Sovaldi , for Hepatitis C, is $483 in India and $84,000 in the USA

Sofosbuvir, sold under the brand name Sovaldi among others, is a medication used for the treatment of hepatitis C.[1] It is only recommended with some combination of ribavirinpeginterferon-alfasimeprevirledipasvirdaclatasvir, or velpatasvir.[3][4] Cure rates are 30 to 97% depending on the type of hepatitis C virus involved.[5] Safety during pregnancy is unclear; while, some of the medications used in combination may result in harm to the baby.[5] It is taken by mouth.[1]

Common side effects include feeling tired, headache, nausea, and trouble sleeping.[1] Side effects are generally more common in interferon-containing regimens.[6]:7 Sofosbuvir may reactivate hepatitis B in those who have been previously infected.[7] In combination with ledipasvir, daclatasvir or simeprevir it is not recommended with amiodarone due to the risk of an abnormally slow heartbeat.[6] Sofosbuvir is in the nucleotide analog family of medication and works by blocking the hepatitis C NS5B protein.[8]

Sofosbuvir was discovered in 2007 and approved for medical use in the United States in 2013.[3][9] It is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines, the most effective and safe medicines needed in a health system.[10] As of 2016 a 12-week course of treatment costs about US$84,000 in the United States, US$53,000 in the United Kingdom, US$45,000 in Canada, and US$483 in India.[11] Over 60,000 people were treated with sofosbuvir in its first 30 weeks being sold in the United States.[1

Best Practices in Managed Substance Use Disorder Treatment

Best Practices in Managed Substance Use Disorder Treatment

In the United States, an estimated 22 million people live with a substance use disorder. Despite their prevalence, substance use disorders continue to go untreated: many individuals forgo help for addiction because of the surrounding stigma, while providers often lack the training to properly recognize and diagnose them. Even with a diagnosis, individuals still face fragmented treatment for these chronic conditions and a high rate of relapse. Without the proper supports, recovery can often seem impossible.

At Beacon Health Options (Beacon), recovery from substance use is not only possible—it’s expected. As today’s leading partner for helping people live healthier, more productive lives, Beacon provides superior clinical management for mental health and substance use disorders, a strong employee assistance program, specialty programs for autism and depression, and data- driven analytics to improve the delivery of care.
With more than 30 years of experience in managed care, we understand the unique challenges of addiction. Managing effective, evidence-based programs nationally and across all lines of business, we provide the right tools and resources to identify and treat substance use disorders and help individuals achieve and sustain long-term recovery. Beacon’s proven model of substance use disorder care management relies on seven core features:

1. Development and Management of a High Quality Continuum of Care

We maintain a continuum of care to ensure members receive the right kind of support and setting for the fluctuating intensity of their needs. Our national network spans every state and encompasses all levels of care, from inpatient detoxi cation programs to intensive outpatient rehabilitation and community-based support services, so members can move to a less restrictive setting as soon as their condition improves while remaining in a safe and therapeutic environment. Ultimately, our goal is to transition members into localized settings to access community-based care, support and resources and prevent unnecessary hospitalization.

We maintain strong partnerships with the substance use disorder provider community along the continuum of care. For example, we pay an enhanced rate for Structured Outpatient Addiction Program (SOAP) providers who use Motivational Interviewing or have an af liation with a homeless shelter. Our staff are also often recruited from the provider community—coming from a diverse array of programs and treatment backgrounds, including acute, residential, and outpatient levels of care—and help to ensure positive connections with the substance use disorder provider community across the entire service continuum.

2. Standardization of Screenings and Assessments

Despite their prevalence, substance use disorders frequently go undiagnosed and untreated. This can largely be attributed to individuals’ reluctance to seek help for these conditions due to the surrounding stigma of addiction, as well as a lack of provider training to properly recognize and diagnose these conditions. To help promote earlier engagement and improved outcomes for members, we use empirically validated screening tools to target substance use disorders when they are more manageable. And with more than a third of all mental health care in the U.S. now being performed by primary care doctors, we ensure these tools are readily available to providers in primary and community-based settings.

One of the ways we help medical providers identify individuals who may be at risk for developing a substance use disorder is through Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT), a screening tool speci cally designed to target the larger population exhibiting harmful behaviors but not clinically substance-dependent. After undergoing a universal screening, individuals at risk for developing a substance use disorder receive an educational intervention to change their behavior, and, if appropriate, a referral for more extensive assessment or treatment. And because of its standardized provider training and screening guidelines, SBIRT can be administered in nearly every type of health care setting, including primary care, dental of ces, community health centers, and HIV clinics.

3. Endorsement of Uniform Medical Necessity Criteria

To ensure that treatment is effectively managed and that members receive the appropriate level of care, Beacon uses evidence-based medical necessity criteria, which guides decisions around service intensity, treatment setting, need for continuing care, and readiness for discharge. Beacon’s medical necessity criteria for treating substance disorders is based on the ASAM Criteria, a collection of clinical guidelines developed by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) and the most widely used set of criteria in the United States for the treatment of substance use issues. The ASAM criteria takes into consideration the comprehensive needs of the member, including strengths, challenges, goals, and life areas. These objective standards establish a spectrum of services which members can move between based on their changing clinical needs, while also identifying the least intensive treatment services a member needs to recover.

The ASAM criteria individualizes treatment times so that members are not limited to a xed number of treatment days. By tailoring our medical necessity criteria to this multi-dimensional approach, Beacon can reunify the system of care, and connect members to the right services at the right time while meeting their unique and comprehensive needs. And to ensure we remain consistent with current clinical best practice, Beacon’s Corporate Executive Medical Management Committee and Company Quality Control review our medical necessity criteria at least annually.

4. Promotion and Adoption of Evidence-Based Services

To produce better outcomes for the treatment of substance use disorders, we promote systematic, evidence-based services developed by established experts in the eld. These programs include:

  • Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT): As the nation’s opioid crisis continues to grow, Beacon promotes the use of supervised medication in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies to treat the whole person. Beacon’s approach includes real-time support for prescribers, such as an expert staffed support hotline for those treating substance use disorders. By improving access to resources for medication self- management, we can connect more people to the help they need to recover.
  • Structured Outpatient Addiction Program (SOAP): In Massachusetts, we incorporate SOAPs—short-term, structured, clinically intensive group-oriented treatment services— to individuals returning to the community from medically managed detoxification or acute treatment programs, or to individuals needing more intensive treatment than other outpatient programs may provide. We also endorse programs supported by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Registry of Evidence Based Programs and Practices, including:
  • Matrix Model: Developed through 20 years of experience in real-world treatment settings, the Matrix Model is an intensive, 16-week outpatient treatment approach consisting of relapse-prevention groups, education groups, social-support groups, individual counseling, and urine and breath testing. The program is guided by a therapist, and includes education for loved ones affected by substance use disorders.
  • Motivational Interviewing: We implement focused and goal-oriented Motivational Interviewing (MI) to help people recognize and change their high-risk behavior, and based on the individual’s goals, develop an action plan. Through incorporating MI counseling into their initial intake/orientation session, community-based substance abuse treatment clinics can also improve program retention.
  • Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP): A self-management intervention, WRAP teaches participants how to implement the key concepts of recovery into their everyday lives, and helps them identify their personalized wellness resources in order to make an individualized plan to manage their disorder.

5. Easing the Administrative Burden

To help providers take the focus off of cumbersome administrative tasks and enhance member experience, we offer easy-to-use online assessments, medical necessity determinations, authorizations, and claiming at no cost to the provider. Our streamlined system makes routine tasks such as processing claims, obtaining claims information, and verifying eligibility status easy and convenient. Providers may also receive quick technical assistance by contacting our Help Desk.

We also offer webinars on a quarterly basis for providers and their key staff to learn more information on our various system enhancements, as well as program and administrative updates.

6. Support for Recovery through Peer Services and Long-Term Chronic Care Management

Beacon understands that treating substance use disorders is a continuous process—in fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that the relapse rate for drug addiction is 40 to 60 percent. Because we recognize the challenges associated with substance relapse, we offer long-term support for substance use disorders based on the principles of recovery and resiliency as we work to return people to their communities.


Beacon’s Peer Services offer members collaborative support through persons who have lived with substance use disorders and reached a significant level of recovery. Our trained Peer Support Specialists offer ongoing assistance and education as members reintegrate back into the community, helping members learn problem-solving skills and other strategies to help them achieve and sustain recovery. Peer Support Specialists can also help members identify and connect with community-based resources to support their unique ongoing needs.


Our chronic care management addresses the comprehensive needs of members with substance use conditions and helps them transition back into the community by addressing their holistic needs. Our approach promotes the integration of physical and behavioral health services at every key stage of service and improves overall integration and coordination of medical, behavioral, and psychosocial supports. We will work with medical case managers to ensure the development of culturally-specific, individualized care plans that reflect the member’s strengths and self- identified goals. We help members obtain services and connect them with community-based resources while advocating for the member’s needs, desires, and rights.
We endorse a chronic care model that provides an evidence-based framework to increase the quality of care, reduce costs and improve outcomes for individuals with substance use disorders.

This model incorporates the necessary societal, systemic, and legislative overhaul to promote continuous and real improvements in care and clinical outcomes, and has been successfully employed to treat individuals with various common chronic illnesses, such as diabetes.

7. Continuous Outcome Based Program Improvement

We continually measure and improve our substance use disorder programs by using SAMHSA’s National Outcome Measures (NOMs) performance targets that measures real-life progress for members undergoing addiction treatment. Measurements includes targets such as abstinence from drugs, abstinence from alcohol, and member social connectedness. Beacon also uses health risk assessments, surveys, and call/outreach statistics to continually inform and improve the care management program.

Putting Our Best Practices to Work: Beacon’s National Substance Use Disorder Program Experience


Since 2007, we have administered substance use disorder treatment services for non-Medicaid members funded by Kansas’ Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment (SAPT) block grants. Overseeing integration of both state and federal funds for substance use treatment for adolescents, adults and families, we coordinate a complete and effective network of private and community-based substance use disorder treatment services.
Since 2009, we have also administered the Kansas Driving Under the Influence (DUI) program, a jail diversion program where non-violent offenders who have been convicted of their third or subsequent DUI charge receive medically necessary substance use disorder treatment.

Our substance use disorder program operates on the Recovery-Oriented System of Care (ROSC) approach to substance use disorder treatment and services, supporting a person-centered approach to recovery. Through our ROSC initiative, we improved member outcomes through a variety of services and programs, including:

  • Person-centered case management
  • Peer recovery services, including development of curriculum for potential peer staff
  • Transportation services to help obtain wraparound services
  • Overnight boarding services for women with children
  • Encouraging providers to utilize recovery-oriented services such as Crisis Intervention and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings

To ensure that individuals have immediate access to appropriate treatment, we operate a 24/7 toll-free hotline for immediate support for screening and referral for substance use concerns. We also developed and conducted a pilot project for Medication Assisted Treatment, negotiating a reduced cost for Vivitrol to distribute medications across the state, and recruited and contracted with several labs to provide the required initial and periodic laboratory and biometric testing.

Outcome Data

From 2008 to 2015, we achieved significant results and cost savings:

  • Doubled the number of individuals gaining access to substance use disorder treatment while experiencing annual reductions in funding
  • Decreased overall higher level of care average length of stay by almost 16%:
    • Reintegration: 12% reduction in ALOS
    • Intermediate Adolescent: 25% reduction in ALOS
    • Social Detox: 30% reduction in ALOS
  • Cumulative improvement in NOMS for 2015:
    • Increased members’ social connectedness to their home environment: 1,595%
    • Abstinence from drugs: 998%
    • Abstinence from alcohol: 965%


For 15 years, Value Behavioral Health of Pennsylvania, a Beacon Health Options company, has managed substance use disorder services for HealthChoices, Pennsylvania’s county-based Medicaid program. Our substance use and support services make a significant impact in these counties, where low income and rural environments limits access to services for many citizens.

We serve each of our Pennsylvania clients individually, designing responsive, unique programs to meet the specific needs of each county’s staff, members, individuals in recovery, families and providers. Here are some of the services we provide:

  • Our Intensive Care Managers specialize in coordinating care for members with complex substance use conditions, emphasizing care coordination with the member’s Physical Health MCO, with the goal of decreasing consumer hospitalizations and increasing community tenure.
  • Our Peer Specialists and Drug & Alcohol Recovery Specialists provide critical education and problem-solving skills, helping members transition back into the community.
  • We provide training to law enforcement, teachers, and juvenile justice works to recognize the signs and symptoms of substance use disorders, as well as referral protocols.
  • Due to a high and growing rate of opiate and heroin use, we work with counties to evaluate the provider network to support the work of PCPs, and encourage the use of community support programs (i.e., recovery coaching, peer support, housing, and employment support) to ensure a chronic care model is readily available.

Outcome Data

  • Overall 96% satisfaction of consumers and families with services they received
  • In Greene County, the percent of HealthChoices members who have used mental health and/or substance abuse services has increased by more than 61 percent from 2003 through 2012


As the administrative services organization (ASO) for the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene/Mental Hygiene Administration, we deliver cost effective, recovery-oriented care for 1.1 million Medicaid and eligible uninsured consumers.

To drive engagement, our community-based staff partners with providers and community support programs where our members live, and we offer PCP training and practice supports through:

  • Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT)
  • Promoting Early Detection and Screening of Alcohol Used by Youths
  • Alcohol Prevention and Screening During Pregnancy

To ensure services are accessible, we offer community health works and lay health educators of specific cultural backgrounds to provide a “cultural bridge.” Our eld-based Care Managers are continually in the community to engage individuals face-to-face, and we assist with any transportation barriers (such as providing Metro cards) and provide translation services when needed.

We are committed to a person-centered, recovery-oriented approach that actively involves individuals with lived substance use disorder experience, and employ Peer Specialists as well as contract with local peer-run agencies. Our Peer Specialists have worked with over 1,200 members.

Outcome Data

  • Increased the number of people served while decreasing the average cost per member
  • Aligned cost of care with best practices, resulting in an annualized savings of $4.1 million
  • Consumers reported 94% satisfaction rating with care management staff


Since 1996, Massachusetts Behavioral Health Partnership (MBHP), a Beacon Health Options company, has maintained a comprehensive community- based provider network offering a full continuum of acute and post-acute substance use treatment services across the Commonwealth. We currently have contracts with the entire substance use disorder treatment provider community serving the Medicaid population.

Using a Central Navigation System (CNS), we provide information and support for members seeking information about substance use treatment, and help them take full advantage of their substance use bene ts, as well as connect them to community-based services and groups that provide added support. Our team is focused on ensuring individuals receive services in the most appropriate setting to increase engagement in the recovery process. Some of these services include:

  • Intensive Care Coordination
  • Emergency Services Program/Mobile Crisis Intervention (ESP/MCI)
  • Outpatient Substance Use Disorder Services
    • SOAP
    • Ambulatory Detoxi cation
    • Acupuncture Treatment
  • Diversionary Services
    • Acute Treatment Services (ATS) for Substance Use Disorders
    • Enhanced Acute Treatment Services (E-ATS) for Individuals with Co-occurring Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders
    • Clinical Stabilization Services (CSS) for Substance Use Disorders
  • Inpatient Substance Use Disorder Services (Level IV Detoxification Services)

Focus on Opioid Treatment and Prevention

Opioid addiction is an urgent problem in the Commonwealth that involves multiple systemic issues and requires effective long-term solutions in addiction treatment and psychosocial rehabilitation. We are executing a wide range of pilots and programs in Massachusetts to address the rising opioid epidemic. They include:

  • The Changing Pathways project, which helps improve member transitions from inpatient withdrawal management programs to outpatient Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT).
  • Community Support Programs to promote adherence to MAT, ensure care continuity for members discharged from withdrawal management programs, and improve follow up appointment rates.
  • Intensive Care Management for Methadone Maintenance program where Beacon partners with methadone treatment providers and leverages intensive case management to help improve methadone maintenance adherence. Improved adherence has been shown to reduce inpatient readmissions and mortality for these members.

Disrupted Internal Clocks Play Role in Liver Disease

It’s About Time: Disrupted Internal Clocks Play Role in Disease

Study uncovers circadian disruption as risk factor in alcoholic liver disease.

Thirty percent of severe alcoholics develop liver disease, but scientists have not been able to explain why only a subset is at risk. A research team from Northwestern University and Rush University Medical Center now has a possible explanation: disrupted sleep and circadian rhythms can push those vulnerable over the edge to disease.

The team studied mice that essentially were experiencing what shift workers or people with jet lag suffer: their internal clocks were out of sync with the natural light-dark cycle.

Another group of mice had circadian disruption due to a faulty gene. Both groups were fed a diet without alcohol and next with alcohol, and the team then examined the physiological effects.

The researchers found the combination of circadian rhythm disruption and alcohol is a destructive double hit that can lead to alcoholic liver disease.

The study was published last month by the journal PLOS ONE.

“Circadian disruption appears to be a previously unrecognized risk factor underlying the susceptibility to or development of alcoholic liver disease,” said Fred W. Turek, the Charles E. and Emma H. Morrison Professor of Biology at Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and one of the senior authors of the paper.

“What we and many other investigators are doing is bringing time to medicine for the diagnosis and treatment of disease,” Turek said. “We call it circadian medicine, and it will be transformative. Medicine will change a great deal, similar to the way physics changed when Einstein brought time to physics.”

The image shows the different stages of liver damage.

A number of years ago, Ali Keshavarzian, M.D., a gastroenterologist at Rush University Medical Center who has worked with and studied patients with gastrointestinal and liver diseases, had a hunch disrupted circadian rhythms could be a contributing factor to the disease.

Keshavarzian had noticed that some patients with inflammatory bowel disease (inflammation in the intestine and/or colon) had flare-ups of symptoms when working nights, but they could control the disease when working the day shift. He sought out Turek, director of Northwestern’s Center for Sleep and Circadian Biology, to help investigate the relationship between circadian rhythms and the disease.

The two investigators and their groups first studied the effect of circadian rhythm disruption in an animal model of colitis and noted that disruption of sleep and circadian rhythms (caused by modeling shift work and chronic jet lag in the animals) caused more severe colitis in mice.

Keshavarzian has been studying the effect of “gut leakiness” (the intestinal lining becomes weak and causes dangerous endotoxins to get into the blood stream) to bacterial products in gastrointestinal diseases for two decades. Because the mouse model of colitis is associated with leaky gut, he proposed that disruption of circadian rhythms from shift work could make the intestine more susceptible to leakiness. He wanted to test its effect in an animal model of alcoholic liver disease — where a subset of alcoholics develop gut leakiness and liver disease — in order to find out whether shift work is the susceptibility factor that promotes liver injury.

“Non-pathogen-mediated chronic inflammation is a major cause of many chronic diseases common in Western societies and developing countries that have adopted a Western lifestyle,” said Keshavarzian, one of the senior authors of the paper. He is director of the Division of Digestive Diseases and the Josephine M. Dyrenforth Chair of Gastroenterology.

Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, autoimmune disease and cardiovascular disease are examples of these diseases, to name just a few.

“Recent studies have shown that intestinal bacteria are the primary trigger for this inflammation, and gut leakiness is one of the major causes,” Keshavarzian said. “The factor leading to gut leakiness is not known, however. Our study suggests that disruption of circadian rhythms and sleep, which is part of life in industrial societies, can promote it and explain the susceptibility.”

In the study, the Northwestern and Rush researchers used two independent approaches, studying both genetic and environmental animal models. The circadian rhythms of one group of mice were disrupted genetically: Each animal had a mutant CLOCK gene, which regulates circadian rhythms. The second group’s circadian rhythms were disrupted environmentally: The animals’ light-dark cycle was changed periodically, leading to a state similar to chronic jet lag.

Mice in both groups, prior to ingesting alcohol, showed an increase in gut leakiness.

Next, both groups of mice were fed alcohol. After only one week, animals in both groups showed a significant additional increase in gut leakiness, compared to control mice on an alcohol-free diet. At the end of the three-month study, mice in both groups were in the early stages of alcoholic liver disease.

“We have clearly shown that circadian rhythm disruption can trigger gut leakiness, which drives the more severe pathology in the liver,” said Keith Summa, a co-first author of the study and an M.D./Ph.D. candidate working in Turek’s lab.

“For humans, circadian rhythm disruption typically is environmental, not genetic, so individuals have some control over the behaviors that cause trouble, be it a poor sleep schedule, shift work or exposure to light at night,” he said.

Sleep and circadian rhythms are an integral part of biology and should be part of the discussion between medical doctors and their patients, the researchers believe.

“We want to personalize medicine from a time perspective,” Turek said. “Our bodies are organized temporally on a 24-hour basis, and this needs to be brought into the equation for understanding health and disease.”

Notes about this circadian rhythm and health research

The paper, titled “Disruption of the Circadian Clock in Mice Increases Intestinal Permeability and Promotes Alcohol-Induced Pathology and Inflammation,” is available online.

In addition to Turek, Keshavarzian and Summa, other authors of the paper are co-first author Robin M. Voigt, Christopher B. Forsyth, Maliha Shaikh and Yueming Tang, of Rush University Medical Center; Martha Hotz Vitaterna and Kate Cavanaugh, of Northwestern; and Shiwen Song, of the American Society for Clinical Pathology.

Contact: Megan Fellman – Northwestern University
Source: Northwestern University press release
Image Source: The liver damage image is credited to the NIH and is in the public domain.
Original Research: Full open access research for “Disruption of the Circadian Clock in Mice Increases Intestinal Permeability and Promotes Alcohol-Induced Hepatic Pathology and Inflammation” by Keith C. Summa, Robin M. Voigt, Christopher B. Forsyth, Maliha Shaikh, Kate Cavanaugh, Yueming Tang, Martha Hotz Vitaterna, Shiwen Song, Fred W. Turek and Ali Keshavarzian in PLOS ONE. Published online June 18 2013 doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0067102

Jan 27-28 2018 National Drug and Alcohol facts week


Teachers, health educators, health pros and schools are welcome to host the event at your location and get free materials from the site above to showcase myths on drugs and alcohol for healthy population.

See you all at Whole Foods Cupertino on Jan 27,2018 for materials and education about drugs and alcohol myths for young and old. Email

Cognitive health later in life correlates with moderate drinking

people drinking in a restaurant
A new study has found that cognitive health later in life correlates with moderate drinking on a regular basis.
The results of a new study point to a correlation between regular but moderate drinking in older adults, and a reduced risk of cognitive impairments. This research was based on a cohort study of middle-class adults in the United States.

According to data from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), excessive alcohol consumption is responsible for around 88,000 deaths each year in the United States. However, the 2015 scientific report of the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that moderate drinking can have several health benefits, including a decreased risk of heart disease and diabetes.

A new study led by scientists from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine in La Jolla has now found a correlation between moderate drinking on a regular basis and prolonged cognitive health, as well as longevity.

Senior study author Dr. Linda McEvoy explains that their research is, as far as they are aware, the first of its kind; it specifically takes into account the frequency of alcohol intake in an older population.

“This study is unique because we considered men and women’s cognitive health at late age and found that alcohol consumption is not only associated with reduced mortality, but with greater chances of remaining cognitively healthy into older age,” she says.

Dr. McEvoy and her colleagues have published their findings in the current issue of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Alcohol Boosts Recall of Earlier Learning

Alcohol Boosts Recall of Earlier Learning

Summary: A new Scientific Reports study reveals alcohol may have a surprising effect on learning and memory. Researchers found those who drank alcohol following a learned word task had better recollection of the terms they learned the next day than those who did not drink.

Source: University of Exeter.

Drinking alcohol improves memory for information learned before the drinking episode began, new research suggests.

In the University of Exeter study, 88 social drinkers were given a word-learning task. Participants were then split in two groups at random and told either to drink as much as they liked (the average was four units) or not to drink at all.

The next day, they all did the same task again — and those who had drunk alcohol remembered more of what they had learned.

The researchers are keen to stress that this limited positive effect should be considered alongside the well-established negative effects of excessive alcohol on memory and mental and physical health.

“Our research not only showed that those who drank alcohol did better when repeating the word-learning task, but that this effect was stronger among those who drank more,” said Professor Celia Morgan, of the University of Exeter.

“The causes of this effect are not fully understood, but the leading explanation is that alcohol blocks the learning of new information and therefore the brain has more resources available to lay down other recently learned information into long-term memory.

Image shows two people clanking beer bottles.

“The theory is that the hippocampus — the brain area really important in memory — switches to ‘consolidating’ memories, transferring from short into longer-term memory.”

The effect noted by the researchers has been shown under laboratory conditions before, but this is the first study to test it in a natural setting, with people drinking in their homes.

There was also a second task which involved looking at images on a screen.

This task was completed once after the drinkers had drunk alcohol and again the following day, and the results did not reveal significant differences in memory performance post-drinking.

The study’s participants were 31 males and 57 females, aged 18-53.


Source: Alex Morrison – University of Exeter
Image Source: image is in the public domain.
Original Research: Full open access research for “Improved memory for information learnt before alcohol use in social drinkers tested in a naturalistic setting” by Molly Carlyle, Nicolas Dumay, Karen Roberts, Amy McAndrew, Tobias Stevens, Will Lawn & Celia J. A. Morgan in Scientific Reports. Published online July 242017 doi:10.1038/s41598-017-06305-w

University of Exeter “Alcohol Boosts Recall of Earlier Learning.” NeuroscienceNews. NeuroscienceNews, 24 July 2017.


Improved memory for information learnt before alcohol use in social drinkers tested in a naturalistic setting

Alcohol is known to facilitate memory if given after learning information in the laboratory; we aimed to investigate whether this effect can be found when alcohol is consumed in a naturalistic setting. Eighty-eight social drinkers were randomly allocated to either an alcohol self-dosing or a sober condition. The study assessed both retrograde facilitation and alcohol induced memory impairment using two independent tasks. In the retrograde task, participants learnt information in their own homes, and then consumed alcohol ad libitum. Participants then undertook an anterograde memory task of alcohol impairment when intoxicated. Both memory tasks were completed again the following day. Mean amount of alcohol consumed was 82.59 grams over the evening. For the retrograde task, as predicted, both conditions exhibited similar performance on the memory task immediately following learning (before intoxication) yet performance was better when tested the morning after encoding in the alcohol condition only. The anterograde task did not reveal significant differences in memory performance post-drinking. Units of alcohol drunk were positively correlated with the amount of retrograde facilitation the following morning. These findings demonstrate the retrograde facilitation effect in a naturalistic setting, and found it to be related to the self-administered grams of alcohol.

“Improved memory for information learnt before alcohol use in social drinkers tested in a naturalistic setting” by Molly Carlyle, Nicolas Dumay, Karen Roberts, Amy McAndrew, Tobias Stevens, Will Lawn & Celia J. A. Morgan in Scientific Reports. Published online July 242017 doi:10.1038/s41598-017-06305-w