Friday, January 8, 2010

Need to sober up? Take a pill

British scientists are working on developing a synthetic alcohol substitute whose effects could be reversed by taking a pill. Professor David Nutt of Imperial College London is working with benzodiazepines to identify the one with the closest match to alcohol. Diazepam, the chief ingredient in Valium, is a benzodiazepine.

The good professor said he's conducted experiments with various benzodiazepines in which he was under sedation and then lecturing five minutes later. As the drugs in question are controlled substances, any commercial application would require licensing.

According to Professor Nutt the drug would replace alcohol in wine, spirits and beer. Ingesting the drug would cause mild euphoria and its effects would be reversible upon taking a pill. The drug would allow people to drink and then sober up in time to drive home.

Until further experimentation is undertaken, however, no one knows what, if any, the long term effect of taking benzodiazepines would have on the brain and body.

As an aside, Professor Nutt was dismissed as chairman of Britain's Advisory Committee on the Misuse of Drugs due to his criticism of the government's move to toughen marijuana laws. Nutt said he believes illegal drugs should be classified based upon actual evidence of the harm they cause.

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