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The Dartmouth
May 27, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

How to Avoid a Hangover Without Really Trying

I dedicate this article to my two roommates of years past, who have bought me Powerade and oyster crackers in times of dire need and have generally tolerated me during days when I have kept our one-room doubles completely dark until 6 p.m.

I've had a lot of hangovers in my time.

In high school, I was a cocky little shit who thought I was constitutionally immune from the alleged feeling of illness that follows a night of drinking. I'd rip shots of dark rum from a water bottle (because dark rum isn't disgusting and dark rum in a water bottle isn't really conspicuous) and proceed to feel resolutely fantastic the following morning. My friends and I would get up and make for the local bagel place, where I'd mainline bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches with obnoxious panache as everyone else struggled to force down Gatorade and saltines. Wow, I'd think to myself. Guess I'm just really unaffected by alcohol! Aren't I lucky?

Needless to say, that particular phase of my life ended quickly.

Maybe it's karma biting me in the ass for my irritatingly smug attitude during 10th grade. Regardless of the cause, however, my hangovers these days are epic and brutal; they are tales of survival against all odds. I like to think that if Jon Krakauer knew about my hangovers he'd immortalize them in a grippingly realistic novel (like Into Thin Air, but with margaritas).

I've had hangovers that exceed the 24-hour mark. I've had hangovers that have forced me to sprint from my 10A into the awkwardly situated women's bathroom in the stairwell of Silsby. I've probably lost months of my life to days spent in bed with the blinds drawn, groaning and shaking in abject misery as friends and family alike have cast judgmental eyes on my prone, helpless form. It's been times like these when I've achieved an absolute low point of human existence that I have quite literally felt sympathy for Ewan McGregor during the creepy heroin withdrawal scene with the baby in "Trainspotting" (note: this isn't because I'm a secret heroin addict).

Fortunately, I've picked up a few practical tricks along the way to cut unpleasant Thursdays and Sundays off at the pass. Some of these tricks involve running a substantial ground game the night before, however, so if you've managed to get yourself blacked out and are thus incapable of implementing these suggestions, you're probably out of luck.

Night before:

The Abstinence Only Method drink selectively

Abstain from liquor and drink nothing but beer. Beer hangovers are far more preventable (and ultimately more tolerable) than wine hangovers, Andre hangovers or five-tequila-shots-followed-by-a-scorpion-bowl hangovers. Medical professionals would probably reject this assertion, but I can categorically say that more often than not, I've found it to be the case.

So if you're at a tails event, resist the urge to haze yourself on whatever Zhenka/pineapple juice/Sprite Zero concoction the social chairs are shilling and limit your mixed drink consumption to one or two cups. Then, switch to beer. While it's widely recommended that you alternate alcoholic beverages with water, this is not entirely practical; where are you going to find potable, cholera-free water in a frat basement? Exactly. You're not. So make like a feudal lord in medieval times, and drink beer.

The Law of Two and Three like something out of your Russian 13 Course Reader, but better

Drinking underage? Well, here's a law you definitely shouldn't break. When your night has ended, eat two to three slices of pizza, chug two to three bottles of water and pop two to three Advil. Food helps, as does water, and preemptive Advil consumption will knock out whatever splitting headache you're otherwise doomed to endure in the library the following afternoon. Put a water bottle next to your bed, so when you randomly wake up at 6 a.m. with your head spinning and an awful taste in your excruciatingly dry mouth, you'll have somewhere to turn.

Day of:

When in Doubt, Sleep it Out

Go back to sleep after your inexplicable 6 a.m. awakening. Then, wake up when you wake up. Sit up in bed slowly, drink some more of that water and make an educated assessment of what you can get done with your day. If you're nauseous in any way, draw the blinds and go back to sleep. It's not worth it to attempt to muscle through your normal routine when the only thing you can focus on is not vomiting in public. So if you find lifting your head, exposing your eyes to dim light, or rolling over in bed to be traumatic, try to doze and God save your mortal soul, because there's literally nothing anyone can do for you now.


If you've successfully made it out of bed and have determined that you are capable of engaging in physical exertion, go to the gym there's some physiological effect brought on by working out that is reportedly salubrious for people with hangovers. After finishing your cardio, hit the sauna and sweat out all those vodka toxins; it's miraculous what 20 minutes in that hot little wooden box will do for your general physical state. Soak in some sunlight and fresh air on the walk back to your room, and then perform time consuming but uncomplicated tasks like laundry to keep your mind off of how out of it you feel.

DDS, Letters to Live By

Abstaining from food is usually advisable at first, but at some point not eating becomes subject to the law of diminishing returns. You've got to eat eventually, and when you do you'll do best to load up on something bland Foco pasta, Homeplate chicken parm and really inoffensive sandwiches with minimal condiment action have all proven to be effective recourses. Wash down your meal of choice with an icy cold seltzer water and be sure to get a Vitamin Water for the road.

This strategy plan should put you at about 7:30 p.m., leaving you ample time to get reading done or to start working on that paper you've been putting off. While not 100 percent foolproof, it should nonetheless keep you from getting intimately acquainted with the toilet in the handicapped stall of the Green Print bathroom on Lower Level Berry, and trust me, you're better off in the long run for having dodged that particular bullet not that I'm speaking from experience or anything.