To which I go "Hmm.."
The first question I asked myself was "If I could enjoy alcohol as a mind-altering substance without having to force myself to drink something that tastes like petrol to me, would I be interested?" And I think the answer is still no. I don't really enjoy the effects of alcohol - I get a bit tiddly which feels nice, but the effect only lasts for 45 minutes or so, and then I find myself going into a bit of a funk, which is often still present the next morning. I don't generally drink enough to get a hangover, because while feeling mildly tiddly is quite nice, I don't enjoy getting drunk - the lack of control over the volume of my voice, the slurred speech, the accidentally knocking things over - alcohol makes me feel dumb, and for me, a non-drinker, the line between 'nice' and 'feeling dumb' is approximately one standard drink.
And 45 minutes of 'nice' is not worth several hours of 'funk'* in the cost/benefit analysis. So for me, no. The change of format in administration of the substance would not encourage me to use it. I might try it for shits and giggles, but seriously if it's the alcohol itself and its effects I don't like, then guzzling drinks or taking a pill isn't going to make much of a difference.
So what about people who do enjoy the effects of alcohol? That's most people from what I understand. Is putting it in pills a good thing for those people? I'm in two minds. I can definitely see advantages in pills in terms of dosage rates. The 'standard drink' is a rough guide to dose rate, but as we know, body size, whether or not you've eaten, gender, and a bunch of other factors affect the absorption rate of alcohol, and a 'glass' or a 'nip' is often a widely varied measure. So using a pill with a precisely measured dose may make it possible for people to judge their dose rate much better. Theoretically you could go "I am a 60kg woman and I'd like to be mildly tiddly for 6 hours. For that I'll need 4 pills and take one every 1.5 hours." Which, I think, is quite a sensible approach to alcohol consumption, and could be beneficial for those who have trouble judging these things.
It would also remove the problem of waitstaff constantly filling your glass so you don't know how much you've had, and the tendency to drink faster or more because you're thirsty or it tastes nice. Coupled with this, and importantly from my perspective, it would force people to be honest about why they are doing it. Drinking a drink could have lots of motivating factors - to be social, for the taste, because you're thirsty, it's nice with dinner, etc. Taking a pill only has one motivation - to experience the mind-altering effects. I think consuming alcohol in pill form may open some eyes as to alcohol's status as a drug, and I think that's a good thing.
On the other side, can you imagine someone buying a night's worth of pills and dissolving them in their rum and coke? Yikes. And of course once you've taken a pill, you're on the ride for the duration. So if someone were to be stupid with it and take several pills at once, they could get themselves in trouble in a big way. This is one of the things where alcohol when compared with other drugs is IMO a lot more dangerous - the short duration of its effects mean that one keeps redosing (be that by drink or pill) and one measured dose is not going to be enough to maintain the alcohol headspace for a whole evening out. So selling alcohol in one pill for one night out and thus ensuring people don't overdo it, is an impossibility at this point.
Also, I can't see alcoholic drinks ever going out of vogue to be replaced by pills - and if there are both available, the chance of people mixing them together to 'fortify' their drinks is quite high. And the chance of people dosing before going out and then adding to it with drinks is also quite high.
So again I go "hmmm.."
In other news, a study has found that alcohol makes men more aggressive. "Well duh" I hear you all say. But the thing I find interesting about this is that when I was studying for my last Crim exam, I touched on this topic for the essay question "Does alcohol cause crime?" and found another, similar study, in which they'd used four groups of people.
1. People were told they'd be given alcohol and were given alcohol.
2. People were told they'd be given alcohol and were given tonic.
3. People were told they'd be given tonic and were given alcohol.
4. People were told they'd be given tonic and were given tonic.
They then did one of those tests where the subject was given a choice of level of punishment to inflict on a person for wrong answers on a test. What they found was that the people who had been told they had had alcohol were consistently more aggressive than those that had been told they'd had tonic, regardless of whether they'd actually had alcohol or not. This suggests that at least some of the aggression related to alcohol is about the expectations around how alcohol will affect people.
To me, this is borne out by the number of people I know who do not become noticeably more aggressive under the influence of alcohol. I think it's unfair to make a blanket statement about how alcohol affects people, the same as with any other drug - so much of what happens with the use of mind-altering substances happens in, well.. the mind.. that what's inside someone's head HAS to have a large bearing on how they respond to it.
So yeah, I'm not sure how I feel about that study. And I'll still leave if you're drinking and you get to a point of drunkenness where my triggers are being hit - which is probably a very long way before anyone swings a punch.
I'll be a bit late to Fidels tonight as I have to go get my car out of car-hospital. $570 later *ouch*
Also, we survived the work dinner! Flight of the Conchords ripoff band, extremely devout workmate crossing herself and all. Work gave me two hats, a coffee cup and a pen for Christmas. They have the company logo on them. And I so wanted a pony..
* Unless of course the funk involves James Brown but that seems unlikely.