Stories about the negative effects and consequences of substance abuse often make the biggest headlines. These stories highlight the year's good news -- the top stories of new efforts to treat and prevent alcoholism and drug abuse.
Some damage caused to the brain by chronic alcohol consumption does begin to reverse itself once alcoholics stop drinking, if they do not wait too long to stop. An international study, using sophisticated scanning technology to measure how the brain changed during abstinence, found that the damaged brain will regenerate, but the amount of improvement is related to how long the person drank excessively.
The National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism updated its free guide for primary care and mental health professionals, adding new resources and information. The guide, "Helping Patients Who Drink So Much," presents a user-friendly approach to screening, diagnosing and managing patients with drinking problems.
A Canadian study has found that mailing a simple information pamphlet to drinkers in the general public can reduce binge drinking as much as 10 percent. Researchers at the University of Alberta say the mail approach could significantly reduce health and social problems associated with heavy drinking.
A new guide distributed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration hopes to improve substance abuse treatment in emergency departments, where excessive drinking is often the cause of treated injuries. The goal of the guide is to integrate substance abuse treatment with primary and general care.
A new guidebook, designed to help agencies respond to families in the child welfare system affected by substance abuse, is now available from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The guidebook is "Screening and Assessment for Family Engagement, Retention, and Recovery" (SAFERR).
A Swedish study has found that intervention programs for college students that include basic skills training are the most effective with students who are in the highest risk group of drinkers. In a study of 556 students, those with higher Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) scores benefited most from skills training, researchers found.
A new synthetic compound, known as MTIP, has been found to prevent alcoholic behavior relapse in animals by blocking stress response. Scientists at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism demonstrated that MTIP blocks chemical signals that are active in the brain's response to stress, thereby stopping excessive drinking and preventing relapse.