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Payback for a fun party: how to get rid of a hangover

26.08.2019 Author: Psychologist Pavel Khoroshutin

“I am 30. I will say right away that I do not often drink alcohol – only on family gatherings and with friends. I used to feel sick only after a lot of drinking. An ordinary hangover that goes away by the middle of the next day. I could keep drinking the whole night without serious consequences, my body quickly recovering. I had no problems working the next day, even if I only slept a few hours. Peppy, in excellent mood, without panda eyes.

But now I began to notice that the morning after the feast I feel terrible. I try to restrain myself, drinking a lot less than I used to. But even if I just drink beer in the evening, next morning I get a hangover and it lasts for a long time. I wake up in the middle of the night with a fast heartbeat, and then I can’t fall asleep for a long time. In the morning I feel tired and worn out – head hurting, feeling sick, eyelids swollen. I got even some kind of fear of alcohol. Maybe I should stop drinking altogether?”

– Irina, 30 

The next morning, after a wild and lengthy party, during which control over the amount of alcohol consumed is completely lost, a “retribution” inevitably sets in – a hangover. This is clear evidence that you have exceeded your “norm” of alcohol. At the same time, it’s not only people addicted to alcohol that suffer from a hangover, but also those who try not to drink a lot even on holidays. What unpleasant symptoms do you have to deal with? In the article, we will discuss some useful recommendations that will help get rid of a hangover.


Hangover or withdrawal symptoms?


Hangover is an intoxication of the body due to abuse of alcoholic beverages. This condition is accompanied by unpleasant physiological and psychological effects. [1]

The term “hangover” is often confused with “alcohol withdrawal syndrome”. But comparing these 2 conditions that occur after an active libation of alcohol is incorrect. So what kind of enemy do we have to fight?

The “usual” hangover in medicine is called veisalgia. This is a set of unpleasant symptoms that a person experiences after drinking the day before. A hangover can occur even after small doses of alcohol – it depends on the physiology of a particular person. Veisalgia is not among the detrimental effects of alcoholism. If you act correctly, you can quickly get rid of a hangover while removing physical and emotional discomfort. [2]

According to studies, getting rid of the “average” hangover takes up to 10 hours. It peaks at approximately 9:45 a.m. – your hands may shake, you have splitting headache and nausea. The data presented are based on the assumption that a person started drinking the night before, and finished maximum in the middle of the night.

But withdrawal syndrome occurs in people with already formed alcohol dependence at the 2nd and 3rd stages. In this case, alcohol “works” like a drug – it stimulates the production of the dopamine hormone, which is responsible for a good mood and a sharp increase in physical activity. When the flow of alcohol into the body ceases, the physical condition of the addict worsens. But if a person drinks at least some alcohol, all the unpleasant symptoms immediately cease. What is the danger of withdrawal symptoms in alcoholics? It provokes binges. The vicious circle drags you into the abyss of addiction: booze – hangover – booze. Both hangover and withdrawal syndrome are the result of an acute intoxication of the body, which places enormous strain on the heart. And this can be fatal. [2]

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Why people feel hangover

detoxification of the body

Excessive amounts of alcohol consumed are a huge stress for the body. It has to “fight” the poison –decay products of ethyl alcohol, for a long time after the party. Feeling unwell is compounded by the fact that drinking is usually accompanied by eating unhealthy food. It is also not easy for the body to cope with the breakdown products of sugary and fatty foods “drenched” with ethyl alcohol.

So what causes the unpleasant symptoms of a hangover?

  • Dehydration of the body, which only intensifies with nausea, diarrhea and active sweating. There is evidence that with each unit of alcohol, an additional 100 ml of liquid is removed from the body, in addition to directly consumed alcohol. Try to calculate how much fluid your body loses if you drink a liter of beer.
  • Alcohol irritates the mucous membranes of the stomach and intestines, which may trigger the development of the inflammatory process, and, accordingly, the appearance of unpleasant symptoms.
  • Vitamins and minerals necessary for active life are also “washed out” of the body together with the liquid.
  • Drinking alcohol in large quantities causes vasodilation, as well as impaired brain chemistry and hormones. This explains headaches and heart palpitations. [2]

British scientists have conducted an interesting study to find out at what age people have the hardest hangovers. It turned out to be 29. Feeling unwell is more related with established habits instead of state of health– a person believes that they can drink as much as they want, as in younger years, not even trying to control the amount of alcohol consumed. In the end, a severe hangover occurs, accompanied by a booze breath – it is difficult to get rid of these symptoms.

Symptoms of a hangover


“I am very worried about my husband. He seems to be drinking too much. No, he does not go into binges, but he is definitely close to this point.

Our children have already grown up, we have many friends. We have no reason to give up noisy gatherings among friends and colleagues. Naturally, alcohol flows like water. I can stop in time, because I know that in the morning I will be very sick. But my husband always drinks “to the last drop”. The next day, he literally can’t get up – he might not even go to work, that’s how bad he feels. My husband is literally shaking from a hangover. I already know what to do in such situations – I give him more water, force him to take a cold shower. But my spouse prefers another method – he drinks more. He immediately feels better. He can be “freshening the nip” the whole day after the feast. It doesn’t get him drunk again – he stays peppy and cheerful. It scares me”.

– Ekaterina, 35 

The body, removing poisons, works “to the max”, which is fraught with a huge strain on the liver, kidneys and heart system. Each of the factors in combination can be responsible for a rather impressive list of “hangover” symptoms:

  • general weakness;
  • bad breath;
  • dizziness;
  • headache;
  • high blood pressure;
  • increased body temperature;
  • rapid pulse;
  • dry mouth, intense thirst;
  • vomiting and diarrhea;
  • lack of appetite;
  • trembling hands;
  • swelling of the face and legs.

Scientists have many questions about the fact that when hangover many people experience an acute sense of anxiety, guilt and fear. Even if they did nothing wrong when they were drunk. There are many hypotheses that explain this condition. For example, R. Phillips, author of Alcohol: A History, believes that the resulting shame and guilt are dictated by social responsibility. In human mind, drunkenness is associated with immorality. It is wasted money, a headache in the morning and the possible negative consequences that others will suffer (aggression from the drinker, accidents while drunk driving). These thoughts depress the drinker, provoking an acute sense of guilt for yesterday. [3]

As a rule the duration of a hangover does not exceed a day. During this period the body removes toxins, if effective measures are taken. But with the withdrawal syndrome at the 2nd and 3rd stages of alcoholism, the addict cannot get rid of a severe hangover and nausea until they drink the next portion of alcohol. And all the symptoms in this case are more pronounced, because the state of health is aggravated by existing pathologies of the internal organs. Hands tremble significantly, body temperature rises by at least 1-2°C, diarrhea may not stop until the drinker suffers severe dehydration. [2]

Detoxification of the body: the first step to effectively get rid of a hangover

With veisalgia, the body itself removes toxins. But the natural process may be delayed. What to do with a hangover, if you need to quickly get back to normal in the morning? Help the body fight the poison. As long as the decay products of ethyl alcohol are present in the blood, you will not get rid of the symptoms of a hangover. Even bad breath will not go anywhere, no matter how much you brush your teeth.

It is believed that the “female” hangover is much harder than the “male” one. This can be explained by the fact that in a woman’s body there is less liquid and enzymes that break down the decay products of ethyl alcohol. As a result, with the same amount of alcohol drunk a woman feels all the “charms” of a hangover with much higher intensity – from a severe headache to ongoing nausea. [4]

At home you can use several methods of detoxifying the body to get rid of a severe hangover.

  1. Taking sorbents

An effective remedy for a hangover is taking sorbents. This is drug detoxification. Drugs absorb toxins like sponges, and then are naturally eliminated from the body.

Sorbents help get rid of nausea, constipation or diarrhea. If these are the only symptoms of a hangover, you can assume that you coped with the task. The most popular sorbent is activated carbon. But there are more modern drugs that “work” much faster.

You should never engage in self-medication, “experimenting” with the use of various sorbents! Consult a doctor. Only a specialist can correctly assess the degree of intoxication of the patient’s body and recommend suitable drugs to relieve unpleasant sensations in the stomach and intestines.

  1. Taking headache medications

If neither a dream nor a wholesome healthy meal saves you from a headache, you can take a pill. But pay attention – many drugs are not intended for use during an acute hangover. Be sure to read the instructions.

Since each headache remedy has its own mechanism of action, it is better to consult a doctor for recommendations on taking medications!

If you’re trying to remove a hangover with various drugs, don’t take them simultaneously with sorbents. They will absorb the active substances of the drugs, which means that there will be no effect from such therapy. According to doctors, the optimal treatment for a hangover is as follows: sorbents – bowel evacuation – taking medications for headache after 20-40 minutes. [3]

  1. Folk methods

You can speed up the detoxification of the body with folk methods without enemas and medications. But how effective these methods will turn out to be depends on the amount of alcohol drunk the day before. What can help with a hangover at home?

Honey shows an excellent result. Just a couple of spoons of this sweet product are enough to energize and cheer you up. You can also dilute honey in water. It is believed that the active substances in its composition are involved in the removal of decay products of ethyl alcohol.

To normalize the work of the gastrointestinal tract, you can drink 2 cups of kefir or ayran within a couple of hours. If you do not like it, eat sour cream or natural yogurt.

A little lemon juice, dissolved in drinking water, will speed up the metabolism and give a portion of vitamin C, so necessary for well-being.

But taking various tinctures and drinks that provide a tonic effect (Eleutherococcus or Echinacea, coffee, caffeine-based energy drinks) is not recommended. Because of a rapid heartbeat, which often accompanies a hangover, these drugs will do more harm than good.

With alcohol withdrawal syndrome, home methods of detoxifying the body will not be effective. They will help to get rid of a hangover after vodka and other alcoholic drinks for a short time, but the addict’s hand will very soon reach for a bottle of alcohol, since the addiction has already completely taken possession of the person. Only inpatient treatment under the supervision of a doctor is effective in eliminating the consequences of the binge. Droppers with saline solutions are actively used in medical institutions to quickly remove toxins from the patient’s body. Drugs that will help restore organs affected by excessive drinking are also prescribed.

Treatment of a severe hangover and, even more so, of withdrawal symptoms using dubious folk methods is a big risk. When in the throes of an acute intoxication by ethyl alcohol, a person may manifest epilepsy, even if this has never happened before. This is extremely dangerous. It is better to consult a doctor for recommendations on improving physical condition.

5 recommendations to relieve a severe hangover

No matter how much you want to drink something alcoholic in the morning to get rid of unpleasant symptoms, say “stop” to yourself. Take a break from alcohol; give the body the opportunity to recover properly.

So what to do with a severe hangover? Use the effective recommendations from doctors.

What to do?What for?What exactly needs to be done?
Take a cool shower Cheer up and freshen up;relieve minor swelling on the face, arms and legs;“boost” the body to remove toxins fasterStand under a cool shower for 3-5 minutes. Even this will give a long-awaited relief. The main thing is not to overdo it – the water should not be too cold, otherwise there is a risk to catch a cold in addition to the hangover.An alternative to a cool shower is contrasting one. Start the procedure with warm water, then change to cool. Do so several times. Duration – no more than 5 minutes
Apply a cold compress to your foreheadRelieve headache, as cold contributes to vasoconstrictionTake ice cubes or frozen vegetables, wrap them in a cotton cloth. Apply a compress to your forehead for at least for 15 minutes while in a horizontal position
Drink more Restore water balance in the bodyTo get rid of a hangover at home, drink a maximum of liquid the next day after a wild party. Let it be ordinary boiled water, green tea, natural juice without sugar. You can add honey or lemon juice. It is better to avoid black tea, sweet soft drinks and coffee altogether. Huge amount of cucumber pickle, so beloved by many during a hangover, is also not the best option, as it contains a lot of salt. You can drink a moderate amount of brine from sauerkraut – it contains a lot of vitamin C, which is necessary to restore the body. The volume of liquid should be at least 3 liters per day
Sleep moreRecover; relieve headacheSleep is the best medicine. If there is such an opportunity, get enough sleep after a wild night with plenty of alcohol.
Have a good meal Energizespeed up metabolism; improve the operation of the gastrointestinal tractEven if you feel a little sick, do not refuse breakfast. The food should be hearty, but not heavy. Reject sweet, starchy and fatty foods. But sour-milk drinks, cereals, stewed or fresh vegetables are welcome 

In a state of hangover, it is better to refrain from physical activity. It places a serious strain on the heart. The body is already actively struggling with the decay products of ethanol. Even if you are used to jogging in the mornings or doing exercises, rest on that day, postponing training for tomorrow.

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The desire to drink in the morning to alleviate severe symptoms of a hangover may mean the presence of withdrawal symptoms. At the initial stages, it is possible to fight alcoholism on your own, with the support of loved ones and developing willpower. But with serious dependence, it is difficult for patients to say no to their addiction. In this case, a hangover is just one of the symptoms of a serious illness.

When a hangover becomes a manifestation of withdrawal symptoms, behavioral psychology shows excellent effectiveness in combating a pathological behavior model. One of  the new techniques is 7Spsy behavior modification technique. This is a patented course based on the theories of I.P. Pavlov, B.F. Skinner, A.A. Ukhtomsky.

Passing this training will help you master a healthy behavior model – say a clear “no” to alcohol, even when you have hangover. As the addict gradually replaces negative behavioral attitudes with positive ones, it will become easier for them to “experience” withdrawal symptoms. They will learn to look for more rational ways to get rid of a hangover from vodka and other alcoholic drinks. This will serve as a reliable prevention of binges.

The 7Spsy behavior modification technique course is designed for up to 6 weeks. If you find it difficult to confess your problems to your relatives, you may not do it – the training takes place in strict confidentiality mode. The psychologist gives all the necessary consultations in a convenient remote way – by e-mail, in chat rooms and by phone.

Do not miss that moment when a hangover becomes more than a “side effect” of a reckless party. If control over the situation is lost, one will have to fight not with nausea and headache in the morning, but with a serious withdrawal syndrome – the main sign of alcoholism.


  1. «Bol’shaya medicinskaya enciklopediya diagnostiki. 4000 simptomov i sindromov», 2013 g., A. Lukovkina.
  2. «Klinika alkogolizma», 1971 g., A. A. Portnov.
  3. «Alcohol: A History», 2014 г., Rod Phillips.
  4. «Alkogolizm u zhenshchin», 1988 g., B. M. Guzikov.