Here’s some news that will surprise wine connoisseurs and beer aficionados the world over. A prominent scientist has made the astonishing claim that within a generation, alcohol will be a thing of the past. Just imagine – it’s 2038 and as you head home from work, instead of seeing wine bars teeming with life as people let down their hair after a hard day, you’ll be more likely to see gatherings of mild-mannered colleagues, enjoying a mug of hot milk or perhaps a ‘naughty but nice’ Earl Grey with whole milk. This is the picture of the future being conjured by Professor David Nutt (no silly jokes about his surname, please). The professor was once a government narcotics advisor, so his research should not be dismissed with haughty laughter.
Of course, it’s entirely possible that you already live a life free of alcohol, keeping yourself in super condition at the gym and relaxing with gay massage instead of the demon drink. And Professor Nutt isn’t strictly suggesting a future of only puritanical pleasure. He proposes the notion that what he terms ‘alcosynth’, a substance which will mimic the enjoyable effects of alcohol without the drawbacks, will replace the real thing. And is there anyone alive who doesn’t relish such a possibility? The professor argues that just as electronic vaping devices will eventually wipe out cigarette use, alcosynth will be with us in the next ten or twenty years. “It will become the preferred drink,” he says. And not a moment too soon. Alcohol, for all its supposed pleasures, cuts a deadly swathe through the nation every year. Roughly 1.1 million people were admitted to hospital last year because of drink-related conditions. Alcohol is thought to take £3.5 billion from the already-limited NHS funds every single year.
Alcosynth will, it is argued, give us all the best bits of alcohol – loosened inhibitions, confidence, merriment, relaxation – without the brain-drilling hangovers or, for more committed drinkers, the dreadful DTs. It won’t rot the internal organs and overwork the kidneys and liver. Alcohol kills considerably more people than malaria, meningitis, tuberculosis and many other diseases, so roll on alcosynth, the sooner the better.