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UK Scientists Working on Alcohol Replacement That Would Get You Buzzed But Not Drunk

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posted 01:17 AM EST, Sun December 27, 2009
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UK Scientists Working on Alcohol Replacement That Would Get You Buzzed But Not Drunk © Photo Credit: Cayusa

British scientists are working on a replacement for alcohol that could be drunk to produce a mild intoxication, but that could not get you drunk and that could be reversed instantly when needed.

Led by Professor David Nutt, who was recently fired as the UK’s top drugs advisor for comments about marijuana, a team at Imperial College London are investigating substances that could replace ethanol (alcohol) in beverages – substances that would produce mild but not extreme intoxication and that could be reversed when needed; to drive home after a night at the pub, for example.

Describing his vision of people enjoying this new way of drinking, Professor Nutt says, “No matter how many glasses they had, they would remain in that pleasant state of mild inebriation and at the end of an evening out, revellers could pop a sober-up pill that would let them drive home.”

He and his researchers are looking at benzodiazepines in solution as likely candidates for a replacement to alcohol. Of the more than 3000 types of benzodiazepines in existence, Nutt believes that at least one will meet his requirements; allowing him to produces a tasteless and odorless, mildly intoxicating solution that could be added to drinks after the alcohol had been removed.

Nutt admits, however, that obstacles to the development of an alternative to alcohol will complicate the discovery process. Most benzodiazepines are controlled substances and the clinical trials needed to test any new alcohol-like substances would be very expensive to run.

The drinks industry, says Nutt, have not shown any interest in funding him, but he hopes that governments may see the value in a replacement for alcohol and provide the needed dollars, after all, he says, “why not use advances in pharmacology to find something safer and better?”

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