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Two years ago, makers of powdered alcohol touted the ability to whip up your favorite cocktail wherever there was water (the product has since been banned in more than 30 states).

Now, a scientist in London has created an alcohol substitute that he claims produces the desirable effects of drinking without the potential for ugly or dangerous consequences like hangovers or alcohol poisoning.

The compound, named Alcarelle, interacts with the brain to produce feelings of relaxation and well-being–similar to those that many people experience from moderate drinking. However, the creator claims the compound can be designed to limit the effects to prevent people from getting “fall-down drunk.” And as an added benefit, it lacks the toxins in alcohol that damage the body.

A Safer Alternative to Booze?

Professor David Nutt, the inventor, says Alcarelle would be sold as a liquid that can be added to mixed drinks in place of hard liquors like rum and gin. As a former advisor on substance abuse to the British government, Professor Nutt says his goal is to reduce the harmful effects of alcohol by providing a safer alternative.

But not everyone approves of the concept. Similar to concerns about powdered alcohol, critics fear people could mix Alcarelle with real alcohol in an attempt to get “super drunk” or to feel intoxicated faster. The compound also hasn’t undergone peer review or testing by regulatory agencies to ensure it is safe.

More Research Needed

Moreover, experts point out that the absence of a hangover doesn’t mean the brain isn’t being impacted. In an interview with The Daily Beast, Dr. George Koob, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) notes Alcarelle “may substitute for some of the effects of alcohol, but whenever the brain sees a drug that changes something, the brain reacts to that. . . . There’s no free ride in the brain.”

What do you think of the possibility of an alcohol substitute coming to a store or bar near you?

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Alison Betts

Alison Betts

Alison Betts has over 15 years of experience as a communications professional and researcher in corporate, nonprofit, and high education settings. Betts joined AMS in 2013 and is currently a Senior Manager of Marketing & Public Relations. Prior to coming to AMS, she held research and teaching positions at universities in Arizona and Colorado. Betts has also served as a public relations professional and grant writer in the nonprofit sector, where she saw first-hand the devastating impact of alcohol and substance abuse on families and communities. Betts holds an MA in English from the University of Colorado and a Master’s in Applied Communications from the University of Denver.

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