The Times: How I felt after getting 'drunk' on hangover-free booze

The Times: How I felt after getting 'drunk' on hangover-free booze

Half an hour in and the convivial conversation is just that little bit more convivial. My entertaining anecdotes are, I am confident, very much more entertaining.

Pouring me another drink, David Nutt, professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College, slaps me on the back and declares that he is slowing down. “I’m beginning to slur a bit,” he says.

Taking a sip I try, and fail, to say “neuropsychopharmacology”.


If you know Nutt, it is probably from his fame as the short-lived government drugs tsar. “Short-lived” because he had a tendency to say things that the government didn’t like its drugs tsars to say. Such as: ecstasy is less dangerous than horse riding, our drugs classification system is utterly illogical and — most unforgivably of all — among the more dangerous of all those drugs is the one government ministers use most widely: alcohol.

Nutt’s idea was simple: target just the GABA, and do so by engineering a molecule that removes itself from the body rapidly and painlessly. By only hitting that one type of receptor, it would avoid some of less desirable effects of alcohol intoxication. By being easily metabolised, it would avoid the less desirable after-effects of that intoxication: a hangover. The result is a substance he calls Alcarelle.

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