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What Are the Best Things to Do When You're Hung Over

Christopher Peruzzi was the creator of Vikar's Rant back in the early 2000s. It was a site for rants and jokes. He has since calmed down.

You’re feeling mighty low

The essence of a hangover

The essence of a hangover

Okay, you’ve done it again, haven’t you?

In a moment of recklessness, you decided that you’d drink with your old college drinking buddy and have woken up the next day with a hangover. The hangover you have is one of those that you would not wish on the bully who took your milk money when you were in grammar school – the same guy who introduced you to the concept of a “swirley”.

No, your humanity has gotten the best of you and you know that this pain is yours and it’s well deserved. You own it.

So, what are you feeling?

Most of us upon overindulging get the classics: headache, stomach ache, dry mouth, sweats, body odor, bad breath, sensitivity to light, ultrasonic hearing, and eyes that are so bloodshot they look like a roadmap of Hudson County, NJ. If you’re lucky you won’t be vomiting. Although, if you do, it’s not the worst thing in the world – your body is just trying to reset itself.

After all, what you’ve done is poisoned yourself in favor for the euphoria of being drunk. Believe it or not alcohol is a poison. When you take it in excess, your body does its level best to purge the poison from your system. It doesn’t care how. That means it will come out your sweat pores, your pee, and, unfortunately sometimes, your mouth.

The Best Strategy

Water is for hydration

Water is for hydration

The best strategy to getting over a hangover is to not get one in the first place.

What do I mean by that? Well, what I don’t mean is “don’t drink” – although that works, too. Not drinking is a great way to avoid a hangover. There are hundreds of thousands of people in AA that would agree with that statement. No drinking means no hangover – period.

But let’s be real. Unless you’re predisposed to alcoholism, part of a temperance movement, a teetotaler, or have serious health concerns that keep you from drinking, you are going to have a drink. While I fully endorse and support people who have decided to not indulge in drinking, I see nothing wrong with having a few to be sociable.

So if you drink, this is what you should do to avoid a hangover.

  • Eat something. Preferably something bready, like pizza or a sub. The bread will act a bit like a sponge in your system and offset any alcohol you drink. Also, if you do happen to get sick from drinking, it’s good to have something come up. There is nothing worse than the dry heaves.
  • Hydrate. For every two beers drink one glass of water. Trust me, it works. Don’t ask me the chemistry behind this. It’s more on the lines that you’re diluting the toxins in you.
  • Have a limit and know when to say “when”. I know, it takes all of the fun out of drinking. I find that if you can limit the amount of drinks you have to a “reasonable” number, you are less likely to suffer for it. You should also pay attention to your body.

Although I confess that I have another little trick which is called “the little voice”. No, I’m not a schizoid. I believe that everyone has “a little voice”. This is the voice that says, “It’s time to switch to coke, now.” At the very least, it should be telling you, “Stop drinking now.” At the very worst, mine tells me, “If you have one more drink, YOU WILL BE SICK.”

If you don’t have a little voice, it’s essentially the act of listening to your body. You have to learn to pay attention. If you develop the talent and honesty to recognize that you are out of control or have drank too much, it will serve you well. If you don’t feel comfortable with that tactic, go with the first three suggestions: set limits and make preparations.

When it’s too late

Waking up is the hardest part

Waking up is the hardest part

Ooops. Someone didn’t listen.

You’ve woken up with your head on fire and you want to cry in your coffee. You can now hear snails crawl. The worst hangover I ever had I could hear a hair that was growing on the edge of my ear that was scratching my pillow in time to my pulse.

Scotch is a mean mistress.

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As I said earlier, sometimes you’ll be praying to the porcelain altar. All I can say, is that when it happens, you rarely have any say in the matter. That’s when my “little voice” says to me, “If you run to the toilet RIGHT NOW, you just might make it.”

Don’t ignore the little voice.

Okay, now that I have your complete attention, here are some rules of thumb:

If you remember to do this before you fall asleep (in your drunken stupor), take two ibuprofen and keep a large bottle of water by your bed. Should you wake up dehydrated in the middle of the night – which is highly probable – drink as much water as your body tells you. If you need more water then get some.

Upon waking, if you still have a headache, take more pain relievers.

Shower. Please, please shower – for all of us. You are detoxing. The alcohol is coming out of your pores. Wash it off. Use a good deodorant soap. Take as long as you need in the shower. It will help you.

If you are a health coach, you will hate what I have to say next. But then again, a health coach would have told you not to drink in the first place. “Eat what you need to eat.” Your body will tell you what it needs. If it needs greasy food, “grease” is the word, baby. If you need coffee, drink coffee. Your body will most likely crave food that it needs to recover.

Drink water. Yes, your body will definitely need to hydrate again. If you didn’t listen to me the night before, you’ll need to listen to me today. Drink water. Water, in addition to rehydrating your body will flush all of the toxins you had the night before. It will also help you with any kind of perspiration problem you’re having.

If you can, rest. Let me remind you, you’ve poisoned yourself. You need to recover. Your body is crying for rest and, probably, for sleep. This will depend on how much you drank, how old you are, and what your general health is like. I find that the younger you are, the quicker you’ll be to bounce back. For people my age and constitution, recovery is measured in days not in hours.

Final Words

Drinking is a recreational activity. There are very few things that make drinking a mandatory course of action. No one has to drink.

Part of being an adult is acting like one. You have to take responsibility for your actions. While I will be the first person to tell you that it’s okay to cut loose and have a drink to relieve stress, I’ll also be the first one to tell you that it’s important to get your priorities in life straight.

The real price for drinking is the hangover. Hangovers should hurt. Alcohol is bad for you. You know it. Your body knows it. But everything should be done with a sense of moderation. Drinking for me is an exercise to see how well I can listen to my own body. We all have to develop our own personal barometers on how we are and what we need to do as adults. If you have an interview in the morning, it’s irresponsible to drink the night before.

But, if you’re hanging out with the guys and you have no plans the next day – go for it.

Here’s an unofficial rule we used to have at my old job. First of all, if you’re stupid enough to drink on any night other than Friday or Saturday, you deserve what you get. If you’ve also decided to drink with your coworkers, it is your honor bound duty to show up to work the next day.

Yes, you heard me.

If you don’t, at least, show up to work, they will all know that you are a weak, pitiful excuse for a human being that irresponsibly drank more than he should have and decided that work was not important enough. Of course, if you had already planned on taking off and had gotten the time to do so, that’s a different story. The rule is that if you drink on a working night, you better by hell or high water show up to work the next day. You can go home sick… but you have to show up.

If you’re going to play with the adults, you better be able to work with them as well.

© 2012 Christopher Peruzzi


Christopher Peruzzi (author) from Freehold, NJ on March 18, 2013:

A rise in traffic for this article the day after Saint Patrick's Day...

Oh, you poor, poor, pathetic bastards.

Linda Chechar from Arizona on August 28, 2012:

Sage advice. Wish I'd known about it 30 years ago! ;)

Christopher Peruzzi (author) from Freehold, NJ on August 28, 2012:

Yeah, usually the hungover person is the last person to know "he offends".

Kristi Sharp from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on August 28, 2012:

Fantastic hub! I love that you include the advice of showering. One of my best guy friends in college, who was in many of the same courses I was in, reeked of beer nearly every day. Of course, we sat next to each other because we were great pals but whoah! He stunk! Love this hub! Voted awesome and up. -K

Christopher Peruzzi (author) from Freehold, NJ on August 28, 2012:

Better than "plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is?" :)

Tara Carbery from Cheshire, UK on August 28, 2012:

A sensible yet humorous guide to a problem experienced by many!

Christopher Peruzzi (author) from Freehold, NJ on August 26, 2012:

Yeah, that's bad.

Normally, I'm not clear on the whole good/bad thing. But that... that's bad. Important safety tip. This actually is going back to the aforementioned "sweet drinks" phase of things. The overabundance of sugar and alcohol have a very pronounced effect on the human anatomy. There is also the danger that presents itself with any kind of a red wine hangover. This includes red, merlot, Cabernets, and the sangrias.

Hopefully, this was a lesson learned.

Lawrence Da-vid on August 25, 2012:

I have had only 1 first class hangover period. A couple of close calls, but only one terlet hugging hangover. A group of us from a war college in California decided to visit a winery in NAPA area. A hot day, a sample was made of a fruit wine that was from strawberries. A well chilled texas fifth of the stuff. I remember the first few drinks of the stuff that tasted like a strawberry Nehi. After that, apparently my brain went into oblivion. The next morning, I awoke outside of our motel. Not only outside, but underneath of an old decorator wagon minus horses. Not only underneath, but wrapped around that bottle of wine, hungup in limitations around one of the wooden wheels. A mind numbing throb between my eyes. My tongue was asleep.....the rest of my mouth tasted like something scraped off the bottom of a tug's bilge. An ant tripping over a grain of sand created such a head! Fortunately, a hefty snort (not a drug snort) of that wine and I returned to normalcy, whatever that was. A vow was made at that precise moment, to avoid such a feeling. Worse than the flu.....worse than being seasick......worse than a combination of the two along with Montezuma's revenge.

Christopher Peruzzi (author) from Freehold, NJ on August 24, 2012:

Once I saw it, I pictured the little man that causes chaos in my head during every hangover I ever had. I remember one post corporate Christmas Party morning (Corporations are cruel to run a Christmas Party on a Wednesday) where I was quite hungover. I could easily picture that little man in my head flipping down a long row of power switches to shut me down on my bus commute back to the office. My body shut down as it was still detoxing.

James Dusenbery from colorado springs on August 24, 2012:

I love that image, really sums up how I feel when I'm hungover.

Christopher Peruzzi (author) from Freehold, NJ on August 24, 2012:

I'm glad you liked it amanthkro1.

Although, I have to amend one thing on the article that sobrien had posted. A cardinal rule to avoid a hangover is to avoid SWEET DRINKS. These include: Sex on the Beach, Alabama Slammers, Pina Coladas, and everything in the daiquiri and margarita families. They are notoriously bad for making a vicious headache prominent hangover (it's like having a stake lodged in between your eyes).

I know they taste good and make you feel extra wasted - but it's a bad call if you want to avoid a terrible hangover.

Aman Thakur from India on August 24, 2012:

This is really a superb hub for all those who are constant sufferer of hangovers. Your hub is written with full of remedies along with an ethical guide on how and when to drink?

Voted up and shared with followers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

Christopher Peruzzi (author) from Freehold, NJ on August 23, 2012:

I forgot the sweet drinks... A hangover magnet.

Sharon O'Brien on August 23, 2012:

Excellent advice. I would add that if you are drinking, try to avoid sweet drinks. They can sneak up on you, and give you one mean headache. Beer or wine is preferable to mixed drinks. And the darker the beer, the better. Guinness is a good choice. If you must drink mixed drinks, try a vodka tonic. It is low in sugar and is pretty clean.

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