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Of Note

March 1, 2007
by root
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Alcoholics’ Assessment of Sleep Can Predict Recovery Outcomes

Alcoholics’ subjective measures of how well they sleep through the night appear to serve as a better predictor of recovery success than an objective polysomnography assessment does, according to a study published in the December 2006 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan, consisted of 18 alcoholics who either were recruited from an outpatient clinic or replied to an ad looking for individuals who “use alcohol to help them sleep.” Monitoring sleep on two nights three weeks apart and analyzing the findings against outcomes during two six-week follow-up periods, researchers found that the success of early recovery could be predicted by how long the individuals thought it took for them to fall asleep and how often they thought they woke up in the middle of the night.

Although it is believed that a substantial percentage of people in early recovery from alcohol dependence have sleep disturbances or insomnia, the mechanisms that may relate alcoholism and insomnia are unknown. “Since alcohol affects many of the same areas of the brain that are involved in the initiation and regulation of sleep, it is tempting to speculate that neurotoxicity from chronic alcohol use may be affecting the memory for, and perceptual distinction of, wakefulness and sleep upon morning awakening,” the researchers reported.

Researcher Earns Award for Study of Relapse

Rudolf H. Moos, PhD, who in 2006 published research showing positive effects on long-term sobriety when individuals pursued treatment within a year of recognizing an alcohol use problem, has won the prestigious Dan Anderson Research Award for 2006. A Department of Veterans Affairs scientist who also is a professor at Stanford University's Department of Psychiatry, Moos found that individuals who participated in treatment or Alcoholics Anonymous within a year of recognizing their problem were much more likely to achieve long-term sobriety than individuals who didn't receive help in the first year. Sobriety rates after three years were 62.4% in the treatment group and 43.4% in the non-treatment group, and this magnitude of difference was apparent even after a 16-year follow-up. The study was published in the journal Addiction.

“Our findings on the benefits of relatively rapid entry into treatment and/or AA support the value of strengthening the referral process for individuals who recognize their alcohol problems and initiate help-seeking,” Moos said in a statement from Hazelden, whose Butler Center for Research sponsors the Anderson award. “Those gatekeepers or first-responders who do the initial assessments of people with alcohol problems need to be aware of the important role they can play up front.” Moos also won the American Society of Addiction Medicine's R. Bradley Smithers Distinguished Scientist Award in 2006.

Crimes Attributable to Alcohol Exact Heavy Price

A study published in the December 2006 issue of the Society for Prevention Research's Prevention Science indicates that crimes that can be attributed to the perpetrator's use of alcohol cost twice as much to society as crimes that can be attributed to the perpetrator's use of illegal drugs. While the study is based on 1999 government data, the study author says that 2005 statistics indicate the same pattern. Looking at a broad set of costs to victims, property, and the justice system and other government services, study author Ted Miller, PhD, of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation concluded that in 1999 alcohol-related crimes cost $83 billion, compared to $37 billion for drug-related crimes.

Nearly 65% of total costs of crimes associated with substance use are from pain and suffering (based on jury awards to crime victims) and lost quality of life, according to the study. The study examined surveys of prison inmates and found that perpetrators of homicide, rape, and assault were more likely to report having been under the influence of alcohol than having been under the influence of illegal drugs. According to the study, violent crimes account for 39% of alcohol- or drug-involved crimes, but make up 85% of the societal costs associated with alcohol- or drug-involved crimes.

ONDCP Conducting Summits on Drug Testing in Schools

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is sponsoring a series of Student Drug Testing Summits designed to serve as an introduction for school officials who want to learn more about school-based drug testing. The first of the summits for 2007 was held in January in Charleston, South Carolina. The next three events are scheduled for Feb. 27 in Newark, New Jersey, March 27 in Honolulu, Hawaii, and April 24 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The summits will address legal and program development issues related to school-based testing. In addition, they will feature new information for school districts already conducting student drug testing, and will offer information about federal grants available from the Department of Education for testing programs. For more information about the free events, visit http://www.cmpinc.net/dts or send an e-mail request to bspencer@ondcp.eop.gov.