A Pill That Could Get You Drunk

By Alex Brannan on Wednesday, October 8, 2014
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“Drunkenness is the vice of a good constitution or of a bad memory—of a constitution so treacherously good that it never bends till it breaks; or of a memory that recollects the pleasures of getting intoxicated, but forgets the pains of getting sober.” —Charles Caleb Colton, Lacon

In A Nutshell

David Nutt, a neuropsychopharmacologist at Imperial College London, has identified molecules that emulate the effects of alcohol consumption. His pill affects GABA, a chemical found in the brain, in a way that produces a feeling of inebriation. Unlike alcohol, however, which affects other areas of the brain negatively, the pill only affects GABA receptors. Additionally, there is an antidote pill that reverses the effects on the brain, sobering the individual immediately. Nutt asserts that the pill could, with the proper funding, revolutionize the health field by reducing alcohol addiction and the high death rates associated with drinking.

The Whole Bushel

David Nutt is a professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London, former chair of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, and founder of DrugScience, an independent scientific committee on drugs. He may also have developed the newest and safest form of recreational intoxication.

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is an inhibitory chemical in the brain that reduces excitability of the nervous system. Alcohol affects the body by mimicking GABA and inhibiting neural signaling, which causes the euphoric feeling of being drunk. The toxin affects other areas of the brain as well, along with organs like the heart and liver. The toxic effects of alcohol can cause short- and long-term health problems.

Professor Nutt’s research on the effects of drugs has led to the development of a pill that affects GABA receptors in a similar way to alcohol, without the same negative side effects of drinking. Nutt claims that in experiments of this GABA receptor manipulation, he has been able to produce a feeling that is indistinguishable from alcohol consumption.

Nutt claims that the pill will help reduce cases of alcohol addiction, as well as prevent symptoms such as aggression and memory impairment that come with intoxication. The pill’s selective targeting of GABA would also theoretically remove the ill effects that come the morning after a night of recreational drinking, effectively eliminating the hangover from the equation altogether.

In addition to the pill that emulates the effects of alcohol, Nutt has developed an antidote pill. The antidote would block the effects of the alcohol pill, allowing the user to return to a complete state of sobriety. If the antidote works as intended, the user could operate a vehicle and go to work almost immediately with no danger of lingering impairment. Nutt claims to have tested both pills personally, stating that both products serve their intended purposes.

Nutt has called upon the UK government to help fund his venture, stating that allowing substances such as his to be legal would “improve on the health of our people” and that the government should make a recommendation encouraging the drug’s development in order to attract investors.

This isn’t the first time that Nutt has been at odds with the government. He was removed from his position on the Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs after speaking out about his concern over the government’s drug policies and their lack of consideration for scientific evidence of the effect of drugs. Due to this outspokenness, Nutt won the 2013 John Maddox Prize, an award given to those who advocate science despite facing adversity in doing so.

Nutt would like to take his new drug to market, but he has found that investors are hesitant due to the possibility of government regulation. He is not surprised by this reaction, but continues to urge people that mimicking drugs in this way is a benefit to the medical field, as it helps in the fight against addiction and drug-related deaths.

Show Me The Proof

Imperial College London: Synthetic alcohol substitute could eliminate health risks and hangovers
Telegraph: Get drunk without the hangover on Professor Nutt’s pill
DrugScience: Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs
Imperial College London: David Nutt wins the 2013 John Maddox Prize for Standing up for Science

  • Joseph

    Do they make those pills in scotch flavor?

  • Jimmy

    It’s not going to stop indirectly alcohol caused deaths. It relies on drunk people having the presence of mind and more importantly the desire to get the sobering pill,which isn’t likely. Therefore, we will have healthier livers but you’ll still have drunk people losing fights with buses.

    • Thoth

      Shoving the sober pill into their mouth is always an option. Makes the job of “The guy devoid of alcohol” easier.

  • Thoth

    His name is David Nutt and he is a neuropsychopharmacologist. If his colleagues did not refer to him as “Nutcase”, I’ll shove a turkey up my rear end.

    Jokes aside, I am really looking forward for the drugs to hit the market. Might want to try them whenever I am conversing. They say my charm is over the top when I am intoxicated. My primary concern is whether or not the drugs would yield the desired effect(s) on different individuals.

    • The Illuminati

      Don’t worry, I’m sure it’ll fuck ’em up.

  • oouchan

    I don’t think this would be a good idea for the general public, but for those suffering alcohol abuse or addiction…this just might be the answer. A way for them to get clean and sober without all the very ugly side effects. There would still be withdrawal, but it can be slowed. I hope he gets funding.

    Good luck.

    • Clyde Barrow

      I think it could be useful to the general public if it were regulated like alcohol or cigarettes. People are always going to get intoxicated, no matter what it takes, period. We might as well give people a safe alternative to do so.

  • Number Six

    KN is incredibly under-appreciated I feel, great authors, great content, AND (reasonably) sane commentary. This article is another fine example of why this site is fantastic; an interesting, lighthearted bit of knowledge that doesn’t attempt to shove anything down our throats. Great job! My love for LV is undying, but in recent times I’ve found it hard to read certain articles, and even more difficult to read their comments. I mean seriously, can we get more lists that don’t have some sort of bias? Lists that should have nothing to do with politics wind up with some sort of political bias, even the cuddly animal ones! It’s like watching the goddamned news! The comment sections on LV have become a pit of preachy, hypocritical, self-righteousness where cynicism reigns and we bicker like kids over who’s opinions, ideals, and morals are ‘correct’ and ‘progressive’. Commenter’s preaching tolerance while being blatantly intolerant, list-wide flame wars, arguing for hours over inconsequential viewpoints, etc. You can hardly post your opinion without being destroyed if it goes against the grain of the majority. It’s ridiculous, silly, and most of all, sad. Here’s to the hope that things will soon return to their normal craziness. My rant is complete, sorry for it’s irrelevance. Long live Knowledgenuts! Long live Listverse!

  • Hillyard

    This might be a good thing. But the potential for this to be used as a new date-rape drug is very high.

    • The Illuminati

      I agree. It is, however, easy as hell for any aspiring rapist (see: worthless douches in desperate need of castration) to get their hands on downers (see: pharmaceuticals). There is something to be said for the irony (as unfunny as it is) of your hypothetical (and unfortunately, inevitable) scenario, as in all likelihood the drunk-pill would be slipped into alcoholic beverages.

    • Nicky

      There’s a reversal pill you can invest in though.

  • Clyde Barrow

    “..effectively eliminating the hangover from the equation altogether.”

    Crikey. Hangovers are the reason I don’t get too drunk and do stupid shit in the first place! On the plus side, this pill could be useful to those that have or are developing serious health issues as the result of a drinking problem. Keep up the good medicine!

  • RotorRob

    We will never see this pill, it makes sense and therefore will be blocked by big brother.

  • The Illuminati

    Sounds a lot like GHB, which is actually a naturally occurring chemical in the brain. Of course, GHB has a bad reputation in the drug scene (due to its danger in that it produces alcohol-like effects). Another pill to get you bombed; that’s terrific! The only reason I avoid Benzodiazepines like valum and xanax is due to the intoxication-like effects they produce. If you want to have a good time, I suggest avoiding this pill altogether. In fact, just find a doctor who will prescribe you some adderall (or better yet, dexedrine)… and tell ‘im you want some temazepam as well, just ’cause it rocks (it’s a benzo, but who could resist?). Eat some mushrooms. Ask your mushroom guy if he knows where to get some excstacy while you’re at it. Alcohol friggin’ sucks (a couple beers is great, though).

  • The Illuminati
  • Jake Manning

    The only reason drugs like this and well any drug that isn’t alcohol are made and kept a illegal is because our governments are run by corporate swines who have zero interest in freedom, health and in particular freedom of thought. However they have a lot of interest with their friends in the alcohol and pharmaceutical business.
    Read about Ebogaine and give me one reason as to why it should be illegal other than that it’d end the morphine industry.
    Read about Marijuana and give me one reason as to why it should be illegal other than that it makes many current fat-cat industries obsolete

  • https://soundcloud.com/arjan-hut Arjan Hut

    I know a drunk who gets you pills