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CDAP > CDAP In the News
CDAP In the News

Impact of Alcoholism and Alcohol Induced Disease on America   

Alcoholism is a serious disease that affects the lives of millions of Americans, devastates families and economic vitality, and burdens our country's health care system.  This paper documents the deleterious impact of heavy drinking, alcohol abuse, and alcoholism on the United States

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Alcohol and Drug Fines Should Support MUSC's Center for Drug and Alcohol Programs

The cost and consequences of alcohol and substance use place an enormous burden on American society in general, and on South Carolina in particular.  As one of our nation's largest health problems, addiction strains the health care system, depresses the economy, devastates family life, threatens public safety, overwhelms our criminal justice system, and compromises national preparedness.  Scientific documentation defines alcohol and drug dependence as a disease that has roots in genetic susceptibility, leads to brain adaptation, and changes personal behavior.  Alcohol and drug dependence affects all levels of society, genders, and races.  South Carolina alcohol and drug statistic, while similar to those for other states, are worse in some areas.  For instance, in SC 50% of total traffic fatalities are alchol-related, whereas the national average is 37%.

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Video Games Used to Fight Alcohol Addiction

"...This provides a tool to add to our medical toolbox for dealing with addiction.  However, research will have to be conducted to evaluate if it can be used alone, or with specialized counseling or medication treatments.  More will will have to be done to better understand its potential uses and limitations..."

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Pill Proven Effective to Treat Alcoholism

A seven-year study by MUSC researchers offers proof that alcoholism is treatable in more than one way, beginning with a trip to the doctor’s office and a prescribed medication with appropriate medical management.

Research led by MUSC’s Raymond Anton, M.D., and Carrie Randall, Ph.D., found  that using a combination of pills and outpatient general medical management  resulted in a dramatic increase in alcohol abstinent days, from 25 percent to 73 percent, in those that participated in the national study, Combining Medications and Behavioral Treatment of Alcoholism (COMBINE).


The COMBINE study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, focused on the use of the prescribed drug, naltrexone, an opioid antagonist, which has been used to treat alcoholism for some years in the context of specialty programs. Naltrexone or another newer drug, acamprosate, was combined with outpatient medical management or specialty counseling. Medical management could be carried out by general health care professionals including nurses and physicians assistants. Specialty counseling was delivered by master and doctorate level alcohol counselors.
 
The results of the study, announced in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) released May 3, conclude behavioral counseling is not required when naltrexone is prescribe to achieve successful results.
 

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The COMBINE study is the first of its kind funded by NIH. Researchers also say the study proves that alcoholism does not necessarily require treatment from a behavioral specialist, but that more discreet options exist for those unwilling, or unable, to seek psychotherapy.
 
“There is an unfortunate stigma that still exists for alcoholism,” Anton said. “With improved treatments, access to care, and expected good outcomes, individuals and their families will hopefully seek the help they need while physicians, employers, educators, and health insurers will see the wisdom of providing support.”
 
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), more than 8 million people suffer from alcoholism in the United States in any given year.
 
Although drugs such as naltrexone have been used in alcoholism treatment for more than a decade, the social stigma and lack of insurance support associated with the disease caused most alcohol-dependent individuals to bypass medical  treatment and seek help from mutual help groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous or specialty alcohol counseling programs. In fact, the NIAAA reports that only 12 percent of alcohol-dependent patients seek professional help, partially due to lack of access to care.
 
“The primary message we want to convey is that there is a choice,” Anton said. “The results from the COMBINE study are important because it broadens the treatment possibilities for those who have alcohol problems.“
 
From 2001-2004, investigators at 11 academic sites recruited about 1,400 participants. During the course of 16 weeks, various patients were given a different combination of general care, specialized counseling, naltrexone; another drug, acamprosate, or a placebo. Although reported effective in other studies conducted outside of the United States, researchers in the COMBINE study found acamprosate to have little to no effect in treating alcoholism.
 
Drug therapies have not been used because most clinicians have difficulty understanding the complex nature of the disease and the role the brain plays in it.
 
“One reason that medications like naltrexone have not been widely used is the lack of knowledge that alcoholism is an acquired brain disease with a specific chemical basis that can be modified by medications under the right circumstances,” Anton said. “Many medications are being studied (here at MUSC and elsewhere) for alcohol dependence currently, and newer ones are expected to give more hope for treatment or cure in the future.” In the meantime, patients have a choice, naltrexone or specialized counseling.

The Catalyst Online
Friday, May 5, 2006

Catalyst Online is published weekly, updated as needed and improved from time to time by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, catalyst@musc.edu. Editorial copy can be submitted to Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to catalyst@musc.edu. To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island papers at 849-1778, ext. 201.

  

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"I felt at all times that the staff I encountered were very interested in helping me. I never felt like a 'number.' "-CEL

" I did not feel judged or less of a person because of my alcohol issues. It has been a very positive experience...I also now realize this is a forever problem that I have to address on a daily basis."-Bobby

"This was an excellent experience. I learned a lot about alcohol dependence, coping strategies and other health related issues as they involve alcohol consumption. Most importantly my personal and family life have improved dramatically. Thank you, thank you, thank you!" -James