Researchers have patented a drug that could produce some of ecstasy’s euphoric effects and at the same time limit the amount of alcohol people drink.

The compound was created by the drug designer behind mephedrone, a now widely banned substance that has caused at least one death and been implicated in 13 others in the UK. The man, referred to by his pseudonym, Dr Z, initially intended his creation to be sold as a legal high, ‘New Scientist’ reported.

But after having discussions with David Nutt, a psychopharmacologist at Imperial College London, he now plans to gift the patent to Nutt’s charitable research group DrugScience so that the drug may be used as a “binge mitigation agent”. The drug, named MEAI or 5-methoxy-2-aminoindane, may be taken at the start of a night out or even be added to each drink. So far no lab tests have been done on the substance, but Dr Z and about 40 other people have tried it.

According to Dr Z, there have been no serious problems, although one person didn’t enjoy the experience. The effects varied, but some of the experimenters reportedly lost the desire to drink. Several others said it made them feel euphoric. Nutt does not believe the drug’s ability to induce euphoria is necessarily an obstacle. There are other drugs that help people with alcohol problems to drink less or that act as a less harmful substitute, Nutt said.

But most cultures around the world use drugs for pleasure, so a drug like MEAI could be a “win-win” situation, Nutt said, acting both as a binge mitigator and providing some of its desirable effects.

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