My mother, a mental health administrator, guiding light and overall wise, nurturing parent, taught me in my 20s to take a benedryl before I went to bed after a night of heavy drinking.  As she explained to me, it had the same meds in it that they give you in detox.  (This is the same loving parent who sent me pamphlets on alcohol abuse for my 24th birthday when I let slip that I occasionally blacked out.  She’s definitely coming back as a dealer in one of her next lives, what with her project roots, zeal for GNC meds, and recommendations for drug cocktails of natural and OTC therapies.  Oh, and her nursing degree.  Love her!) 

She’s right, it works, but allow me to qualify the statement as I always do when turning others on to this OTC treatment.  This remedy is best when you have to go to work the next day.  It helps you sleep solidly for about 5 hours or so, which is longer than the 4 I average when I just pass out on my own.  When you wake up after 5 or 6 hours, as I find is the most time I have for sleeping after a big weeknight out on the town, you feel much more functional (not fabulous, merely competent and functional) than sans benedryl.  And you can go about your day.
But there’s a catch. 

Around 2 or 3 in the afternoon, you’ll find you “wake up� all over again.  This is when the second phase of the benedryl wears off (I don’t know, finally exits your blood stream??).  You can’t fail to notice it – for instance, last Wednesday I’m at the airport for my 2:30 flight to Atlanta.  All of a sudden, I feel like my head has cleared, but I start to sweat (before I got on the plane, loyal readers) and my headache sets in.  Essentially, you can’t avoid the hangover entirely, but you can delay it until late in the day when it’s almost quitting time, and it is far less substantial than otherwise.

A complementary aid is some Argentine headache medicine that my Argentinean friend Denise turned me on to.  It’s probably Exedrin with a stronger, non-FDA regulated kick to it, but I don’t speak Spanish, so I don’t actually know.  All I do know is that it clears my hangover in about 30 minutes. 

So a benedryl, a mystery Argentinean pill, lots of Gatorade or Emergen-C, and you’re good to go.  Sure beats lying in the fetal position on the bathroom floor, or throwing up in the trash barrel in your office.  Or so I’ve heard.  


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