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The Hangover Treatment at Home

By Ian Anderson, Urbanist November 02, 2016


Don’t be alarmed — Cooper, Galifianakis and company haven’t tarnished their comedic legacies with a fourth installment of the Hangover’s blackout premise. Those aren’t roman numerals, those are the letters IV, as in intravenous. As in The IV Doc, a new to San Diego service that sends a nurse to your home to deliver an IV hangover-treatment on demand.

I talked to Dr. Adam Nadelson, one of the New York surgeons who started the IV Doc. He basically says he got the idea from working in hospitals, where doctors and nurses have access to IV treatments to help them work through food poisoning. And hangovers. The IV Doc will send a nurse to treat either, as well as migraines, jet lag, the flu, and one of those times you just don’t feel like you’ve been getting enough antioxidants.

Hangover IV Drip

Dr. Nadelson invited me to give it a shot to see if I thought it effective, and I took him up on it. I figured I had a get out of jail free card to really tie one on. He took my medical history and asked what sort of pain or discomfort I needed to treat. I asked him to get back to me the following morning and vowed to work hard to ensure I would wake up with the meanest hangover drinking five different kinds of alcohol could provide.

That night I started like usual, with a couple of beers. Over the course of the next four hours, this was the tally: a bottle of red wine, a glass of prosecco, a barrel-aged stout, a glass of whiskey, a shot of tequila, then a couple more beers. And a cognac before bed, because when you’re actively trying to induce a hangover and fortunate enough to have a bottle of Grand Marnier 100th Anniversary at your disposal, that’s what you do. Also because was out of Jägermeister.

Hangover alcohol bottles

I could already feel the hangover starting before I went to sleep. I’d scheduled my IV treatment for 9 am, but woke up at 5 feeling the horror. My master plan had been too successful, reminding me once again it doesn’t pay to be an overachiever.

By the time my nurse arrived, I was ready to eloquently describe the borborygmus of my foul stomach, the boat rocking nausea, and the headache that had clear designs on bringing pain to the rest of my body. I was ready to describe it, but I was too sick and tired to effectively tell her anything coherent, instead of answering in moans, groans, and bloodshot gestures. She just nodded sympathetically, unfolded a mobile IV stand, and strung up a liter bag of saline.

I’m not going to lie: the needle freaked me out. My RN was pleasant, compassionate and engaging, but that doesn’t mean she wanted to sit around my house for an hour waiting for the IV bag to slowly empty into my dehydrated hangover corpse. So she used a really large-gauge catheter to give all the precious medicine enough bandwidth to blitz my bloodstream in about 30minutes. It was a big prick, and there’s no getting around it. And because hangovers have predictable self-loathing psychology, I sat there looking at the needle poking into my arm believing I deserved any suffering brought about by drinking so foolhardy much.

But when the cool rush of saline hit my veins even that needle felt welcome. My nurse also punched in a multivitamin pack, and a combo of anti-inflammatory, anti-nausea and anti-heartburn meds. Within a few moments, my nausea was gone. My writhing stomach came to rest. A few minutes later my headache dissipated.

Even as I came to life, the IV bag withered, like I was an X-Men mutant sucking the life out of it. The needle came out, my nurse packed up her wares, and I was left to pursue the rest of my workday, feeling relaxed and tired. The symptoms of my errant night had abated, but I was still exhausted for the effort and still feeling the loss of sleep.

Next time, I’ll make sure to keep drinking and stay awake later to avoid waking up before IV Doc’s earliest appointment at 8 am. Or I’ll just add a B12 shot to my order.

Not that I’ll abuse the privilege. The menu of services here range from $150 to about $400 — depending on whether you stack it up with B12 shots, electrolytes, and various other medications — so it’s not the sort of thing to count on every weekend. This on-demand home treatment is intended for otherwise healthy people who are experiencing a severe case of food poisoning, viral malaise, or the hangover from hell. And maybe for those times you really overdid it and only have a couple of hours before you have to be on your game.

Ultimately, the IV Doc is medicinal more than recreational and should be viewed that way. But knowing you can apply the cost towards your health insurance deductible lets me look at it as a valuable safety net for any self-inflict drought days ahead. With all due respect to pizza, this is probably the best home delivery I’ve experienced.

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