MONTREAL, July 26, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - Even after "sleeping it off,"
even after all the alcohol you've drunk has been metabolized by your
body, even if your blood alcohol content is back to zero, abusive
drinking has long-lasting effects and you may not be in full possession
of your faculties for a full 24 hours after the drinking stops. That is
the main conclusion of an Éduc'alcool report on alcohol hangover, which
was released today as the latest publication in the Alcohol and Health series.
"After a bout of heavy drinking, discomfort and distress occur when
blood alcohol content begins to drop. Symptoms peak when blood alcohol
content is back to zero," said Hubert Sacy, Director General of
A hangover can be dangerous
When you have a hangover, you can feel terrible. And a headache, the
shakes, sweating, and difficulty concentrating and seeing clearly can
be just as dangerous as being drunk. Under such circumstances, it is
ill-advised and irresponsible to drive, operate machinery or tools,
engage in dangerous physical activity, assume responsible for the
safety of others or making important decisions.
This warning applies to all drinkers, but young people should be
particularly careful. Young people tend to get drunk more often than
older people and they report hangover symptoms more frequently. Many
young people also have seasonal jobs that involve physical activity or
supervising the safety of others: think camp counsellors, sports
instructors and lifeguards, for example. In such situations, a hangover
is not just unpleasant, it is serious and dangerous. It may also be
"Therefore, if you want to remain in full possession of your faculties,
you really must stick to the low-risk drinking guidelines and
understand clearly that there are serious problems associated with
excessive drinking, even if it's only occasional. It is far better to
drink a little bit regularly than a great deal occasionally," added
Hubert Sacy, noting that it was the Lifesaving Society that brought to
Éduc'alcool's attention the need to make people more aware of the
problems related to hangover.
Acetaminophen and ibuprofen: not always the best solution
While headache is a symptom reported by almost 90% of people suffering
from hangover, Éduc'alcool notes that it may not always be wise to take
acetaminophen (Tylenol) for the pain. Acetaminophen is fine for
occasional drinkers who drink too much on a particular occasion, but it
is strictly contraindicated for people with an alcohol dependency
(alcoholics) who already have liver problems. In such individuals, the
interaction between alcohol and acetaminophen significantly increases
the risk of liver toxicity and may cause liver lesions, even when the
medication is taken the next day.
Depending on individual sensitivity, combining alcohol with
acetylsalicylic acid (ASA, Aspirin) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) may
also be a bad idea. In people who are prone to gastro-intestinal
problems, these medications can exacerbate the irritating effects of
"The only safe way to treat the pain and discomfort of a hangover is to
practice healthy living: exercise to increase oxygen supply, rehydrate
by drinking plenty of water, and eat lightly. After that, only time
will help," concluded Hubert Sacy.
Statistics tell the story: one in ten drinkers is affected
Among Quebecers aged 12 and over, 26% of men and 11% of women have had
five drinks or more on a single occasion at least once in the last
year. The percentages are significantly higher among young people. A
full 40% of 18 to 24-year-olds say they have drunk abusively in the
With the latest research showing that approximately 75% of those who
drink to excess will have a hangover, we can estimate that, here in
Quebec, almost one in ten drinkers has a hangover relatively regularly.
On the other hand, about 25% of drinkers do not display hangover
symptoms, even after drinking heavily. The difference would appear to
be primarily genetic, but the data is not conclusive.
Content and availability of the publication
The new Éduc'alcool report is intended to demystify the phenomenon of
the hangover and separate myth from fact about this other unpleasant
consequence of excessive drinking.
The report discusses symptoms, causes and risk factors, and briefly
reviews the complications and often underestimated consequences of a
hangover. It concludes with information on prevention.
"Alcohol Hangover" may be downloaded from the Éduc'alcool website (www.educalcool.qc.ca). Free copies may also be ordered by phone at 1-888-ALCOOL1. The
publication will be available soon in hospitals, CLSCs and all Société
des alcools du Québec outlets.
For further information:
Hubert Sacy, Director General
514 667-0196, ext. 405
Cell: 514 966-8963