29 December 2009

"Artificial alcohol" that doesn't get you drunk?

Article from the UK's Telegraph newspaper:

An alcohol substitute that mimics its pleasant buzz without leading to drunkenness and hangovers is being developed by scientists.   

The new substance could have the added bonus of being "switched off" instantaneously with a pill, to allow drinkers to drive home or return to work. 

The synthetic alcohol, being developed from chemicals related to Valium, works like alcohol on nerves in the brain that provide a feeling of wellbeing and relaxation. 

But unlike alcohol its does not affect other parts of the brain that control mood swings and lead to addiction. It is also much easier to flush out of the body.  Finally because it is much more focused in its effects, it can also be switched off with an antidote, leaving the drinker immediately sober.  The new alcohol is being developed by a team at Imperial College London, led by Professor David Nutt, Britain's top drugs expert who was recently sacked as a government adviser for his comments about cannabis and ecstasy.
Don't get excited.  Any substance like this, because it's designed to alter mental states upon ingestion, would come under the purvey of the Food and Drug Administration, and ergo would end up being more heavily regulated, and thus more expensive, than ordinary booze.  And I love their fantasy that "the recovered ethanol (the chemical name for alcohol) could be sold as fuel".  Right......  Gasoline would still be far cheaper.

Besides which, I don't buy the premise that alcohol is "flavourless" as the article implies.  A large part of the reason non-alcoholic beer is unpopular is because it doesn't have the esthers and mouthfeel an alcoholic beverage does.



1 comment:

Andrew.Erickson said...

I think this is a really cool idea! I bet real alcohol will still taste better though. And I'm skeptical that the government will let any more recreational drugs then they already do, unless maybe for the treatment of alcoholism.