It's a frightening moment when you realize that you're closer to 30 than 20. For me, it wasn't a simple number that made me realize I was hitting this milestone but the arrival of a foe I've long heard about. It was the moment when I realized I had graduated from lil' baby hangovers into the era of world-enders.
Essentially, when you hit a certain age, your hangovers will become Death, the destroyer of worlds.
Unlike a few years ago, where I could bounce back immediately after a big night, I now get fuck-your-week-up, a circle pit is stomping around in my head while a Norwegian black metal band is doing weird murdery stuff in my stomach hangovers. For years now, I have been waging a two-front war on my body. I'll go out and get just right polluted—beckoning one of these bastards to come mess up my whole weekend or the rare(ish) workday—and then I'll try some sort of bullshit to solve it. I haven't learned much along the way but I've picked up a couple tricks.
Now, there is a massive industry out there wanting to sell you a cure for your hangover and, on the other end of the spectrum, there are the tried methods we've used for years to exorcise those sweaty hangover demons from our bodies. I decided to see what will cure what ails ya better: DIY cures or the ones offered by the free-market. So, without further ado, here is what I've learned during my time fighting hangovers.
OK, so because we live in a dystopian future, for the right price you can hook yourself up to an IV and fill your veins up with goodness. You can even order this service to you home in some cities for a little over a hundred bucks.
Ever since I've been a writer, I've pretty much never had a hundred bucks to just toss towards a hangover cure, so ordering this treat for myself wasn't an option. That said, I was lucky enough to try the second best option—a paramedic friend with loose morals.
I'm going to keep the details light, but a few years ago I went out for a bender with a paramedic buddy. After peeling our sorry asses off the floor of a mutual friend's house, he was able to get his hands on some sweet, sweet saline solutions. So, we took a seat in a park on foldable lawn chairs, he hooked us up to IVs and we let the slow drips do their work. And you know what, it worked.
It could have been a placebo effect from, you know, having a needle in my arm and all that but it felt like the hangover just slipped away. I still felt like a piece of shit but I felt like a remarkable better piece of shit. That said, unless you're an insane person you can easily see how extreme this is as a treatment.
There is a company in Toronto called Sleep Envie who offers a "hangover mattress," and, while I was wary of the idea a mattress is the thing to defeat a hangover, I was in the market for a new one and I decided to take the jump. Here is how they described their invention: "through the use of cooling gel tech memory foam, it cools down your body temperature after you crash so you don't get even more dehydrated over night. Imagine your entire bed is the cold side of the pillow."
Sounds great right?
Upon receiving the space age tech, I went out, got into a fair bit of whiskey and scotch and put my ass right to sleep. For the first few minutes I was in cool heaven—it felt, as they said, like the cool side of the pillow—but after a while it slowly starts feeling gross and sweaty. It, in all honesty, kind of felt like when you wake up in the morning of a heat wave—all sweaty and shit. Regardless, the thing is comfy as all hell and I passed out in short order. So, how did I feel in the morning?
The answer is not good—not good at all. Look, we all know you can't fight the world-ender's powers with a simple mattress. That said, you can sure as hell reduce the fatigue which can compound the effects of a hangover—which while not winning the war here, at least you're winning one battle.
Hangover pills (which I am now convinced were simply dick pills)
Yeah... I fucked this one up.
I recently had a good friend visit me in Toronto. He had gotten some good news about work so we went out hard, as you do. We had heard tales of the almighty hangover pills earlier in the day, and this story was already in the works, so at the end of evening we found ourselves at a convenience store asking for the pills.
Long story short, we were so drunk that when we tried to get the pills the guy either decided to fuck with us—or we were so sloppy he couldn't understand us—and in the end I'm pretty sure he gave us dick pills™ not the hangover pills.
Anyhoo, I can safely report that PapaZen does not help with hangovers.
Charcoal tablets (or whatever trendy bullshit is happening this year)
No thanks. Next.
Hair of the dog
The tried and true method of winos worldwide—drinking what fucked you up the night before to lessen the effects of the hangover. Essentially, the idea (which is almost certainly bullshit) is that some people during hangovers are going through minor alcohol withdrawal and by having a drink they normalize themselves. I still use this from time to time and my go to is the pride of Calgary, Alberta: the Caesar.
I don't know if it works or I just like clamato juice but this never fails to makes me feel marginally better.
Let me perfectly blunt here. Pho is my ambrosia, it is the closest my lips have ever gotten to the nectar of the gods. This will straight up save you some days. No one (read as I didn't do research) knows why this soup is such a mighty tool in the fight against world-enders but it is. If you're like me and your hangover includes the feeling of a cement mixer in your tum-tum, this is your best bet.
Just getting drunk again
I… uh… I don't recommend this one.
Now, full disclosure, as I stated earlier, I'm closer to 30 than I am 20, so what I'm saying here is that this isn't one I could try this summer. When I'm hungover these days, I can barely look at liquor—other than the aforementioned Caesars—let alone get drunk in the morning again. So, take my hand dear reader, as we're going back in time to when Mack was 19.
When I was 19 I lived in a shithole with five other guys in the wonderful little town of Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta. I didn't have a room in the house so I lived in a corner which I put up plywood around for privacy but that's a story for another time. What we're here to talk about is one of the guys—an amazing dude in all respects—who would, when awakening to a hangover immediately start slurping down Captain Morgan's—we drank that shitty rum like water in the house. Unlike hair of the dog, which is just typically a drink or two, this guy would be fucking sloshed by eleven in the morning and keep it going in an attempt to push back the hangover to the next day.
When he finally had to stop drinking (Monday morning) he would be hit by the cumulative total of these hangovers. I'm pretty sure he lost a job because of this and was dangerously close to developing an alcohol addiction, which is no joke.
Don't do it.
Existential crisis (couch and Netflix)
This is probably how the majority of us deal with hangovers. During this cure you will find yourself lying on your couch in your gonch the day after a big night out, actively shunning the light like a gin-soaked Salem's Lot character. You've surrounded yourself with Gatorade, snacks, take-out, and depression. In front of you is Netflix playing a show—or all of Lord of the Rings—and you lie in a comatose state. Earlier you went through your phone and deleted all the fucked up tweets you sent the night before and hope beyond hope that important people didn't see how stupid you are (they did.)
You will go through a crisis of sorts while lying here: Why do I do this to myself? Is this what I have to do to have people like me? Why did I move to Toronto? Why did I leave the trades for a career in media, what the fuck is wrong with me!?!
Soon though, you'll feel better because you will realize that you can use this hangover for content at your work.
Vomiting in the morning
I won't lie, I'm a puker. We all know one, that guy or gal who will stumble to the washroom if a shot hits them in the wrong way. I've reeled it in in the last few years but, some days, you'll find me in the bar looking super aggro by hitting my chest, which, in reality, is a shoddy attempt to knock that pukey feeling out of my body. Back in my bush party days I used to have to go for a "walk in the woods" after shotgunning beers on the regular. Look, I could go on, but the point of this ramble is I puke and I puke hard.
So, it should be no surprise in the morning when I wake up with that dreaded stomach hangover—which we affectionately call "gut-rot" in Alberta—that I sometimes need to make a beeline to the bathroom. When I do, you know what, I always feel better.
Don't make yourself puke in the morning, fam, but sure as hell don't fight it in the morning if the puke monster is comin' for ya.
Weed kinda sits in the middle of a market cure and a DIY cure now. While it's been used for ages as a cure for the world-enders, we all better believe that when weed is legalized here in Canada, it will be marketed as a hangover cure like crazy. Anyways, it's my list, fuck off.
I don't smoke weed anymore for personal reasons (it made me lazy and paranoid as all hell) but Jesus Christ if it isn't just amazing for hangovers. So, apparently the science of why it helps is that it makes you eat which can turn around the dehydration effects of a hangover and helps cure mild pain. That said, I experienced more than just the munchies when using this a cure. I would instantly feel better, the headache would drift away and I would sink into my couch and watch Gladiator.
Let's get one thing clear. In the end, sadly, it seems that nothing—not even weed or errantly taken dick pills—will fully cure you of a hangover. Hangovers aren't that well understood and foolproof cures aren't, as of yet, known. The main thing that will help you is time, which, you know, freakin' blows, but it is what it is. Some of these methods might help you win a battle but you will, assuredly, lose the war.
With that in mind, there is one clear thing that separates these two things by a massive margin—cost. While the majority of the DIY cures cost just a couple bones, you're going to be paying out the ass for market cures. When in doubt, for the love of god, just go with the cheaper option.
So, party-hearty, rock-and-roll, or do whatever you do—just know that in the morning, one of these hangovers will be waiting for you and world-enders do not take prisoners.
Follow Mack Lamoureux on Twitter.