All the pleasures of alcohol, with no downsides

Posted on April 13, 2006 

All the pleasures of alcohol, with no downsides

Casual drinkers are unlikely to have raised their glass to the news last month that most people who suffer severe alcohol-induced liver disease are social drinkers not alcoholics. Nor to the finding that moderate drinking might not, after all, help prevent heart disease.

There may, however, just be a solution to our drinking woes – one that will allow us to go to a bar and drink as much as we want; get merry, not legless; wake without a hangover; and never have to worry that one of our favourite pastimes may be killing us.

The trick pharmacologists need to pull off is to make a mixture of molecules that deliver alcohol’s pleasurable effects, notably relaxation and sociability, without the aggression, nausea, loss of coordination and amnesia that can cause drinkers and those around them so much grief. Long-term problems such as cirrhosis of the liver could also be eliminated, says Nutt, who publishes the idea next month in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, (vol 20, p 318).

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