The Morning After: One Man’s Quest for a Hangover Cure

Molly Young in the New York Times:

A thought experiment: If hangovers didn’t exist, what percentage of your life would you spend drunk? It’s unexpectedly hard to predict. Part of the thrill of getting wasted, after all, is knowing that you’re sacrificing your future self for your present self’s fun. That’s the point of bad behavior.

The Canadian writer and actor Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall is a fine person to write a book about hangovers, not only because he’s a tenacious researcher but also because he’s willing to get thoroughly torn up on a consistent basis in colorful circumstances. He gorges on single-malt Scotch in Las Vegas, swallows a dozen pints of ale in a series of English pubs, binges on tequila and collapses beside a cactus near the Mexican border, wears lederhosen to a German beer festival and so forth. Reading his chronicle, “Hungover: The Morning After and One Man’s Quest for the Cure,” has an effect not unlike recovering from food poisoning or slipping into a warm house on a frigid night. You turn the pages thinking, “Thank God I don’t feel like that right now.” Or maybe, “Thank God I’m not this guy.”

According to Bishop-Stall, a hangover is composed of two forces combining to form a third force of great evil, like warm water and a storm cluster smashing together into a hurricane. One of the forces is dehydration. Alcohol is a diuretic, which is the reason the bathroom lines in bars are so long and why you wake up from a binge gasping for water. The second force is fatigue. Although alcohol sedates you, it won’t permit access to the deepest levels of sleep, which is why you can pass out for hours and still wake up feeling (and physiologically being) exhausted.

More here.