Emergency! The morning-after

You were drunk, but there's no need to declare a state of emergency. Here's how to keep calm and carry on the morning after a big night.

A young person is standing outside holding a coffee to cope with the effects of the morning after a night of partying

It may feel like a disaster, but last night’s alcohol avalanche needn’t result in catastrophe. Give yourself a three-minute warning, then roll off the sofa and begin the damage limitation.

Your morning-after hangover

Start with your own physical needs. Assess the damage: unfortunately the headache, the sickness, the grumpiness and the fear of what might have happened are all part of the hangover experience. Water, rest and vitamin C seem to be the best methods for ridding yourself of alcoholic residue,

Drinking can often lead to ex-smokers lighting up again and even regular smokers might feel as though their lungs are creaking after a night of chain smoking. Take a look at whatever you were using as an ashtray – if you want to give up smoking this could be all the inspiration you need.

If your party involved something a little harder than alcohol, again water, rest and vitamin pills can all help with a comedown and you can probably expect mood swings throughout the week, although if you can remember what’s causing them they’re easier to deal with.

Your morning-after mind

A certain amount of creeping paranoia is to be expected. Unfortunately all those ‘what did I say? What did I do? Oh GOD, not THAT!’ feelings are part and parcel of the day-after-the-night-before. It’s usually not as bad as you think it is – and the feelings of terror will wear off. Set your mind at rest by checking for sent messages and dialled calls; you might want to have a look at your social media accounts too.

If you have sent an ill-advised message or had a row with a friend, it’s worth getting in touch as soon as your head’s cleared. Stay calm, apologise where necessary and try to straighten things out. Drunken arguments with your girlfriend or boyfriend are nothing unusual either, as booze can make feelings run high.

Woken up with someone else?

So there’s a person lying next to you and a possibility you might have had sex with them. Remember your manners; even if this was a one night stand, there’s no need to leg it. Say you had fun, but make it clear if you don’t want things to go any further. Whatever you do, don’t take their phone number if you don’t plan on calling.

Even if you have the best intentions, thoughts of contraception are too easy to abandon in the heat of the moment. If you didn’t use a condom you may want to get yourself checked out at a genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic where you can be tested for various infections. You can deal with your pregnancy worries by getting the morning-after pill which you can get without too much hassle from pharmacists, hospitals or your doctor (GP).

The morning-after and the wider world

If the party ended up round at yours, then your house will almost certainly look like a war zone. However fragile you feel it’s better to just clean it up- looking at reminders of last night’s carnage will only make you feel more ruined. If you’ve crashed at someone else’s it’s only polite to give them a hand; they’re your friends, not hotel staff.

More seriously, drink driving isn’t just against the law: It’s dangerous for you and others. If you do wake up realising you’ve driven home, you need to take a very close look at what led you to make that decision. Was it a worry about getting back safely? A lack of knowledge about public transport? Whatever the reasons, you need to think about how you can prevent it happening again.

Next Steps




Updated on 23-Feb-2023