A new study suggests heavy drinking affects how well you can function—even after the alcohol has left your body.

By Renee Cherry
August 28, 2018


Hangovers are The. Worst., but it turns out they're probably even suckier than you realize. A new study published in the journal Addiction looked at the effects that drinking has on your body once the alcohol has left your system. Let's just say that after a night of heavy drinking, there's a good chance you experience a "hangover halo" even after you've gotten through the worst of it. (Related: This Hangover-Cure Juice Shot Is Basically the Exact Opposite of Tequila)

Researchers analyzed 770 previous studies, focusing on research that looked into the effects of heavy drinking. To find out the effects once alcohol has left the body, they only included results from subjects who had a blood alcohol content (BAC) lower than 0.02 percent following a night of drinking. (For reference, on average, alcohol leaves the blood at a rate of .015 percent per hour.) The researchers found that, across the board, subjects' attention spans and driving were both impaired the day after drinking.In some cases, their psychomotor skills and memory also suffered. (Related: Someone Invented a Magical Ice Cream That Cures Hangovers)

So that friend who swears she's good-as-new after coconut water or Pedialyte is probably sadly mistaken. While the effects of heavy drinking vary from person to person, this study suggests that in most people, they linger throughout the following day. You can still take steps to feel less miserable, though. According to one review of veisalgia-the scientific name for a hangover-rehydration, prostaglandin inhibitors (aka pain relievers like aspirin or ibuprofen), and vitamin B6 can all help. If you're specifically looking to downplay the mental effects of drinking, you might want to try breaking a sweat. One study suggested aerobic exercise is the best thing for a hangover brain fog. Thinking ahead, the best way to prevent a hangover is to drink water before and in between your alcoholic drinks and eat a meal before you go out. (Consider also opting for healthier alcohol choices, in general.)

This news comes on the tail of another study that might have you re-evaluating your booze consumption. Researchers reviewed hundreds of studies and concluded that even small amounts of alcohol are bad for you. They say the supposed benefits of alcohol (like red wine's resveratrol perks) are basically nonexistent. Sure it's no groundbreaking finding that alcohol is harmful, but these studies are reminders that it pays to stay mindful when drinking-and that hangover remedies ease but don't eliminate the effects of one too many rosés.