There’s an old saying that if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is, and that was my reaction to the idea of a safe alcohol substitute that avoids drunkenness and hangovers:

The synthetic alcohol, being developed from chemicals related to Valium, works like alcohol on nerves in the brain that provide a feeling of wellbeing and relaxation.

I’d second Glenn Reynolds, who says “Faster, please,” except I suspect that this is one of those substances which might be developed, but which will never be approved.
Substances that make you feel good are bad enough, but a drug that makes you feel good without negative consequences? Forget it. I hate to sound overly cynical, but I think that what William S. Burroughs said about the anti-drug mentality applies:

The idea that anyone can use drugs and escape a horrible fate is anathema to these idiots.

I think it’s worth noting that the guy who’s trying to develop the new alcohol was fired for questioning the very mindset of which Burroughs complained:

The new alcohol is being developed by a team at Imperial College London, led by Professor David Nutt, Britain’s top drugs expert who was recently sacked as a government adviser for his comments about cannabis and ecstasy.
He envisions a world in which people could drink without getting drunk, he said.
No matter how many glasses they had, they would remain in that pleasant state of mild inebriation and at the end of an evening out, revellers could pop a sober-up pill that would let them drive home.

Sounds good to me, but then, I don’t run the FDA. There would be countless hurdles, and the biggest one would be the moral hurdle: any drug that would make you feel good without being harmful would be seen by many as the epitome of evil.

“No one’s ever tried targeting this before, possibly because it will be so hard to get it past the regulators.
“Most of the benzos are controlled under the Medicines Act. The law gives a privileged position to alcohol, which has been around for 3,000 years. But why not use advances in pharmacology to find something safer and better?”
Getting the drug approved could be hard for the team as clinical trials are expensive, and it is not clear who would pay for them, according to Professor Nutt.
He said that the traditional drinks industry has not shown any interest, however some countries might be persuaded to sponsor the team.

The moralists would of course get an assist from conspiracy theorists, who could be expected to evoke the usual Brave New World analogies.
But the main objection is simply that it is immoral to get high, and immoral to alleviate emotional pain. What has never been clear to me is why it isn’t immoral to alleviate physical pain. While I understand the idea that “weakness” is less than admirable (and therefore enduring pain is virtuous), the drawing of a moral line between physical and emotional pain seems rather arbitrary. Given the choice, many would prefer physical pain to emotional pain, yet it’s OK to chemically alter perceptions of the former, but not the latter.
Morality can be such a pain. Especially when pain is morality.