Wednesday November 20, 2019

What Causes Alcohol Addiction?

The team analysed GAT-3 levels in brain tissue from deceased humans who had documented alcohol addiction

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What Causes Alcohol Addiction?
What Causes Alcohol Addiction? (IANS)

Molecular mechanisms including lower levels of a protein in the brain may be the reason why addicts choose alcohol over an alternative reward, finds a study that may help improve treatment for alcohol dependence.

The study suggested that the level of a transporter protein GAT-3, situated in the amygdala region of the brain — responsible for emotional reactions — was lower among the alcohol addicts.

“We have to understand that a core feature of addiction is that you know it is going to harm you, potentially even kill you, and nevertheless something has gone wrong with the motivational control and you keep doing it,” said Markus Heilig from the Linkoping University in Sweden.

In the study, published in the journal Science, the team used a mouse model to measure the expression of hundreds of genes in five areas of the brain.

What Causes Alcohol Addiction?
Alcoholic beverages. Pixabay

The team investigated the role of reduced GAT-3 levels in rats that initially preferred sweetened water over alcohol. After the reduction, they were again presented with the choice between alcohol and sugar.

They found that 15 per cent of the outbred rats chose alcohol over a high-value reward.

Also Read: US Cancels A Planned Alcohol Study Over Trust Issues

“Decreasing the expression of the transporter had a striking effect on the behaviour of these rats. Animals that had preferred the sweet taste over alcohol reversed their preference and started choosing alcohol,” said lead investigator Eric Augier.

Further, the team analysed GAT-3 levels in brain tissue from deceased humans who had documented alcohol addiction. They found lower levels of the protein in them than in the control individuals. (IANS)

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Teenagers Who View Beer Ads Likely To Start Drinking: Study

Study says that beer advertisements influences underage drinking

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Beer advertisements
Beer advertisements are made in such a way that they influence underage drinking. Pixabay

Advertising budgets and strategies used by beer companies appear to influence underage drinking, suggests a new study.

The findings, published in the journal Addictive Behaviours Reports, showed that the amount of money spent on advertising strongly predicted the percentage of teenagers who had heard of, preferred and tried different beer brands.

For the study, the researchers involved over 1500 middle and high school students.

The study revealed that 99% participants had heard of Budweiser and Bud Light — the top spender on advertising, while 44 per cent said they had used the brand.

“We can’t say from this one study that advertisers are specifically targeting youth, but they are hitting them, if you look at beer ads, advertisers are using all the tricks we know work at grabbing children’s attention,” said study researcher Douglas Gentile from Iowa State University in the US.

Around 55% participants had at least one alcoholic drink in the past year, 31 per cent had one or more drinks at least once a month and 43 per cent engaged in heavy drinking.

When asked to name their two favourite TV commercials, alcohol-related ads had the highest recall (32 per cent) followed by soft drinks (31 per cent), fashion (19 per cent), automotive (14 per cent) and sports nine per cent.

Drinking beer
Most of the teenagers said in the survey that beer advertisements tempt them to try alcohol. Pixabay

A quarter of those surveyed said they owned alcohol-related products.

The study also found that teenagers are heavy consumers of media and therefore exposed to more advertising.

“Viewers or readers aren’t thinking about the message through a critical lens,” instead, audiences become immersed in a compelling story and identify with the characters, a process which leads them to unintentionally be persuaded by the messages of the story,” said study researcher Kristi Costabile.

During the study, researchers also asked teenagers about their intentions to drink as an adult.

Also Read- India’s Health System Underperforming: Niti Aayog

Advertising and parent and peer approval of drinking were all significant predictors of intention to drink.

“By understanding what influences behaviour we can design more effective prevention and intervention programmes to reduce underage drinking, which in turn could lessen the likelihood that alcohol use becomes a problem,” Brooke Arterberry said. (IANS)