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If There Was a Drug That Got You Drunk Without a Hangover, Would You Use it?

If There Was a Drug That Got You Drunk Without a Hangover, Would You Use it?

Humans have always had a thing for drugs. Whether it’s to enhance performance or open a portal to the cosmos, humans have experimented with mind and body-altering substances since our appearance on the planet.

Such experimentation has always come with consequences, whether it’s a long strange trip or prayer to the porcelain gods. This is the body’s way of saying, “I’m glad you had fun, but let’s not do that again too soon, OK?”

Now, David Nutt, the former drug adviser to the British government is designing a revolutionary substance that affects us like alcohol without the risk of hangover — a proposition that sounds awesome, but might have some not so awesome results.

Pros

Healthier: Alcohol consumption is the third-largest risk factor for disease and disability in the world. In middle-income countries like America (you heard me) it’s THE LEADING risk factor. However, Nutt’s new alcohol-mimicking drug frees us from much of this risk, since it targets neurotransmitters in the brain directly, delivering all the pleasures of drinking without the toxins.

No Addiction or Abuse: In addition to taking it easy on our liver, Nutt claims his drug will also reduce  poor behavior associated with alcohol use and addiction. “We know that the main target for alcohol in the brain is the neurotransmitter system gamma aminobutyric acid (Gaba), which keeps the brain calm,” Nutt writes in the Guardian. “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.”

Instant Sobriety: Like most drugs, Nutt’s mock-alcohol has an antidote. Unlike most antidotes, however, this one takes effect almost immediately. This could allow you to partake as much as you want at the office holiday party, then immediately sober up so that you can drive yourself home.

Cons

It’s hard to argue with the advantages of a non-alcohol “alcohol” as outlined above. But we have to remember this is humanity we’re talking about. We’re masters at finding a way to misuse and exploit just about anything, and if it makes it to market, I doubt Nutt’s drug will be any different. It’s this doubt, the not knowing, that’s at the root of most of the cons.

Impact of Frequent Use: Without the typical consequences of hangover or disease, there’s very little to encourage people to use this drug in moderation. What will be the impact of stimulating your neurotransmitters in this fashion, day after day? Nutt claims that our brains won’t become addicted, but we’re capable of becoming addicted to some crazy things. Will this drug just swap one addiction for another?

Testing: What happens if you leave the office party without taking your antidote? You might get pulled over for erratic driving, but a breathalyzer will be useless. Just like with legal marijuana, the law enforcement system will be forced to come up with a new system of standards for safe vehicle operation, etc., and affordable ways to field test.

Psychological Implications: Most people use drugs to alter their mood because they want to escape something. Perhaps it’s emotional pain, financial struggles or just crippling shyness. This is an unhealthy tactic, because escape prevents us from acknowledging problems and working toward a real solution. Although it might not give you liver disease or put you at risk for a DUI, this drug is still a drug — and people will still use it to avoid, dull and shirk the sensations of being a human in this crazy world.

What do you think? Do the pros outweigh the cons? Tell us in the comments.

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Image via Thinkstock

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162 comments

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7:30AM PST on Dec 15, 2014

I enjoy the socializing at my favorite neighborhood watering hole. It's fun to get out and let your hair down and I adore my favorite bartender. She's my psychologist/sociologist. Can't say yea or nay to giving this a try though. That's a lie...I give it try. I'd probably chase it down with beer. That would be the problem.

2:58PM PST on Dec 26, 2013

Sure would, also- a glass of water +raw apple cider vinegar before, after, and the morning after helps with the hangover.

8:03PM PST on Dec 9, 2013

u know in less than 2 yrs it will have a zillion side effects listed

7:28AM PST on Dec 9, 2013

The "Cons" section has left out a major issue: the fact that getting hammered is by far not the only reason to imbibe alcohol.

Getting tipsy can be the side effect - not the goal - of enjoying the drinking part: cold beer in the sun, taste of good wine with food, warming mulled wine in the winter, champagne to celebrate. Popping a pill would never replicate that experience.

5:37AM PST on Dec 8, 2013

In theory lots of things might look good on paper... in theory... but when put to the test they fall flat on their faces... I can see this doing exactly the same thing. Alcohol is bad enough and this drug looks like it could out do it on a big scale if was made, there is always abuse of stimulants... why make more? Silly idea.

2:29AM PST on Dec 8, 2013

Thanks.

3:47PM PST on Dec 7, 2013

I would think there would be better things David Nutt could do with his talent than developing a drug to replace beer. Every drug has a side effect. We know the effects of alcohol as humans have been consuming it for thousands of years. In moderation beer is even good for you but like most things it can be abused.

8:50AM PST on Dec 5, 2013

I only drink maybe once a year, and sometimes not even that these days. Thanks for the article!

9:09PM PST on Dec 4, 2013

Nope. While not a heavy frequent drinker, once a year most years, I see a hangover as punishment for drinking over your alcohol limit.

11:26AM PST on Dec 4, 2013

I enjoy the tastes of the different alcohols
I imbibe and have never had a hangover.

Any substance can be abused - including
water, so not sure how to answer your
question.

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