Archive for the 'Alcohol' category

NIAAA-funded researchers need to stop whining and sack the hell up!

Someone going by Addiction Scientist dropped this comment on the Sb blog:

Unfortunately, the questionable efforts by Dr. Volkow and her staff to "market" this merger at grantee meetings ("It's a done deal!"), despite clear directions not to do so, has really created an adversarial relationship between the scientific staff of each Institute. Many of NIAAA's best scientists are considering leaving NIH rather than work under Volkow. It's hard to be a creative scientist in a hostile work environment, and people are really angry with Volkow and Leshner (her predecessor at NIDA). An additional insult to NIAAA is that this merger may signal the end of a carefully developed and nurtured alcohol research community that has contributed so much to the welfare of the American people. Alcohol researchers actually have developed useful pharmacotherapeutics, behavioral treatments, technologies, and clinical tools that have actually had impact on people. Aside from a "war on drugs" under ONDCP's auspices, its hard to quantify NIDA's contribution, beyond the reward pathway. Even the best endocannabinoid research is supported under NIAAA. So, who will this help and how? Does Volkow really need a larger empire?

Call the waaaahmbulance.

Read my lips, Volkow can not possibly be selected as the head of a new combined Addictions Institute. Not going to happen.

It is going to have to be a person who has feet firmly planted in both alcohol research and other-drugs research.

An additional insult to NIAAA

You need to get over this "insult" business. And I mean the collective you. It is not an insult. Honestly now, if you start with the assumption that Institutes are to be merged, which other ones rise to the top of the list? Seriously.

this merger may signal the end of a carefully developed and nurtured alcohol research community

Why that almost sounds like you think that alcohol research scientists suck and cannot compete on an even footing with those who are currently under the NIDA umbrella. Who's insulting who now?

From my limited experience serving on a study section that received grants assigned to NIAAA and NIDA my opinion is that there is no competitive disadvantage/advantage for either types of applications that we reviewed. It also happens that I know quite a number of people who have held or do hold awards from both NIAAA and NIDA.

If we think about human populations, sure maybe there is more of a tendency to specialize but c'mon. The co-morbidity issue is huge in alcohol research- so get your grants from NIMH. Also, many human users of other drugs also co-abuse alcohol- perfect opportunity to steal a march on the other-drug-focused investigators.

C'mon NIAAA-funded extramural researchers, sack the heck up!

(if you were referring to intramural researchers in your comment about 'best scientists' leaving, well can't help you there. not a fan of the intramural research program)

Now, getting us back on track with the politics, we still have not heard from powerful lobby interests and their pet CongressCritters. And by "powerful", I mean not namby pamby patient advocacy groups and the like. I mean the "beverage" industry. Brewers, distillers and vintners, oh my.

My completely unfounded suspicion is that they will be very motivated to keep alcohol from being explicitly defined as a drug like any other, which is how this is going to look.

5 responses so far

Blogrolling: Infactorium

May 06 2010 Published by under Alcohol, LinkLove

I've been scanning the Infactorium blog penned by AnyEdge a little bit. I am captivated by post such as these.
What it was Like:

I think now about all the energy I put into trying and failing to hide it. What a waste. I remember the bathtub, the soda bottles half full of liquor. The thinking people didn't notice. All the little games I played to try to conceal how much, how often.

What Happened:

LawnBoy said: "if [ex] shows up, please just restrict yourself to two beers."
Now, I took minor offense to that, but I understood. Later that year I made an ass of myself at goldlust's wedding too. I did a lot of that. I could probably write 20 pages about all the asinine things I did at friend's weddings. I was impressive. I stranded my sister penelope in the Chicago airport, because I was too drunk to go to her aid. Like I say, impressive.

More Grants, with a Discussion of the Constancy of Inadequacy.

I found out about two weeks ago that I'm going to be co-investigator on this huge grant, covering 30% of my time and salary. It's the same work that I was planning on doing anyway, I just had no idea that it was going to be written up for funding. Silly me. In academic circles, everything is written up for funding.

What to Call My Degree

Medical Doctors don't have to do shit but memorize and pass a test.

Why are you still here? Go Read.

2 responses so far

Does one drug cause the user to be more annoying?

Apr 14 2010 Published by under Alcohol, Nicotine, Opiates, Public Health

As a bit of a followup to the poll we ran on whether or not cigarettes make you high, I offer context and my thoughts. As of this writing, btw, the votes are running 44% "Yes", 47% "No", the balance "other" with a fair bit of commentary to the effect that "high" is not exactly the right description for nicotine.
For the background, we might as well start with the comment from SurgPA:

This started with an email from PalMD asking why doctors react much more negatively to narcotics abusers than alcohol or nicotine abusers. I hypothesized that most people view acute use of the various drugs differently. Specifically I suspected that most doctors' gut reactions when seeing someone light a cigarette are qualitatively (and vastly) different from seeing someone shoot heroin (or snort crushed oxycontin). In short that we don't see the act of smoking as an acute intoxication by a neuroactive substance, even if we understand it intellectually.

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45 responses so far

Alcohol and Marijuana Use Epidemiology

Dec 14 2009 Published by under Alcohol, Cannabis, Drug Abuse Science

A recent survey suggested that a majority of US respondents support the legalization of marijuana. The press release version from Angus-Reid Global Monitor is here. I've taken the liberty of graphing the data because something strikes me as funny.
AngusReidLegalizeSurvey.jpg It is very odd to me that the public view on drug harms seems to exist in a sort of good/bad binary state that does not appear to be graded with anything resembling a specific measure of "harmfulness" whatever that may be. If we may take the public willingness for legalization as a reflection of some global harm evaluation, that is. Some of the more philosophically defensible arguments, along the line of libertarian civil liberties and what not, would seem to be entirely independent of drug identity, right? So it must be something about the level of harm. The public appear to feel that there is a categorical distinction between marijuana and some other popular drugs but I just don't see where it is supported in terms of any given harmful outcome including risk of dependence, interference with ability to function when acutely intoxicated, acute risk of death, risk of toxicity to brain or other major organ with repeated use, etc.
Unfortunately, I was distracted by something shiny in my researches so we're going off on a bit of a tangent today...

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88 responses so far

"Do you think maybe Uncle Joe has a drinking problem?"

Nov 24 2009 Published by under Alcohol, Drug Abuse Science, Public Health

As we reach the pinnacle of the drinking season (Thanksgiving through New Years) many people not in the business are thinking about addiction. It may be a concerned reflection on our own behavior over the past* coming month or so. It may arise from unusual levels of contact with our distant relations or family friends. Even though drinking, even to excess, is socially approved sometimes one starts to ....wonder.

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17 responses so far

UK Home Office Restores Drug Science to the Back of the Bus

Nov 02 2009 Published by under Alcohol, Cannabis, Drug Abuse Science, General Politics, LSD, MDMA

nutt.jpgWhen I last took up the quixotic campaign of David Nutt, Ph.D., Professor of Psychopharmacology, Univ. of Bristol and former Chair of the UK Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, it was to point out his belief that MDMA should be downgraded to a lesser harm category. He had issued opinion pieces comparing MDMA's propensity for causing harm favorably with alcohol and waxed enthusiastic about the current clinical trials. The trigger for my post was his absurdist essay on the unfortunate harms to public health that are associated with addiction to "equasy".

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8 responses so far

Blogrolling: Addiction Inbox

Oct 22 2009 Published by under Alcohol, Blogging, Cannabis, Drug Abuse Science

I have no idea why it has taken me so long to find the Addiction Inbox blog penned by one Dirk Hanson. Lots of great stuff here for my readers that are interested in the substance-abuse topics.
Kudzu for Alcoholism?
600 comments on a post on Marijuana Withdrawal ?
A take on the infamous Vandrey et al., 2008, study- Marijuana withdrawal rivals nicotine ?
Coverage of the recent news stories such as: Russian Heroin Addiction "Spreads Like Wildfire"
Go read.

One response so far

MDMA: A first person account

Mar 16 2009 Published by under Alcohol, Drug Fatality, MDMA, Public Health

Abel Pharmboy's recent post remembering his father is evocative, emotional and an all around brilliant bit of writing. I can't help but note, DearReader, that his post strikes me hard as a father and as a son. I think it had a similar effect on many of his readers. There is an additional component, though, in that it puts a personal face on the motivations of those of us who work on issues related to substance abuse. It isn't a collection of incontrovertible data. No. It is a personal anecdote. But pain distributed is pain diffused. And the statistics loose much of their impact this way. This memorial of Abel's though. This is concentrated. And for those of you lucky enough to never have a substance dependent individual in your lives, perhaps even this is not enough. For many of us, however, only a couple of stories like this are sufficient justification.

When I think back, though, I believe you died some eight years earlier, just after your 50th birthday party. For your wife, my Mom, it was even long before that - she is a saint for staying with you as long as she did - no offense, Dad - and I know she still loves you no matter what.
Our family runs rich with depression and alcoholism but you died exceptionally early; my Dad - the young, fit, handsome fella you were in those pictures with little me at the Jersey shore, at home, or with me in that horrible Easter outfit - had died back then and was replaced for the last eight, ten, fourteen years by someone else.

Go read the rest, this can wait.

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14 responses so far

Sign up for grant writing satellite at 2009 RSA meeting

Mar 16 2009 Published by under Alcohol, Grantsmanship

The Research Society on Alcoholism will be holding its 2009 scientific meeting *June 20-24 in San Diego. I have just received notice that they are holding a workshop on grantsmanship on Jun 20th from 9am-4pm. From the email:

The Research Society on Alcoholism (RSA) Education Committee is sponsoring a one-day satellite devoted to strengthening knowledge and skills in the grant preparation process. The morning session is focused on the grant writing process. The presenter will discuss crucial aspects of the process, such as laying out the groundwork of an application and avoiding common pitfalls, with the goal of providing new investigators with a better understanding of producing a successful and competitive grant application. The afternoon session is focused on the NIH peer-review process. Investigators observe an updated NIH video of a mock review of how NIH grant applications are evaluated for scientific and technical merit. The overall aim of the mock review is to reduce misconceptions, provide a better understanding of the grant review process, and provide a foundation for how to interpret reviewers comments to develop more competitive applications.
A panel of experienced CSR and NIAAA study section members that represent neuroscience, psychosocial, and/or biomedical (basic) research areas will comment on the mock review and answer questions. The panel will also discuss the thought processes that serve as a basis for reviewers comments, how this varies by grant mechanism, and forthcoming changes in the NIH peer review process. Participants are encouraged to discuss issues concerning the review process with the panel.
To register, please visit

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2 responses so far

Wet Blanket

Dec 31 2008 Published by under Alcohol

As you prepare to welcome in the New Year, do me a favor will you? Reflect on the past month or so of the drinking season. Have an Uncle Joe or Aunt Sally who just seems to be wasted all the freakin' time? Realizing just how many bottles Grampa goes through in a week? Maybe think you, yourself, may be getting a little out of control?
This is not the place for diagnosis, of course. Not of yourself, and not for Cousin John. Internet sources of information on addictive disorders and alcoholism can help but these are best simply at getting you to contact professional medical care.
Oh yes. That's my main plea. Addiction is a medical problem with medical solutions. They are not highly effective solutions at present in the sense that current practices cannot easily or immediately cure every dependent individual. Clinical intervention can be extremely helpful to some individuals.
What about New Year's Resolutions? Can willpower do the job? Sure, just as with metabolic disorders where willpower in controlling the amount and types of food one eats can be helpful. Some people will be able to cut back on drinking simply by realizing that they need to do so. Again, as with metabolic disorders, some cases require or can be improved further by clinical care. If we thought we had diabetes we would not resist seeking medical attention, would we? Or hesitate to recommend it to Dad? Let us think of alcohol use disorders the same way. Make a Resolution, will you?

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7 responses so far

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