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Meet the most bizarre medical invention of the century so far: the "drunk without alcohol" pill.

More than five million cigarette-related deaths are estimated to occur each year on a global scale. Smokers know their addiction may become fatal at some point in the future, but addictions are hard to beat. Switching to electronic cigarettes — which still contain nicotine and also satisfy the addict's oral habit — is an alternative about which scientists recently said that it could save millions of lives. 

Despite the undeniable fact that e-cigarettes contain fewer potentially deadly chemicals than the real thing, not everyone is ecstatic about this mushrooming industry. E-cigarettes could, some fear, normalize smoking. It's clear that many countries are a whole lot less cigarette-friendly than they once were though.

Drunk Without Alcohol?

It's not the same for drinking. While nearly everyone dislikes being around people with an alcohol problem, social alcohol consumption is more than acceptable in most countries and getting drunk once in a while is not looked down upon.

There are already pills on the market that make alcoholics violently sick if they revert to their former habits, but being violently sick really is no fun at all — is it? Perhaps that's why British psychiatrist and neuropsychopharmacologist Professor David Nutt wants to jump on the e-cigarette bandwagon — the bandwagon of enjoying your addiction with fewer risks. 

His bizarre invention is a "drunk without alcohol" pill. Nutt claims it could lead to a "revolution in health", says it would do for alcohol consumption what e-cigarettes are doing for smoking, and bluntly asked the British government to support his invention. On a BBC radio show, the professor actually asked for funding to continue developing the product. 

The "drunk without alcohol" pill could, according to Nutt, save the National Health Service millions of pounds a year, and offer the pleasures of alcohol consumption without the risks, including memory loss and hangovers. 

How does it work? Nutt explained that he had "done the prototype experiments himself", and added:"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."

Nutt: A Veteran Of Controversy

It's no surprise that the pill is already controversial, but then again, Nutt isn't new to controversy. He used to chair the UK's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs until he repeatedly clashed with all kinds of people because of his views on the classification and risks of drugs. 

The statements that taking the drug ectasy was statistically no more dangerous than an addiction to horse-riding and that cannabis, ecstasy and LSD are less dangerous than alcohol and cigarettes caused him to butt heads with government ministers, and Nutt eventually lost the position. 

Will the "drunk without alcohol" pill eventually find its way to a pharmacy near you? Or will society conclude it's really not so different to an actual drug and ban the pill?

That remains to be seen. In the meantime deputy chief executive of the charity Alcohol Concern Emily Robinson warns against funding further research and suggests that we stick to policies  policies "that we know work, such as minimum unit pricing and advertising restrictions".