It's commonly accepted that most treatments for enteral poisons aren't very useful for alcohol, because it is absorbed so rapidly. For example, by the time a hospital could administer activated charcoal, most likely nearly all of the alcohol would already have passed into the blood. But what about preemptive treatment? If one were to expect a night of heavy drinking, what could be done in advance to decrease absorption and/or limit effects?

  • I just came across this question - this is at least partially answered here: health.stackexchange.com/questions/3841/… but I am not sure whether it's a real duplicate
    – YviDe
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 20:23
  • @YviDe The link you provide notes "chronic" whereas this question is relative to a single night.
    – Dave Liu
    Commented Dec 14, 2015 at 3:56

2 Answers 2


So you are searching for hung-over drugs :). I don´t see any problems with that. I have many times wondered the same thing. If you search online one will find hundreds and thousands of journal articles stating "the remedy for hang-over". Of course these "remedies" are based just on folklore.

There is also some scientific literature on this topic. The most comprehensive is a systematic review published 2005 in British Medical Journal.. Unfortunately the authors conclude: "The most effective way to avoid the symptoms of alcohol induced hangover is to practise abstinence or moderation".

I am quite sure that if an effective treatment to reduce or limit the effects of alcohol were to exist, that would have gained popularity beyond any limits.

However, I would present on interesting theory to try. Alcohol or ethanol itself is not the bad guy. Body processes ethanol by oxidating it to acethaldehyde with the help from alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme. The acethaldehyde is responsible for all the bad, including nausea, vomiting etc. It is also a carcinogen associated most importantly to gastric cancer.

To deal with this potential carcinogenity, a Finnish biotechnology Company Biohit has introduced a drug called Acetium. It is a very simple drug, it only contains l-cysteine, an essential amino acid. The trick is that L-cysteine reacts with acethaldehyde forming a compound molecule which has no meaning or effect in human body. As so the Biohit aims to market this product as a pre-emptive treatment for gastric cancer.

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But the interesting part if, that is L-cysteine neutralizes acetaldehyde, why could not it therefore be an effective treatment for hangover? Just take some Acetium before drinking and do not worry about the next Morning.

Totally unrelated to the OP. My secret dream is to perform a randomized controlled trial about this idea. Of course, prior to it, I should contact Biohit to make sure that I receive the appropriate rojalties from their sells. Let´s say this treatment really worked in my trial, I would most likely become a multi-billionaire. Alongside I would be responsible for tripling or quadrupling the amount of consumed alcohol around the world since no one would ever suffer from hang-over. People would however get more drunk since this drug only prevents hangover. As so, the rate of homicides, beatings and drunk driving would go thorough the roof. Maybe I should not be waiting any medal from the parliament or president. Perhaps I should abandon my research idea....

  • To be honest, I was looking at both limiting hangovers and limiting intoxication as well (though of course the latter is significantly less useful). My assumption about Acetium is that preventing hangovers is a bit more complex than immediately apparent, but this seems like a great place to start. If you decide to go ahead with your dream, I expect an equity position :) Commented Aug 21, 2015 at 10:38
  • (Not @TheEnvironmentalist) A down vote.. Really? I guess a bit of humor is not quite tolerated here...
    – arkiaamu
    Commented Aug 21, 2015 at 18:19

I am going to take most of this from my answer to What is the healthiest way to drink excessively and chronically? Most of the advice does not change when we are talking about a one-time scenario instead of a more regular occurrence.

You mention decreasing absorption - an important thing is to get the alcohol to be delivered into the blood (and liver) slowly, definitely. That means eating before drinking, drinking slowly, and not taking any medication that worsens the effect of alcohol.

After the damage is done, so to speak, comes reducing its effects and speeding up recovery. Drink enough additional fluids (water, juices, etc) before, during and after drinking alcohol. Get enough sleep and give your body time to recover.

The paper Interventions for preventing or treating alcohol hangover: systematic review of randomised controlled trials has an overview over various hangover treatments studied in eight publications, from herbal remedies to dietary supplements, but ultimately has to conclude

No compelling evidence exists to suggest that any conventional or complementary intervention is effective for preventing or treating alcohol hangover. The most effective way to avoid the symptoms of alcohol induced hangover is to practise abstinence or moderation


How to Protect Your Liver if You Drink Alcohol

Absorption Rate Factors

NHS hangover cures

  • It looks like you left part of the word "intervention" hanging on there at the start of the chunk of text you quoted. Did you mean to include none of the word, all of the word, or earlier parts of the sentence, too?
    – HDE 226868
    Commented Dec 31, 2015 at 19:56
  • @HDE226868 oh wow, I left out a big chunk. Which included the very important word "no". Ouups.
    – YviDe
    Commented Jan 2, 2016 at 9:49

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