May 14th, 2014
09:39 AM ET
Ask the average person how to treat alcoholism, and they’ll probably describe an AA meeting or maybe a 30-day stint in a fancy rehab center. What won’t leap to mind, even for most experts, is medication.
That’s a missed opportunity, according to an analysis of more than 120 research studies that found that prescription medication helps addicts reduce their drinking and the associated harms.
Taken together, the studies involved 22,803 patients who abused alcohol. The bulk of the papers looked at the medications naltrexone or acamprosate. Both made addicts less likely to drink again and reduced the number of “drinking days” when they did relapse.
January 15th, 2014
05:43 PM ET
Nearly 80,000 people die as a result of drinking alcohol each year in North and Latin America, according to a new study published Tuesday in the Journal Addiction.
Researchers looked at alcohol as the cause of death by examining death certificates, over a two-year period in 16 North and Latin American countries. Men accounted for 84% of alcohol-related deaths.
Maristela Monteiro, study author and a senior advisor on alcohol and substance abuse at the Pan American Health Organization, says people are drinking too much and "it's killing people before they should be dying."
"These deaths are all 100 percent preventable," she says. FULL POST
June 10th, 2013
02:55 PM ET
Maybe you’re better off taking the bus.
A new study in the July issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs found that 35% of designated drivers - those responsible for driving friends who may have had too much to drink - also consume alcohol and 1 in 5 had blood-alcohol levels high enough to impair their driving.
Researchers interviewed and tested 1,100 people in the downtown area of an unnamed Southeastern college community. Of the designated drivers who drank alcohol, half had blood alcohol levels higher than .05%, the new recommended limit for drunken driving (the current limit is .08%).
“If you look at how people choose their designated drivers, oftentimes they’re chosen by who is least drunk or who has successfully driven intoxicated in the past,” says Adam Barry, an assistant professor of health education and behavior at the University of Florida. “That’s disconcerting.”
April 9th, 2013
12:41 PM ET
Although drinking alcohol is known to be a risk factor for developing breast cancer, a new study suggests that alcohol may not have any effect on whether you survive the disease. In fact, researchers found that being a moderate drinker may actually improve your chances of survival.
"The results of the study showed there was no adverse relationship between drinking patterns before diagnosis and breast cancer survival," said Polly Newcomb, director of the cancer prevention program at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and the lead author of the study.
"We actually found that relative to non-drinkers there were modestly improved survival rates for moderate alcohol intake."
February 5th, 2013
04:04 PM ET
Saving calories at the bar may not be a good thing.
Researchers gave college students vodka drinks with regular soda and with diet soda, and the diet soda group got more intoxicated, faster - about 20% more intoxicated than those who mixed regular soda with liquor, according to research published Tuesday in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. Sugar in your mixed drink actually slows down the effects of alcohol, researchers say. FULL POST
January 29th, 2013
10:18 AM ET
The halls of every middle school in America are filled with teenagers looking to find themselves, express themselves and fit in with the crowd. But it’s what happens at home, at night, that can lead to some of the problems those teens may put on display.
Seventh-graders who are exposed to alcohol ads on television –- and who say they like the ads - may experience more severe problems related to drinking alcohol later in their adolescence, according to a study published Monday in the medical journal Pediatrics.
January 15th, 2013
05:12 PM ET
Clinicians are missing alcohol problems in almost three out of four patients because they don't screen for the behavior and instead go with their gut feelings to catch the problem, according to a study published this week in the Annals of Family Medicine. Experts say asking patients a few questions about their drinking habits can lead to interventions that may help patients cut back on their risky behavior.
Researchers wanted to find out how well doctors identified drinking problems in their patients. Almost 1,700 adults from 40 different primary care practices completed questionnaires at the end of an office visit. They were asked a variety of lifestyle questions and several addressed drinking habits, such as how often they drank alcohol, how many drinks they had on a typical day, and if their drinking ever put them in danger of getting hurt or causing an accident.
December 19th, 2012
05:17 PM ET
Marijuana use is holding steady among eighth, 10th- and 12th-graders in the United States and tobacco smoking rates remain low.
Those are some of the results published in the annual Monitoring the Future study, a survey of more than 45,000 8th, 10th, and 12th graders from 395 public and private schools. It was released Wednesday.
Each year, the survey gathers information from teens about their use of alcohol, drugs, and tobacco, as well as asking them questions regarding their attitudes about the drugs. FULL POST
October 2nd, 2012
04:16 PM ET
The number of teenagers who are drinking and driving has dropped by 54% in the past two decades, according to a new report released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In 2011, when asked if they drink and drive, 90% of the high school students 16 and older surveyed by the CDC said they did not.
However, “motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death among teens in this country. There are more than 2,000 teens aged 16-19 killed each year and many of those deaths are alcohol-related,” said CDC Director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden. “Almost a million high school teens aged 16 and over drove after drinking alcohol in 2011 and we calculate that high school teens were responsible for about 2.4 million episodes of drinking and driving a month.”
June 19th, 2012
09:22 AM ET
Certain patients who undergo weight-loss surgery may have a heightened risk of developing a drinking problem, but the risk is only apparent two years after the procedure and only with one type of surgery.
A new study, published today on the website of the Journal of the American Medical Association, examined the drinking habits of almost 2,000 obese adults before and after bariatric surgery.
Before the surgery, 7.6% of the study participants met the criteria for an alcohol-use disorder. One year after the procedure that number had actually declined slightly, to 7.3%, but by the end of the second year it had risen to 9.6% - a 57% increase from the pre-surgery rate.
About this blog
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.