‘Breakthrough’: £1 hangover tablet goes on sale in UK – are there any risks involved?

Dr Philippa shares tips for preventing hangovers

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Feeling worse for wear the next morning is the downside to drinking alcohol. However, this drawback may now be eliminated thanks to the arrival of a cheap tablet that its makers claim banishes the hellish hangover for good. The Myrkl supplement from Myrkle, which went on sale yesterday, works by rapidly breaking down alcohol in the gut before it manages to reach the liver – the pill continues to break booze down for up to 12 hours.

The company is selling packs of 30 on their website for £30.

There has been much fanfare accompanying the release of the pill but not everyone shares the uncritical enthusiasm.

The game-changing tablet could have unintended consequences that could prove harmful.

That’s the worrying assessment put forward by Martin Preston, Founder and Chief Executive at private rehab clinic Delamere.

Mr Preston worries the drug pill could encourage more binge drinking – a problem that’s already endemic in British culture.

“This pill is a scientific breakthrough,” the chief executive said, “however it could also result in people abusing this pill as an excuse to binge-drink without suffering the consequences the morning after”.

He explained: “The main reason we get hangovers is the ethanol found in alcohol, which is broken down in the liver and causes dehydration, and can lead to the dizziness, headaches and thirst we associate with the morning after a heavy night out.

“Nobody likes this feeling, but it’s your body’s reaction to consuming more alcohol than it can handle.”

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The hangover pill overrides this important process and this could open Pandora’s box, Mr Preston warned.

“The fact this pill is now extremely accessible means we could easily see a rise in binge drinking with people using this pill as an excuse to consume more, which could be extremely damaging for people’s health and wellbeing,” he warned.

“For example, using this pill as an excuse to drink more could lead to problems such as insomnia which can lead to exhaustion and fatigue which will lower your quality of life day to day.”

In more serious cases, said Mr Preston, it could lead to liver disease or even brain damage as it can damage your brain’s frontal lobe – this area of the brain is responsible for emotional control, short-term memory, and judgement, in addition to other vital roles.

He continued: “The fact is, this pill isn’t designed for binge drinking. If you take it and binge drink, you will get drunk much slower and spend a lot more money.

“The pill is designed for moderate drinkers who might go for a few drinks and not want to feel it at work the next day for example. However, this could lead to an increase in alcohol consumption throughout the week and lead to moderate drinkers consuming a lot more often.

“Finally, one of the worst things that this pill could result in is causing alcoholism. People might use this pill to disguise symptoms of alcoholism and avoid getting help before their addiction becomes fatal.

“Alongside this, alcoholism could become more widespread as the body will start to adapt to drinking in larger volumes due to regular use of the pill. Drinkers without a hangover the next day might also be encouraged to drink yet again that day which could eventually lead to alcoholism.”

Drinking alcohol – important advice

With so many different drinks and glass sizes, from shots to pints – not to mention bottles – it’s easy to get confused about how many units are in your drink.

The number of units in a drink is based on the size of the drink, as well as its alcohol strength.

“For example, a pint of strong lager contains three units of alcohol, whereas the same volume of lower-strength lager has just over two units,” explains the NHS.

To keep health risks from alcohol to a low level if you drink most weeks:

  • Men and women are advised not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis
  • Spread your drinking over three or more days. If you regularly drink as much as 14 units a week and you want to cut down, try to have several drink-free days each week.

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