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Hangover is a term commonly used in the addiction recovery community to describe the physical and mental aftermath of excessive alcohol or drug consumption. When you consume alcohol or drugs, your body and brain undergo various changes that can lead to unpleasant symptoms the next day.

We’ve all been there — waking up with a throbbing headache, the room spinning, and an insistent thirst that just won’t go away. This post-festive phenomenon, more commonly known as a “hangover,” is the price many pay for a night of excessive alcoholic indulgence. But what exactly is a hangover, and why does it feel like your body is rebelling against you the morning after?

Decoding the Hangover

A hangover is the body’s reaction to the withdrawal of alcohol, coupled with the effects of its by-products and other factors. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it makes you pee more, leading to dehydration — a significant contributor to hangover symptoms. Additionally, the body breaks down alcohol into acetaldehyde, a toxic substance, which can lead to feelings of nausea.

Recognising the Telltale Signs

Hangovers can manifest in various ways, but some common symptoms include:

  • Throbbing headaches due to blood vessel expansion.
  • Fatigue and dizziness, partly because of the sugar crash after alcohol consumption.
  • Dry mouth and increased thirst due to dehydration.
  • Muscle aches.
  • Nausea, vomiting, or stomach pain.
  • Increased sensitivity to light and sound.
  • Mood disturbances like depression, anxiety, and irritability.

Hangover FAQs

  1. Why do some people get hangovers while others don’t?
    Individual reactions to alcohol vary based on genetics, metabolism, and overall health. Some individuals might be more efficient at metabolizing alcohol or have a higher tolerance, reducing hangover severity.
  2. Does drinking water in between alcoholic beverages prevent hangovers?
    While it won’t guarantee a hangover-free morning, drinking water can help reduce the severity by combating dehydration, a significant contributor to hangover symptoms.
  3. Is the “hair of the dog” method effective in curing hangovers?
    The idea behind “hair of the dog” is consuming more alcohol to ease hangover symptoms. While it might offer temporary relief, it can exacerbate dehydration and potentially prolong recovery.
  4. Do certain drinks cause worse hangovers?
    Drinks with higher levels of congeners (by-products of fermentation) like red wine, bourbon, and whiskey, might lead to more severe hangovers compared to drinks like vodka or gin.
  5. Are hangovers harmful in the long run?
    Occasional hangovers might not have long-term consequences, but regular excessive drinking can harm liver function, cognitive abilities, and overall health.

Did You Know?

  • The term “hangover” dates back to the late 19th century, but the scientific term is “veisalgia,” derived from the Norwegian word ‘kveis’ (uneasiness after debauchery) and the Greek word ‘algia’ (pain).
  • Some people turn to specific foods as hangover cures. In Japan, pickled plums are a popular remedy, while in Mexico, many swear by shrimp cocktails.
  • The severity of a hangover can be influenced by non-alcoholic factors too, like the amount of sleep you had, whether you smoked, and even your emotional state.

While hangovers are an unpleasant reality for many, understanding what’s happening in the body and knowing how to mitigate their effects can make the recovery process a tad bit easier. Remember, moderation is the key, and always drink responsibly.

The Morning After: Understanding Hangovers and the Path to Recovery

We’ve all been there: waking up with a pounding headache, feeling like you’ve been hit by a bus, and cursing that last drink from the night before. The hangover, that dreaded aftermath of a night of overindulgence, has been the bane of many. But what is the science behind this post-festive phenomenon? And when does it transition from an occasional inconvenience to a sign of a deeper issue?

Unraveling the Hangover Mystery

Hangovers arise from a mixture of the body’s reaction to alcohol withdrawal and the effects of its toxic by-products. Alcohol’s diuretic properties mean it expels more water than it takes in, leading to dehydration. This dehydration is primarily responsible for the dry mouth, increased thirst, and headaches many associate with hangovers. Simultaneously, our liver works overtime to convert alcohol to acetaldehyde, a toxic substance, causing feelings of nausea.

Identifying the Signs

Common hangover symptoms include:

  • Pulsating headaches due to blood vessels’ expansion.
  • Dizziness and fatigue.
  • Intense thirst and dehydration.
  • Muscle aches.
  • Sensitivity to light and sound.
  • Stomach discomfort and nausea.

The Path to Recovery

While many of us have our quirky hangover cures, the line between occasional overindulgence and a chronic issue can sometimes blur. Frequent bouts with severe hangovers might be an indicator of a deeper problem, requiring more than just hydration and rest. It’s important to recognize when it’s time to seek professional help. Whether you’re in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban, Mpumalanga, or the Garden Route, there are dedicated rehab centers that offer tailored addiction treatment programs. Knowing how to choose the right rehab and understanding the rehab process is essential for a successful recovery process.

Rehabs in other cities of South Africa. Regional Care Services

Did You Know?

  • The term “hangover” has roots in the 19th century, but its scientific counterpart is “veisalgia.”
  • Worldwide, various foods are believed to cure hangovers. In Japan, pickled plums take the spotlight, while in Mexico, it’s shrimp cocktails.

Hangovers, while common, are a clear signal from our body about the effects of overconsumption. Listen to these signs, and remember that consistent, severe hangovers might be an indicator of an underlying issue. Always drink responsibly and know when to seek help.

Alcohol hangovers are the most well-known type and can cause fatigue, headaches, dizziness, nausea, and sensitivity to light and sound. These symptoms can make it challenging to carry out your daily activities comfortably. The severity of a hangover can vary depending on factors such as the amount and type of alcohol consumed, your body’s tolerance, and hydration levels.

Hangovers also occur when drugs or certain substances are consumed excessively. For instance, individuals who misuse prescription medications or illicit drugs may experience hangover-like symptoms. These can include fatigue, muscle aches, anxiety, depression, and difficulty concentrating. The specific symptoms experienced can vary depending on the drug and individual factors.

    Addiction and Mental Health

    Treatment Services

    Founded in 2008, WeDoRecover has evolved from an advisory service for addiction treatment into a comprehensive provider of care, following its 2019 merger with Changes Addiction Rehab in Johannesburg. Specializing in connecting patients to top-tier addiction treatment centers in the UK, South Africa, and Thailand, WeDoRecover supports individuals globally, including those from the United Arab Emirates and Europe. Accepting both South African medical aid and international health insurance, the organization facilitates access to high-quality treatment for substance and alcohol use disorders, offering individualized care that addresses the physical, mental, and social needs of patients.

    Our team, led by Gareth Carter, offers empathetic and professional support, guiding you through every step of the treatment process. Whether you're in South Africa or abroad, our acceptance of various insurance plans makes quality care accessible, providing a platform for lasting recovery and a healthier future.

    Inpatient Rehab

    Our rehab care is a good option if you are at risk of experiencing strong withdrawal symptoms when you try stop a substance. This rehab option would also be recommended if you have experienced recurrent relapses or if you have tried a less-intensive treatment without success.


    If you're committed to your sobriety but cannot take a break from your daily duties for an inpatient program. Outpatient rehab treatment might suit you well if you are looking for a less restricted format for addiction treatment or simply need help with mental health.


    Therapy can be good step towards healing and self-discovery. If you need support without disrupting your routine, therapy offers a flexible solution for anyone wishing to enhance their mental well-being or work through personal issues in a supportive, confidential environment.

    Mental Health

    Are you having persistent feelings of being swamped, sad or have sudden surges of anger or intense emotional outbursts? These are warning signs of unresolved trauma mental health. A simple assesment by a mental health expert could provide valuable insights into your recovery.

    Finding the right rehab close to you is simple with WeDoRecover. Our network includes the finest rehab centers, ensuring personalised, quality care for your recovery needs. Let Gareth Carter and our empathetic team help guide you to a center that feels right for you, offering expert care and support. Start your healing today by choosing a rehab that's not just close to you, but also that truly cares about your loved ones recovery.

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