You were out celebrating — it happens. Maybe you enjoyed a glass (or two) of wine and woke up with the telltale signs of a hangover: cotton mouth, slight dizziness and, um, rugged breath. But it’ll be OK. In fact, you may even relish the thought of recovering on your couch with a plate of fries and a greasy burger to “soak up the alcohol.”
But thanks to science, we can no longer indulge in this fantasy. It turns out the only way to avoid a hangover is to drink less alcohol. In a recent study, a group of international researchers from the Netherlands and Canada looked at the drinking habits of 789 Canadian university students to see what could be understood about the “morning after.”
“From what we know from the surveys so far, the only practical way to avoid a hangover is to drink less alcohol,” said the lead author of the study, Dr. Joris Verster, at the ECNP conference. “Those who took food or water showed a slight statistical improvement in how they felt over those who didn’t, but this didn’t really translate into a meaningful difference.”
The students were questioned about their drinking habits and the subsequent severity of their hangovers. Evidence for this came by way of calculating the estimated blood alcohol concentration in the students who reported experiencing hangovers, as opposed to those who didn’t.
Four-fifths of those who claimed to not experience hangovers had an estimated blood alcohol level of less than 0.10 per cent while partying — just slightly over the legal limit of 0.08 per cent for fully licensed drivers in Canada.
“The majority of those who in fact reported never having a hangover tended to drink less, perhaps less than they themselves thought would lead to a hangover,” said Verster.
According to Verster, these are early questionnaire-based studies and are one of the first of their kind. “This means they have limitations, but they do give us an indication of what happens. Our next step is to move forward with more controlled trials.”
Drinking in excess comes with a multitude of potential damaging consequences, and a hangover is kind of our body’s warning system to slow down (or stop) consuming alcohol. Without that horrible “morning-after” feeling, people may be more likely to continue drinking, so good research into the outcomes of drinking to excess is needed, says the study.