Tips to avoid ‘Blarney Hangover’

By Emily Brightman

Shaina Mishkin/Daily Collegian
Shaina Mishkin/Daily Collegian

Any sentient member of the UMass community knows that this weekend will herald the absurd drinking extravaganza known as the “Blarney Blowout,” and students campus-wide have been steadily making their preparations for a day of booze-y boasting and intoxicated shenanigans. Campus police, as well as the drinking establishments of downtown Amherst, have been making their preparations for arguably their most swamped day of the school year, and excitement abounds as the day approaches.

It would be foolish, even ludicrous, to try to promote abstinence on a day held in such high regard among the alcohol-consuming community of UMass, and in a proverbial sense would be about as effective as telling winter not to be so cold (and we all know exactly how effective that has been over the last few months).

So instead of endorsing avoidance of a cherished drinking tradition, here are some pre- and post-game tips to help you avoid the impending hangover that inevitably accompanies any heavy drinking event. Though threat of a hangover is hardly enough of a reason to discourage most folks from some indulgent drinking, a little preparation can save hours of headache-addled discomfort the morning after.

Don’t drink on an empty stomach

One of the worst mistakes any drinker can make is downing too much booze on an empty stomach. When you consume alcohol, your body immediately begins to process it and some percentage of the booze is absorbed into your blood stream. Without any food in your system, the blood stream will rapidly absorb alcohol, which leads to quick intoxication. Having food in your stomach slows this absorption rate enough that your body can effectively process alcohol and thus won’t be overwhelmed by an overage of booze being put into it. It is also common knowledge that drinking on an empty stomach is a surefire way to end up vomiting, which, unless you’re a masochist, is an entirely unpleasant experience.

So before you head out for a night on the town, make sure to eat some kind of a meal to avoid both getting drunk too fast and essentially wasting your alcohol by vomiting it back up. Your drinking friends, and your esophagus, will appreciate your efforts.

Pace yourself with water

College drinking culture would have you believe that constant chugging is the only manner of drinking worth participating in, but this is a farce. The novelty of beer funnels and keg stands only maintains its kitsch for so long before it becomes something less than comical, and frankly no one wants to be associated with that guy at the bar who keeps whooping and slugging his way through pitcher after pitcher of Bud Light. Instead of pouring shot after shot down your throat for hours on end, switch it up with an occasional glass of water. Heavy drinking dehydrates you rapidly, and a lack of fluids can cause you to get overly intoxicated, which is never really as enjoyable as it might seem. Keeping yourself hydrated also ensures that your body can continue to absorb alcohol at a healthy rate and thus avoid the risk of alcohol poisoning. Carry at least one bottle of water with you when you hit the town, or ask the bartender for a cup of water every now and then. A glass of water is usually free at the bar, so you have no reason to avoid it because it won’t deplete any of your precious drinking funds.

Avoid mixing alcohols

If college social life can teach you any practical skills, it is the occasional peril of mixing alcohols. Some people are born with the inherent gift of high tolerance and can vacillate back and forth between drinking beer and whiskey all night with no issues, but many of us lack this genetic gift and can potentially suffer some uncomfortable consequences as a result of combining boozes. Perhaps you’ve heard the old adage, “Liquor before beer and you’re in the clear,” but if you haven’t, it is sound advice to adhere to. Your body processes liquor, beer and wine differently, and combining these three alcohols in close proximity can overload your system and potentially make you physically sick. If you feel the need to drink both hard liquor and beer on and off throughout the night, try to space it out with a glass of water before you jump the fence to the next kind of drink. If you’ve got a bellyful of beer and find yourself with the overwhelming urge to take a few shots, don’t. The shock of hard liquor to your stomach may not end well.

Everything in moderation

Given the scope of Blarney Blowout’s popularity, it almost seems futile to advocate for moderate drinking, but a little common sense goes a long way, especially at the bar. While the unspoken goal of the Blowout is inebriation, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to get absolutely smashed and potentially make a drunken fool out of yourself. It is possible to have a good time without completely losing your bearings of sobriety, and you might even enjoy the experience more if you can remember it the next day. So if your plans this weekend involve drinking, by all means drink, but pace yourself; if the real point of Blarney Blowout was to get drunk as fast as humanly possible, it might well not be slated as an all-day event. So make the most of a whole day dedicated to drinking and take your time. The bars will be open all night, so there’s no need to rush headlong into intoxication before the party gets into full swing.

If the Blarney Blowout is lovingly circled on your calendar, follow the advice of the UMass administration (as much as you may want to roll your eyes at it) and act with a certain air of responsibility. Social drinking is fun, that much is a given, but not at the expense of acting foolish and disrespectful in public. Go out and have a good time, but bear in mind that the Amherst community is not obligated to humor a college drinking tradition, and the downtown area does not automatically become a drunken playground this weekend. So plan your Blarney festivities accordingly, and remember to drink plenty of water, because the only downside of a night of good drinking is the aftermath of a morning hangover.

Emily A. Brightman can be reached at [email protected]