That looming fear you have after a night of drinking isn’t entirely the embarrassment of contemplating what weird shit you might have said while you were drunk. For many people, myself included, an unplaceable anxiety is a frequent next-day symptom of having a few drinks, no matter how tame the night might have been.
There are tons of alleged hangover cures and tricks aimed at alleviating the usual symptoms of nausea or fatigue, or products designed to prevent these symptoms altogether, from Pedialyte to pickle juice to herbal supplements to a plate of greasy food. Yet, no product except for Cheers Restore, an over-the-counter pill, intends to address this sense of dread, despite the fact that feeling mentally unwell often overshadows actually being physically unwell. But like every other potential fix, the results are questionable.
There are some legitimate chemical reasons for post-drinking anxiety. On a basic level, alcohol suppresses anxiety by functioning as a depressant and flooding the brain with dopamine, making you feel relaxed. When that buzz wears off, though, your brain goes into rebound-mode. Dopamine dips, anxiety shoots back up and you’re ill-prepared to deal with these feelings in contrast to your previous state. Cheers Restore claims to help prevent this from happening with one of its main ingredients, a flavonoid called DHM that was found to have some alcohol-alleviating effects in rats in 2012. Cheers Restore also contains potentially useful vitamins like B12, but it’s DHM that’s supposed to do the work. DHM binds to the same receptors in the brain as alcohol, and can allegedly minimize that rebound time.
For people who regularly experience anxiety and depression, the rebound period after drinking can be all the more dramatic. I’m one of those people, but I work hard to maintain my mental health. There are few things I’ll put before it. That said, alcohol is my sole vice. On a Friday night, I might put back more than a doctor would recommend I should. I always remember the entirety of my evenings, though I’ve certainly woken up the next day and wondered where I gathered the confidence to post a particular photo or noticed some typos that slipped by me the night prior. As minor as these things might be, they still bring me anxiety.
So, I tried Cheers Restore on two separate occasions to see if it would provide some comfort. Whether it worked, I honestly don’t know. At 24, my body probably still contains some of those recuperative powers of youth. My hangovers are never all that terrible or predictable to begin with. The last time I got a really bad hangover, I think I was actually nauseous because I ordered pancakes and nachos from a 24-hour taco spot before bed. Or, maybe it’s because I had four vodka-sodas from a dive bar where a single pour ends up more like a double. There are other occasions where I’ve done basically the exact same thing and felt just fine the next day. All of which is to say, I don’t have much of a baseline expectation for hangovers, regardless.
The first night I tried Cheers, I took the recommended three pills along with my last beverage, per the instructions. For capsule pills, they were surprisingly minty. My sleep was spotty and I awoke anxious several times, but I was also staying in a hotel. The next day, I felt largely fine until late afternoon, when I had to fight off a panic attack. Whether any of this was from the alcohol, from the pills or just from being away from home is beyond me.
The second time I tried them, I was in the comfort of my own apartment. It all went much smoother. I felt a little groggy the next day, but I didn’t have many other hangover symptoms at all. Both times I tried Cheers, I fell asleep with a buzz, but it’s not as though the room was spinning. Would I have had a hangover anyway? Was my vacation anxiety to blame for my discomfort the first time I tried it? I’m not sure there’s a way to tell.
I’ll certainly give Cheers Restore another try, and maybe it works best for special occasions where extra hard drinking is on the menu. For those who reliably have uncomfortably anxious hangovers but don’t wanna give up the sauce, I see no reason not to try it except for the price tag: For $35, you get 12 servings. Not a terrible price, but more than I’d ordinarily spend on a supplement.
The bigger question to me, though, is whether our hangxiety is truly the result of some neurochemical peaks and dips. I’m sure it’s part of it, and that Cheers Restore likely has some capability of mellowing out these fluctuations. But a supplement taken with your last drink is only going to help your brain after the drinking is done — you’ll still have to sit with the feelings produced by whatever it is you did before the night was through. Three minty capsules can’t unsend texts or reformulate sentences.
That’s something you’ll have to deal with on your own.