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AA Anniversary Celebrations, Neuroscientist Studies Alcoholism at Molecular Level, and Cross-Border "Narco-Tunnel" to Mexico
Here is a recap of some of the top industry-related news stories of the week:
Founders Day to Mark AA Anniversary is Back in Person Again, Thousands Expected in Akron
After a two-year hiatus because of the pandemic, thousands of visitors are expected to gather this weekend to mark the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous in Akron.
Like in the past couple of years, there are plans to allow folks to listen and watch some of the talks virtually.
But organizers say it is good to be back in person at the University of Akron and to let visitors tour the various sites in Akron where the organization got its start.
Some 9,000 participants are expected in Akron to listen to the speakers who share stories of their paths to sobriety and follow tours of places that played a pivotal role in the organization's history.
Participants are expected from just about every state — along with Canada, Ireland, England, and Australia.
The annual gathering is held on the weekend closest to June 10, which marks the day in 1935 when AA founder Dr. Bob took his last drink.
Neuroscientist Seeks Origins of Alcoholism at Molecular Level
Recovering alcoholics face significant challenges in changing their habits, due in part to the way the brain adapts to the regular presence of alcohol. A University of Texas at Dallas neuroscientist is trying to pinpoint these neurological changes at the microscopic level and, in the process, learn more about the nature of addiction.
“We’re trying to provide a better understanding of the neurotransmission side of the compulsions that define addiction, to understand which neurons are relevant on the network level,” said Dr. Sven Kroener, associate professor of neuroscience in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences.
He said changes in an addicted person’s brain persist beyond the initial withdrawal period.
“These persistent neuroadaptations increase alcohol’s incentive salience — the motivation to seek rewards through alcohol,” he said. “The desire to seek out the addictive substance escalates as someone tries to quit.”
Kroener said glutamate — a neurotransmitter crucial to synapse changes in the central nervous system — is of particular interest because it could be targeted with pharmaceutical intervention.
“If we’re right that glutamatergic transmission is relevant, that’s something we can more specifically target with drug therapy,” he said. “While those medications wouldn’t target just one region of the brain, we would at least have an intervention that’s pharmacologically more targeted to the process.”
US authorities find major cross-border “narco-tunnel” to Mexico
Authorities have announced the discovery of a major drug smuggling tunnel that extends from Mexico to a warehouse in an industrial area in the US state of California.
The secret passage from Tijuana to San Diego featured rail and ventilation systems, electricity, and reinforced walls, authorities said.
It was discovered near San Diego’s Otay Mesa border crossing in an area where more than a dozen other sophisticated tunnels have been found in the last two decades.
“Together with the Mexican government we have been collaborating in trying to eradicate these tunnels, which should not exist because that is where a lot of crime happens, and a lot of the suffering that we see,” said US Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar.
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