Chaperon, a new "party drug" simulates some of the effects of ecstasy, while discouraging alcohol consumption. The developers of the drug is filing for a patent for the chemical, which could prove to be a double-edged sword.
Alcohol was primarily responsible for 3.3 million deaths around the world in 2012. Despite educational campaigns designed to raise awareness of the detrimental effects of excessive consumption of alcohol, usage worldwide has not lowered in recent years.
Mephedrone, commonly called drone, M-Cat or meow-meow, is a synthetic drug, related to amphetamines. The inventor of this drug, known only as Doctor Z, also developed the new chemical, as a legal intoxicant. However, the inventor has agreed to donate his patent to Imperial College London, as a means of controlling alcohol intake.
Also known as 5-methoxy-2-aminoindane (MEAI), it still needs additional testing, including measuring how the drug interacts with alcohol.
"Lower-income groups are more affected by the social and health consequences of alcohol. They often lack quality health care and are less protected by functional family or community networks," Shekhar Saxena, director for mental health and substance abuse at the World Health Organization, said.
Europeans drink the most alcohol in the world, although use on the continent has leveled off over the last five years. Consumption has also remained steady in North and South America, as well as Africa, over that period. In southeast Asia and the Western Pacific, alcohol consumption has risen.
No clinical tests have been performed on MEAI, but Dr. Z and roughly 40 other people, so far, have ingested the new drug. Most users say they felt euphoric while on the substance, with only one person reporting negative effects from the drug.
The desire to drink alcohol was greatly restricted in users, between two and five hours after consumption of the drug.
"By about midnight, more than 5 hours after the first dose, I feel intense but controlled euphoria. Now the idea of drinking alcohol seems repulsive - as does eating bar food. My friends are still ordering drinks and if I hadn't taken chaperon, I'm sure I would be too," Michael Slezak, a journalist who tested the drug, said.
Instead of welcoming the new drug as a way to lower alcohol consumption, governments may ban the substance, as they have done with several other creations by Dr. Z. No matter what happens, further investigation of the drug will need to take place.
"Anecdotal evidence isn't enough. [Research] would involve finding out what receptors it binds to, how it affects rats and working out a safe dosage profile, before raising funding to conduct clinical trials to see whether it really does reduce alcohol intake," David Nutt of Imperial College London, told the press.