The new substance could have the added bonus of being “switched off” instantaneously with a pill, to allow drinkers to drive home or return to work.
The synthetic alcohol, being developed from chemicals related to Valium, works like alcohol on nerves in the brain that provide a feeling of wellbeing and relaxation.
But unlike alcohol its does not affect other parts of the brain that control mood swings and lead to addiction. It is also much easier to flush out of the body.
Finally because it is much more focused in its effects, it can also be switched off with an antidote, leaving the drinker immediately sober.
The new alcohol is being developed by a team at Imperial College London, led by Professor David Nutt, Britain’s top drugs expert who was recently sacked as a government adviser for his comments about cannabis and ecstasy.
He envisions a world in which people could drink without getting drunk, he said.
No matter how many glasses they had, they would remain in that pleasant state of mild inebriation and at the end of an evening out, revellers could pop a sober-up pill that would let them drive home.