Sunday Morning Coming Down
You've been there before: sitting silently with your thoughts while something (perhaps a demon) takes control of your arm and hoists another drink to your already liquor-lubed lips. You're in a pleasant place -- a nicely buzzed state of mind -- but you can't seem to let it be and give your kindly kidneys or loving liver a rest. Your chemically altered euphoria heads up the pass to a plush field of slurred speech, your walk is replaced by a teetering stumble, and soon enough the morning after is kicking your teeth in with its blindingly cheery sunrise.
Taking those last few past-your-limit drinks is the mental equivalent of putting your hand to the fire. According to studies, we do it over and over again despite the end result because alcohol gives a day off to the little wheel-turning gerbil in our brain that tells us when enough is enough. And lots of those gerbils will be on holiday this Friday.
Fortunately, American entrepreneurial spirit has come up with several products to ease the pain for those of us who have a hard time learning what should be an easy lesson.
Unfortunately, none of them is FDA-approved, and most are sold in gas stations and convenience stores -- where they snuggle up next to cash-register companions such as horny goat weed, pills to turn a soft dick hard and 101 dumbed-down ephedra substitutes for those too poor or too scared to give the old Colombian booger sugar a taste.
Do they work? I enlisted several of my friends (I have some!) to put them to the test.
Getting them to sign on to the experiment was no easy task.
The pitch: Let's drink enough booze to guarantee we get sick. Only one female (I know one!) agreed to the terms. Several males signed on, albeit with reservations.
We tested both the higher and lower ends of pills on the market. Chaser-Plus is available behind the counter at your local pharmacy. It will run you roughly $7 for a box of ten. Buzz, on the other hand, is available anywhere petrol is sold and can be yours for under a buck. A B-complex vitamin was also on the menu.
Dana Sangerhausen. Sex: F, age: 27, weight: 130
Dana had six drinks, which included two beers, two shots of low-grade tequila (Tortilla Gold), one vodka and Red Bull, and one rum and Coke.
Dana, being the lone female, was rewarded in kind -- she took the fancy Chaser-Plus. The directions (two caplets with first drink -- two more after four to six drinks) were strictly adhered to. Dana felt slightly nauseated the morning after and puked a good deal on the steps of my porch.
Todd Barnett. Sex: M, age: 26, weight: 160
Todd took a B-complex vitamin. He had seven beers, "several" rum and Cokes, and three shots of Tortilla Gold. He "didn't feel good" in the morning but figures it would have been worse had he not taken the vitamin. He did, however, complain of the odor given off the B-complex, which he described as "hot green beans and ass."
Shawn Adolph. Sex: M, age: 30, weight: 145
Shawn gave his tiny frame a run for its money. Several shots of Tortilla Gold were chased by beer. He had a few shots of whiskey and doesn't remember drinking straight out of a bottle of vodka even though I saw it with my own eyes. He had vodka mixed with Kool-Aid before engaging in the experiment. Buzz wasn't able to help him. He felt "awful" in the morning. The next night he still had a "pretty nasty headache."
The Buzz tablets made him more ornery than usual as well. He told longtime friend Scott that his very expensive new navy blue coat looked like "a woman's jacket."
Shawn puked twice -- once in the bushes, once in the bathroom.
Scott Barnett. Sex: M, age: 27, weight: 200
Scott, like Shawn, was a Buzz man. He was the most ardent in the Hangover Exercise, stating many times, "If we're going to do this, we should do it right!" Ten beers were consumed, along with half the bottle of Tortilla Gold and shots of straight vodka. He paid dearly for his arduous work -- blacking out on his bed and waking up in a puddle of his own sick. Surprisingly, he had only a "slight" hangover and felt it would have been worse had he not been aboard the Buzz boat.
Buzz seemed to up the testosterone coursing through Scott's balls too, however, as he threatened to break good friend Shawn's gonzo-ass nose after Adolph's unfortunate coat comment. This thing was supposed to be a scientific experiment, and it ended up being some kind of tribal ritual drinking session
Brian McManus. Sex: M, age: old, weight: fat
I, like Dana, had Chaser-Plus. (I also had about eight beers, six of which were tallboys, three rum and Cokes, and a few shots of tequila. It was gross.) I was able to convince the others that I deserved the expensive hangover medicine because I'd need to remember everything and write about it coherently the next day. That didn't happen. The head full of fog I'd accumulated didn't subside until late the next afternoon. I, too, feel the hangover would have been worse had I not spent the time and effort it took to take six caplets while drinking.
But the truth is, it didn't help much. A couple of days later, Mike Allegrino, pharmacist at Texas Children's Hospital, tells me that he doesn't put much stock in medication strictly devised to prevent hangovers.
As for the B-complex -- turns out that's not too far off the mark. Part of the reason hangovers feel so awful, he informs me, is because your body has completely pissed out all traces of B vitamin, which leaves you malnourished. He suggests taking a B-complex after your night of drinking has ended, just before bed -- replacing what you've left in the toilet. Todd, it turns out, never had a chance.
"Take a B-complex, a couple Excedrin and a glass of water," says Allegrino. "You'll wake up feeling like a rock star."
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