, or to corroborate or invalidate self-reported measures of alcohol consumption.

BDNF SNPs Are Implicated in Comorbid Alcohol Dependence in Schizophrenia But Not in Alcohol-Dependent Patients Without Schizophrenia

Aims: The functional BDNF single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs6265 has been associated with many disorders including schizophrenia and alcohol dependence. However, studies have been inconsistent, reporting both positive and negative associations. Comorbid alcohol dependence has a high prevalence in schizophrenia so we investigated the role of rs6265 in alcohol dependence in Australian populations of schizophrenia and alcohol-dependent patients. Methods: Two BDNF SNPs rs6265 and a nearby SNP rs7103411 were genotyped in a total of 848 individuals. These included a schizophrenia group (n = 157) and a second schizophrenia replication group (n = 235), an alcohol-dependent group (n = 231) that had no schizophrenia diagnosis and a group of healthy controls (n = 225). Results: Allelic association between rs7103411 and comorbid alcohol dependence was identified (P = 0.044) in the primary schizophrenia sample. In the replication study, we were able to detect allelic associations between both BDNF SNPs and comorbid alcohol dependence (rs6265, P = 0.006; rs7103411, P = 0.014). Moreover, we detected association between both SNPs and risk-taking behaviour after drinking (rs6265, P = 0.005; rs7103411, P = 0.009) and we detected strong association between both SNPs and alcohol dependence in males (rs6265, P = 0.009; rs7103411, P = 0.013) while females showed association with multiple behavioural measures reflecting repetitive alcohol consumption. Haplotype analysis revealed the rs6265-rs7103411 A/C haplotype is associated with comorbid alcohol dependence (P = 0.002). When these SNPs were tested in the non-schizophrenia alcohol-dependent group we were unable to detect association. Conclusion: We conclude that these BDNF SNPs play a role in development of comorbid alcohol dependence in schizophrenia while our data do not indicate that they play a role in alcohol-dependent patients who do not have schizophrenia.