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How do I avoid a hangover?

Think Before You Drink


Hangovers are never fun, but they can be weakened with some forethought.

Hangovers are never fun, but they can be weakened with some forethought.

Mikkel William Nielsen / E+ / Getty Images

Before and throughout your night of drinking you can make some wise decisions that may lessen the effects of your misery the next day. Who knows, you may even avoid one completely, though the only way to guarantee that is to not drink alcohol at all.

Before you drink:

  • Eat: Fill your stomach with a healthy meal of starches and essential vitamins and minerals. The food will absorb the alcohol and lessen it's effects on you. If you decide a greasy bar burger or drippy pizza is your idea of a good meal you may regret that idea when the grease mixes the wrong way with liquor and carbonation and you end up staring at the toilet bowl later in the evening.
  • Hydrate: Drink a lot of fruit juice and water now. Think of it this way: for every glass of non-alcoholic beverage you drink now you will save yourself from having to drink two glasses in the morning to rehydrate.
  • Prep: Prepare your favorite hangover remedy and place it in an easy to open container in the fridge or next to your bed. If you do over indulge, the last thing you will want to do in the morning is gather ingredients, mix things and, worse yet, run the blender.
  • Prickly Pear: A clinical study from 2004 suggests that drinking prickly pear fruit extract several hours prior to drinking will reduce the symptoms of a hangover.
  • OTC Fixes: Try one of the many anti-hangover remedies found at convenience store registers and drug stores. I have heard good and bad things about these, but have never tried them personally.

While you drink:

  • Eat: Grab a bite to eat at the bar. This is when greasy fries would be okay to eat because it is a snack that will keep your stomach full and add extra material to absorb the alcohol. Bar peanuts, popcorn, or any type of food will do the job.
  • Quality: Choose the booze carefully. Again, dark spirits contain more congeners, light spirits fewer, cheap liquor more. More impurities equal more headaches. Stick with quality light color drinks most of the night to reduce your hangover.
  • Order of the Drink: Memorize this rhyme and abide by it, it may save you a lot of pain. "Liquor before beer, never fear. Beer before liquor, never sicker." Some will say that it is a myth, and that may be so, but remember that no matter which order you drink in, quantity is the biggest factor.
  • Alternate alcoholic with non-alcoholic beverages: This trick will slow your alcohol consumption down while giving you something to drink. Choose water, fruit juices or light carbonated beverages and drink one for every alcoholic drink you consume. If you are worried about what your friends may think, order a mocktail or dress up a straight virgin beverage with a garnish and lie. Call Sprite or 7-Up with a lime a Vodka Tonic or orange juice a Screwdriver or cranberry juice with a lime a Cape Codder. They are probably too drunk to know the difference and who cares anyway, you will feel so much better in the morning than they will, HA!
  • Consume less than one drink per hour: Your liver breaks down alcohol at the rate of one beer per hour, so spreading out your drinking over many hours will give your body a chance to keep up with you.
  • Before Bed: Once you make it home and before you crash on the bed, force yourself to drink a glass of water and take some Vitamin B. This is also not the time to take any headache medicine (Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, Aspirin) as they could seriously damage your liver.

Important: If you experience tremors, stomach pain, or see blood in your vomit seek professional medical attention IMMEDIATELY. You may have severely overdone it and should go to the emergency room right away.

How do I know if I have a hangover?
What causes a hangover?
How do I cure a hangover?
The Six Stages of Hangovers

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