Headlines @ U.Va.
FIGHTING ALCOHOLISM WITH A PILL; NIH ISSUES UPDATED GUIDELINES
... [A] new wave of drugs is poised to radically change the way doctors approach the disease. Over the past decade, neurobiologists have been decoding the brain’s addiction pathways, paving the way for a crop of targeted medications that act on brain receptors to blunt cravings, ease withdrawal symptoms and dull the euphoric effects of alcohol. In one of the most controversial developments, the new drugs may help alcoholics simply cut back their drinking, rather than give up alcohol completely, which some doctors say may be a more realistic goal for many patients. ... By shifting treatment into the private realm of a doctor’s office, these new drugs could appeal to people who would otherwise never seek help in a group setting such as AA. “What it will do is make alcoholism a mainstream problem that family practitioners deal with,” says Bankole Johnson, U.Va. professor of neuroscience and psychiatry, who oversees clinical trials on some of the new drugs. (Wall Street Journal,
SIX UNIVERSITIES SAY SOCIAL-NORMS APPROACH HELPS THEM COMBAT HIGH-RISK DRINKING
Proponents of social-norms strategies to reduce high-risk drinking have new data to support their approach. During a teleconference on Aug. 4 that was sponsored by the National Social Norms Resource Center, officials of six colleges, including U.Va. and Virginia Commonwealth University, discussed the findings of multiyear social-norms campaigns. All said the programs were helping them change students’ perceptions of drinking on their campuses in an effort to reduce alcohol abuse and its negative effects. Social-norms alcohol campaigns are based on the theory that students overestimate how much their peers drink, and that giving them accurate information about campus norms will prompt them to drink less. (Chronicle of Higher Education, Aug. 5)
CUTTING COLLEGE COSTS: A BIG SCHOLARSHIP ISN’T THE ONLY WAY TO SAVE MONEY
Fall ushers in not only a new batch of college students, but also parents who fret about the ballooning cost of a college education. That’s understandable. Tuitions are expected to continue rising far faster than the rate of inflation — increasing next fall by an average of about 8 percent at public colleges and universities and 5.7 percent for private colleges. Tuition and fees at private colleges now top $20,000 a year on average — and that doesn’t include room and board, which can sometimes be a requirement at private schools. But while many families scour desperately for big-ticket scholarships or despair at the huge debts they expect to incur, there are a few tricks that can save a chunk of change over the course of a college career, from the application process to senior year. ... It also can pay to not head off to your dream school right away. Cheaper alternatives, such as community colleges, are increasingly emerging as a way to gain entry to top-notch four-year colleges — while saving thousands of dollars in tuition at the same time. ... Other community colleges maintain informal but still close ties to a flagship state university. Every year, about 150 graduates of Piedmont Virginia Community College apply to U.Va., and about two-thirds of them are accepted. (Wall Street Journal, Aug. 15)