Regretting the few extra cocktails you had last night? It all seemed fun at the time, hanging with friends and sharing some drinks, but your wallet and head may be hurting the next day.
Let’s get real: hangovers are no fun. You may be nursing a bad headache, the shakes, a stomach ache and feel plain terrible. Before you reach for some pain relievers and greasy food, here’s the truth: Nothing can prevent or cure a hangover. I know, sorry to be a Debbie Downer. You may think you’ve got the hangover cures figured out – pulling out all the tricks in the book – but if you drink too much, the only thing that can save you is time.
Here are 7 hangover myths you should stop believing.
Myth #1: Liquor before beer, in the clear. Beer before liquor, never sicker.
In your college days, you may have followed this old adage, but it is, and always will be, 100% untrue. The truth?
“Too much of any type of alcohol is dangerous,” said Maureen Roland, a registered nurse and managing director of the Banner Poison and Drug Information Center. “What is important is drinking in moderation, not the order in which you have them.”
While moderate amounts of drinking are fairly common, many people regularly abuse alcohol through binge drinking. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in six Americans binge drink about four times in a month, consuming about 7 drinks per binge. This can have a negative effect on your health and your wallet, as alcohol is not cheap.
“Alcohol poisoning and fatalities are some of the major things we see as a result of binge drinking,” Roland said.
So, stick to pacing yourself and drinking in moderation.
Myth #2: Pop pain relievers before bed.
Put down the bottle of pain reliever, Roland said. “As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t take any medication while drinking alcohol.”
Medicine, especially those containing acetaminophen like Tylenol®, can cause damage to your already overloaded liver when mixed with alcohol and are also stomach irritants. Instead, Roland advises to wait until you wake in the morning to take any sort of pain medication.
Myth #3: Hair of the dog.
Although having a Bloody Mary the next morning after a crazy night of drinking may seem to help at first, you are only delaying your misery. The truth is that more alcohol in the morning will only further dehydrate you.
“You still have somewhat of a blood alcohol level in the morning—your body is still trying to process it,” Roland said. “It will only delay your symptoms and possibly make you feel worse.”
Myth #4: Sleep it off.
The last thing you may want to do the next morning is hop out of bed and get moving. But, it’s actually the best thing for you to do. Alcohol leaves your body in two ways: urine and breath. So, get up and walk, jog and drink lots of water.
Roland adds, if you drank heavily, wait to sober up a little before drifting off to sleep. “Alcohol continues to absorb as you sleep, raising your blood alcohol levels. If you are with someone and they pass out or go to sleep, watch them. They are at a high risk for aspirating.”
According to the CDC, on average, six people die a day from alcohol poisoning.
Myth #5: Eat bread to soak up the alcohol.
Sorry, bread is not a sponge, but it doesn’t hurt to eat something before and while you’re drinking. Having food in your stomach will slow the absorption of alcohol into your bloodstream, but it won’t help much after a night of heavy drinking. And, you may regret eating that burger and cheese fries the next morning.
Myth #6: Pounding water
“Alcohol does dehydrate you, but drinking a ton of water after a night of drinking won’t do much,” Roland said. “In fact, drinking too much water can be toxic.”
Instead, have a glass of water in between drinks. It’s not going to be a cure-all, but it can slow down and reduce your overall alcohol consumption.
Myth #7: Throwing up
This is totally counterproductive. Although you may puke up the fluids and anything else you’ve ingested that evening, your body has already absorbed the alcohol, and you will only further dehydrate yourself. Not to mention, it is unhealthy and dangerous to force it out of you, Roland said.
Overall takeaway? There’s no magic cure to help prevent a hangover besides pacing yourself and drinking less. This may be a buzzkill, but guaranteed, you won’t hate yourself in the morning.
If you are concerned you may have a drinking problem, speak with your medical provider or a reach out to a substance abuse center. Even if your alcohol use hasn’t become unhealthy, we’re here to help and support you at every step along the way.