David Nutt is a brilliant psychopharmacologist who once served as the UK's drug czar, until he was ousted for refusing to suppress the data that showed that many legal drugs were as bad or worse for you than illegal drugs, and that the war on drugs was a losing battle that wasn't reducing abuse or crime.
Now he's back in industry, and he's got an awesome idea he's trying to get funded: a tailored variation on alcohol that has exactly the same intoxicating effect but inflicts none of the physical damage of booze, and lets you get instantly, totally sober just by taking an antidote.
He describes it as having the same relationship to booze that e-cigarettes have to tobacco. He's gone on the Dragon's Den for funding (unsurprisingly, the alcohol industry wasn't interested in investing!).
Nutt's book Drugs Without the Hot Air is the best book on the drug war and the reality of drugs, addiction and intoxication that I've yet read. I have no idea if he has any business acumen, but a synthetic alcohol that doesn't wreck your liver or cause physical addiction, and that can be sobered up from in moments is an astoundingly great idea.
He said: "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."
One of the biggest benefits to Prof Nutt's alcohol substitute would be to remove addiction as a drinking problem. The scientist said 10 per cent of drinkers become addicted, and that addicts account for most of the one and a half million people killed by alcohol every year.
The Professor said that the drug would be taken in the form of a range of cocktails, and added: "I've done the prototype experiments myself many years ago, where I've been inebriated and then it's been reversed by the antagonist.
"That's what really gave us the idea. There's no question that you can produce a whole range of effects like alcohol by manipulating the brain."
Getting drunk without the hangover or health risks – scientist seeks investment for 'alcohol substitute' drug
[Adam Withnall/The Independent]