Alcohol lovers can attest that the worst part of having a little too much booze is the hangover that manifests itself the next day. But now there's a pill that can get you drunk without creating a hangover. Professor David Nutt, a former government advisor, claims his alcohol pill will do for drinking what e-cigarettes have done smoking and that the pill can save the NHS millions. Curious how it works? The pill in question makes the taker feel the same effects as they would when they have been drinking but a simple antidote can block the feelings immediately, making is safe for the consumer to drive or get back to their obligations. "I've done the prototype experiments myself," said Prof Nutt, according to the Telegraph. "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."
In an editorial piece with the Guardian, Professor Nutt wrote about his experiment. "We know that the main target for alcohol in the brain is the neurotransmitter system gamma aminobutyric acid (Gaba), which keeps the brain calm. 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," wrote the professor.
"I have identified five such compounds and now need to test them to see if people find the effects as pleasurable as alcohol. The challenge is to prepare the new drink in a fashion that makes it as tasty and appealing. This is likely to be in the form of a cocktail, so I foresee plenty of different flavours. The other great advantage of this scientific approach to intoxication is that if we target compounds that affect the Gaba system, then it is possible to produce other drugs that could be sold alongside the alcohol substitute as an antidote."
According to Nutt, 1.5 million people are killed each year due to alcohol and 10 percent of drinkers are addicts. These deaths and the chance of addiction can be avoided with his new concoction. What's more, often times people who drink too much suffer from memory loss and Nut alleges that drinking-related memory loss can be avoided with the new drug. Suffice to say, finding funding for the 'drunk without alcohol pill' is proving to be an arduous task for the professor, as the drinks industry has no interest in the product and the government has not revealed its position on the pill. Emily Robinson, the deputy chief executive of the charity Alcohol Concern, stated: "We would urge caution on this. 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. We should focus on what is going wrong in our drinking culture rather than swapping potentially one addictive substance for another."
BBC, who first aired the 'drunk without alcohol pill' feature, has received some negative feedback from viewers and maintains that the subject material is relevant to the audience. "Prof David Nutt was interviewed about a drug which he claimed could mimic the sensation of alcohol without the health risks," said a BBC spokesman. "He was questioned about the potential complications involved and it was made clear to listeners that his research was at the early stages because he had not yet obtained funding for the project." But Claire Fox, the director of the Institute of Ideas, sees it differently. "It was outrageous," she said. "Nobody else would get away with it would they? If someone else went on and just said: 'I am here to get investment in my company' the BBC wouldn't let that [happen]."