Archive for December, 2012

Sending our thoughts

Monday, December 17th, 2012

On behalf of Choose Responsibility, I send my thoughts to the families and communities of the victims of Friday’s tragedy in Newtown, CT. I have cried for you, and hugged my loved ones tighter in your honor.



Military Drinking, part 2

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

A few months ago, I wrote about binge drinking in the military. I often comment about binge drinking as a college, but I do not frequently enough note that binge drinking pervades more than college campuses. The problem does not evaporate with a diploma, nor does it come upon matriculation as the military has recently become more aware. The Institute of Medicine released a report in September 2012 that noted that the Department of Defense should take appropriate measures to modernize its approach to alcohol abuse in the military. Charles P. O’Brian, chair of the panel that authored the report, noted that at the report’s writing, the Army only had one specialist to trained to treat addiction despite that, the report noted, “drunken soldiers” have been a problem since the Revolutionary War.

Since the report’s release, individual branches of the service have begun making efforts to modernize their approach. According to NBC, “The Marines, starting next year, will give random breathalyzer tests to Corps members; the Air Force and Army curbed some overnight liquor sales for U.S. military personnel in Germany; and American service members in Japan were barredfrom leaving their residences after consuming more than one adult beverage.” According to the report, 47% of active duty service members binge drank in 2008.

Is binge drinking genetic?

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

Scientists have published findings in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal which point to a genetic variation that can lead to an increase in binge drinking in teens. The gene known as RASGRF-2 plays a crucial role in making people more likely to be heavy drinkers. People drinking alcohol experience activation of the brain’s dopamine system, giving them feelings of pleasure and reward.  The research suggests that people with a genetic variation on the RASGRF-2 gene release more dopamine with anticipation of a reward, such as alcohol.

Brain scans of 663 14-year old boys found that those with variations in the RASGRAF-2 gene have more activity in an area of the brain closely linked to the release of dopamine. In order to confirm the findings, the same teens were analyzed at age 16 and those with the gene variation drank more often than those without it. This insight into teens has the potential for greater risk analysis and mitigation of alcohol abuse. However, if parents and educators are aware of a teenager’s susceptibility but not legally able to facilitate a conversation surrounding its risks, they are at a loss for helping him or her overcome the genetic predisposition.