Five to nine

Have a drink.

November 03, 2004

Hangover's a bitch, huh?

When you started, you were imbibing very slowly, and then, as you picked up steam, and courage and confidence, it only seemed like more and more people were coming to your Party. It got easier to drink heavily, and you scolded the moderate drinkers for not caring as much as you did about the booze. You showed them what real commitment to the Party was by doing 3 shots and an ice luge, and some of them seemed to understand. But now, the party is over, it's the morning after and you feel like shit. All the wind is knocked out of your sails, and you want to vomit. You can't believe it's over. You wonder if there were any solutions or recipes you could have looked up before you got so into it. It seems the people suffering least from the hangover are the moderate drinkers. They had something else important to do the next day, and just sorta took it easy. They're gonna be fine.
The fact is, there's not a whole lot our scientists know about hangovers. Since throughout all of history, the hangovers have just been seen as just deserts for getting carried away, it hasn't occurred to a lot of doctors that how we react to a hangover might be a big factor in how we develop a tolerance and dependency on alcohol. Some unpopular theories claim that it is actually the first stage of alcohol withdrawal. More common, is a notion that it is a complicated combination of dehydration, malnourishment, and toxicity. Besides the obvious "stay away from booze" advice, there's a couple of things that can be done to head it off at the pass (the ancient Romans believed in fried canaries). Only a few have shown real statistically significant promise in the world of smart scientist people. First and foremost is the obvious, don't drink on an empty stomach. You should drink plenty of water with your booze, vitamins B, and prostaglandin inhibitors, like aspirin or ibuprofen during your party.
Failing this, the symptoms of a hangover vary greatly among the population based on a million factors of physiology, none of which I understand completely, and include Headache (the most common), sensitivity to light and sound, nausea (my least favorite), decreased cognitive functions (even after you don't feel sick), fatigue, diarrhea (eww), and in extreme cases, physical shaking.
By some -probably exaggerated- estimates, the loss to the american economy because of hangover related loss of productivity is about two grand per working adult per year. Most of this loss is, surprisingly, because of moderate, non-habitual drinkers. Drunks are more likely to be able to function close to capacity, even while hungover. So the lesson here is, if you want to avoid being counter-productive, when you start drinking, just don't ever stop.


At November 8, 2004 at 10:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hmm, I sense a metaphor... to extend it and provide additional scientific information, check out this post,, on a new study showing that, contrary to your last point, there IS hope for chronically immoderate drinkers - there's a huge burst in new brain cell growth after a couple weeks of abstinence after dependency. here's to moderation and new brain cells!

At November 30, 2004 at 10:15 AM, Blogger d. sloane said...

i thought i could avoid being counter-productive if i stopped reading blogs. it didn't work.


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