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A “drunk without alcohol pill,” as it has been called, is being apparently developed by a U.K. scientist. The pill mimics the drunk effects of alcohol but doesn’t create a hangover, he says.
British neuroscientist David Nutt, who wrote in The Guardian on Monday, explained: “After exploring one possible compound I was quite relaxed and sleepily inebriated for an hour or so, then within minutes of taking the antidote I was up giving a lecture with no impairment whatsoever.”
The drug has been likened to the e-cigarette but for alcohol. It gives a user the feeling of intoxication, relaxation, and a lack of inhibition, but without the damaging side-effects, writes Nutt.
Nutt noted that his team at Imperial College London cannot get funding to roll the drug out, but he stresses that the pill will help combat alcoholism.
“We know that the main target for alcohol in the brain is the neurotransmitter system gamma aminobutyric acid (Gaba), which keeps the brain calm,” he writes.
He added: “Alcohol therefore relaxes users through mimicking and increasing the Gaba function. But we also know that there are a range of Gaba subsystems that can be targeted by selective drugs. So in theory we can make an alcohol surrogate that makes people feel relaxed and sociable and remove the unwanted effects, such as aggression and addictiveness.”
Nutt says that he has found “five such compounds” but he has to test them first. “After exploring one possible compound I was quite relaxed and sleepily inebriated for an hour or so, then within minutes of taking the antidote I was up giving a lecture with no impairment whatsoever,” he added.
Nutt told the Daily Telegraph that it could be taken in a wide variety of cocktails.
“I’ve done the prototype experiments myself,” he said. “I’ve been inebriated and then it’s been reversed by the antagonist. That’s what really gave us the idea. There’s no question that you can produce a whole range of effects like alcohol by manipulating the brain.”
Emily Robinson, the deputy chief executive of the charity Alcohol Concern, cautioned that Nutt’s idea is a bit off.
“We would urge caution on this,” she said. “We agree that alcohol is a serious burden to the country. But we would urge the Government to invest in policies that we know work, such as minimum unit pricing and advertising restrictions.”
She added that the U.K. “should focus on what is going wrong in our drinking culture rather than swapping potentially one addictive substance for another.”