Hangover Pills vs Alcohol Craving Medication

If you’ve ever experienced a bad hangover, you know how awful it can feel. A pounding headache, nausea, fatigue, anxiety, poor concentration—all symptoms that can ruin your morning, or even your day. You may feel you’d do just about anything for a quick cure.

Many people may turn to After-Alcohol Aid, or other marketed hangover pills, to help soften the blow the morning after. But are these supposed “miracle pills” really effective? And is there a better way to prevent hangovers before they start?

Below, we’ll investigate the best way to prevent a hangover, and how to find the best solution for you.

What’s In an Anti-Hangover Pill?

A quick internet search for hangover cure pills can leave you overwhelmed. There’s a seemingly endless list of cures and fixes out there, with a wide variety of formulas. Below are some common ingredients included in anti-hangover pills, and what they claim to help with:

Ingredient Helps With
Aspirin General pain, headaches
B vitamins Replenishing lost nutrients, processing alcohol
Electrolytes Dehydration
Glutathione Oxidative stress and inflammation
Caffeine Fatigue, brain fog, energy
DHM (Dihydromyricetin) Alcohol metabolism, liver protection
Barley grass Detox, depression, sleep, liver protection
L-cysteine Liver function
Red ginseng Oxidative stress, alcohol metabolism
Prickly pear Nausea, reducing inflammation
Milk thistle Oxidative stress, liver protection

Do Hangover Pills Work?

While there are some promising initial studies, there isn’t enough evidence yet to support most of these alcohol hangover cures.

For example, a 2005 systematic review found possible anti-hangover benefits from linolenic acid, tolfenamic acid, and a yeast prep. However, small sample sizes meant that more research was needed.

Another 2017 systematic review looked at six different anti-hangover supplements: Acanthopanax senticosus extract, Korean pear juice, red ginseng, dandelion juice, and two combination products. In study results, these ingredients seemed to help with some symptoms, but not all. And once again, small sample sizes—and primarily male participants—make it hard to apply these results to the population at large.

So, while it’s possible that some of these vitamins and minerals are helpful, there is no proof that most hangover pills actually work.

Pills For Alcohol Cravings 

young man with headache, hangover pills
Photo by Adrian Swancar on Unsplash

If you frequently find yourself taking “prevention pills” to cure a hangover, there may be another way to approach the issue: Anti-craving medication.

Oftentimes, a hangover is the result of drinking to excess. If you find yourself doing this often enough that hangovers are interfering with your life, why not take medication that helps you limit your drinking in the first place?

Several medications have shown themselves effective at reducing alcohol consumption:

Naltrexone

FDA-approved since the 1990s for treating alcohol addiction, natrexone reduces the reward of drinking by blocking the release of endorphins. Naltrexone can be taken daily, or one hour before you start drinking, to help control cravings.

Gabapentin 

Originally a seizure medication, gabapentin can also help treat anxiety-related drinking, and reduce alcohol detox symptoms. According to studies, this medication may help you reduce how much and how often you drink alcohol.

Topiramate 

An anti-seizure and migraine medication, topiramate appears to have helpful all-around effects regarding your brain chemistry and alcohol. It does this by stimulating and rebalancing parts of your nervous system negatively impacted by chronic drinking, and blocking some of the dopamine reward from alcohol.

Baclofen 

Often used to treat muscle spasms, baclofen has also been shown to reduce some people’s motivation to drink. It likely does this by replacing the role of alcohol in the brain, making it easier to change your behavior around alcohol.

Any of these medications may help you stop hangovers before they even start—by making it easier to drink in moderation, long-term.

If you find it hard to limit your drinking on a night out, or that hangovers are becoming a regular part of your life, Ria Health may be able to help. We offer evidence-based, comprehensive support for alcohol misuse—all from an app on your phone. You don’t have to identify as an alcoholic, or even quit drinking completely, to make hangovers a thing of the past.

Get in touch with us today, with no obligation, to learn more about how it works.

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