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Had One Too Many Drinks? 8 Ways to Sober Up Fast

Your guide to getting out of Drunkville—or how to avoid landing there in the first place.

Hydration

Water may be as good at clearing up a boozed-up brain as it is at curing your thirst. “Alcohol dehydrates the body which causes a lot of the side effects of alcohol,” said Zehra Siddiqui, DO, medical director of Ryan Chlesea-Clinton, an independent health center affiliated with Ryan Health that treats underserved populations in New York City. “Also it does help to dilute the alcohol.” The old adage of downing a healthy glass of H2O per every goblet full of unhealthy hooch actually seems to be true. Check out these other benefits of hydration.

light and dark pink pillsAnna Hoychuk/Shutterstock

Enzyme tablets

What if popping a pill could immediately let any imbiber ace a DUI test? A team at UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science is working on one that contains oxidase to break down alcohol and a second enzyme to clean up the toxic waste that oxidase causes.  The study, which appears in Nature Nanotechnology, suggests the capsule essentially processes alcohol the way the liver does. “With further research, this discovery could be used as a preventative measure or antidote for alcohol intoxication,” says study author Yunfeng Lu, PhD, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, in a news release. Lu recently reported that the treatment decreased the blood alcohol level in mice by 45 percent in four hours.

close-up of a bubbly soft drinkdkidpix/Shutterstock

Bad carbonation

Fizzy drinks can be as fun as their end-of-the-night results are frightening. Carbonated beverages such as beer, champagne, or even rum served with Coke may speed up your body’s absorption of alcohol more than the non-bubbly kind. In this 2007 study of 21 people, 66% of people who consumed vodka absorbed the alcohol faster if it was mixed with a carbonated beverage compared with water. So next time you’re thinking about ordering a vodka tonic…you may want to hold the tonic and choose a different mixer.

different shaped bread loaves and a bag of wheatBluskystudio/Shutterstock

And good carbs…

Bread-based buffets may help soak up alcohol but having any type of food in your stomach can help slow down your absorption of alcohol, and thus reduce your chances of getting too intoxicated. “Eating a high-carb diet lowers the ratio of alcohol in your blood and to slow absorption,” says Dr. Siddiqui. Meals high in fat, protein, or carbohydrate will delay gastric emptying, and thus lower the amount of alcohol that is absorbed, according to a 2012 review in the journal Clinical Liver Disease.

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The clock

Jagger wasn’t referring to Jäger when he sang “Time Is On My Side” because it takes your body around an hour to absorb one drink, says the The International Alliance for Responsible Drinking. And the more you drink, the more time it takes for the alcohol to be eliminated from your system, the group notes.

glass of carrot juice with carrots, ginger, apple, and parsleyShebeko/Shutterstock

Smoothies

They’re not just for post-spin class anymore. Indeed, your average ginger-apple-carrot is loaded with all manner of goodness that’ll get you out of your drunk doldrums faster than you can say,”Can I get a side of wheat grass with that?” (Ugh. Maybe just don’t drink, period, so you can avoid saying that sentence altogether.) “Depending what’s in them, smoothies really are great,” adds Dr. Siddiqui. “Pineapple, ginger, mint, and coconut—that’s a personal favorite, but think fruits and veggies that are high in vitamin C and antioxidants.”

woman running on a trailDudarev Mikhail/Shutterstock

Exercise

Ever notice, during bar crawls, that your ability to maintain is in direct relation to the distance between Stoolie McPickleBacks and TJ McGillicuty’s Fun Time Drinkorium? A little cardio goes a long way into preventing you from getting a tad too happy during happy hour. “Exercise gets the blood flowing through the liver so it detoxes your blood faster,” says Dr. Siddiqui. And the Discovery Channel’s dearly departed MythBusters deemed the restorative abilities of a long-jog-after a-lot-of-grog to be “plausible,” (while also completely trashing the coffee-after-drinking theory as “busted“). Find out what your favorite cocktail reveals about you.

man kissing woman's cheek, both eyes closedEvgeniy pavlovski/Shutterstock

Love

While a loss of amore is often why we guzzle alcohol to begin with, a healthy dose of it could actually contain its ill effects. A study from the Universities of Sydney and Regensburg indicates that oxytocin, i.e., the love hormone, injected into animals helped them quickly retain motor and brain function after alcohol impairment. The findings appear in PNAS. So instead of not having sex because of a headache, do it to avoid the three martini brain buster that would otherwise be on its way.

Sources
Medically reviewed by Michael Spertus, MD, on October 22, 2019