The TMS Booze Project Guide to Hangover Prevention & Cures

Hangovers...proof that there is a God, and he hates fun. The only foolproof way to prevent a hangover is to not drink in the first place. But "abstinence only" approaches are hardly realistic, and certainly aren't enjoyable.

There are thousands of folk remedies out there. Some work better than others, and some will just aggravate the condition. No single "cure" is going to completely wipe out your hangover, but there are many things that can lessen the symptoms enough so that you can be a productive & functional member of society the next day.

Try to prevent the impending hangover while you're still drinking. Stay hydrated while drinking and keep chugging water long after you had your last adult beverage. Also, if you can put off passing out, try to stay awake for an hour or two after your last drink. Drunk-Sleep isn't real sleep anyway, so if you can wait out the effects of alcohol, you'll get better rest even if you don't get as much.

Vomiting - Sometimes you can't help but throw up during a night of heavy drinking. However, if you know you've drank way too much, but not enough to vomit involuntarily, I suggest trying to induce it yourself. Hover over the toilet, think about dog turds, and let go of your stomach's contents. If you manage to throw up, you might be able to avoid a hangover entirely. At the very least, you won't feel as bad the next morning.

Chaser - Chaser doesn't claim to cure hangovers, but rather prevent them from happening in the first place. I've tried these little red pills on a few occasions and they actually work. The activated charcoal in Chaser absorbs the toxins in alcohol. Chaser will prevent the blinding headaches and mental fog, but it doesn't do anything for queasiness, fatigue or dehydration. The major drawback to Chaser is that you have to take them before you start drinking and follow up with more pills while you binge. During the height of drunken revelry, it's easy to forget to pop a magic pill.

Black Coffee - This much-touted cure is actually one of the worst things you can do to treat a hangover. Coffee is a diuretic, which means you'll feel more dehydrated in the long run. If you're queasy, coffee is only going to aggravate your stomach.

Painkillers - Aspirin, Tylenol, Advil, etc. are all bad choices. Although it might seem like a good idea to medicate your headache away, pills will do more damage to your liver & stomach. You've got enough to worry about without internal stomach bleeding or liver failure.

Sports drinks - Gatorade & Powerade contain too much sugar. Instead, opt for the low-calorie versions. Your best bet is actually Pedialyte, the stuff they give to children with diarrhea. It takes care of three of the worst symptoms of hangovers: dehydration, vitamin deficiency and lowered blood sugar.

Greasy Food - Food is essential for dealing with a bad hangover, and nothing works better than terribly unhealthy food. Pizza works fine, and there's often leftovers if you drank with a group of people the night before. Personally, I've had the best luck with greasy burritos from a hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles. The greasy food remedy is one of trial & error. Try experimenting and eventually you'll find the one that works best for you.

Bloody Mary - I've never tried any of the "hair of the dog" remedies myself, but I know a few people who swear by a Bloody Mary the morning after. Nobody seems to be able to adequately explain why adding more alcohol helps a hangover, but the Bloody Mary proponents can't all be wrong. The fruit juice contains hangover-fighting nutrients & fructose, both of which will help you feel better. Still, the day after drinking heavily, alcohol is the last thing I want to put into my body, followed closely by tomato juice. Be careful; you don't want to reek of alcohol when you finally stagger into work.

Trail Mix - I've discovered that a $1.50 bag of trail mix from 7 Eleven is one of the best hangover cures available. I don't claim to know why it works, but it does. Get the kind with nuts, raisins & chocolate and slowly snack away the effects of last night.

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