Top 10 Ways To Avoid a Hangover

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I turned 30 last weekend. Yep. The speedometer turned over and I’m officially out of that terrible decade that was full of poor decisions, panic attacks, lousy dates (28+ doesn’t count, sugarplum!) and questionable drinking scenarios (let’s just say the Pink Pony in Atlanta, Georgia probably won’t be welcoming my business again anytime soon). No, now is a new era — one of fiscal responsibility, Roth IRAs, knowing one’s limits, and — aw holy hell, I’ve gotta get my prostate checked out don’t I? Son of a…

Being that I’m not a spring chicken anymore, it is imperative that I employ some old tried ‘n true tricks to stave off a tailgating hangover. Now bear in mind, Neither I nor Tailgate Fan have ever been medical professionals (not since the whole Jack in the Box v. Doctor Cullen trial of aught-4. I still maintain that all you need to kick depression are a few chicken patty melts but nooOOOOooo.) Anyway. Will these methods work? Potentially, but bear in mind that it is with varying degrees of effectiveness and safety. So proceed at your own risk. Without further ado, here are our top 10 hangover prevention tips:

ELMONT, NEW YORK - JUNE 5:  A fan gets a little drunk after drinking beer funnels before the running of the races on June 5, 2004 at the 136th Belmont Stakes in Elmont, New York.

Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

10. Practice!

Not to disclaim the hell out of this piece (“Disclaim! Disclaim!”) but I should note that this isn’t necessarily recommended advice, but it should work. But, you know, maybe consider a few alternatives first.

Now, the more frequently you drink, the more your system gets used to booze. Think of it like lifting or running, but the exact opposite and likely to kill you of cirrhosis by 38. Now, when your system is used to a daily dose of Four Loko, it won’t react as badly the next day. After all, it’s a pretty clever machine. It knows what it’s faced before. So if you want to protect yourself from hangover headaches, you’d best start practicing at the draft. Or should we say… draught? Hey! Send us your mailing address so we can come over and high five you!

HOLLYWOOD - APRIL 27:  Musician Nikki Sixx attends the Hollywood Life magazine's 10th Annual Young Hollywood Awards at Avalon on April 27, 2008 in Hollywood, California.

Nikki Sixx (Photo Credit: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

9. A Little Hair of the Dog

Again, this isn’t advisable necessarily, and should only be employed in the most dire of circumstances. If you wake up feeling like Nikki Sixx on a Tuesday, sometimes, there’s only one solution: to break glass in case of emergency. Yes, a little hair of the dog will go a long way in making you feel better. Now, we should point out that this advice is WAY more useful the day after a college football game, because drinking the morning after an NFL game is an indication of a whole ‘nother boat of enchiladas of problems.

But if your SUNDAY is rocked pretty good, go ahead and have a few beers to balance out. Now, you’ll feel the effects immediately, and it’s important not to cross that threshold of #4. After that, you’re not balancing out. You’re just drunk again. So be careful with this technique. Unless you want to tailgate for the pro games too. In which case, Godspeed you! Drunk emperor.

8. Beware the Shampoo Effect

Hey, I’m getting a little worried at how naturally this article is coming. Do I really not need to research any of this? What is wrong with me?

Anyway, back to reality. So, for those who don’t know, the Shampoo Effect is this: think about if you haven’t shampooed your hair in, say, five days. By the time you do, it’s all greasy and grimy. So it takes a good bit of shampoo to achieve a rich, foamy lather (n.b.: rich, foamy lather was my nickname in prison). Now, when you shampoo the next day, it takes almost nothing to achieve that selfsame lather.

Same goes fer drankin’. If you’re an experienced drinker, your first night out after a few days will be a normal drinking night. But, stay at the bar too long, and next thing you know, your Saturday morning is rocked. Just like the shampoo scenario, it’ll take nary a few beers before you’re back in the “aw rats, I’m three drinks too many” zone. Our advice? The night before a tailgate, don’t go out at all. Or, take it very easy.

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ - JUNE 27:  Gary Roach (L) of Shantilly, Virgina is given a jello shot by Maxim Girl Jennifer Ryan of Brigantine, New Jersey during the Maxim Magazine Presents "Fantasy Island" at the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa June 27, 2004 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The event consisted of two music stages and four unique themed areas: South Beach, Venice Beach, Stuffland, and The Oasis; providing a wide array of entertainment for guests.

Photo Credit: William Thomas Cain/Getty Images

7. No Jello Shots!

Jello shots are mighty tasty, no doubt. And they bring the joy of Jello jigglers together with the joy of casual shame! But there’s a problem. That vodka is locked up in gelatin. Meaning that, unlike normal shots, it takes much longer for the booze to hit your system. In other words, it impairs your ability to predict when you’ve had just enough. If drinking were The Usual Suspects (spoilers ahead! Wait, how have you not seen this movie? Screw you! The statute of limitations is up. Here we go:) You’re Agent Kujan, and Jello shots are Keyser Soze having just walked out the door. When you drop the Kobayashi coffee cup, that’s the Jello shots hitting you four hours later when you’re in the middle of something important.

I know this for a fact, since one fateful Independence Day, I and some college buddies made a pan of every flavor of Jello shot available. We ate them all (except the cherry one, which my friend’s dad found weeks later). I went to bed at 1 AM. I woke up at 5 PM the next day more rocked than the night before. Lesson learned: don’t do Jello shots. It’s like trying to hit a par 3 into a heavy wind — totally unpredictable.

6. No Regular Shots!

This one is simple math. Your average American light lager clocks in at around 4.5% ABV. Shots are, what, 40%? You can predict what the next beer will do to you. It’s low in alcohol, fills you up, and takes awhile to drink. Shots are gone in an instant, and they warp you ahead to level 8, like the Magic Flute in Mario 3, except in this case, level 8 is vomiting on your boss’s dog. Plus, think about it: have you ever woken up and said “thank goodness I did those shots last night”?

Shots in nightclub

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

5. Careful with Hard Alcohol and Wine!

I almost made this rule “nothing under 6% ABV”, but, hey, some people are wine people, some people are hard alcohol people. Just know that, as stated above, this stuff’ll sneak up on you much, much faster than your av-er-age beer. If you enjoy a nice pinot noir or a good scotch, good on you. Just watch your levels.

4. FOOD

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you this. You’re at a tailgate anyway. You’re surrounded by burgers, hot dogs, brats, chips, chili, dip, wings and all other sorts of goodies. Fuel up — on proteins particularly, if you’re of the carnivorous persuasion. Our veggie-minded friends mind want to opt for something starchy, and try to get some kind of protein in there. No matter what you choose, a good base will help keep things under control.

3. Water, You Fool!

Simple science here, folks. Alcohol dries you out. There’s a reason why rubbing alcohol is a common treatment for swimmer’s ear. That same process that’s dehydrating your ear canal? That’s going on inside your body when you drink. Even more horrifying, I’ve heard it said that the hangover headache is due to the fact that, when you’re dehydrated, the body will desperately pull whatever from everywhere to stay lubricated. Even your brain. GUH. The lesson here: stay hydrated. Drink water throughout your session, and try to cut out the beer, say, 3-4 hours before bedtime, ingesting water the entire time. You’ll thank me in the morning.

STANFORD, CA - NOVEMBER 30:  Gatorade bottles and cups on the sideline during the Stanford Cardinal game against the UCLA Bruins in the Pac-12 Championship game at Stanford Stadium on November 30, 2012 in Stanford, California.

Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

2. Electrolytes: It’s What You Crave

Admittedly, drinking water is for when you’re in a “Code: Green” scenario. But what if you broke rules most of the rules above, and you’re well into “I should look up my ex on Facebook and tweet at Manti Te’o” mode? You need something with a little more kick. For a “Code: Yellow,” break out the sports drinks. Gatorade, Powerade, etc. You know the stuff. To be honest, they’re just Kool-Aid and salt, but that salt makes all the difference. It helps you absorb and retain the liquid, thereby hydrating you. Sure, it’s more expensive and not as readily available as water, but hey, it’s been known to save many a life in the annals of drinking history.

1. Code: Red

Our #1 entry is reserved only for the most dire of scenarios. This is top 5 drunk. This is “fell asleep in the subway station for 8 hours” drunk. This is “mother of god, someone get me home!” drunk. In other words: this is a full-blown, no-holds-barred guarantee that your tomorrow is going to be one of the 10 worst days of your life. In this scenario, there is, of course, only one answer. And that solution comes from the mouths of babes. In a manner of speaking.

Pedialyte. Yep. That salty, disgusting drink that you’re supposed to serve children that are suffering from diarrhea. The principle we mentioned above — how salt in your drinks helps you hydrate? That happens with gusto in Pedialyte. Be forewarned, this stuff is disgusting. It’s as if you dipped an orange into the Dead Sea, and then sprinkled a little salt on top. But when you wake up in the morning and you’re surprisingly, magically, mercifully fine, you’ll be a convert. Now, Pedialyte ain’t cheap, but understand that it could make your life whole again. Use this knowledge well.

***

Now, we intentionally stayed away from any sort of pain medication because we’re not in the habit of doling out legit medical advice, especially since there are a looooot of studies lately talking about how Tylenol + drinking is a baaaaad combo for your liver (here’s some more info about it). So, if you’re going to overdo it, try to stick to good old food and hydration.

- Brian Cullen, Tailgate Fan

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