Alcohol is a component cause of more than 200 diseases and causes 3.3 million deaths per year globally (1). The major disease burden comes from harmful alcohol consumption and alcohol dependence. Not everyone who regularly consumes alcohol becomes dependent: 15% become engaged in harmful and compulsive alcohol drinking (2). Patients suffering from alcohol dependence no longer have the freedom to choose between alternative rewards because alcohol drinking dictates what should be done next, namely, shaping activities for the next drink. On page 1321 of this issue, Augier et al. (3) demonstrate that aberrant choice behavior--that is, choosing alcohol over an alternative reward--is a key driver for the transition from controlled to compulsive alcohol use.
The American author Mark Twain is often, possibly apocryphally, quoted as saying that quitting smoking was easy - he'd done it 100 times. The writer later died of lung cancer. As a society we accept the existence of addictions to substances, such as nicotine, alcohol and other drugs - and the harm they can cause. But when it comes to sex, some experts still disagree over whether addiction is real or a myth. Sex addiction is currently not a clinical diagnosis, which means we don't have official figures on how many people have sought help for related concerns through the NHS.
Four genes have been identified that are linked to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). The genes all play a role in the same brain circuit, and may help explain why people are more likely to have OCD if they have a relative with the condition. People with OCD have intrusive thoughts and feel driven to repeat rituals, such as handwashing, to relieve their anxiety. To investigate if OCD has a genetic basis, Hyun Ji Noh at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and her colleagues compared more than 600 genes across 592 people with OCD, and 560 people who don't have it. They chose these candidate genes from several lines of evidence.
MGM Resorts has a message for problem gamblers: We're here for you. Later this year, the company will roll out a new program called GameSense, which puts trained advisors in casinos to share the message that gambling can become a dangerous addiction. Nevada gaming revenue totaled $4.1 billion in 2016. About $3.3 billion of that came from the Las Vegas Strip, according to a report by the UNLV Center for Gaming Research. Problem gambling is a disease that affects more than 7 million Americans according to the National Council on Problem Gambling.
Elizabeth Vargas is not holding anything back about her long battle with alcohol addiction. "Rehab isn't what finally got me sober. It was nearly losing everything and finally seeing that whatever benefit I thought alcohol gave me was outweighed by what it would cost me," she told People magazine in a recent interview. Vargas has been promoting her memoir, "Between Breaths," which hits bookstores Sept. 13. In the book, Vargas opens up about the moment when she hit rock bottom – for the second time – and it forced her to get the help she needed.