Why no artificial alcohol like there are e-cigarettes?

Seen something interesting in the news or on the intertubes? Discuss it here.

Moderators: Zamfir, Hawknc, Moderators General, Prelates

elasto
Posts: 3778
Joined: Mon May 10, 2010 1:53 am UTC

Why no artificial alcohol like there are e-cigarettes?

Postby elasto » Tue Nov 12, 2013 3:22 am UTC

The former UK government drugs adviser, Professor David Nutt, is trying to find investors willing to help develop and market a drug that mimics the social effects of alcohol (pleasure, sense of disinhibition etc.) but without the negatives (memory impairment, hangover, addiction, liver damage etc.)

Almost 9,000 people die from alcohol-related causes each year in the UK - 1.5m worldwide - and 10% of drinkers become physically addicted. There are already drugs with similar upsides with fewer downsides to alcohol, and Nutt is trying to develop even safer versions.

In addition, because the drugs much more tightly target the relevant sub-systems of the brain, an antidote - a parallel 'sober pill' - is also possible.

As he says: "I think this would be a serious revolution in health, just like the e-cigarette is going to revolutionise the smoking of tobacco. I find it weird that we haven't been speaking about this before, as it's such a target for health improvement."

Link to his 3 minute radio interview
Last edited by elasto on Tue Nov 12, 2013 3:29 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Izawwlgood
WINNING
Posts: 18686
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:55 pm UTC
Location: There may be lovelier lovelies...

Re: Why no artificial alcohol like there are e-cigarettes?

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Nov 12, 2013 3:25 am UTC

My first inclination is to say that something that mimics the effects of alcohol without being alcohol is going to be... either something very untested, or something very weird indeed.

E-cigs are meant to provide nicotine without the added tar. You're proposing or asking about something quite different.
... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

elasto
Posts: 3778
Joined: Mon May 10, 2010 1:53 am UTC

Re: Why no artificial alcohol like there are e-cigarettes?

Postby elasto » Tue Nov 12, 2013 3:32 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:My first inclination is to say that something that mimics the effects of alcohol without being alcohol is going to be... either something very untested, or something very weird indeed.


On the contrary, if you listen to the radio interview, you'll hear there are published scientific studies going back years on these things. They know very well how alcohol affects the GABA system in the brain, and so drugs that target the GABA system more selectively - but without the toxicity alcohol has - are relatively easy to find.

According to the studies, the participants report the effect of these drugs subjectively indistinguishable from real alcohol.

PossibleSloth
Posts: 88
Joined: Mon May 11, 2009 6:51 am UTC
Location: Boston (or thereabouts)

Re: Why no artificial alcohol like there are e-cigarettes?

Postby PossibleSloth » Tue Nov 12, 2013 4:39 am UTC

elasto wrote:They know very well how alcohol affects the GABA system in the brain, and so drugs that target the GABA system more selectively - but without the toxicity alcohol has - are relatively easy to find.

You're probably referring to bendoziadepines, which include things like Librium, Valium and Xanax. It's true they mimic many of the cognitive effects of alcohol and I'm pretty sure they're better for the liver than regular binge drinking. However, even these can cause serious problems, especially if used recreationally. Heavy usage can lead to physical dependence, depression, memory loss and other mental issues.

The problem with trying to make a pill that just causes "pleasure" without the negative side effects is that the part of the brain that perceives pleasure is also strongly associated with addiction.

Also, the brain tends to adapt to things, which is why heavy drug users need to keep upping doses and why withdrawal is so terrible.

The brain is a complex thing and it's hard to predict what effects a drug, even a very specifically tailored one, will have, especially in the long-term.

User avatar
Thesh
Made to Fuck Dinosaurs
Posts: 6598
Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2010 1:55 am UTC
Location: Colorado

Re: Why no artificial alcohol like there are e-cigarettes?

Postby Thesh » Tue Nov 12, 2013 5:21 am UTC

Plus, as far as physical effects go, alcohol isn't necessarily that great. What people like about it is that it's a) legal and b) social. Find another drug that is safer and has better effects, e.g. cannabinols, legalize it, and then add it in small quantities to various drinks and you will have something more popular and less toxic.
Summum ius, summa iniuria.

User avatar
Zamfir
I built a novelty castle, the irony was lost on some.
Posts: 7605
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm UTC
Location: Nederland

Re: Why no artificial alcohol like there are e-cigarettes?

Postby Zamfir » Tue Nov 12, 2013 5:31 am UTC

And it tastes good?

User avatar
Thesh
Made to Fuck Dinosaurs
Posts: 6598
Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2010 1:55 am UTC
Location: Colorado

Re: Why no artificial alcohol like there are e-cigarettes?

Postby Thesh » Tue Nov 12, 2013 5:37 am UTC

Zamfir wrote:And it tastes good?

That's a matter of mixers. Bonus points if it is all natural and not high in carbs.
Summum ius, summa iniuria.

elasto
Posts: 3778
Joined: Mon May 10, 2010 1:53 am UTC

Re: Why no artificial alcohol like there are e-cigarettes?

Postby elasto » Tue Nov 12, 2013 6:36 am UTC

PossibleSloth wrote:You're probably referring to bendoziadepines, which include things like Librium, Valium and Xanax. It's true they mimic many of the cognitive effects of alcohol and I'm pretty sure they're better for the liver than regular binge drinking. However, even these can cause serious problems, especially if used recreationally. Heavy usage can lead to physical dependence, depression, memory loss and other mental issues.


I don't know what's being referred to; I think it's some newer variants alongside studies on older variants.

The problem with trying to make a pill that just causes "pleasure" without the negative side effects is that the part of the brain that perceives pleasure is also strongly associated with addiction.


But if what you're addicted to has no negative side effects, it doesn't matter too much if you're addicted to it - so long as you can keep getting it of course.

There is a difference between physical dependence and psychological dependence also - 'pleasure' may only cause the latter - which is no worse than an addiction to video games or whatever. Alcohol causes the former in a worryingly high percentage of users.

Also, the brain tends to adapt to things, which is why heavy drug users need to keep upping doses and why withdrawal is so terrible.

The brain is a complex thing and it's hard to predict what effects a drug, even a very specifically tailored one, will have, especially in the long-term.

All true, but we don't need to find the perfect drug, we only need to find something better than alcohol. I mean, if the new drug only kills 500k people a year that's still better than the millions killed by alcohol currently, right?

Obviously that's a worst case scenario, this guy would not be proposing something as bad as that - he's a professor of neuropharmacology with decades of experience including as a key government adviser.

Here's an article he's written for a newspaper today too:

Imagine enjoying a seasonal drink at a Christmas party without the risk of a hangover the next day, or being able then to take an antidote that would allow you to drive home safely. It sounds like science fiction but these ambitions are well within the grasp of modern neuroscience.

Alcohol is both one of the oldest and most dangerous drugs, responsible for about 2.5 million deaths worldwide, which is more than malaria or Aids. The reasons for this are well known: alcohol is toxic to all body systems, and particularly the liver, heart and brain. It makes users uninhibited, leading to a vast amount of violence and is also quite likely to cause dependence, so about 10% of users get locked into addiction. If alcohol was discovered today it could never be sold as it is far too toxic to be allowed under current food regulations, let alone pharmaceutical safety thresholds. In this health-conscious age, it is odd that these aspects of alcohol are rarely discussed.

The only proven way to reduce alcohol harms is to limit consumption through increased pricing and limiting availability. Most governments have shied away from this because of pubic opinion and fears of lost tax income – the notable exception being Scotland with its minimum pricing strategy. An alternative strategy that offers greater health benefits would be to make a safer version of alcohol.

We know that the main target for alcohol in the brain is the neurotransmitter system gamma aminobutyric acid (Gaba), which keeps the brain calm. Alcohol therefore relaxes users through mimicking and increasing the Gaba function. But we also know that there are a range of Gaba subsystems that can be targeted by selective drugs. So in theory we can make an alcohol surrogate that makes people feel relaxed and sociable and remove the unwanted effects, such as aggression and addictiveness.

I have identified five such compounds and now need to test them to see if people find the effects as pleasurable as alcohol. The challenge is to prepare the new drink in a fashion that makes it as tasty and appealing. This is likely to be in the form of a cocktail, so I foresee plenty of different flavours. The other great advantage of this scientific approach to intoxication is that if we target compounds that affect the Gaba system, then it is possible to produce other drugs that could be sold alongside the alcohol substitute as an antidote.

I have sampled both new forms. After exploring one possible compound I was quite relaxed and sleepily inebriated for an hour or so, then within minutes of taking the antidote I was up giving a lecture with no impairment whatsoever.

All that is needed now is funding to test and put them on the market. A few contacts within the alcohol industry suggest they are interested but do not need to engage until this new invention becomes a threat to their sales. This is a similar situation to that of the tobacco companies when e-cigarettes were being developed. They stood back at first but now own many of the companies making the safer alternatives to cigarettes. Likewise, without investing in a new approach to alcohol, we shall not realise the enormous health potential of a safer alternative.


Alcohol without the hangover

User avatar
Angua
Don't call her Delphine.
Posts: 5944
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 12:42 pm UTC
Location: UK/[St. Kitts and] Nevis Occasionally, I migrate to the US for a bit

Re: Why no artificial alcohol like there are e-cigarettes?

Postby Angua » Tue Nov 12, 2013 7:01 am UTC

So long as it's called Synthehol.
Crabtree's bludgeon: “no set of mutually inconsistent observations can exist for which some human intellect cannot conceive a coherent explanation, however complicated”
GNU Terry Pratchett

User avatar
Zamfir
I built a novelty castle, the irony was lost on some.
Posts: 7605
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm UTC
Location: Nederland

Re: Why no artificial alcohol like there are e-cigarettes?

Postby Zamfir » Tue Nov 12, 2013 7:20 am UTC

Thesh wrote:
Zamfir wrote:And it tastes good?

That's a matter of mixers. Bonus points if it is all natural and not high in carbs.

I am not so sure. Alcohol acts a solvent for flavours, you can't just replace that. At least, not if you're restricting yourself to harmless substances :-)

I think this is important for the social position of alcohol. It makes it something you can drink small amounts of for taste, a glass of wine with dinner, with a smooth transition to large quantities for narcotic effects. There's no specific point where you start drinking to get intoxicated.

If you introduce a purely narcotic replacement, where taste is just an add-on, it would be suitable for a much more restricted set of social situations, one where intoxication is the acknowledged purpose. It would be more like MDMA or so.

While alcohol gets is social strength from being so widespread, in so many situations. And by extension, support for it comes from all kinds of people. You won't replace it easily, you would just be adding another party drug to an already long list.

elasto
Posts: 3778
Joined: Mon May 10, 2010 1:53 am UTC

Re: Why no artificial alcohol like there are e-cigarettes?

Postby elasto » Tue Nov 12, 2013 7:54 am UTC

Zamfir wrote:You won't replace it easily, you would just be adding another party drug to an already long list.

Which is basically what's happened with e-cigarettes, but that doesn't make e-cigarettes a bad thing: Take-up will never reach 100% but they are a safer alternative and will save lives.

This likewise might start out as just one more party drug* but might gain a big following and save lives also - especially if it's taxed far lower or even handed out free on the NHS (our governments are missing a trick with e-cigarettes here).

Your other points are reasonable, but I could easily see a situation where someone has a glass or two of wine and then switches to one of these cocktails. I know I would because (a) I value my liver and (b) I hate hangovers - and I can't be alone in that. Plus, assuming the antidote is as effective as claimed, being able to sober up to drive home - whether from a rave or from a dinner party - is a huge advantage.

*I assume most of us here agree there's nothing inherently wrong with something being a 'party drug' - ie. there's nothing wrong with pleasure purely for the sake of pleasure - else computer games, bungee jumping and countless other 'wastes of time' are just as immoral - including posting on boards like this ^^

User avatar
Zamfir
I built a novelty castle, the irony was lost on some.
Posts: 7605
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm UTC
Location: Nederland

Re: Why no artificial alcohol like there are e-cigarettes?

Postby Zamfir » Tue Nov 12, 2013 8:42 am UTC

Thing is, ecigs mostly exist because society as a whole (and government regulations in particular) are making it harder and harder to smoke in public. They're not really drivers of that trend.

I am interested to know, is there reliable evidence that young people start with exits, in significant numbers? The impression I have is that they are mostly aimed at people with strong nicotine addiction, who want to quit (both for health and social reasons), but can't quite manage.

Not sure if that same category exists for alcohol, at least on a similar scale. The far majority of regular alcohol users don't get withdrawal symptoms if they don't drink for a week.

elasto
Posts: 3778
Joined: Mon May 10, 2010 1:53 am UTC

Re: Why no artificial alcohol like there are e-cigarettes?

Postby elasto » Tue Nov 12, 2013 9:12 am UTC

Zamfir wrote:Thing is, ecigs mostly exist because society as a whole (and government regulations in particular) are making it harder and harder to smoke in public. They're not really drivers of that trend.

I am interested to know, is there reliable evidence that young people start with exits, in significant numbers? The impression I have is that they are mostly aimed at people with strong nicotine addiction, who want to quit (both for health and social reasons), but can't quite manage.

Not sure if that same category exists for alcohol, at least on a similar scale. The far majority of regular alcohol users don't get withdrawal symptoms if they don't drink for a week.


I would guess that smoking is mostly a physical addiction and drinking mostly a psychological one so, yes, you're right that there is that difference. And, no, these substances surely wouldn't replace the bottle of red with your evening meal or the cold beer you have after spending hours working the garden, but that isn't generally a health issue: In fact, a glass of red a day has proven health benefits.

It's drinking to the point of being drunk that has all the health issues - and that's the time when people might logically choose the safer substance to do that with. I know I would. If it were cheaper as well as safer then I'd be an idiot not to.

User avatar
Xenomortis
Not actually a special flower.
Posts: 1456
Joined: Thu Oct 11, 2012 8:47 am UTC

Re: Why no artificial alcohol like there are e-cigarettes?

Postby Xenomortis » Tue Nov 12, 2013 9:17 am UTC

elasto wrote:Which is basically what's happened with e-cigarettes, but that doesn't make e-cigarettes a bad thing: Take-up will never reach 100% but they are a safer alternative and will save lives.

I haven't seen anyone using ecigs as a means to get high. The only people I know using them use them as an everyday replacement for regular cigarettes, as they have been unable to quit.
That said, I haven't seen people smoking (tobacco) with the aim of getting high either.

Zamfir wrote:The far majority of regular alcohol users don't get withdrawal symptoms if they don't drink for a week.

No, but damn are you punished the next time you go out if you've not drunk in the past couple of months.
Image

User avatar
Jplus
Posts: 1721
Joined: Wed Apr 21, 2010 12:29 pm UTC
Location: Netherlands

Re: Why no artificial alcohol like there are e-cigarettes?

Postby Jplus » Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:35 am UTC

I think it would help a lot if people stopped reinforcing the idea that alcohol is some kind of magic potion. It's a sedative (making you feel more relaxed, among other, less interesting effects) and it is toxic. That's all.
"There are only two hard problems in computer science: cache coherence, naming things, and off-by-one errors." (Phil Karlton and Leon Bambrick)

coding and xkcd combined

(Julian/Julian's)

elasto
Posts: 3778
Joined: Mon May 10, 2010 1:53 am UTC

Re: Why no artificial alcohol like there are e-cigarettes?

Postby elasto » Tue Nov 12, 2013 1:06 pm UTC

Yup. I've linked to that article myself in the past.

The thing is, changing a shared cultural belief is incredibly hard - especially when it's a self-fulfilling prophecy like alcohol is.

This could actually offer the chance for a societal reboot: If people switch over with the scientists saying 'the new product doesn't cause aggression', then that may be its own self-fulfilling prophecy also - this time in the positive direction. And the scientists wouldn't even be lying!

Just like this:

Image

User avatar
davidstarlingm
Posts: 1255
Joined: Mon Jun 01, 2009 4:33 am UTC

Re: Why no artificial alcohol like there are e-cigarettes?

Postby davidstarlingm » Tue Nov 12, 2013 3:22 pm UTC

Alcohol is not actually that toxic, really. There are no toxic substances, only toxic concentrations. The average consumer of cigarettes ingests enough tar to cause serious health problems; the average consumer of alcohol does not reach a high enough BAC to reach any appreciable sort of toxicity.

A recreational drug to mimic the effects of alcohol could certainly become a popular alternative among would-be binge drinkers, but the low cost, widespread availability, and social acceptance of alcohol are hard to overcome. And delivery could be tricky. Dosing alone would be a huge challenge.

elasto
Posts: 3778
Joined: Mon May 10, 2010 1:53 am UTC

Re: Why no artificial alcohol like there are e-cigarettes?

Postby elasto » Tue Nov 12, 2013 3:59 pm UTC

davidstarlingm wrote:Alcohol is not actually that toxic, really. There are no toxic substances, only toxic concentrations. The average consumer of cigarettes ingests enough tar to cause serious health problems; the average consumer of alcohol does not reach a high enough BAC to reach any appreciable sort of toxicity.

Acute toxicity? Sure. People ending up dead after drinking 30 shots of whisky is not really what we're talking about preventing here. But long term damage occurs at a level most people would regard as very low - a couple of drinks a day; That (plus road accidents, violence etc.) is what's making up the millions of additional deaths a year.

It's always worth keeping in mind that drinking no alcohol at all is also bad for your long-term health. As always, Wikipedia is pretty balanced in these matters. However, I will cherry-pick one line from there that backs up my point:

Wikipedia wrote:Of the total number of deaths and diseases caused by alcohol, most happen to the majority of the population who are moderate drinkers, rather than the heavy drinker minority


So I'd disagree with your assertion that "the average consumer of alcohol does not reach a high enough BAC to reach any appreciable sort of toxicity" - assuming that the 'average consumer of alcohol' drinks moderately rather than lightly or to excess.

davidstarlingm wrote:And delivery could be tricky. Dosing alone would be a huge challenge.

Why would it be any more tricky than at present? It's not like there's a lot of science involved in people deciding how much alcohol to drink right now. The process as described would be completely identical in fact: You'd simply keep drinking cocktails containing the new drug until you felt drunk enough to want to stop. It's just that if you found yourself too drunk you could drink an 'anti-drink' to compensate - something not currently possible with alcohol.

User avatar
Zamfir
I built a novelty castle, the irony was lost on some.
Posts: 7605
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm UTC
Location: Nederland

Re: Why no artificial alcohol like there are e-cigarettes?

Postby Zamfir » Tue Nov 12, 2013 4:32 pm UTC

Jplus wrote:I think it would help a lot if people stopped reinforcing the idea that alcohol is some kind of magic potion. It's a sedative (making you feel more relaxed, among other, less interesting effects) and it is toxic. That's all.


I think that's far too simple. Alcohol( and other drugs) has different effects in different circumstances, for different people, on different time scales( from seconds to years), and in different aspects. Social, psychological, physical, monetary.


Those effects might have cultural components (what doesn't?), but that doesn't make them somehow false or irrelevant. Alcohol might not lead deterministically to aggression, but pub fights are still real, not magical.

People have detailed experience with those ranges of effects, far beyond simple basics like 'sedative and toxic'. Perhaps you want to avoid pub fights, or you are worried about a friend who tends to get into fights when you go clubbing, or perhaps you like to have drunken fights yourself. In all those cases, you need a nuanced understanding of the effects of alcohol on aggression. Such understanding might be very context specific, not applicable except for particular people in particular circumstances, not very accessible to scientific study. But that doesn't make it magic.

Роберт
Posts: 4285
Joined: Wed May 14, 2008 1:56 am UTC

Re: Why no artificial alcohol like there are e-cigarettes?

Postby Роберт » Tue Nov 12, 2013 4:37 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:
Jplus wrote:I think it would help a lot if people stopped reinforcing the idea that alcohol is some kind of magic potion. It's a sedative (making you feel more relaxed, among other, less interesting effects) and it is toxic. That's all.


I think that's far too simple. Alcohol( and other drugs) has different effects in different circumstances, for different people, on different time scales( from seconds to years), and in different aspects. Social, psychological, physical, monetary.


Those effects might have cultural components (what doesn't?), but that doesn't make them somehow false or irrelevant. Alcohol might not lead deterministically to aggression, but pub fights are still real, not magical.

Did you read the linked article? The reason for the pub fights is because of the idea that alcohol is some kind of magic potion. That's why we should stop reinforcing that idea.
The Great Hippo wrote:[T]he way we treat suspected terrorists genuinely terrifies me.

Heisenberg
Posts: 3789
Joined: Wed May 14, 2008 8:48 pm UTC
Location: Uncertain

Re: Why no artificial alcohol like there are e-cigarettes?

Postby Heisenberg » Tue Nov 12, 2013 4:47 pm UTC

davidstarlingm wrote:Alcohol is not actually that toxic, really. There are no toxic substances, only toxic concentrations. The average consumer of cigarettes ingests enough tar to cause serious health problems; the average consumer of alcohol does not reach a high enough BAC to reach any appreciable sort of toxicity.

Why are you discussing average users and delivery systems to defend a point about the drug? Alcohol is far more toxic than nicotine, caffeine, or THC. The only statistic you need is the hundreds of people who die every year from drinking too much alcohol. Sure, it's possible to earn an ambulance ride using caffeine pills or nicotine patches, but it's extremely unlikely.

The toxic concentration of alcohol is dangerously close to the satiation level for many users, which is why many of them die from alcohol toxicity. If we could find a drug that would mimic the effects without having the unfortunate side-effect of killing people who continue using the substance after intoxication, that would be great.

User avatar
davidstarlingm
Posts: 1255
Joined: Mon Jun 01, 2009 4:33 am UTC

Re: Why no artificial alcohol like there are e-cigarettes?

Postby davidstarlingm » Tue Nov 12, 2013 5:32 pm UTC

elasto wrote:
davidstarlingm wrote:Alcohol is not actually that toxic, really. There are no toxic substances, only toxic concentrations. The average consumer of cigarettes ingests enough tar to cause serious health problems; the average consumer of alcohol does not reach a high enough BAC to reach any appreciable sort of toxicity.

Acute toxicity? Sure. People ending up dead after drinking 30 shots of whisky is not really what we're talking about preventing here. But long term damage occurs at a level most people would regard as very low - a couple of drinks a day; That (plus road accidents, violence etc.) is what's making up the millions of additional deaths a year.
Wikipedia wrote:Of the total number of deaths and diseases caused by alcohol, most happen to the majority of the population who are moderate drinkers, rather than the heavy drinker minority

So I'd disagree with your assertion that "the average consumer of alcohol does not reach a high enough BAC to reach any appreciable sort of toxicity" - assuming that the 'average consumer of alcohol' drinks moderately rather than lightly or to excess.

Well, of course the majority of alcohol-related deaths occur in the majority population of alcohol consumers. That's no surprise. If 100 million people engage in a low-risk activity while 1,000 people engage in a high-risk activity, you'll end up with far more deaths due to the lower-risk activity just because of the way the numbers work.

IIRC, alcohol doesn't actually kill brain cells and moderate drinking has no cumulative long-term effects. Though maybe we're thinking of a different definition of "moderate". In my view, a moderate drinker does not drink to the point of functional impairment. A moderate drinker can safely drive an hour later.

elasto wrote:
davidstarlingm wrote:And delivery could be tricky. Dosing alone would be a huge challenge.

Why would it be any more tricky than at present? It's not like there's a lot of science involved in people deciding how much alcohol to drink right now. The process as described would be completely identical in fact: You'd simply keep drinking cocktails containing the new drug until you felt drunk enough to want to stop.

Alcohol is fairly self-limiting. Most people will vomit if they drink too much too fast. Moreover, grain alcohol burns pretty bad as it gets more and more concentrated. In order to drink beyond intoxication with a lower-concentration beverage, you'll end up ingesting quite a lot of liquid, which will eventually make you want to stop drinking.

In contrast, a drug can be dissolved in liquid at much higher concentrations than even pure ethanol. That's why dosing is a challenge.

elasto wrote:It's just that if you found yourself too drunk you could drink an 'anti-drink' to compensate - something not currently possible with alcohol.

Well, that would be nice, but drug interactions are rarely that neat.

User avatar
Angua
Don't call her Delphine.
Posts: 5944
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 12:42 pm UTC
Location: UK/[St. Kitts and] Nevis Occasionally, I migrate to the US for a bit

Re: Why no artificial alcohol like there are e-cigarettes?

Postby Angua » Tue Nov 12, 2013 8:39 pm UTC

If you were going to look for the toxic effects of alcohol, I'd look at the liver more than the brain (though you can get things like Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome and Alcohol induced dementia, as well as hepatic encephalopathy which hurts brain but is caused by liver problems).

Again, depends what you define as 'moderate'. A unit or two in the evening is said to be healthy for some systems, but it's a J-shaped curve and definitely more skewed towards the harmful effects of drinking vs not drinking.
Crabtree's bludgeon: “no set of mutually inconsistent observations can exist for which some human intellect cannot conceive a coherent explanation, however complicated”
GNU Terry Pratchett

PossibleSloth
Posts: 88
Joined: Mon May 11, 2009 6:51 am UTC
Location: Boston (or thereabouts)

Re: Why no artificial alcohol like there are e-cigarettes?

Postby PossibleSloth » Tue Nov 12, 2013 8:48 pm UTC

davidstarlingm wrote:IIRC, alcohol doesn't actually kill brain cells and moderate drinking has no cumulative long-term effects. Though maybe we're thinking of a different definition of "moderate". In my view, a moderate drinker does not drink to the point of functional impairment. A moderate drinker can safely drive an hour later.


Just because alcohol doesn't kill brain cells doesn't mean it's not toxic. This study showed that even people averaging 1.5 drinks per day had significantly increased cancer risks. Also, lots of alcohol-related deaths are still accident or injury related which don't require chronic use at all. Yes, never drinking to excess and only having a few drinks a week eliminates most of the risks, but those aren't the people this story is trying to help.

Heisenberg wrote:The toxic concentration of alcohol is dangerously close to the satiation level for many users, which is why many of them die from alcohol toxicity. If we could find a drug that would mimic the effects without having the unfortunate side-effect of killing people who continue using the substance after intoxication, that would be great.

This is a good point. Compared to a lot of drugs, the amount of alcohol that causes the desired effects and the amount that can kill you are not far apart. Compare that to drugs like LSD where it's almost impossible to ingest a lethal amount.

davidstarlingm wrote:
elasto wrote:It's just that if you found yourself too drunk you could drink an 'anti-drink' to compensate - something not currently possible with alcohol.

Well, that would be nice, but drug interactions are rarely that neat

The only one I can think of is Heroin/Morphine and Naloxone. I've heard stories of people OD'ed into a coma on heroin and jolting awake within seconds of getting IV Naloxone. It's like flipping a switch. Of course, it can also trigger intense pain if the dosage is off, so.. what you said.

johnie104
Posts: 248
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2008 6:44 pm UTC
Contact:

Re: Why no artificial alcohol like there are e-cigarettes?

Postby johnie104 » Tue Nov 12, 2013 9:38 pm UTC

If they could develop a beverage that kinda tastes like beer, has the same numbing effects as alcohol, but doesn't hurt your liver and doesn't make you hangover the day after, I wouldn't see a reason too drink normal beer anymore.
In fact, if such drinks exist, I would see no reason why the government shouldn't ban alcohol-containing beverages, or go the routes of cigarettes with increased regulation making e-cigarettes a more attractive option.

Of course such a super-alcohol (supahol?) would need to be extensively tested, but the medical community is quite good at that.

davidstarlingm wrote:In contrast, a drug can be dissolved in liquid at much higher concentrations than even pure ethanol. That's why dosing is a challenge.

That's why such high concentrations should be banned or regulated. I'm assuming that the drug would be kinda hard to make. If the low-dosage variant is readily available I don't see a big black market forming for a high-dosage variant.
Signature removed because of it's blinding awesomeness.

Alexius
Posts: 342
Joined: Mon Nov 03, 2008 4:45 pm UTC

Re: Why no artificial alcohol like there are e-cigarettes?

Postby Alexius » Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:10 pm UTC

johnie104 wrote:If they could develop a beverage that kinda tastes like beer, has the same numbing effects as alcohol, but doesn't hurt your liver and doesn't make you hangover the day after, I wouldn't see a reason too drink normal beer anymore.
In fact, if such drinks exist, I would see no reason why the government shouldn't ban alcohol-containing beverages, or go the routes of cigarettes with increased regulation making e-cigarettes a more attractive option.

I like the taste of beer. I don't drink it to get drunk- in fact, I often deliberately order beer that is low in alcohol, though my taste in beer is such that I don't like non-alcoholic beer and I enjoy the taste of stronger beers. I view inebriation beyond a certain point as a bug not a feature.

I would be extremely annoyed if the beer I enjoy drinking was banned and replaced with pseudo-beer which tasted "kinda like beer" and was better for me, just as I would be annoyed if steak was banned on the grounds that tofu is available and can be made to taste "kinda like steak" while being better for you.

User avatar
davidstarlingm
Posts: 1255
Joined: Mon Jun 01, 2009 4:33 am UTC

Re: Why no artificial alcohol like there are e-cigarettes?

Postby davidstarlingm » Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:13 pm UTC

johnie104 wrote:If they could develop a beverage that kinda tastes like beer, has the same numbing effects as alcohol, but doesn't hurt your liver and doesn't make you hangover the day after, I wouldn't see a reason too drink normal beer anymore.

**activates beer snobbery** Clearly, my friend, you haven't had good beer.

User avatar
darkone238
Posts: 111
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2012 6:37 am UTC

Re: Why no artificial alcohol like there are e-cigarettes?

Postby darkone238 » Wed Nov 13, 2013 1:50 am UTC

Alexius wrote:
johnie104 wrote:If they could develop a beverage that kinda tastes like beer, has the same numbing effects as alcohol, but doesn't hurt your liver and doesn't make you hangover the day after, I wouldn't see a reason too drink normal beer anymore.
In fact, if such drinks exist, I would see no reason why the government shouldn't ban alcohol-containing beverages, or go the routes of cigarettes with increased regulation making e-cigarettes a more attractive option.

I like the taste of beer. I don't drink it to get drunk- in fact, I often deliberately order beer that is low in alcohol, though my taste in beer is such that I don't like non-alcoholic beer and I enjoy the taste of stronger beers. I view inebriation beyond a certain point as a bug not a feature.

I would be extremely annoyed if the beer I enjoy drinking was banned and replaced with pseudo-beer which tasted "kinda like beer" and was better for me, just as I would be annoyed if steak was banned on the grounds that tofu is available and can be made to taste "kinda like steak" while being better for you.

This, but add wine too. The day wine is banned or heavily regulated so as to make it unattainable is the day I become a very very sad man.

User avatar
davidstarlingm
Posts: 1255
Joined: Mon Jun 01, 2009 4:33 am UTC

Re: Why no artificial alcohol like there are e-cigarettes?

Postby davidstarlingm » Wed Nov 13, 2013 5:45 am UTC

Ditto on intoxication being a bug rather than a feature.

Like me, there are quite a few people for whom taste is the primary consideration in beverage selection. Relaxation and a light buzz is nice, don't get me wrong, but I'm drinking because I like the way it tastes. No way in hell is some artificial drug-laced potion going to be able to replicate the complexity and diversity of flavors in fine beers or aged scotch or great wine or a perfect martini.

A "safer booze" from the pharmaceutical industry could become a popular secondary recreational drug, but it's not going to kick alcohol out.

dii
Posts: 164
Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2013 2:42 am UTC
Location: 60.17°N 24.94°E

Re: Why no artificial alcohol like there are e-cigarettes?

Postby dii » Wed Nov 13, 2013 10:16 am UTC

Tertiary alcohols could be a potential candidate.

Ethyl alcohol has an unfortunate metabolic path, where it converts first to acetaldehyde, then to acetic acid. Acetaldehyde is mostly responsible for the shitty after-effects of ethanol (ie. hangover).

Tertiary alcohols follow a different metabolic pathway, since they're unable to be converted to aldehydes, the hangover should be lesser as well. The possible downside is that most of them are much more potent by weight than ethanol, which may cause a higher risk of overdose (alcohol poisoning), but of course that can be mitigated by simply diluting it to the same level of potency as ethanol-based drinks.

Possible candidates for ethanol replacement: 1-propynyl-cyclohexanol or 2-methyl-2-butanol.

davidstarlingm wrote:Ditto on intoxication being a bug rather than a feature.


Why not drink non-alcoholic beer if that's the case?

Some claim to drink alcoholic drinks "for the taste" but I think that's probably just a sort of pavlovian reaction associating the taste with the pleasant effects of ethanol.
Last edited by dii on Wed Nov 13, 2013 11:47 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

dii
Posts: 164
Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2013 2:42 am UTC
Location: 60.17°N 24.94°E

Re: Why no artificial alcohol like there are e-cigarettes?

Postby dii » Wed Nov 13, 2013 10:20 am UTC

Realistically speaking though, I don't think this is ever going to happen.

If they brought out some kind of "alcohol replacement" chemical, that would be a different chemical than alcohol, but would still have recreational effects, then that'd just basically be a legal recreational drug. And that'd directly undermine the official stance of most governments where "alcohol good, all other mind-altering substances bad". It'd sort of get people thinking, if they can make recreational drugs legal like that, how can they say this one recreational drug is ok but others aren't...

I think it's a good idea in principle, but until there's a change in the political atmosphere wrt. drug policies, I doubt this kind of thing is going to fly.

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: Why no artificial alcohol like there are e-cigarettes?

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Nov 13, 2013 2:41 pm UTC

A lot of the issue with alcohol is addition and overconsumption. Binge drinking is hugely problematic, drinking a glass of wine with dinner, not so much.

I would imagine that most medications with similar effects would also have problematic effects with overconsumption, and if it's equally pleasurable in exactly the same way, we can reasonably expect it to be addictive...

Heisenberg
Posts: 3789
Joined: Wed May 14, 2008 8:48 pm UTC
Location: Uncertain

Re: Why no artificial alcohol like there are e-cigarettes?

Postby Heisenberg » Wed Nov 13, 2013 2:53 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:I would imagine that most medications with similar effects would also have problematic effects with overconsumption, and if it's equally pleasurable in exactly the same way, we can reasonably expect it to be addictive...

I'm not sure that's the case. If you look at other drugs like cannabis, not all drugs cause the downward spiral that alcohol does when you overconsume (this is assuming that high is more of a binary condition and drunk is more of a spectrum, based on my limited experience). If we can popularize a drug that gets folks pleasantly inebriated and then has little or no further effect, it would be very beneficial. Alternatively, if we found a drug that got you drunk in a similar way to alcohol, but did not significantly impair your judgement, we'd likely reduce the incidence of drunk driving.

I think it'd be really helpful if we could make a similar-but-less-dangerous drug available to underage kids. If we could get underage drinking to carry less risk, that would be awesome.

Роберт
Posts: 4285
Joined: Wed May 14, 2008 1:56 am UTC

Re: Why no artificial alcohol like there are e-cigarettes?

Postby Роберт » Wed Nov 13, 2013 3:25 pm UTC

It would be hard to find one that doesn't have potientially dangerous interactions. Even the natural stuff, like kava kava, doesn't mix well with alcohol. So while using it as a replacement could be useful, you can't guarantee people won't use both. Perhaps people like having their judgment being impaired. I don't know that an alcohol replacement will have much positive effect.
The Great Hippo wrote:[T]he way we treat suspected terrorists genuinely terrifies me.

dii
Posts: 164
Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2013 2:42 am UTC
Location: 60.17°N 24.94°E

Re: Why no artificial alcohol like there are e-cigarettes?

Postby dii » Wed Nov 13, 2013 3:34 pm UTC

Heisenberg wrote: (this is assuming that high is more of a binary condition and drunk is more of a spectrum, based on my limited experience)


Sorry but your limited experience is false... there is always a relationship between dosage and effect, no matter what substance. Granted, there are some substances that have a natural built-in "hard limit" due to body metabolism rates and such, but these are more the exception rather than the rule. And even then it just means the effects stop changing at a certain point, there will still be variation in effects below that limit.

elasto
Posts: 3778
Joined: Mon May 10, 2010 1:53 am UTC

Re: Why no artificial alcohol like there are e-cigarettes?

Postby elasto » Wed Nov 13, 2013 3:41 pm UTC

dii wrote:I think it's a good idea in principle, but until there's a change in the political atmosphere wrt. drug policies, I doubt this kind of thing is going to fly.

Yup :/

Some may be unaware that this professor was the head of the committee advising the UK government on drug policies, and eventually got sacked for being unwilling to stop saying sensible things - mostly arguing the case for harm-reduction strategies and advocating education and treatment rather than prison; I think his most 'infamous' comment was the observation that going horse riding is more dangerous than taking ecstasy. That didn't exactly go down well with the government of the day...

dii wrote:Why not drink non-alcoholic beer if that's the case?

Some claim to drink alcoholic drinks "for the taste" but I think that's probably just a sort of pavlovian reaction associating the taste with the pleasant effects of ethanol.


I think in most cases you're absolutely right. I honestly doubt the first time a teenager drinks a beer their reaction is 'mmmm! tasty!' It's merely 'hey! cool! the room is starting to spin!'

No. Noone drinks crappy supermarket wine or chain-beers for the taste.

davidstarlingm wrote:No way in hell is some artificial drug-laced potion going to be able to replicate the complexity and diversity of flavors in fine beers or aged scotch or great wine or a perfect martini.


Ummm... You can already buy non-alcoholic beers, non-alcoholic wines and even non-alcoholic whisky. If those can be made then manufacturers can make beer, wine and spirits with this drug added instead of the alcohol. In most cases it'd probably be indistinguishable. Then there's cocktails, 'alcopops' and so on.

There's no reason this couldn't be every bit as tasty as traditional alcoholic drinks. That does just seem presumptive and snobbery.

Alexius wrote:I would be extremely annoyed if the beer I enjoy drinking was banned and replaced with pseudo-beer which tasted "kinda like beer" and was better for me


I would be too: There'd be no scientific justification for it. The science says that small quantities of alcohol are good for you and that teetotalers are actually increasing their health risks almost as much as heavy drinkers. Never lose sight of that fact...

dii
Posts: 164
Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2013 2:42 am UTC
Location: 60.17°N 24.94°E

Re: Why no artificial alcohol like there are e-cigarettes?

Postby dii » Wed Nov 13, 2013 3:53 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:I would imagine that most medications with similar effects would also have problematic effects with overconsumption, and if it's equally pleasurable in exactly the same way, we can reasonably expect it to be addictive...


Of course. Anything that makes you feel good, anything that gives you instant (or even non-instant) gratification, is by nature addictive. Tasty food is addictive. Exercise is addictive. Sex is addictive. It's a natural mechanism, the same mechanisms that produce addiction are related to producing motivation to get up and do things.

The problem is, sometimes this addiction mechanism goes on overdrive, and the results can be harmful to the individual, particularly if the target of the addiction has harmful side effects. And that's when the addiction becomes a problem.

Роберт
Posts: 4285
Joined: Wed May 14, 2008 1:56 am UTC

Re: Why no artificial alcohol like there are e-cigarettes?

Postby Роберт » Wed Nov 13, 2013 3:59 pm UTC

elasto wrote:
davidstarlingm wrote:No way in hell is some artificial drug-laced potion going to be able to replicate the complexity and diversity of flavors in fine beers or aged scotch or great wine or a perfect martini.


Ummm... You can already buy non-alcoholic beers, non-alcoholic wines and even non-alcoholic whisky. If those can be made then manufacturers can make beer, wine and spirits with this drug added instead of the alcohol. In most cases it'd probably be indistinguishable.

Why do you assume that? Do you really think that the current selection of non-alcoholic whisky is indistinguishable from an aged speyside single malt?
The Great Hippo wrote:[T]he way we treat suspected terrorists genuinely terrifies me.

johnie104
Posts: 248
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2008 6:44 pm UTC
Contact:

Re: Why no artificial alcohol like there are e-cigarettes?

Postby johnie104 » Wed Nov 13, 2013 4:29 pm UTC

I'd be very interested in a double blind test where they try to produce beer (of a certain quality so that the taste matters) with synthetic alcohol and try to recreate the taste of the original beer as close as possible.

darkone238 wrote:
Alexius wrote:
johnie104 wrote:If they could develop a beverage that kinda tastes like beer, has the same numbing effects as alcohol, but doesn't hurt your liver and doesn't make you hangover the day after, I wouldn't see a reason too drink normal beer anymore.
In fact, if such drinks exist, I would see no reason why the government shouldn't ban alcohol-containing beverages, or go the routes of cigarettes with increased regulation making e-cigarettes a more attractive option.

I like the taste of beer. I don't drink it to get drunk- in fact, I often deliberately order beer that is low in alcohol, though my taste in beer is such that I don't like non-alcoholic beer and I enjoy the taste of stronger beers. I view inebriation beyond a certain point as a bug not a feature.

I would be extremely annoyed if the beer I enjoy drinking was banned and replaced with pseudo-beer which tasted "kinda like beer" and was better for me, just as I would be annoyed if steak was banned on the grounds that tofu is available and can be made to taste "kinda like steak" while being better for you.

This, but add wine too. The day wine is banned or heavily regulated so as to make it unattainable is the day I become a very very sad man.


Would it instead be possible to legislate the production of beer so that it somehow prevents drinking lots of it. So that everyone can have their quality slow-drinking, enjoy every sip beer drinking, but that binge-drinking beer would be replaced with synthetic beer that carries less detrimental effects.
Signature removed because of it's blinding awesomeness.

User avatar
Xenomortis
Not actually a special flower.
Posts: 1456
Joined: Thu Oct 11, 2012 8:47 am UTC

Re: Why no artificial alcohol like there are e-cigarettes?

Postby Xenomortis » Wed Nov 13, 2013 4:31 pm UTC

Sales are what tend to be taxed and legislated against, rather than production.
Image


Return to “News & Articles”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 12 guests