Drink Clever: 13 Tips to Dodge Your Next Hangover


FROM TOMORROW … you want to get to grips with your drinking habits, finally? Great!! Unrealistic? Anti-social? Not at all. Outfox yourself, bear in mind a few magic tricks, and you have at hand the keys to successful imbibing, without exorcizing the fun!

If you’re going to drink, you might as well drink the good stuff, but whether you quaff country or Single Malt Scotch, moderation is the first secret of conscious drinking. Another is to know what you’re getting into before you let the genie out of the bottle.

13 Tips How to Drink Clever (and Less)

Here are some of the best tips and tricks I know for “healthy” drinking:

HAVE SLOW HAND. Many men end up drunk for the simple reason that they didn’t give their first drink enough time to kick in before ordering up a second or third. It takes 20 to 30 minutes for alcohol to do its thing, so wait at least that long before having another. A normal liver can handle about an ounce of alcohol an hour.

READ TOMORROW’S WEATHER FORECAST. The hotter it gets and the more active you are under the sun, the more trouble alcohol can cause. Booze fast-forwards dehydration. Smart coaches stress to players that the night before a day game, they should limit alcohol consumption.

EAT, THEN DRINK. Drinking only on a full stomach is probably the single best thing you can do, besides drinking less, to reduce the severity of a hangover. Food slows the absorption of alcohol, and the slower you absorb it, the less alcohol actually reaches the brain. The kind of food you eat doesn’t matter much.

AVOID THE GRAPE ESCAPE. Alcohol is not an anti-depressant. If you’ve got the blues, booze will provoke only momentary relief that keeps you from tackling your problems, say experts. Using alcohol as a cure is the first step toward making drinking a disease.

DON’T DRINK TO DE-STRESS. Rather than relieving stress, drinking can actually increase anxiety. If you’re going through a particularly tough time, you should be having two drinks less per week. And, on a day when you know you’re going to face a stressful situation, drink little or no alcohol.

AFTER THE BUZZ, CUT. The amount you can drink in an hour without getting smashed varies according to body weight, mood, what you’ve eaten and other factors. To make it simple, limiting yourself to one drink an hour, the rate at which most people metabolize alcohol, will help prevent you from becoming intoxicated.

DON’T GUZZLE BEER TO QUENCH A THIRST. (especially important in South Africa). You’ve got a powerful thirst and those cool frothy mugs are beckoning. Wait. Do one thing at a time. Drink water to replace your sweat loss first. Beer is a lousy thirst-quencher, in part because it inhibits the release of a hormone responsible for water retention. The result: frequent urination, leading to fluid loss rather than fluid replacement. Not to mention the fact that you may inadvertently end up loaded and bloated on a few hundred unnecessary calories.

DRINK FROM A GLASS. Pour your beer into a glass or mug to let some of the carbonation disperse. You won’t get that bloated feeling as quickly as you will if you drink from the bottle.

DO NOT CHALLENGE A BIG BULLY TO A DRINKING CONTEST. With few exceptions, there’s no way a 150-pound drinker can go one-on-one with a 250-pound one and wake up the winner. So scale down your drinks. A 150-pound man can only handle about half as much alcohol as a 250-pounder can.

THE ICE FACTOR. A Martini on the rocks is less potent than one served straight up, where there’s no ice to melt and water down the drink.

SMOKE AND DRINKS DON’T MIX. Avoid smoky bars. A substance called acetaldehyde is found in alcohol and tobacco smoke, and it can make a bad hangover worse.

PARTY SMARTLY. At a party, follow each drink with a glass of mineral water or lime water. You’ll always have something in your hand to sip, but you’ll be getting half the liquor and calories you otherwise would. You’ll also counteract alcohols dehydrating actions.

WHEN TO SAY NO TO A NIGHTCAP. Alcohol makes for a poor sleeping potion because it disrupts sleep patterns. You may doze off initially, but in a few hours the effects will wear off and your body will slide into withdrawal, waking you up. If you have insomnia, avoid drinking at dinner and throughout the rest of the evening.

TRY HALF-AND HALF. Order your cocktails with the alcohol on the side so you can mix your drink at your own pace. Pour half the shot into your mixer and, when that’s gone, order another glass of mixer and add the rest of the alcohol.

Many risks to avoid

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not intent on playing down the the manifold risks involved in drinking alcohol. We all know: Booze is bad for health. So never forget at least a few undeniable dictums in this regard:

And let this be a warning to you:

When a person craves for alcohol too often or has trouble going about regular activities without it, it is a warning sign of getting dependent on one of the most abused substances. It should be a wake-up call for such people before it is too late, and seek immediate help to get rid of the habit of drinking.

Alcohol remains the primary substance of abuse in South Africa, between 7.5% and 31.5% of South Africans have an alcohol problem or are at risk of developing one (NDMP 2006-2011). The per capita consumption of alcohol in South Africa is 11 litres, the most in Africa (NDMP, 2019:29), 23 Feb 2021.

If things come to a head

In case of addiction: 2 useful contact details for starting rehabilitation and treatment:

Alcoholics Anonymous South Africa:

Contact details for branches in all major cities: www.aasouthafrica.org.za

CROSSROADS RECOVERY CENTRES: Contact details for all branches.

Johannesburg Admissions: 074 895 1043

Pretoria Admissions: 082 653 3311

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