BY: TED BARNABY
Imagine your drinking partner is a sober and disapproving elderly nun, and you’ve still only come close to the dissatisfaction of taking the recently released drug in the U.K. prescribed to take all the fun out of drinking. Fortunately, it also takes all the zip out of alcoholism.
The drug, Nalmefene, blocks the part of your brain that causes you to find pleasure in drinking. For alcohol abusers, the pill seems like a miracle cure. Test runs of the drug suggest that it can cut one’s alcohol consumption in half, or more. However there are skeptics who see it as an unnecessary medicating, proposing natural counselling as an alternative. The fear is a broad medication of the middle class. The idea of being beholden to a daily pill certainly isn’t attractive. But then again, neither is crippling alcoholism.
According to a survey from the National Health Service (NHS), more than a fourth of Britain’s population consumes enough alcohol to be detrimental to their health and wellbeing. As we all know, alcohol is a great source of crime, death, illness and terrible decisions. In 2012, there were 8,367 alcohol related deaths in the U.K. Advocates of the medication believe that these numbers could be drastically reduced with proper allocation of the drug.
If you’re a male who drinks more than three or four pints of beer a day, or a female who consumes the equivalent of a half bottle of wine a day, you probably qualify for a Nalmefene prescription. The cost of the medication is just over £3 a tab, which is already available in Scotland.
However, Matt Field, Professor of Psychology at Liverpool University contends that although the results have been positive, the drug has only been tested on subjects who already expressed an interest in reducing their alcohol consumption. This motivation, Field claims, is a key component of the medication’s success. He also talks about his concern with the pharmaceutical companies increasing “Mr. Fixit” persona, and the dangers of prescribing away the world’s problems in Brave New World fashion.
Quitting cold turkey is certainly a more cost effective method of alcohol reduction (£3 a tab? Shit, that’s nearly three tall-cans right there!). However when it comes to addiction, cold turkey is often a feat of extraordinary perseverance. A pill should never be one’s first option, but one could look at it the same as a nicotine patch or methadone prescription.