Could a New Synthetic Alternative to Alcohol Reduce the Need for an Alcohol Detox?

Alcohol addiction is a problem affecting hundreds of thousands of people across the UK, many of whom do not even realise they have an issue. Those who are aware that alcohol has become a negative influence in their lives may need to complete an alcohol detox in order to get better. This is typically followed by a programme of rehabilitation and lifelong abstinence to maintain sobriety.

It is the thought of permanent abstinence that often causes delays in treatment for some individuals. With alcohol being a widely available and socially acceptable substance, many drinkers fear that a life of sobriety will somehow put them in the minority and will mean their life will become boring.

Others are worried about alcohol detox and believe that it is going to be so painful that they will not be able to cope. These obstacles to recovery can be problematic as it could mean many alcoholics continuing to get worse without treatment.

The Dangerous Effects of Alcohol

Excessive consumption of alcohol leads to a host of mental and physical health problems and often adverse consequences for the drinker and his or her family. Most people drink alcohol in moderation, and many forget that it is a highly addictive toxic substance. Those who drink more than the recommended weekly amount of fourteen units are putting their health in danger.

Drinking large amounts of alcohol can mean building up a tolerance to the effects and the result of this is that the individual will then need to drink more and more every time in order to achieve the desired ‘buzz’.

However, the more alcohol a person drinks, the more likely he or she is to develop a physical dependence and loss of control over his or her consumption. When a person loses control over their alcohol intake or the ability to stop drinking, it is usually because an addiction has developed. This can have devastating consequences for the person’s mental and physical health as well as their lifestyle.

Reducing Harm to Mental Health

The negative effects of alcohol cannot be underestimated; on the back of a review by Public Health England in January 2016, the Government reduced the recommended weekly alcohol guidelines for men from twenty-one to fourteen. A warning was also issued to moderate drinkers telling them that there was no safe limit of alcohol consumption that would prevent against alcohol-related cancers.

Experts say it is the toxins in alcohol that cause the harm to health; researchers from the Adam Smith Institute are now claiming that a new ‘hangover-free’ synthetic alcohol product could have what it calls, ‘seismic effects on public health’.

The product is known as ‘Alcosynth’ at the moment, and it is said to be one hundred times safer than alcohol. It gives drinkers the feeling of being drunk without any loss of control, and because it does not contain any toxins, it is deemed as being a much safer alternative to alcohol. Nevertheless, researchers say that government regulations are blocking the development of Alcosynth.

Saving Lives

The report into the use of Alcosynth is titled Sinnovation: How Markets Can Solve Public Health Problems and in it, researchers claim that the development of these safer products is being curbed by both EU and UK regulations.

The report also warns that the pursuit of abstinence campaigns as opposed to the development of risk-reduction products could negatively affect the number of lives that could be saved every year.

Nonetheless, alcohol campaigners firmly believe that the best way to reduce the impact of alcohol on society is to introduce higher alcohol prices, restrict the marketing of it, and reduce the availability.

Alcohol Focus Scotland’s Alison Douglas said, “Scotland continues to experience the highest rates of alcohol harm in the UK, with 22 Scots dying every week last year due to alcohol. Steps are being taken to begin to turn the tide on this shocking picture, but more must continue to be done to change the pro-alcohol culture in our country. The idea that a synthetic alcohol product could provide the same public health benefits is far from proven, and given the scale of the problem we face, our efforts are much better spent on measures which we know to work.”

Tackling Alcohol Misuse

Alcohol misuse is a massive problem here in the UK and one that continues to be a drain on society and the economy. In Scotland, the Government has taken steps to address the issue by introducing a quantity discount ban on alcohol, more education on the dangers of alcohol misuse, and also a lower drink-drive limit. However, according to a Scottish Government spokesperson, “Any products intended for human consumption need to comply with the relevant EU and domestic legislation.”

Alcosynth was created by Imperial University’s Professor David Nutt and is a derivative of benzodiazepine. Researchers believe it may help to reduce the harm caused by alcohol. Currently, alcohol consumption can cause illnesses such as liver disease, high blood pressure, dementia, depression and cancer. It can also cause a devastating alcohol addiction that require an alcohol detox and treatment to overcome it.

Any product that could have positive implications on the dangerous effects of alcohol has to be a good thing.

Source: Hangover-free alcohol could be key to mental health (The Scotsman)

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