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Handling hangovers

By Alida Kunsa
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, October 14, 2004
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Pills may not offer cure to heavy drinking

While a few pills on drugstore shelves claim prevent hangovers after a night of heavy drinking, students are skeptical about taking them.

Sob'r-K HangoverStopper, RU-21 and Chaser are a few of the pills that claim to prevent hangovers. The RU-21 pill is also known as the "KGB" pill, for being made in Russia for the KGB to prevent drunkenness.

Lynn Reyes, alcohol and other drug prevention specialist at the UA's Campus Health, said she is cautious about what the pills claim to do.

"I'm always leery about things that promise something like that," Reyes said.

Sometimes students ask about the hangover pill, however a lot of students haven't even heard of it, Reyes said.

Reyes said she is concerned the pill may give people who take them a false sense of security. Students may think they are less intoxicated and OK to drive, Reyes said.

With most of the hangover pills on the market, people are supposed to take one to two pills with their first drink, to prevent a hangover the next morning. With some of the pills, a person is asked to take them throughout the night. The Sob'r-K HangoverStopper is supposed to be taken before, during and after a night of drinking.

Reyes said she tells students to look at ingredients. She said the pills with sugar and caffeine may give a person a boost but that's about it and they don't help prevent a hangover.

"If you are getting a lot of hangovers, don't look at the pill as a solution to the problem," Reyes said. "Just reduce the amount of your alcohol intake."

Most of the pills are advertised as all-natural on their packaging and Web sites. The Sob'r-K HangoverStopper pills are basically made of activated carbon or vegetable carbon. The Chaser pill is made of calcium carbonate and charcoal.

These ingredients are supposed to soak up all of the bad elements that alcohol leaves behind, preventing a hangover.

According to the Chaser Web site, these bad elements are the colors, aromas and flavors that are in alcoholic beverages, called congeners. When these enter the bloodstream, the body's immune system releases cytokines trying to eliminate the congeners. This process is what makes the body feel hungover.

Many hangover pills are marketed as dietary supplements.

According to the Food and Drug Administration regulations, dietary supplements can be produced and distributed without registering or getting approval.

The regulations say it is up to the manufacturer to have accurate, truthful and not misleading information on the label. The FDA also says it is the job of the manufacturer to have safe ingredients in their product.

Many students say they haven't heard of them but even more haven't tried them.

Melissa Peek, a communications junior, said she has never taken or heard of the pills, but said she would probably try them. Peek said she only has about two drinks a week.

"Yes, I would be open to take them, if they were FDA-approved," Peek said.

Kevin Francom, visual communications senior, has heard of them but hasn't used them and said he probably never would.

"No I wouldn't probably use them because I think that it's basically just a multivitamin," Francom said.

He said he usually just takes a regular multivitamin before he goes to sleep and drink lots of water after a long night of drinking and that seems to work for him. Francom drinks about three to four times a week.

Tember Graves, a psychology junior, got some hangover pills for her birthday but never used them.

She said her friends have taken the pills and said they worked for them.

"I think I'd take them if I thought I would drink a lot," Graves said.

Rickie Solano, operation management senior, has never taken them but read about the pills in Maxim magazine.

"I would take them if I thought it would work in general, but I don't believe that it could work," Solano said.

Solano questioned the hangover pills' ability, wondering if it is just a scheme to get college students to spend their money.

According to the Chaser pill manufacturer, Chaser pill's ingredients' are FDA approved. The Sob'r-K HangoverStopper is marketed under the 1996 Natural Food Supplement Act, which does not require FDA approval for products marketed as dietary supplements.

Sob'r-K HangoverStopper's manufacturer claims it's been tested for more than 10 years and has been available since 1996.

The Chaser pill can be found in most supermarkets and drug stores.

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