12 Steps To Drink Well and Not Get a Hangover

I turned 27 this year. And almost overnight I started to get bad hangovers whenever I drank more than a beer or two. Gone were the years of my next day invincibility. So I’ve been forced to develop a system. It helps me. Maybe it can help you too, my fellow old people.

Step 1 – You might still feel like crap

Accept the fact that you’re going to have to slightly write off a day after drinking. Despite taking precautions there’s still a chance you might feel pretty rough the day after drinking. So don’t drink if you have to work the next day. Save it for those sacred days off.

Step 2 – You will get fat

You’re probably going to drink and eat 2000+ of excess calories on your drinking nights. Accept this.

Step 3 – Don’t start too late

You’ve had a long day of work. You get home late and now you just want to unwind and get plastered. Well, I wouldn’t. It’s bed time in just a few hours and that’s not enough time to get drunk and also take the necessary recovery steps for a hangover-free tomorrow. Save it for another day. A special day. A drinking day.

Step 4 – Learn to get less drunk

This meant seem silly, but after years of chasing the dragon your expectations of drunkenness and your ‘tolerance’ to booze has probably gone up. Spend some time getting in touch with the taste of alcohol again and the more subtle elements of its intoxicating effects. Spend a month or two every now and then just getting a little tipsy and not totally plastered. I’d recommend sticking to drinks that you really like the taste of so you can sip and savour the taste itself, not just its stuporing results.

Step 5 – Please line your stomach

Eat. Eat well. Eat a lot. And close to when you start drinking. I eat my meal 45 minutes before I begin imbibing. The first hour or so of drinking will feel a little too sober, but you’ll be thankful later. And trust me, you will still get drunk. So relax.

Step 6 – Track that booze

This might seem a little too OCD and geeky for some of you, but I recommend tracking how much you drink. I use the app Boozed?. You enter what you drink and it gives you an estimated BAC (learn about how BAC effects you).

Step 7 – Set Timers

Again, maybe a little too over the top. But this step is absolutely vital for me. In certain situations it can be very easy to drink too fast. For each drink (175ml wine, 500ml beer, or 50ml spirits) I set a countdown on my phone for 30 minutes (experiment until you find your correct timer length) and I’m not allowed to get another drink until the timer ends.

Step 8 – Drink water between drinks

I know this is an annoying step, but it’s an important one. Between every alcoholic drink consume 250-400ml of water to stay hydrated. This can be potentially harder to stick to if you’re not drinking at home. So if you’re in a club and you know you’re not going to be that guy asking for a tap water at the bar maybe drink a G&T and ask for extra tonic water instead to up the amount of non-alcoholic liquid you’re getting.

Step 9 – Skip that last drink, drink more water instead

So the night is winding down and bed/home time is approaching and its last order. Well don’t make that last order. That final drink might just push you into hangover territory and by the time the alcohol actually enters your bloodstream you’re probably going to be home or asleep anyway. So skip that last drink my friend and power down some water instead. And it’s better to drink that water now than just before bed anyway, otherwise you’ll be waking up to pee it out in the middle of the night.

Step 10 – Eat before bed

I generally try to keep it mildly healthy most of the time and will munch on a banana or two and maybe some mixed nuts. But let’s be honest here, that kebab looks bloody good. Either way, eat! If you have a choice between eating before or after drinking though always eat before.

Step 11 – Eat upon waking

Don’t skip breakfast please. And this isn’t time for your Instagram-worthy bowl of Chia seeds. Get some disgusting saturated fat down your gullet and feel sorry for yourself like you’re supposed to.

Step 12 – Accept that alcohol is very bad for you

This is my final step and my goodbye. Don’t be ignorant. Please accept that alcohol is very bad for you. It aids violence, mental illness, sexual promiscuity and sexual dysfunction (a cruel combination), over eating (until alcoholism takes ahold later in life and then you can barely stomach a slice of bread), a myriad of diseases and cancers, and is also expensive. So be like Winston Churchill and get more out of drinking than it gets out of you. Think alcoholism isn’t too much of a big deal? Here’s a reddit comment by an alcoholic describing his ailments due to drink.

More:

  • Drinking beer? Buy some non-alcoholic beer too and have one after every second alcoholic beer. Trick yourself into drinking less.
  • Some people swear by taking B-Vitamins before bed. I’ve never tried this though.
  • Maybe just don’t drink? If every time you drink you end up in trouble or you get hangovers after just three drinks maybe your hell raising days are over. Or maybe you have Gilbert’s syndrome or something.
  • Only drink with a sugar-free mixer. It gets you drunker and won’t give you full-blown diabetes.
  • Remember, you’re not a heavy drinker, you’re a pintman.

Note: Science doesn’t agree with a lot of my points. We still don’t know how to cure hangovers. The only really proven way to feel better the next day is to quite simply drink less. So a lot of my steps are pseudoscience at best. But hey, it works for me. Try it and then email me with your results.

I’ll leave you with this advice by Christopher Hitchens on drinking:

[…] Of course, watching the clock for the start-time is probably a bad sign, but here are some simple pieces of advice for the young. Don’t drink on an empty stomach: the main point of the refreshment is the enhancement of food. Don’t drink if you have the blues: it’s a junk cure. Drink when you are in a good mood. Cheap booze is a false economy. It’s not true that you shouldn’t drink alone: these can be the happiest glasses you ever drain. Hangovers are another bad sign, and you should not expect to be believed if you take refuge in saying you can’t properly remember last night. (If you really don’t remember, that’s an even worse sign.) Avoid all narcotics: these make you more boring rather than less and are not designed—as are the grape and the grain—to enliven company. Be careful about up-grading too far to single malt Scotch: when you are voyaging in rough countries it won’t be easily available. Never even think about driving a car if you have taken a drop. […]