Can a mood-enhancing drink quench our thirst for boozing without the hangover? Scientist David Nutt believes it’s possible with Alcarelle, his alcohol substitute.
Men’s Health: Your synthetic alcohol alternative, Alcarelle, sounds too good to be true. Is it?
David Nutt: Well, the different effects of alcohol are mediated through different parts of the brain and through different processes. Once you understand those, you can target the good effects and avoid the bad ones.
In 1980, I discovered that you could prevent the intoxicating effects of alcohol by blocking a specific receptor in the brain. Since then, our knowledge of that receptor has become more and more sophisticated. Now, we can target the parts of the brain that regulate the desired effects of alcohol, but not the parts where it is harmful.
MH: What do you mean by the “desired effects”?
DN: For 40 years, both in clinical practice as a doctor and as an addiction expert, I’ve been campaigning against the harms of alcohol. I believe that alcohol without these harms would be much better for society: there would be vast savings, in terms of health and policing. But booze has good effects, too, such as helping people to relax, de-stressing, encouraging sociability and discourse.
Alcarelle will bring about these desired effects, without – and I’m almost certain we
can do this – things like aggression, vomiting, extreme drunkenness and death. In terms of the biology of alcohol, what we really want to do is avoid acetaldehyde, the toxin that causes hangovers, cancers and liver cirrhosis.
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