Published on March 29th, 2017 | from CAMH

Using Brain Imaging to Understand Alcohol Use Disorder

By Chidera Chukwueke, Pharmacology M.Sc Candidate, U of T

Alcohol dependence is a serious public health issue. It has been estimated that alcohol abuse costs Canada around $14.6 billion annually. In 2013, Statistics Canada reported that 18.9% (5.5 million) of Canadians aged 12 and over were classified as heavy drinkers. The treatment of alcohol use disorder has faced many challenges, especially the difficulty in reducing the amount of alcohol heavy users drink. In order to improve treatment options, we need a better understanding of how alcohol works in our brains.

Studies have shown that Dopamine receptors are involved in the use of substances such as cocaine and methamphetamines. Our group is conducting research to investigate the involvement of a dopamine receptor in alcohol use disorders using brain imaging.

We are looking for otherwise healthy participants who are heavy drinkers and are at least 19 years old. We will use PET (Positron Emission Tomography) and MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scans to measure dopamine receptor levels.

The study includes at least 5 sessions, during which you will be asked to complete neuropsychological assessments as well. The total time commitment is about 30 hours.

  1. A Screening assessment (up to 5 hours)
  2. A PET session (approximately 5 hours)
  3. An self-administrating alcohol infusion session (few hours)
  4. A cue-reactivity session (approximately 1 hour)
  5. An MRI scan session (approximately 1 hour)
  6. Abstinence Session(s) may occur if needed (separate visit or on the same day as other visit)

You will be compensated for your time and inconvenience during participation in this study.

For more information about the study, please contact:

General inquiries
416-535-8501 ext. 31586

Chidera Chukwueke
416-535-8501 ext. 36720

Dr. Saima Malik
416-535-8501 ext. 36581

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