Alcohol: How do I recover from a hangover?
When I write about alcohol, I usually have a negative attitude. It never ceases to amaze me how 'normal' people find it to drink. How weird you get when you don't participate but order a lemonade or tea instead. That's why alcohol has been completely established in our society for quite some time now. For a long time there were hardly any questions about it.
You drink for fun, after work, to celebrate something. In a café, the waiter brings you an alcoholic drink before you have even opened your mouth. On the television you see the main character pouring a glass of beer and cheering him against the glass of his best friend. Getting used to alcohol starts at a young age. The first 'parties', even the parties in high school, consist of a bar where you can try for the first time liquor and the plastic shot glasses fly around your ears.
I remember the first time in my life that I was really drunk. I was in high school and prepared for the so-called gala ball. As a young adolescent I found this very exciting. Together with my mother I had bought a black dress, for the first time in my life I put on shoes with heels. For an hour I stood in front of the mirror playing with lipstick, mascara and eye shadow. When I look at the pictures of that party again, I think I look like a panda bear. On the dancefloor I felt uncomfortable and couldn't find my turn (especially with those heels). I was pushed back and forth by my schoolmates who were twisting and turning around each other like eels. Smooth in the suit, smooth in the gel, tight on the nerves. How come I was so hyper-conscious of every movement I made? The music was pounding in my ears, I felt hot and I was about to run away very fast. Like a hunted animal I jumped between my dancing schoolmates and hopped towards the exit. Someone shouted my name, it was my friend Dara. Before I knew it, she dragged me back towards the dancing crowd. On the way we passed the bar and I got a shot of tequila pushed into my hand. Then some salt was sprinkled and I got a slice of lime. "Cheers!" She shouted in my ear and poured it down her throat. I followed her example and without thinking I swallowed the drink. The taste penetrated all my pores and I couldn't help but draw a face of disgust. Right after I found out that I should have done something important with the salt and the lime.
As an inexperienced rookie, I had a lot to learn about booze and tolerance. I had finally been able to give myself form at the party and clocked away one drink after another. I can't even remember if I danced at all. Before I knew it I was lying somewhere on the floor, on the edge of the dance floor, which, by the way, was becoming less and less crowded. The clock struck, two o'clock in the morning. The party was over and everyone went home. Suddenly the teachers appeared from their shady corners and directed the pupils towards the exit. Outside, the cars with parents were waiting. The music had stopped and the bright fluorescent lights were on. I closed my eyes more tightly and felt a gust of nausea coming on. I felt completely stuck to the floor and was unable to get up. To be honest I wasn't able to do anything anymore. When I didn't move a fin, a teacher just lifted me up and carried me outside. I lay there on the schoolyard for a while. To make a long story short: I had never felt so bad in my life. To be honest, I can't even remember what happened after that. Luckily, my girlfriend was still with me. She was, like me, completely out of the picture. She just had the strength to pick me up and together we stumbled through the city. That night I slept outside on a park bench. Of course our parents were not allowed to know how irresponsible we had behaved.
What does alcohol do to our society?
Scientists asked this question in 2016. For the first time there was a study that tried to measure on a large scale the impact of alcohol on our society. It was mainly about money. According to the calculations of the National Institute of Public Health and the Environment it amounted to about 2.3 to 2.9 billion euros per year. This analysis has never been carried out in as much detail and has been used as widely as possible. It concerned, for example, the costs of, among others, the police and the judiciary having to intervene in criminal or aggressive activities involving alcohol. It also included the hours during which employees are less productive, or whole months of work.
Furthermore, traffic accidents play a major role in the results of the study. The research also looks at the meagre 'benefits' that society experiences as a result of alcohol consumption. The 'feeling of happiness' that users can experience as a result of drinking is discussed. The RIVM has based this so-called feeling of happiness on the fact that the Dutch spend some 3.8 billion euros a year on beer, wine and spirits. The two other benefits are the entrepreneurs who earn from alcohol products (a total of 700 million euros) and the excise duty that disappears into the treasury each year (a total of about 1 billion euros).
Influence of alcohol on body and mind
Even though I write about alcohol with a critical eye, you shouldn't think I'm a teetotaller. I still drink and at certain times even 'quite a lot'. According to society's standards it’s probably still seen as ok, but in my own opinion it's still too much. Probably my great interest in health plays an opposite role in this. Maybe this is just my common sense, telling me that in the long run I help myself a lot more by eating a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables, being outside a lot to get vitamin D, drinking as much kombucha as possible (and if that's not available, take the capsules of Living Nutrition to still get these good bacteria...). The impact of alcohol is great, both physically and mentally. At the moment, I don't feel ready to close the door of alcohol behind me, as I already did with cigarettes. Just like with tobacco, I feel I have to be very careful with it. In fact, the few advantages I got out of using it didn't outweigh the many disadvantages. With smoking I already felt it on a relatively short term: my condition deteriorated enormously and I immediately noticed this with cycling and walking for example. My throat also bothered me and my singing voice deteriorated. These disadvantages were reason enough for me to make short work of my smoking addiction (blog).
Even though I experience the adverse effects of alcohol just as well, the 'devil' remains on my shoulder and I am regularly tempted to have a drink or two (or three). The adverse effects, including the notorious hangover, I'll see tomorrow. My body is dehydrated, I'm tired, my focus is gone, I have a headache and only feel like eating fat unhealthy things... The day after alcohol consumption feels a bit like a day that doesn't count, in which you sleep out your intoxication and carry on as little as possible. It is really recovering from a poison that you have poured into your body and with which it has become confused and needs to recover.
Tips for a faster recovery from alcohol consumption
1. Drink a lot of water. Anyway, I drink a lot of water myself, but I know enough people around me who have a serious problem with the daily recommended 1.5 liters of water. That's why I'm the first one to give this obvious tip: even though 'you're not thirsty', alcohol has dehydrated your body enormously, so water is the first basis for a quick recovery.
2. Take vitamins or vitamin supplements. As I said before, alcohol, especially in large quantities, is a poison that can strongly weaken your body. Vitamin C is a good resource for faster recovery. Vitamin C protects your resistance, ensures a good iron absorption and helps to heal wounds faster.
3. Use ginger and turmeric. Ginger and turmeric belong to the same family. Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a spice widely used in Indian cuisine as a seasoning and colouring agent. Turmeric consists of the root of the plant and can be eaten fresh, but is usually available in powder form. In the form of a supplement, it can easily be ingested and you can get more of it inside. Turmeric has been seen as a medicine for a very long time and this is certainly due to the different vitamins and minerals that the root contains. It contains vitamins A, B2, B3, B6, B12, C, D, E and K. It also contains the minerals iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc.
Ginger has an anti-inflammatory effect and helps the body to repel toxins better. A cup of ginger tea can do wonders on the day of a hangover, especially with a spoonful of honey. This is not only delicious, but also contains medicinal properties. I'm talking about real honey, not the imitation you often find in supermarkets...
4. Relax and move. On the one hand, it can be a good idea to sleep it off and not expect too much from yourself. As I said, having a hangover feels like a day when you can't count on yourself 100%. Try not to get angry with yourself, in my case I know that doesn't help. It is better to take it easy and not demand too much of yourself. On a hungover day it's not a good idea for me to create complicated dishes, for example, or do math. Faster I'll cut my fingers, let things burn or make a mistake in my calculation.
5. Last but not least: Don't drink alcohol! The consumption of alcohol is so normal for a lot of people that they don't even think of other ways to have a good time at a party or evening with friends. The best tip is to replace alcohol with alternatives as much as possible. More on this topic: Alcohol substitutes: Sirius Smart Drugs (blog). Try to look honestly at your own alcohol consumption and to be open to steps that can help you not always be tempted. You have the power to fight it and free yourself!