People with autistic tendencies vulnerable to alcohol problems

Young adults with autistic tendencies don’t often engage in social or binge drinking, but if they drink, they are slightly more likely than their peers to develop alcohol problems, according to new research from Duneesha De Alwis (right) and Arpana Agrawal at the School of Medicine.

Smoking cessation may improve mental health

Although many health professionals who treat people with psychiatric problems overlook their patients’ smoking habits, new research at the School of Medicine shows that people who struggle with mood problems or addiction can safely quit smoking and that kicking the habit is associated with improved mental health.

Alcohol abuse, eating disorders share genetic link

Part of the risk for alcohol dependence is genetic. The same is true for eating disorders. Now, School of Medicine researchers have found that some of the same genes likely are involved in both. They report that people with alcohol dependence may be more genetically susceptible to certain types of eating disorders and vice versa.

Risk for alcoholism linked to risk for obesity

Addiction researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found that a risk for alcoholism also may put individuals at risk for obesity, and the association between a family history of alcoholism and obesity risk has become more pronounced in recent years.  

Substance use linked to company we keep

The saying “You are who you hang around with” seems especially true when it comes to alcohol, cigarette and drug use. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis are reporting that people who hang out with marijuana, cigarette or alcohol users are not only more likely to do the same, but that exposure allows genetic tendencies for substance use to become more robust.  

Cicero receives Eddy Award for drug abuse research

Theodore J. Cicero, PhD, has been honored by the College of Problems of Drug Dependence with the 2010 Nathan B. Eddy Award for his pioneering research efforts in the field of drug addiction, research and treatment.The Eddy Award is presented annually to a scientist who has made outstanding contributions in drug abuse research.

Gene variation makes alcoholism less likely in some survivors of sexual abuse

Exposure to severe stress early in life increases the risk of alcohol and drug addiction. Yet surprisingly, some adults sexually abused as children — and therefore at high risk for alcohol problems — carry gene variants that protect them from heavy drinking and its effects, according to researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Addiction study to examine interaction of genes and environment

A psychiatric geneticist at the School of Medicine is one of several principal investigators around the country who will participate in the Genes, Environment and Health Initiative (GEI), a unique collaboration between geneticists and environmental scientists. The $48 million initiative is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Laura Jean Bierut, M.D., professor of psychiatry at the School of Medicine, will head the national study of addiction, looking both at genetic and environmental factors that contribute to the problem.
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