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Wish you could drink as much you want and never feel tipsy? We didn’t think so. Still, researchers have a stay-sober pill in the works that allows you to drink liters of booze without feeling a single effect. No slurring, no relaxed inhibitions, no giddiness, no ripping your top off just for the hell of it. In other words, it turns every frat party staple from Four Loko to Everclear into a giant glass of Kool-Aid. Woo-hoo! Let the fun begin! Now, if they could only develop an anti-hangover pill, that would really be worth something.
For the study, published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, researchers turned a lab full of mice into a bunch of party animals. While some of the mice were the usual lab variety, others were genetically modified to have a very high alcohol tolerance. Half received an injection of the stay-sober drug, a form of naloxone, currently used to treat heroin overdose in people. The other half received none. All of the mice were then shot up with mega-doses of alcohol. As expected, both the genetically modified mice and the ones who received the naloxone carried on in a dignified manner, showing no signs of having done the equivalent of 20 mouse-sized keg stands. The non-genetically-modified mice and those that didn’t get the alcohol antidote stumbled around their cages and fell over, acting like your typical booze-addled college student.
I have to assume that this drug is not meant for people who want to drink themselves silly and still feel sober. After all, most people who drink to excess do so to numb out their emotions or let go of their inhibitions. If they weren’t looking for an escape, they could just as easily chug O’Douls.
So I guess the market for a stay-sober drug is people who can’t stop drinking. Kill the effects of alcohol and there’s no point in pounding beers. But, to me, treating substance addiction with another substance isn’t necessarily the right answer. If people want to blot out the world, and can’t do it with their usually course of liquor, it might make them reach for heavier drugs that will get them high. Or, they can just stop taking the naloxone.
The other pitfall of a drug like this: Alcohol can kill you. First, you have to consider the rascally frat boy who might pop a pill before challenging someone to a drink-off. If he doesn’t feel the effects of the alcohol, he doesn’t have a good sense of how much you’ve had until you’re in the emergency room having your stomach pumped. Plus, an alcoholic might just keep drinking, and could easily end up drinking him -- or herself -- to death. If you have to want to get sober, and believe that you can do it on your own, so that when you do go off the naloxone, you’ll have faith that you can make it through the day without a drink.