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Sci-Fi Science Entertainment

Real-World Synthehol In Development 273

Posted by timothy
from the volstead-was-an-alien dept.
Ada_Rules writes "Researchers at the Imperial College London have announced development of an alcohol substitute that has many of the same properties as the Synthehol from the series Star Trek, in that one will get a buzz from it but will not end up with a hangover. In addition you will have the option of getting immediately sober if you so desire it. Let's hope this is not the typical vaporware. It is not that I really want a drink of Synthehol, but with its release I assume Romulan Ale won't be far behind."
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Real-World Synthehol In Development

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  • Instant (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Entropy98 (1340659) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @04:20PM (#30558004) Homepage

    you will have the option of getting immediately sober if you so desire it
     
    Can I get drunk again later that night?

  • We're (apparently) close to the first, time to start making some serious progress towards the second.

  • Missing the point... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tyroneking (258793) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @04:26PM (#30558060)

    Having the option of getting immediately sober is rather missing the point of drinking alcohol ... it is the assured descent into a carefree state with no possibility of reversal that is one of the last few pleasures left in life.
    Throwing the car keys onto the dining table, pulling a bottle of vodka from the freezer and taking a few shots ... the perfect end to a usually cold, wet and crappy day in the so-called western-civilisation.

    • If you don't want to be sober until later then you shouldn't take the antidote. Alcohol doesn't give you a choice in the matter, synthehol just might.

      • Seriously man - haven't you ever had a wife/girlfriend/etc. moan at you for being a bit drunk? Now, you can shrug your shoulders and smile sweetly at the Fait Accompli that life has sold her.
        In the future she can just slip you a reverse micky (and by which I don't mean some sort of sexual position). Instant disaster.

        • by epine (68316) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @05:21PM (#30558448)

          I'm waiting for the first published life reflection on the topic of wife-beater interruptus by a man whose blood-honey got wise to syntheholic Narcan. I'd dearly love to read an explanation by a man who experiences a sudden return to clarity mid swing.

          The mind reels at the possibilities. If synaloxone is designed to be easily absorbed through eye membranes (there's another criteria for the designer checklist), it will soon become the feature ingredient in Pepperpoison H. This could lead to the baning of real alcohol. If real alcohol is banned, then only the alcoholics will have it.

          Speaking of roids, how many drunks are going to drive home under the influence to maintain the party atmosphere, and quickly jab themselves at the first sign of traffic surveillance or air bag deployment? How is that going to be regulated?

          Should this comes to pass, the law of unintended consequence is going to be working double shifts for several decade.

          • Speaking of roids, how many drunks are going to drive home under the influence to maintain the party atmosphere, and quickly jab themselves at the first sign of traffic surveillance or air bag deployment? How is that going to be regulated?

            Depending on how quickly it works and a test of syntheol in the blood/breath, it is entirely plausible to have the car automatically dose the drive if needed before it can start.

    • by girlintraining (1395911) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @04:35PM (#30558126)

      Throwing the car keys onto the dining table, pulling a bottle of vodka from the freezer and taking a few shots ... the perfect end to a usually cold, wet and crappy day in the so-called western-civilisation.

      "I asked many people why they drank so much but never received an explanation that I fully understood. It was the tales of their escapades while under the influence of drink that brought me nearest to comprehending their need for it. It seemed to give them a few hours of freedom from rules which, during the rest of their lives, they reluctantly obeyed. If this was true, then in the example of my life lay a cure for drunkenness... never to conform at all." ~ Quentin Crisp, The Naked Civil Servant

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tyroneking (258793)

        ... but we're not all writers or rock stars.

        • by hitmark (640295)

          maybe not, but with the workforce surplus that this planet is experiencing, "cheap" entertainment is a must have unless the elite wants a big rebellion on their hands...

    • by popo (107611) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @05:00PM (#30558316) Homepage

      Was that completely depressing for anyone else?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by rastoboy29 (807168)
      You need to move away from England!
  • Antidote (Score:5, Funny)

    by proficiovera (1099145) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @04:29PM (#30558086) Homepage
    So if some drunk is being obnoxious at the bar you can now slip the antidote in his drink?
    • by Renraku (518261)

      That wouldn't be a bad idea actually.

      "Calm the hell down, get the hell out, or take this antidote."

      The drunk would have three choices. To stop being loud and obnoxious, to leave the establishment, or to take the antidote. Knowing most drunks, he'd take a swing at someone, but then it crosses into the legal territory and is no longer a civil matter. Then there would be even fewer excuses for synthehol-related crimes. Drunk driving? Stupid, you get a year in jail for not taking the antidote. Drinking an

  • Not really (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Prof Nutt and his team are concentrating their efforts on benzodiazepines, of which diazepam, the chief ingredient of Valium is one. Thousands of candidate benzos are already known to science. He said it is just a matter of identifying the closest match.

    From my benzo experience, I doubt any benzo will replace alcohol. Alcohol effects a whole range of neurotransmitters, not just GABA.

    And this is the "we can just turn it off" part:

    “I’ve been in experiments where I’ve taken benzos,” sai

    • Re:Not really (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 26, 2009 @04:59PM (#30558304)

      And this is the "we can just turn it off" part:

      “I’ve been in experiments where I’ve taken benzos,” said Professor Nutt. “One minute I was sedated and nearly asleep, five minutes later I was giving a lecture.

      I think we've seen this show before. It was called the 1950's and 60's.

      Can't sleep? Take a pill to sleep. Trouble waking up? Take a pill to wake up. Now you're really awake and agitated and jittery? Take a pill to calm you down.

      Be sure to wash those pills down with a nice distilled beverage of your choice and don't forget have a refreshing smoke.

    • by larry bagina (561269) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @05:59PM (#30558764) Journal
      That's weird. One minute, I was in his lecture. Five minutes later, I was nearly asleep.
  • by Tackhead (54550) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @04:35PM (#30558132)

    Let's read between the lines here...

    From TFA:

    Professor Nutt believes that the new drug, which would need licensing, could have a dramatic effect on society and improve the nation's health

    In this one sentence we see: (a), an appeal to the neo-prohibitionist/nanny-stater lobby to spin this story into a positive, and (b), because you can't make this stuff at home, a pharmaceutical company is going to get a cut. Alcohol's easy to make - take some yeast and just about any form of sugar (or starch that can be converted via enzymatic action into sugar) - and you've got yourself the foundations of beer, wine, and distilled spirits. Synthetic valium, not so much.

    Net effect here is that we all wind up hooked on benzos as depressants, rather than alcohol. Hey, that's fine if valium's his depressant of choice, but it's not one of mine. What's next, a move to replace the caffeine in coffee (my stimulant of choice :) with slightly-modified speed?

    From the TFsummary:

    It is not that I really want a drink of Synthehol, but with its release I assume Romulan Ale won't be far behind.

    As cool as it sounds, that's not a feature, that's a bug.

    Allow me to nerd out for a bit: When Synthehol [memory-alpha.org] was invented, Romulan Ale [memory-alpha.org] (which presumably contained real alcohol) became illegal.

    And if you go back and re-read TFA, you'll see that's pretty much where this is goin. This guy's not interested in an alternative to alcohol, he's looking for a substitute for alcohol. Even if he is working in good faith, his efforts will be used to help the neo-prohibitionists. And I can't get down with that. Because I like real ale, Romulan or not. (Homebrewing is like turning half the basement into a mad scientist's chemistry lab for a day, and it's all the more fun because you get to consume the product of your experiment when it's done!)

    Around this time of year, I usually say "A drink? No thanks, I'm driving." But on this one, I'm gonna have to say "Benzos? No thanks, I'm drinking."

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hitmark (640295)

      meh, just wait for the recipe to hit the net, and for someone to come up with a way to make it in a bathtub...

    • by King_TJ (85913) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @05:21PM (#30558440) Journal

      You make a valid point about the potential killing off of the art of home-brewing ... but other than that (very valid) issue, I'm not so sure your other complaints would really matter in the long-run. At the end of the day, the drugs society considers "more acceptable to consume regularly" are really just a matter of how popularized they've become. Caffeine, for example, is pretty much treated like a major food group, since it's found in everything from soda to cappuccino. Heck, they've even got caffeinated water you can buy. But if some other drug (like a small dose of the contents of ADD/ADHD medications, perhaps?) was the drug of choice to insert into carbonated beverages and such, instead? It might have been caffeine people generally thought was a little "unsettling" or "weird" to ingest as part of recreational drinking.

    • by Urkki (668283)

      And if you go back and re-read TFA, you'll see that's pretty much where this is goin. This guy's not interested in an alternative to alcohol, he's looking for a substitute for alcohol. Even if he is working in good faith, his efforts will be used to help the neo-prohibitionists.

      Ah ha haa. Well, ok, maybe on the western side of Atlantic, but just try to imagine removing wine from French or Italian food table, or beer from English or German pubs... Things might get medieval for the politicians who put such a law into effect.

  • by handy_vandal (606174) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @04:44PM (#30558230) Homepage Journal

    "Prof Nutt and his team are concentrating their efforts on benzodiazepines, of which diazepam, the chief ingredient of Valium is one."

    In other words, let's invent another Happy Pill that will make big profit for Big Pharmco. And we'll call it an "alcohol substitute" because alcohol is well-known as the active ingredient in alcoholism, and you're in favor of a cure for alcoholism, right?

    Good thing they're not calling it a "Valium analog", what with Valium's well-known and deserved reputation for causing addiction, tolerance, and withdrawal [wikipedia.org].

    • by couchslug (175151)

      A "happy pill" is a reasonable goal, as is chemical pleasure (well, all pleasure is chemical) in general.

      Information wants to be free, and information that valuable will be free in short order after the product is invented.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Hurricane78 (562437)

      Benzoes? How did a friend say: I tried everything. Even Heroine. But that benzo shit? That’s even worse!

  • Toxicity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hwyhobo (1420503) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @04:48PM (#30558244)

    If it is ingested orally, then it will be metabolized in the liver. What about its toxicity? If it's the same or higher than alcohol, then the illusion of safety may in the end be detrimental to the health of the user.

  • The article says that alcohol has only been around for 3,000 years. This implies that leavened bread has only been around for that long. Wonder what the yeasts were producing before and why so many animals have the enzyme alcohol dehydroginase.

  • by plopez (54068) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @05:01PM (#30558322) Journal

    Or the Catholics. If you're going to have fun, the punishment must be built-in.

  • Can I blame my mistakes on my friends and a case of synthehol? Can I drink a girl pretty with synthehol? Will this help ugly people get laid? These are the important questions!

  • I'm not alone (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 7-Vodka (195504) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @05:15PM (#30558408) Journal

    You know the first thing I'm gonna fucking do, is mix this shit in my rum and cokes while chewing some nicotine gum and smoking a fat joint.
    And I know I'm not the only one.

  • What for? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bistromath007 (1253428) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @05:16PM (#30558412)
    To avoid a hangover with the real stuff, just stay hydrated. Not difficult.
  • I'll just stick with Saurian Brandy.

  • by lawpoop (604919) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @05:32PM (#30558536) Homepage Journal
    We already have alcohol substitutes ( read: recreational drugs ) that are safer than alcohol. Only problem is, they're illegal.

    You can't handle the truth [boston.com]. Dr. David Nutt, the British government scientist that was recently fired, did an exhaustive study of the real impact of recreational drugs. Herion was 8.32, alcohol 5.54, Cannabis 4.00, LSD 3.68 and Ecstacy 3.27. A higher score is worse.( Many other drugs were in the study).

    So we already have several safer alternatives to alcohol.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Johnno74 (252399)

      Did you RTFA?

      "The new alcohol is being developed by a team at Imperial College London, led by Professor David Nutt,"

    • I'm surprised that cannabis did only marginally better than alcohol and that the gap between heroin and alcohol was so large.

      I've never known anyone to fight or commit vandalism after smoking pot and while I'd agree its inadvisable, I think stoned drivers are less risky than drunk ones, especially at the low end of drunkenness/stonedness. Pot also is much easier on your body and does not produce a physical dependence or illness to the same magnitude that alcohol does (even if you factor in high cholesterol

  • from a bottle of very old Scotch whiskey!

  • but I know someone who is. They would advise all slashdotters (and anyone else for that matter) that it is an incredibly bad idea to take any paracetamol when you have been drinking alcohol http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paracetamol [wikipedia.org].
    It is very toxic to your liver. Better to drink responsibly, consume quality products and remember that a reasonable consumption of water only protects you from the effects of hydration but has no real effect on the contaminants that cause the headache and nausea. Wait until the
  • ...that in the real world, alcohol making you drunk is the whole point! We certainly don’t drink it because of the bitter, burning taste. ^^

    If this had any chance of being a success, then people would already prefer non-alcoholic cocktails and brews for a looong time.
    And I don’t see that being the case, or ever happening.

    • Aaah, shit. I forgot to read TFS.

      Now where is the delete button for my comment??
      Or: What is the ^H equivalent for whole comments?

  • If you read the article, they are using substances that are related to the same family or compounds that you find in Valium and other depressants. You very well might see them succeed, but I can't imagine drinking beer that has a warning label to not mix with (real)alcohol.

  • Synthehol is so next century. Wake me up when someone can import real Pan-Galactic Gargle-Blasters to Earth.
  • by gyrogeerloose (849181) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @08:59PM (#30559838) Journal
    "Less talk, more synthehol!"
  • by physburn (1095481) on Sunday December 27, 2009 @12:32AM (#30560696) Homepage Journal
    The politics of the world is such that if a drug that mimics alcohol except for all its bad point was produced, it wouldn't be legalised, it would just be lumped in with all the illegal recreation drugs, governments don't have a set safety limit for recreational drug, they are normally against them on principle, however safe they are.

    But its also a concern that if synthehol was produced, how would we know if it was safe of not, it would take usage by milliions over they adult lifetime, before we genuinely know weather the chemical was safe.

    But good luck to Prof, Knut, who will probably have some very wild parties testing outs his candiate benzodiazepines.

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