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Star Trek's Synthehol Now Possible? 509

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the life-imitating-art dept.
[TheBORG] writes "Professor David Nutt, a psychopharmacologist at the University of Bristol in the UK, believes that there is no scientific reason why 'synthehol' (a science-fictional substitute for alcohol that appears in Star Trek:The Next Generation television series) cannot be created now. It will allow drinkers to experience all of the enjoyable, intoxicating effects of alcohol without unpleasant side-effects like hangovers." Of course, there's still the real deal, Romulan Ale, for when you want a splitting headache in the morning.
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Star Trek's Synthehol Now Possible?

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  • Drugs. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 14, 2006 @03:14AM (#15127797)
    Synthehol is my anti-drug.
  • Actually (Score:3, Informative)

    by aussie_a (778472) on Friday April 14, 2006 @03:18AM (#15127800) Journal
    Actually Sinthehole just had the taste and none of the side-effects (like feeling happy, having impaired judgement, etc).
    • Re:Actually (Score:5, Funny)

      by jpardey (569633) <j_pardey AT hotmail DOT com> on Friday April 14, 2006 @03:20AM (#15127805)
      Some nerds know about biochemistry and how to make alcohol have a lower toxicity... and some nerds know about star trek.
      • Some nerds know about biochemistry and how to make alcohol have a lower toxicity... and some nerds know about star trek. And some know both.
    • Re:Actually (Score:5, Informative)

      by LithiumX (717017) on Friday April 14, 2006 @03:31AM (#15127841)
      Synthahol got you drunk in Star Trek, but it was described as something that could be shaken off more easily than true alchohol (ie you can actually get sober quickly, as opposed to just thinking you're sober) and having "less" hangover afterwards. It was also suggested multiple times that it was primarily a shipboard/on-base beverage meant for off-duty Starfleet and other personell... with the real thing being in common consumption for civilians.

      As for taste, I get the feeling it didn't simulate it all that well (considering Scotty's reaction to it on that TNG episode. I'm a geek, but not geek enough to know the episode number).
      • TNG 6x04 (Score:5, Funny)

        by XanC (644172) on Friday April 14, 2006 @04:24AM (#15127966)
        Duh!
      • Re:Actually (Score:4, Informative)

        by Burning Plastic (153446) on Friday April 14, 2006 @04:51AM (#15128015) Journal
        I've been drinking Scotch since before your great-grandfather was in diapers... And this is not scotch...

        Synthetic scotch... Synthetic Commanders...
      • No, it doesn't (Score:5, Informative)

        by TrekkieGod (627867) on Friday April 14, 2006 @09:11AM (#15128607) Homepage Journal
        Synthehol doesn't get you drunk in Star Trek. It's just that a lot of the characters manage to get their hands on real drinks. From the TNG episode Family:

        Robert: "Your synthehol...never leaves you out of control, isn't that so?"
        Picard: "That is so."
        Robert: "This will. Now there's something I'd like to see."
        Picard: "What's that?"
        Robert: "I venture you've probably never been drunk in your entire life."

        The episode you're remembering is Relics. Data does claim that synthehol, "simulates the appearance, smell, and taste of alcohol, but the intoxicating effects can be easily dismissed." I suppose you could interpret "easily dismissed" as "easily shaken off" but given the evidence from other episodes, I interpret it as him saying that the intoxicating effects are so low that they can be dismissed as inexistent.

      • Re:Actually (Score:3, Funny)

        by Feanturi (99866)
        feeling it didn't simulate it all that well (considering Scotty's reaction

        Aye but this is no mere mortal yer talkin' about laddie. This is Scotty, who kin tell ye which hour of the day a 60 year old scotch was bottled before the glass is off the table!
    • Re:Actually (Score:5, Funny)

      by MadCow42 (243108) on Friday April 14, 2006 @07:41AM (#15128324) Homepage
      Sinthehol = synthesized alcohol replacement

      Sinthehole = personal entertainment device for Slashdot geeks.

      One may lead to the other, but I don't think they're the same thing. :)

      MadCow
  • Nutt? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by virgil_disgr4ce (909068) on Friday April 14, 2006 @03:20AM (#15127807) Homepage
    I didn't make my career trusting scientists with names like "Professor Nutt." And for the record, the only thing more pointless than reading articles about things that "should" "theoretically" be "possible" is writing them.
    • Professor Nutt the psychopharmacist who writes about alcohol that doesn't get you drunk? Well named!
    • He's probably a Ferengi in disguise anyway since they brought Synthehol to the Federation anyway. This one's just travelled back in time before the first ones traded it to Hoomans.
    • Beg to differ... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Aphrika (756248) on Friday April 14, 2006 @05:13AM (#15128054)
      ...but I had lectures from him and he's really rather good and certainly knows his stuff. If you want to knock him for his name then fine.

      A psychopharmacologist is interested in why and how chemicals interact with the brain and nervous system, so it's quite within his mandate to speculate on how something like 'synthehol' should theoretically be possible. Invariably you tend to find that postgraduates in the UK have to write papers on how something is theoretically possible in order to attract funding for research.

      These papers are in the public domain, so if some Sci-Fi fan for LiveScience breaks the news with the sensationalist title "Hangover-free Buzz: Star Trek's Synthehol Now Possible" while at the same time quoting passages from the paper like "Some "partial agonists" of GABA-A receptors already exist; bretazenil and pagoclone were developed as anti-anxiety drugs. These drug molecules are instantly reversible by the flumazenil, used as an antidote to overdoses of tranquillisers.", I'd wager that you should be shooting the messenger here, not the scientist.
    • Re:Nutt? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by commodoresloat (172735) * on Friday April 14, 2006 @05:13AM (#15128055)
      the only thing more pointless than reading articles about things that "should" "theoretically" be "possible" is writing them.

      Not to stomp on a good put down, but the only reason many things are possible today is because someone wrote "pointless" articles about them when they were only theoretically possible.

  • by Scarletdown (886459) on Friday April 14, 2006 @03:22AM (#15127813) Journal
    Romulan Ale is okay, but real life forms prefer the Pan Galactic Gargleblaster, for when you want to feel like you have had your head smashed in by a slice of lemon wrapped around a large gold brick.

    • by LithiumX (717017) on Friday April 14, 2006 @03:36AM (#15127858)
      The main difference is that while the PGG is legal in most of the more liberal parts of the galaxy, Romulan Ale is illegal, which is part of it's attraction (much like a Cuban cigar - it's the law that makes them taste so damned good).

      On the other hand, Romulan Ale doesn't leave you reeling like a man being mugged in a meadow, doesn't eat through the table when spilled, and never ever made anyone yell Pheoww in minor thirds.
      • Re:How About... (Score:3, Informative)

        by Mechanik (104328)
        much like a Cuban cigar - it's the law that makes them taste so damned good

        But I'm Canadian you insensitive clod! :-P

        We can buy them legally. Hence why every convenience store in Niagara Falls, Ontario has gigantic signs saying "CUBAN CIGARS" for all the nice American tourists.
    • by joe 155 (937621) on Friday April 14, 2006 @04:13AM (#15127940) Journal
      another advantage to the romulan ale is that you can drink more than 2 of them even if you are not a 30 ton mega-elephant with bhronchital pneumonia
  • Star Trekkin. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by RandomLinguist (712026) <onelinguist@gm a i l . com> on Friday April 14, 2006 @03:25AM (#15127818) Homepage
    It seems to me sometimes that we focus more on trying to make the 'cool' tech and gadgets from the tv shows of our childhood than making new innovations sometimes. I wonder if it actually inhibits science to try and make it fit to fiction, or whether fiction really is the best inspiration.

    On the other hand, I really, really want my own replicator.
  • Yah, alcohol (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lazuli42 (219080) on Friday April 14, 2006 @03:26AM (#15127822) Homepage Journal
    The future of alcoholism just got brighter.

    Now if only they could get rid of the part of alcohol that makes people act like assholes.
    • Re:Yah, alcohol (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ToteAdler (631239) on Friday April 14, 2006 @03:53AM (#15127894)
      You mean the person themselves? "A drunken man's words are a sober man's thoughts."
    • Re:Yah, alcohol (Score:4, Insightful)

      by kfg (145172) on Friday April 14, 2006 @04:06AM (#15127924)
      Now if only they could get rid of the part of alcohol that makes people act like assholes.

      Indeed, I'm waiting for the alcohol that eliminates unpleasant side effects like; intoxication.

      As a friend of mine noted, as we watched the tables, chairs and fists flying around the bar:

      "Now there's a good idea, why don't we mix big, stupid people with alcohol?"

      Or, as an alcohol counselor friend of mine noted when I asked him why some people seemed to like getting wasted when all it does is make you feel like absolute shit:

      "Ah, well, you're not an alcoholic."

      He also noted that after 40 years in the business he could tell a lot about people by their drug of choice; and that alcohol was the drug of choice of people who were essentially unhappy and wanted to be numbed.

      There is a phrase, however, for ingesting depressants to be "happy":

      Vicious Cycle.

      KFG
      • Re:Yah, alcohol (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 14, 2006 @04:38AM (#15127988)
        I'm posting this anonymously, because I'm an addict.

        You have some good insights into the problems of the addict, even if you don't or can't understand what it's like to be one, as you imply.

        The underlying drive of the addict is not so much to feel good as it is to feel differently from what ever base state they are used to feeling (unhappiness). Any feeling is better than the underlying feeling of unhappiness, even total lack of feeling. (It's interesting that at the same time, many drunks tend to extreme emotions of anger or sentimentality.)Some of us have drugs of choice, such as alcohol, speed, marijuana, etc., while others of us will imbibe anything and everything they can get their hands on.

        I wonder if anyone will ever be able to create an alcohol that is safe for alcoholics to drink. Even if they can find away not to trigger the physical craving response by some subtle manipulation of the molecules, how can they remove the powerful psychological urge?

        I could ramble on, but in short, I don't think this represents any sort of cure for alcoholism. It might be a great boon for non-alcoholics to enjoy, but this won't stop the progressive spiral of destruction of a person addicted to alcohol.

        Anyway, I just thought I'd share that with you. You've always seemed like the decent sort, KFG.
        • This AC comment deserves to be seen.
        • Re:Yah, alcohol (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 14, 2006 @07:29AM (#15128304)

          I like your comment, so I'll post my story. I've suffered from social anxiety since I was 15 or so and, like most people with this problem, quickly found that alcohol kicked the anxiety away. Being aware of the potential problem I could get into if I started drinking regularly I did some research, and found what at the moment looked like a panacea: GHB. No hangover and presumably no addiction. Little did I know that 2 years down the road of using it daily I'd face a living hell trying to quit. Not so much the psychological aspect (it had long stopped being enjoyable) but the physical dependency. I made it and had to spend 2 years with psychotherapy to learn how to live with anxiety. The anxiety is no longer a problem and I can lead an almost normal life now. I live on my own and have a good paying work. I've never had a date though and, being 30 already, have mostly given up. To get to the point, not being to function with the aid of a drug is a situation people who don't need it can't imagine.

          I want to wish you good luck in kicking alcohol. Things like having a pet and listening to music helped me a lot.

        • by mshurpik (198339) on Friday April 14, 2006 @12:59PM (#15130465)
          Even if they can find away not to trigger the physical craving response by some subtle manipulation of the molecules, how can they remove the powerful psychological urge?

          If you take GHB, it removes the physical urge to drink alcohol. It also makes you happier. Overall, the psychological urge to drink is greatly diminished. In fact, US Patent 6,436,998 [uspto.gov] covers GHB as an alcoholism treatment.

          For the sake of comparison, how badly did you want to get drunk the last time you exercised? If you've never felt GHB, it is like a five mile run in a bottle.

      • "He also noted that after 40 years in the business he could tell a lot about people by their drug of choice; and that alcohol was the drug of choice of people who were essentially unhappy and wanted to be numbed."

        Just out of curiosity, what did he say about the other drugs?
    • Re:Yah, alcohol (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Opportunist (166417) on Friday April 14, 2006 @05:15AM (#15128059)
      There is actually a substance that gets you almost the same effects without making people as violent as alc makes some.

      Unfortunately that substance is illegal in most places, the only place I know where you can legally enjoy it is the Netherlands.
      • Re:Yah, alcohol (Score:5, Interesting)

        by visgoth (613861) on Friday April 14, 2006 @05:33AM (#15128100)
        For anyone who's a daytrip away from say, Vancouver, BC, then its also quite obtainable, and pretty much legal to consume. There's a number of "amsterdam style" cafes there that let people spark up. Not that I know this first hand, I err, heard it from a friend of a friend...
  • Oh no... (Score:5, Funny)

    by likwidoxigen (925099) on Friday April 14, 2006 @03:27AM (#15127827) Homepage
    Speaking from the perspective of an American College student whom is reasonabally responsible. DO NOT REMOVE THE HANGOVER! I can only imagine how little work I would get done, and how many more students would fail out of college. There needs to be a bit of punishment, or else mass irresponisbilty would follow.
    • Re:Oh no... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sqrt(2) (786011)
      Failing college is the punishment. If you're stupid enough to drink to such excess after learning your own limits you probably don't belong there anyway.
    • It's likely with the complexity and the number of drugs required to pull off this "synthetic alcohol", that not only would it be outside of the budget of most college students, it would probably also be only available by prescription only, and only for use for extreme alcholics who cannot function in ordinary life (since as any addict can tell you, quitting cold turkey is tough, and has a high failure rate).
    • Re:Oh no... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hclyff (925743)
      Maybe it's just me, but when I'm drinking I never think about hangover until I get it. As long as I'm not in that cursed 'am I dead yet?' stage known as hangover, it's just some mildly unpleasant thing I know I will have to go through at some point later.

      But anyway, if hangover keeps you from drinking, good for you!
    • I can only imagine how little work I would get done, and how many more students would fail out of college.

      Hangovers do not prevent people from drinking.
      Hangovers do prevent people from going to class or work the next morning.

      The thing about drinking is that people forget fairly quickly what a hangover feels like... And go... "Oh what is one beer going to do to me! Mmmm... This buzz feels good. Another one can't hurt!"

      Of course 6 beers, 2 shots of jadger, a 5th of tequila, and then 4 hours later... Your alar
  • by Vellmont (569020) on Friday April 14, 2006 @03:34AM (#15127850)
    It's hard enough to get the much less addictive and less harmfull drugs like Marijuana that people have used for thousands of years to be legal. Making some new alcohol like substance legal as a recreational drug would be near impossible.

    Really, if alcohol didn't have the added guise of also being a food, and being impossibly easy to create on your own it'd be illegal now.
    • by ciroknight (601098) on Friday April 14, 2006 @04:28AM (#15127972)
      Oh Please, the inverse is true; the Drug Companies are some of the largest politically charged industries in current existance, and as a result, a lot of drugs that shouldn't be on the market get there (COX2 Inhibiting NSAIDs are virtually unilaterally linked to heart problems, and yet many are still on the market, and still cost a fortune).

      On the other hand, pot is cheap, it's easily home grown, and some studies have shown it does more damage to your lungs than smoking a pack of cigarrettes. And since there really isn't a political lobbying force trying to get this "much needed pharmacutical" on the market legally... Hell, even with some doctors pushing its obvious medical uses, it's still been a tough sell.

      Think about Opiods. Then think about how much money has been made using synthetic opiates. The fact remains, the market for synthetic drugs is much greater than the market for naturally occuring drugs due to the corporate and political climates in this country, and because it's easy to convince people with vague symptoms that they have some disease and need a medicine to treat it.
      • I honestly don't know what the point that you're trying to make is. I largely agree with the facts you've presented, but what is it you're using them as evidence for?
      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 14, 2006 @09:01AM (#15128573)
        and some studies have shown it does more damage to your lungs than smoking a pack of cigarrettes.

        ugh. I hate when people bring this one up. Yes smoking a pack or marijuana is worse than smoking a pack of cigarettes. Luckily a 'pack' of joints is an unbelievable amount of substance. Where a smoker could easily smoke a pack a day, if one smokes good pot the dosage [erowid.org] is MUUUCH smaller. I can get quite intoxicated every night, including sharing a couple nights with my girlfriend for a week and only use 1 gram/week.

        Basically what I'm getting at, is how long does one gram of tobacco satisfy an average smoker?

    • Considering how few of all the synthethic shit we are putting into our self (to cure stuff and so on) and their bi-effects, what would you rather use? The natural real thing or the synthetic version?

      Atleast our bodies know how to deal with alcohol and get it out of the system. What biological "units" have understood how to handle "synthehol"?
    • by Vengeance (46019) on Friday April 14, 2006 @05:53AM (#15128140)
      Well that, and when we TRIED to make it illegal we discovered a fun new way to give organized crime lots of money and power. Really, the US is STILL recovering from the effects of alcohol prohibition. The do-gooders *really* screwed the pooch on that one, and created far more problems than they solved. More drinking, more crime, more violence, and still all the nasty bathtub gin they could stomach.

  • by McFadden (809368) on Friday April 14, 2006 @03:50AM (#15127885)
    The authorities have already lost the plot in the war on drugs. What with meth anphetamine, ecstacy, LSD and any number of other lab created drugs out there, do you really think that any government is going to allow another synthetically produced substance that alters your mood in any way whatsoever? The moment it happens the meddlers and self-appointed moral guardians that prescribe what is and isn't good for us, would be calling for a ban.
    • Wow, I'm glad those drug companies aren't making a shitton of money on drugs that we don't need like anti-psychotics and anti-depressants, because the way you make it sound, the government would _never_ let those drugs come to market.

      Oh wait, aren't those the two drugs with the highest market value outside of painkillers (opioids or NSAIDs)? Believe it or not, there is a market for this stuff, as a huge percentage of this country suffers from alcoholism, and a lot of people that are a year away from need
    • by gbobeck (926553) on Friday April 14, 2006 @04:05AM (#15127920) Homepage Journal
      ...do you really think that any government is going to allow another synthetically produced substance that alters your mood in any way whatsoever?


      Hmmm... lets see: Prozac [prozac.com], Ritalin, Celexa, Lexapro, Paxil, Pexeva, Zoloft, Elavil, Norpramin, Tofranil, Aventyl, Pamelor, Wellbutrin, Cymbalta, Effexor...
  • by Aqua OS X (458522) on Friday April 14, 2006 @03:53AM (#15127893)
    ...and it's called pot.
    • Except potheads don't get angry. Ever been tackled by a stoner?
    • No....

      You're saying that pot has the same effects as alcohol but without the hangover? It seems to me the effects of these two substances are quite distinct. I'm not saying they have nothing in common, but they work on quite different systems in the brain, and it's quite easy to tell apart someone on alcohol from someone on marijuana (from a 1st or 3rd person point of view). Each of these states of consciousness are useful in their own way, but they are not the same state; one does not adequately sub
    • wikipedia: [wikipedia.org] -- "studies have shown that a risk does exist in some individuals to develop symptoms of psychosis [1] and anxiety [2]"

      Plus of course regular heavy use may bring on the more feared long term addiction to tie dyed clothing, Grateful Dead, and believing one to be living in California in the late 1960s...

      #1 Prospective cohort study of cannabis use, predisposition for psychosis, and psychotic symptoms in young people, by Cécile Henquet, Lydia Krabbendam, Janneke Spauwen, Charles Kaplan, Rosel

      • by 3.5 stripes (578410) on Friday April 14, 2006 @06:10AM (#15128178)
        Those studies were a pile of crap, none of the participants were screened for psychosis before they started smoking, which leads to the inevitable question, would someone who is bordering psychosis possibly self medicate with marijuana? Correlation != Causation.

        They're pretty much both anti MJ propaganda pulled out by people who were against the reclassification of marijuana in britain. Strange how they suddenly got done right around when the reclassification became news.
        • Right; and tobacco doesn't cause lung cancer, people who were going to get lung cancer anyway are probably drawn to/self-medicating with tobacco.
          When people get hallucinations long after taking LSD ('flashbacks') that's not the LSD, people who get random hallucinations are drawn to/self-medicating with LSD.

          There are vastly higher rates of disorder A amongst people who take drug B. There can only be one explanation; people with disorder A are drawn to drug B. Honestly..

          If you want to smoke it then fin
  • by ROBOKATZ (211768) on Friday April 14, 2006 @03:54AM (#15127897)
    and it's illegal. Well ok, it's not at all the same type of high, but the health side effects from opium use are negligible compared to alcohol. Alcohol and tobacco are only legal because they're already legal, and there are (as already has been demonstrated) social, economic and political consequences for changing our stance on these. If they had just suddenly been introduced today, no way would you would be able to legally manufacture, sell or possess them.


    We can also thank our anti-drug culture the practice of adding things such as acetaminophen to opiates (e.g., vicodin and oxycodone) to make sure it destroys your liver if you become addicted (as a "deterrent"). Given this, I don't think the government, or whoever decides such things, would be terribly pleased with a readily available drug with the "positive" effects of alcohol and none of the negative effects. If this really shows up, don't be surprised if it is simply labelled a "designer" drug and made highly illegal.

    • They add acetaminophen and aspirin to the opiate because it increases the effect of the opiate.

      Distill out the hydrocodone from a vicodin and take it and you'll be sorely disappointed..
    • by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Friday April 14, 2006 @08:16AM (#15128413) Homepage Journal
      Health risk of an opiate NEGLIGIBLE?? Hello, anybody home? I've smoked plenty of opium, let me tell you that you're dead wrong. A few things I've learned from personal experience...

      1. Opiates constipate you (Immodium AD, loperamide, is an opiate)
      2. Smoking opium is harsher on the lungs than marijuana.
      3. Opium is far, FAR more addictive than alcohol (witness China and Turkey with their opium wars way back in history)
      4. Once hooked to strong opiates, the general recourse to getting off of them is an even worse medication (methadone) as opposed to counseling and Antabuse prescriptions for alcohol addiction.
      5. Opium can and will kill you, or get you killed.
      6. Opium screws with your system more than alcohol. The only reasons more die from alcohol than opium are embarassingly simple - Alcohol's far easier to obtain, it's legal, and people get really stupid off of it, and therefore do stupid things.
      • by fafalone (633739) on Friday April 14, 2006 @01:55PM (#15131034)
        Health risk of an opiate NEGLIGIBLE?? Hello, anybody home? I've smoked plenty of opium, let me tell you that you're dead wrong. A few things I've learned from personal experience...

        And let me tell you why you're dead wrong, from personal experience and extensive studies of psychopharmacology. The risks of dependence are certainly there, but the health consequences of such dependence are in fact negligible... you'll note the lack of severe health consequences in long-term pain patients. Your interpretation of your personal experience does NOT supercede research on sample sizes far greater than yours.

        1. Opiates constipate you (Immodium AD, loperamide, is an opiate)

        WOW, huge side effect there. Alcohol destroys your liver and tobacco causes cancer. I'll take constipation, thanks.

        2. Smoking opium is harsher on the lungs than marijuana.

        It may be "harsher", but please point me in the direction of a study showing it's actually more harmful as opposed to simply more uncomfortable. Also, that's why the vast majority of opium is converted to pill or powder extracts.

        3. Opium is far, FAR more addictive than alcohol (witness China and Turkey with their opium wars way back in history)

        I don't know about the "FAR" with alcohol, but I do know it's FAR LESS addictive than nicotine. While substances derived from the alkaloids of opium do by far exceed alcohol in addictiveness, they are still less addictive than nicotine. That includes heroin. Look it up.

        4. Once hooked to strong opiates, the general recourse to getting off of them is an even worse medication (methadone) as opposed to counseling and Antabuse prescriptions for alcohol addiction.

        Methadone, while more addictive, is not nearly as reinforcing and does not produce much in the way of euphoria. Therefore it can be effectively used to step off. Other medications are being used that are superior to methadone. Antabuse is less effective for alcohol abuse than medications for opiate abuse are, counseling even more so. Counseling for opiates does exist, and many people can taper off their dose. Furthermore, abruptly stopping drinking while strongly physically dependent can kill a healthy adult, this is not observed with opiate dependence (but the withdrawal is still quite severe).

        5. Opium can and will kill you, or get you killed.

        Oh what a load of bullshit. So can alcohol, tobacco, marijuana (but not from toxicity), and virtually every drug, including over-the-counter ones. If you're irresponsible about it, there's plenty of ways to get killed with a whole lot of activities. Opiates, from a clinical standpoint, are FAR less likely to be fatal than just about every other psychoactive substance class out there, legal and illegal. Participating in the illegal consumption of a drug presents its own risks, but these are outside of the effects of the drug.

        6. Opium screws with your system more than alcohol. The only reasons more die from alcohol than opium are embarassingly simple - Alcohol's far easier to obtain, it's legal, and people get really stupid off of it, and therefore do stupid things.

        Again, what a complete and utter load of unresearched bullshit. Toxicity from opium isn't even in the same league as toxicity from alcohol. Especially notable is opiums (and almost all derivatives on the market, licit or illicit) lack of neurotoxicity contrasted to alcohol's repeatedly demonstrated strong neurotoxicity. Not to mention hepatoxicity, which opium again lacks. Alcohol impairs your judgment more than opium, by a huge margin.
  • GHB (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 14, 2006 @03:59AM (#15127909)
    Actually there is a very good substitute for alcohol, gamma-hydroxybutyrate (http://www.erowid.org/chemicals/ghb/ [erowid.org]). It is toxic at high dose (and mixed with alcohol), but at normal levels it feels the same as alcohol and is much healthier and without the hangover effect...

  • by Thnikkaman (818752) on Friday April 14, 2006 @04:08AM (#15127932) Homepage
    If the inventors would like to send me a few kegs, I will consume them. Purely in the name of science, of course.
  • by RM6f9 (825298)
    If people are gonna use, they're gonna use. Seems like removing the hangover is enabling on one hand, but relief for those who live with grumpy hangover drinkers on the other.
        Personally, I'm waiting for phasers (replace paintball with stuns, much more fun) transporters (bank/vault walls? what?) and protoplasers (Sealing orifices shut "accidentally" - whoa.).
  • I don't think you would be able to organically synthesise anything and then expect to put it 5% in a aqueous solution, and STILL make it for less than $1 a bottle.
  • Sounds like GHB (Score:3, Informative)

    by El Puerco Loco (31491) on Friday April 14, 2006 @04:21AM (#15127960)
    it already exists and it is illegal, ghb produces effects very similar to alcohol,
    with much smaller dosage and few side effects. it works on gaba receptors like
    alcohol does.
  • Politics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by arrrrg (902404) on Friday April 14, 2006 @05:10AM (#15128050)
    (rant) Meth, tobacco, alcohol, and perhaps PCP are the worst popular drugs, in terms of bodily harm. People do fucked up things when they're addicted to heroin, etc, but the drug itself is not that bad for you. From Wikipedia: ... "Francis L. Young, an administrative law judge with the Drug Enforcement Agency, has declared that in its natural form, (cannabis) is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known." Whereas tobacco is the biggest easily preventable cause of death/bodily harm out there, with alcohol not too far behind. Its about protecting the interests of big tobacco and alcohol, not about the safety of people or even cost to society in terms of medical expenses, etc. Plus this way the politicians get to seem "pro-family" in their strong stance against "dangerous drugs". In this context, would it really be possible for some new drug to be allowed, even if it removes some of the negative consequences of alcohol (see GHB, benzodiazapenes, etc. etc.) (/rant)
  • by stunt_penguin (906223) on Friday April 14, 2006 @05:59AM (#15128153)
    now we can have 'Free, as in beer' and 'Expensive, as in synthenol'.

    Synthenol Cristal? I'll take 4 cases.
  • by Flying pig (925874) on Friday April 14, 2006 @06:16AM (#15128186)
    Huxley's world is where we are going. Caste genetically determined, with low caste individuals basically living in herds so the upper castes have something to look down on, and for those who don't like it, the drug soma. Which has basically the characteristics Nutt describes.

    I'm going to say this: Nutt's drug would send civilisation down the tubes faster than you can imagine. Why? Because at the moment anybody who is at the bottom of the heap will often try to forget their misery with drugs. The drugs cause vast social damage and cost, encouraging crime. As a result, society is aware of the problems and has to take steps to address them - often unsuccessfully because neocons and "libertarians" (sociopaths) will attribute any cause to social problems other than ones that might require them to change their behavior. But even just locking up two million people costs them tax dollars.

    Now imagine a drug as described. Fine for well adjusted middle and upper class individuals. But the poor and the maltreated will take it to forget their problems, and because there won't be any resulting social costs they will just be forgotten about. Right up until the infrastructure stops working. Or the rich start dying of the diseases being spread around by the poor drug users who don't care.

    Marx described religion as the opiate of the masses, i.e. it was used to keep them quiet and obedient. This drug really would be the opiate of the masses. The problem is that most of us identify with the rulers not the masses (especially when we are young and think life is easy.) But, in reality, most of us fall into the classes decribes by Marx as the "masses." Bear that in mind.

    • That's right, use upper and middle class citizen's are mature enough to handle recreational drugs. But those on the bottom, they are helpless, we need to protect them. Please. Drugs and addiction effect everyone regardless of class, but they are still a matter of personal choice.
    • You touch on Brand New World but I want to make it a bit obvious: in that book, Huxely describes soma, which is a bit like alcohol but without the hang-over (therefore pre-dating Synthehol by decades). And although I don't know anything about Star Trek, in Huxley's book drinking soma is usually accompanied by orgies. So there's that.
  • Cocaine, anyone? (Score:3, Informative)

    by he-sk (103163) on Friday April 14, 2006 @07:05AM (#15128270)
    From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]:

    [I]n 1884 [...] Sigmund Freud published his work Über Coca, in which he wrote that cocaine causes: ...exhilaration and lasting euphoria, which in no way differs from the normal euphoria of the healthy person...You perceive an increase of self-control and possess more vitality and capacity for work...This result is enjoyed without any of the unpleasant after-effects that follow exhilaration brought about by alcohol....Absolutely no craving for the further use of cocaine appears after the first, or even after repeated taking of the drug...
  • by swordgeek (112599) on Friday April 14, 2006 @08:02AM (#15128374) Journal
    "...experience all of the enjoyable, intoxicating effects of alcohol without unpleasant side-effects..."

    Funny thing here. For me alcohol is a flavour and texture component of my favorite drinks. The volatility and solvent properties of ethanol make most alcoholic drinks impossible to fake--dealcoholized wines are wretched, non-alcoholic beer if carefully done can rise to the level of almost mediocre, and dealcoholized hard liquor is an oxymoron.

    For me and many others, the "enjoyable" effects are not the "intoxicating" effects, and in fact the latter often fall under the category of "unpleasant side-effects."

    This is just another drug to get stoned on. Big deal. Personally, I'd stick to mushrooms.
  • by slapout (93640) on Friday April 14, 2006 @08:55AM (#15128549)
    ...a bunch of drunk people running around with phasers shouting "Make it so!"
  • by Robotech_Master (14247) on Friday April 14, 2006 @11:14AM (#15129497) Homepage Journal
    ...because if they did make it, it would be considered a drug, subject to FDA regulations, and so forth.

    By all rights, alcohol should be considered a drug. It is a drug. It's just that it has such a unique relationship with our society that it's essentially "grandfathered in"--the one time they tried to regulate it as a drug, it caused so much trouble that they ended up deregulating it again.

    But a "synthetic alcohol," regardless of whether it's supposed to act just like alcohol without the bad side-effects, would not be the same thing as alcohol--so it would probably never be available in lieu of alcohol.

    Furthermore, I'm not sure how they could incorporate it into beers, wines, or liquors, given that the character of the beverages is created at the same time the alcohol comes into being naturally. (Unless they could somehow genetically engineer yeast to make the synthetic stuff instead of the real stuff.) So what you're talking about is basically a synthetic form of Everclear.
    • the one time they tried to regulate it as a drug, it caused so much trouble that they ended up deregulating it again.

      You mean the rampant crime, gang warfare, police corruption, toxic homemade hooch, etc? Yeah, I'm glad we've left those problems in the past. Our modern drug regulation is the envy of the world!

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