It’s 10 a.m. on Friday morning and you feel like your head is splitting in half. You should’ve said no to that last drink at the end of happy hour last night, but your dumb friend talked you into it. Now you’ve got a hangover from hell that a coffee the size of your head and a double dose of aspirin won’t even touch.
Sure, you could call in sick to work and lie on the couch in the dark all day. But recently, you heard about these miracle IV drips that are supposed to “cure” terrible hangovers instantly. You have your doubts—and so did we. So we did a little research and talked to the pros.
How is an IV supposed to “cure” a hangover?
Dehydration can cause a hangover, so it stands to reason that being hooked up to an intravenous drip full of fluids could be beneficial. Not drinking enough water to counteract the alcohol in your system isn’t the only cause of a hangover, however. Too much alcohol can irritate the lining of your stomach—which causes all those bouts of nausea and general queasiness associated with hangovers. Drinking alcohol also causes your blood sugar to fall, making you feel exhausted and weak. It can also make your blood vessels expand, resulting in a headache. This isn’t to say that an IV drip won’t help you inch your way back to normalcy, though.
“An IV drip helps to rehydrate the person and reduces the duration of the symptoms,” says Jake Deutsch, M.D., an emergency medicine physician in New York. Different components of IVs, like the vitamins and medicines included in any given drip, can also target specific symptoms, like nausea, vomiting and those god-awful headaches. Drinking water and reintroducing electrolytes and vitamins into your system after a night of heavy drinking can provide the same results, but injecting these solutions directly into your vein allows the treatment to enter your bloodstream quicker—which might be worth it on those mornings when you’re beyond just hurting and need to feel better pronto.
I’d like to try one out. How do I get an IV for my hangover?
It’s unlikely that your doctor will prescribe an IV for a hangover since, in their eyes, it might not be a medical necessity, our friends at Harvard Medical School note. That means you can’t simply walk into a hospital or doctor’s office and demand an IV because you had one (or a few) too many the night before. But you can pay for an on-demand service that will come to your home, office, hotel or anywhere you’re willing to pay them to meet you (like The Hangover Club) or head to a brick-and-mortar facility where patients can schedule an appointment for a drip (like Specialty Infusion).
Oh, and your insurance is almost definitely not going to cover the cost of this elective treatment—and it isn’t cheap. The services we noted above will set you back $100 to $250. But this is no time to skimp if you’ve decided you want to try an IV drip. This is still a medical procedure that a medical professional needs to administer.
“A trained medical practitioner will do an assessment on the patient beforehand to determine if they’re a good candidate for the IV,” Dr. Deutsch tells us. “It’s important to see a provider who knows the risks of such therapies before giving anyone IV therapies.” Fair enough.
What are the risks of getting an IV drip for a hangover?
It’s an extremely safe procedure. But when getting any IV, there’s a very low chance that the injection site (where the needle pierces your skin) could become infected, a vein might become blocked during the treatment or a clot could form.
Our conclusion? There’s no harm in trying an IV drip for your next hangover. It will likely help you get back on your feet faster than you’re used to, but still, it’s not a miracle cure. You’re essentially shelling out a couple hundred dollars for an elective procedure that’s basically the equivalent of drinking a ton of water and taking some vitamins. But we’ve been there, and hangovers suck, so no judgment from us if you decide to give it a whirl.