Friday, January 8, 2010

An Alcohol Substitute?

The Telegraph has a fawning piece about some British scientists working on an alcohol "substitute" derived from benzodiazepines--the class of sedative drugs including the tranquilizers Ativan, Valium, and Xanax, and sleeping pills such as Ambien.

I had a lot of experience with benzos back in 2001-2002 when I was in the hospital busy dying of cancer. I can tell you that they are NO substitute for the "warm glow" alcohol drinkers seek. However, taken with alcohol, one experiences that "warm glow" along with an almost complete loss of any anxiety--a very attractive combination for someone seeking an alternative reality.

Trust me; if benzos became easily available in a world where alcohol was still around, a lot of people would be more wasted--not less. It seems to me, those (no doubt well-intentioned) scientists should consult with some experienced drinkers and druggies  before expending too much effort on this project.

An excerpt from the Telegraph article:
An alcohol substitute that mimics its pleasant buzz without leading to drunkenness and hangovers is being developed by scientists.
The new substance could have the added bonus of being "switched off" instantaneously with a pill, to allow drinkers to drive home or return to work.
The synthetic alcohol, being developed from chemicals related to Valium, works like alcohol on nerves in the brain that provide a feeling of wellbeing and relaxation.
 But unlike alcohol its does not affect other parts of the brain that control mood swings and lead to addiction. It is also much easier to flush out of the body.
Finally because it is much more focused in its effects, it can also be switched off with an antidote, leaving the drinker immediately sober.
The new alcohol is being developed by a team at Imperial College London, led by Professor David Nutt, Britain's top drugs expert who was recently sacked as a government adviser for his comments about cannabis and ecstasy.
He envisions a world in which people could drink without getting drunk, he said.
No matter how many glasses they had, they would remain in that pleasant state of mild inebriation and at the end of an evening out, revellers could pop a sober-up pill that would let them drive home.
Prof Nutt and his team are concentrating their efforts on benzodiazepines, of which diazepam, the chief ingredient of Valium is one.
Thousands of candidate benzos are already known to science. He said it is just a matter of identifying the closest match and then, if necessary, tailoring it to fit society’s needs.
Continue reading the Telegraph article.

Image via Wikimedia.

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