Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Safer alcohol on the way?

There’s a bizarre story in today’s Sun that Professor David Nutt, the government’s sacked drugs adviser, is proposing the introduction of a form of synthetic alcohol that he claims will eliminate many of our alcohol problems.
WE have been poisoning ourselves for 2,000 years. Modern science can now provide a safer way for us to have fun.

I am working on a prototype of a synthetic alcohol. We can make someone feel pleasantly inebriated then reverse it.

We have a partial alternative tested on volunteers. With Government backing, the first ever synthetic alcohol could be available in three to five years.

The potential for this is enormous. It could slash Britain's binge drinking epidemic, which currently costs the NHS £3billion a year, and reduce the number of deaths from alcohol poisoning.

However, this completely misses the point. Alcoholic drinks have been enjoyed for thousands of years – they are part of our history and culture. Even when produced on an industrial scale, they are essentially made from natural ingredients rather than being synthesised in a laboratory.

It often seems to be believed by members of the drug lobby that people only, or primarily, drink alcohol to get drunk, whereas nothing could be further from the truth. People consume alcoholic drinks, even the bog-standard ones, because they like the taste. Beer and cider in particular can be extremely refreshing, while whisky may raise your spirits on a chilly day. And wine in particular, but beer and cider too, can be an excellent complement to food.

It’s also probably true to say that, on a large majority of occasions when people drink alcohol, they experience nothing more than a slight glow. Of course people are not indifferent to the effect of alcohol, but it is not consumed solely for the effect in the way that cannabis, ecstasy, cocaine and LSD are.

I would have zero interest in a pill that somehow simulated the effects of alcohol, and I doubt whether many other responsible drinkers who enjoy their beer, wine or spirits would either. Yes, in a sense, alcohol is a drug, but it is far more than just another drug – this plan would reduce it to that status.


  1. Never heard of anything so daft as this. As you say Curmudgeon, this crazy idea completely misses the point about why the vast majority of people drink ie. because they like the taste of their particular alcoholic beverage, and because it's a sociable thing to do. This really does expose the muddled thinking behind government policy. Anyone remember reading Huxley's "Brave New World", where the state dished out a drug caleed "Soma" to keep the population compliant and subservient?

  2. When did they ever care about culture or community or custom? They don't know how to measure those things. The only thing they can measure is the percentage of alcohol in a drink, and so that is all that matters to them.

    I wish they'd all just go away.

  3. It isn't the 1st of April is it?

  4. It's another trick from the anti-tobacco handbook. You don't enjoy alcohol, you just think that you do. You're not partaking of a product which pleases you, you're an addict.

    I didn't realise the denormalisation of alcohol had got this far down the road.

  5. Reminds me of Star Trek's synthohol. Put it in a blue wicked, tax it cheaper than regular grog, got yourself a winner.

    Maybe the bright orange coloured iron brew wicked will be the antidote.

    The ability to drink and drive, by having an instant sober antidote could even encourage a propensity to go out more.

  6. I think some men would be glad if they could take a little blue pill at the end of the night to reverse the effects of alcohol. In fact, I know some who have tried it already:)

  7. Infact alcohol goes back 9,000 years to wine jars found in China and I believe the reason alcohol has such a hold on us is anthropological. Even today about 50% of all worldwide deaths can be traced back to infected water, cholera etc. To make alcohol the water has to be boiled and the alcohol itself kills viruses and bacteria. In short the discovery of alcohol probably helped us to survive and expand as a species.

    So the next time you have your favourite tipple raise a glass to the glass itself, its discovery is as critical to homo sapien as the invention of the wheel.


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