seeking a responsible alternative to alcohol©




The forum for the research and development of Safe Alternatives to Alcohol - SARAA's


Alcohol abuse can break families apart


Alcohol is one of the leading causes of death in the world today among males under 50


To ignore the terrible harms Alcohol does to society is no longer an option.

By philipedwards, Dec 7 2018 01:47PM

December 7, 2018

What if we had a cure for hangovers or an alternative drink which didn’t cause one? A recent survey of 1,837 Dutch students suggests that a hypothetical hangover cure would be popular but wouldn’t change the amount of alcohol individuals consumed1. Almost 70% of participants said they would buy an effective hangover cure if such a thing became available1. However, only 13.4% suggested that this would increase their alcohol consumption the night before1. Many claimed that the risk of having a hangover is not a key influencer in drinking behaviour.

This new research opposes the common belief which has been adopted by several researchers; that decreasing hangovers would encourage alcohol dependence and abuse2.

A group at Utrecht University have recently observed that alcohol consumption and even maximum blood alcohol concentration does not necessarily correlate with hangover severity3. This may explain why several students would not change their drinking behaviours if the risk of hangover was reduced.

However, the reasons the participants gave were:

“The risk of having a hangover does not influence my drinking behaviour”

“alcohol is a harmful substance”

“I do not want to become more drunk than I already am when drinking”

“I cannot consume more alcohol than I already do”

“I consume alcohol to have a good time, so no reason to increase the amount.1”

This actually makes sense when you think about it. Assuming you drink to have a good time drinking more so you’re in danger or passing out and being sick isn’t going to increase your enjoyment.

This latest research1 into changing alcohol behaviour only focuses on a young age group (18-30 years) and there is no way of knowing if older drinkers would agree with these views. Another drawback in this latest study is that it describes only the individual’s intentions and there is no way to know that if such a hangover cure existed that these behaviours would be observed.

Despite these limitations, these new findings confirm the established role of alcohol in society, even unpleasant symptoms are not enough to stop alcohol consumption. This is highlighted by many survey participants claiming, “The risk of having a hangover does not influence my drinking behaviour.1” The findings also demonstrate the abundant market for a hangover cure, this is an opportunity that Alcarelle wishes to exploit by the creation of an alternative adult beverage which may have several effects similar to that of alcohol but may not induce hangover like symptoms.


1. An effective hangover treatment: Friend or foe? Marlou Mackus, Marith van Schrojenstein Lantman, Aurora JAE van de Loo, David Nutt, Joris C Verster (2017) Drug Science, Policy and Law

2. Rohsenow DJ, Howland J, Winter M, et al.(2012) Hangover sensitivity after controlled alcohol administration as predictor of post-college drinking. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 121(1): 270–275.

3. Hogewoning A, Van de Loo AJAE, Mackus M, et al.(2016) Characteristics of social drinkers with and without a hangover after heavy alcohol consumption. Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation 7: 161–167.

By philipedwards, Oct 30 2018 10:32AM

October 30, 2018

Increasingly, more and more people seek out sensible, informed choices to ensure a long and healthy life: more fruit and veg, regular light exercise, and for nicotine users, the high without the burning. And it is so exciting to see the impact this growing wave of health-conscious consumers is having on manufacturers and on popular media.

But the challenge of living well was brought home recently by a World Health Organisation report claiming alcohol remains a leading cause of death worldwide: 5% of people die every year from alcohol-related illnesses and accidents. This seems to be an astonishing claim, especially at a time when in almost every bar and restaurant, new brands line the shelves, each one claiming to be healthier and more interesting than the next.

But what if there really was a truly simple thing the whole world could do to make adult drinking safe? What if there was a synthetic alternative to alcohol that did not lead to 5% of all the deaths that happen worldwide, every year?

That simple thing would have to be an adult alternative to the alcohol we already know – one that has been designed to have all the benefits of a relaxing glass of wine, without the drawbacks that ruin so many lives. Imagine a world in which one in twenty people don’t have to die young from the side effects of alcohol.

Count your number of friends on Facebook, divide by 20, and you’ll see just how many people you know personally are likely to die from the toxic effects of alcohol. For young people, the figure is even more sobering: 13.5% of all deaths among people aged 20 to 39 can be attributed to drink.

One in seven people under 40 this year will die from alcohol.

So why is alcohol so slated by the WHO, and what does the WHO report really tell us? Why are the figures so shockingly high? Why aren’t more people aware how alcohol can harm us – and why isn’t more already being done to cut back on this single cause of death and morbidity?

It is not just alcohol’s contribution to accidents, violence and poisoning that make it such a major cause of death: habitual drinking can worsen and hasten a huge variety of illnesses which most people would never associate with a glass of beer.

In fact, the WHO states that alcohol is a causal factor in more than 200 kinds of injury and diseases, including breast cancer, pancreatitis, and heart disease. In some cases the percentage of ailments linked to heavy alcohol consumption are dramatically high: 48% of cases of liver cirrhosis and 39% of physical injuries are caused by drink. Even when it is not directly responsible for a specific condition, habitual alcohol consumption weakens the immune system and can dramatically speed up the course of an infectious illness caused by a pathogen, such as tuberculosis or HIV/AIDS.

The WHO recommends educational campaigns to make the public more aware of the risks of alcohol, especially how it can contribute to the disease progression of dozens of conditions most of us would not have imagined could be worsened by a tipple, such as cancer. The WHO suggests higher taxes should be imposed to cut down on heavy drinkers – but taxes and public education campaigns did little to cut down on smoking. People understand the risks, and many still crave the hit of a nicotine. It was only when vaping hit the scene that many people have been able to easily ditch burning tobacco, because they have a desirable and far more sensible alternative in vaping.

Most people want to enjoy the benefits of a drink without the risks of accidentally becoming too inebriated, or suffering the long-term cumulative effects of ingesting a substance that is inherently toxic. Which is why it is so important not just to “drink aware”, but to drink differently: to have a genuine adult alternative at your local pub that offers all the benefits, without the drawbacks.

Today a fraction of Millennials smoke compared to their parents, largely because Vaping has completely transformed the way people consume nicotine. Imagine for a moment what a similar alternative to alcohol might look like – something that didn’t make you fat, destroy your liver, spawn cancers, impair judgment, or leave you feeling horrible the next day? What would it taste like? How might you drink it? Would it come in the form of a long relaxing pint, a bottle to be shared over dinner, or a quick shot for pep? What sort of ritual would it involve? Would you want a range of choices at a bar to share in a social setting, or would you want to select it from an array of options from a specialist emporium? What might life be like without “beer fear” – worrying about what you might have done before your memory tapped out? Imagine a year – or a lifetime – without the pain and regret of a blistering hangover.

What might our entire world be like without the bar brawls and foolish decisions that so many people make when indulging in excessive volumes of alcohol? What would the hospital A+E be like without the 70% of casualties attending due to alcohol? And what might the world be like for so many who want to get their lives back under control?

Is this something we should already be exploring?

Alcarelle believes that science is not a barrier to a brighter future for adult drinkers, and we are working to fill this space. Our goal is to use science and technology to develop and manufacture products which would enable a safer alternative to alcohol, with all the pleasant and relaxing upsides, without the dangers. We believe that combining cutting edge science with passionate beliefs can change the future for adult recreation. The future is exciting… watch this space…


By philipedwards, Jan 25 2018 09:54AM

A step in the right direction?

The UK Supreme Court has ruled in favour of Scotland introducing a minimum price for alcohol. This law was suggested in Scotland over 5 years ago but has been delayed by the efforts of the Scotch Whisky Association who claim that the law goes against EU laws allowing free movement of goods1. The Scottish government claims that alcohol is now 54% cheaper than it was in 1980 and that it is possible to exceed the recommended 14 units per week guideline for just £3!1 It is thought that this new legislation could be implemented by early next year and Scotland could become one of the first counties in the world to establish a minimum price for alcohol by unit.

Similarly, the Welsh government has announced plans last month to introduce a new law setting a standard price per alcohol unit2. Research from the University of Sheffield has suggested that this would save one life every week and would prevent fourteen hundred hospital admissions3. This is thought to represent a potential saving of £6.5 million to the NHS3. The new legislation would not be implemented as a tax but would instead provide a minimum unit pricing as a means of discouraging the sale of cheap strong alcohol.

Choices to be made

Alcohol enjoys a monopoly position protected by laws and the court system. Advertising and marketing of Alcohol is heavily funded by the alcohol industry which enjoys rich profits. It is therefore not surprising that Alcohol is by far the most popular drug in Britain, killing more people in the UK and across the planet than all other drugs combined4. Yet alcohol also plays a valuable role in the private lives of many people.

So, there is a choice to be made. How should we as a society respond to the problem of alcohol? It is clear that reducing alcohol consumption could have a massive impact on the overall health of the population2. At first glance therefore, almost any initiative claimed to reduce drinking seems laudable and worthy of consideration.

Common Sense

Minimum pricing is designed to target heavy drinkers. Research suggests

42% of high-risk drinkers in poverty drink a cheaper variety of alocohol3

26% of the population drink more than 14 units a week, and are responsible for 72% of alcohol consumed3.

The new legislation is designed to target heavy drinkers. Yet, for many heavy drinkers, alcohol consumption is relatively price inelastic. Importantly, this policy would significantly affect the pockets (but not necessarily the needs or habits) of people with a lower income, and would not affect many heavy drinkers with higher incomes. There is very real concern that more repressive pricing would simply cause further economic turmoil for many individuals and families already badly affected by alcohol abuse and addiction.

While the effect on the health of ͚problem͛ or heavy drinkers is questionable, there is also little expectation of significant effects on moderate drinkers1.

We need better alternatives

Pressure to address the problem of alcohol abuse in the UK provides the perfect opportunity to enable people to have access to healthier options. But continued subservience to alcohol as a de facto monopoly in the adult drinks market leaves the politicians (of both major parties) with nowhere to go except more restriction. It is therefore almost predictable that government initiatives tend only towards further burden and interference in the private lives and behaviours of the population.

Policies in the UK ignore and side-line the wider opportunity to enable people to have more agency in improving their own lives. This is in stark contrast to recent but growing momentum in parts of Europe and North America towards removing long-established barriers for people to make better and more sensible health choices for themselves.

Alcarelle is working on the development of alternatives to alcohol. We believe that great progress in science points the way to more enlightened possibilities. We want consumers to enjoy access to adult beverages that provide for the enjoyment that alcohol can bring, but without the massive harms that alcohol creates.


3.Meng Y., Sadler, S., Gell, L., Holmes, J. and Brennan, A. (2014) 'Model-based appraisal of minimum unit pricing for alcohol in Wales: An adaptation of the Sheffield Alcohol Policy Model version 3’University of Sheffield.

4.David J Nutt, Leslie A King, Lawrence D Phillips, Drug harms in the UK: a multicriteria decision analysis, In The Lancet, Volume 376, Issue 9752, 2010, Pages 1558-1565, ISSN 0140-6736,

By philipedwards, Jan 14 2018 08:34PM

14th January 2018

Dry January was initiated in 2013 by the charity Alcohol Concern as a campaign which challenges participants to abstain from alcohol for the 31 days of January. The aim of Dry January was to change public attitudes and behaviours towards alcohol consumption, to raise awareness of alcohol related problems and educate people about the health benefits of abstaining. The Alcohol Concern website claims that 49% of people who participated last year lost weight and 67% had improved sleep1. Since its inception, registration to the Dry January app has increased 15-fold2. It has also been suggested, that in addition to the official figures, around 1 million people undertake a form of unofficial Dry January2.

The increasing number of Dry January participants indicates a growing awareness of the health benefits that reducing alcohol intake brings. The latest advice from the Chief Medical Officer specifies that no amount of alcohol is safe to drink and therefore any attempt to cut-back should be commended3. However, a common criticism of the campaign is that 31 days sober does not always lead to changing consumption behaviours all year round and can even be ruined by a celebratory February binge. The growing awareness of the harms of alcohol highlight that the time may be right for a revolutionary alternative.

At Alcarelle, we are looking to develop ‘free-from’ alcohol alternatives which would allow people to have the benefits of Dry January all year round. It would aim to mimic some aspects of alcohol but without the associated health issues like cancer, liver disease and hangovers.

The growth in participation in the Dry January campaign has partially been attributed to ‘social contagion’2. If people around you start to reduce their alcohol intake, you are more likely to do the same. Therefore, this campaign has illustrated the power of changing social attitudes towards alcohol consumption. These changing attitudes create a perfect environment to introduce a new ‘free-from’ beverage based on cutting edge scientific technologies, in order to permanently banish Christmas guilt and minimise the need for the new year detox.

Alcohol is ingrained in our culture and socialising and letting our hair down is vital to our wellbeing. A ‘free-from’ alternative beverage would allow consumers to make healthier choices all year round. So, let’s ditch the lime and soda, try something new and make a new year’s resolution we can get excited about.


1.Alcohol Concern Website

2.Richard O. de Visser, Emily Robinson, Tom Smith, Gemma Cass, Matthew Walmsley; The growth of ‘Dry January’: promoting participation and the benefits of participation, European Journal of Public Health, Volume 27, Issue 5, 1 October 2017, Pages 929–931,

3.UK Chief Medical Officers’ Alcohol Guidelines Review, January 2016

By philipedwards, Jan 5 2018 09:29AM

5th January 2018

Cannabis products

Constellation Brands Inc., a major US alcohol producer, has agreed to buy a 10% stake in Canopy Growth, which is the largest publicly traded cannabis company. This is with the view to market and sell a new cannabis infused drink. The company’s CEO Rob Sands, announced in the Wall Street Journal that this move anticipates relaxation of national legislation on use of Cannabis in the US, and also in Canada1. Canada is expected to legalise recreational use in 2018, and then allow the sale of edible and drinkable cannabis products by 2019. On 1st January, California became the latest and largest state in the US to have legalised the recreational use of cannabis and many more states have legalised its use medically. This branch into new cannabis products is a positive indicator of changing views towards cannabis and provides a glimpse into a future containing comparative options for adult beverages. This is in contrast to the current monopoly enjoyed by alcohol.

Changing views

This new collaboration comes at a time when there is a growing acknowledgement of the potential uses of cannabis and other previously illicit drugs in the development of new medicines. The stigma surrounding such substances is now being drowned by a plethora of new research advocating the use of some compounds and derivatives for the benefit of human health2. This was highlighted recently by Oxford University who announced a £10 million research programme to uncover the medical uses of cannabinoids3. This view is also supported by the growing research into psilocybin (the active ingredient in ‘magic mushrooms’) in and its medical uses, including that of a treatment option for depression4.

Future possibilities

Modern developments are encouraging to us at Alcarelle, who believe that science can play a transformative role towards a healthier society, if given the opportunity. Our goal is to create a non-alcoholic adult beverage and we are targeting compounds which would aim to mimic certain aspects of alcohol. The promised deal between Constellation Brands Inc. and Canopy Growth Corporation confirms our beliefs that when common sense prevails, the alcohol industry will become an important partner in the development of ‘Free-from Alcohol’ products. The alcohol industry in general will need to move with the changing times and see these alternatives for what they are, namely opportunities to provide better options for consumers who increasingly demand a healthier range of food and drink products.


1.Wall street journal Big Brewer Makes a Play for Marijuana Beverages Jennifer Maloney and David George-Cosh, 2017

2.Bilkei-Gorzo, A., Albayram, O., Draffehn, A., Michel, K., Piyanova, A., Oppenheimer, H., Dvir-Ginzberg, M., Rácz, I., Ulas, T., Imbeault, S. and Bab, I., 2017. A chronic low dose of [Delta] 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) restores cognitive function in old mice. Nature Medicine.

3.Oxford University

4.Robin L Carhart-Harris, Mark Bolstridge, James Rucker, Camilla M J Day, David Erritzoe, Mendel Kaelen, Michael Bloomfield, James A Rickard, Ben Forbes, Amanda Feilding, David Taylor, Steve Pilling, Valerie H Curran, David J Nutt, Psilocybin with psychological support for treatment-resistant depression: an open-label feasibility study, In The Lancet Psychiatry, Volume 3, Issue 7, 2016

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