Tag Archives: alcohol

What Going Through The D.A.R.E Program Taught Me (And What It Failed To Teach Me)

Was D.A.R.E. Effective? | Live Science

Don’t do drugs. They’re bad for you.

We’ve been telling that to kids for decades. Many people reading this probably remember hearing it as well when they were kids. They heard it at school, form parents, from churches, and from any number of anti-drug PSAs. “South Park” has even done entire episodes about it.

The message is out there.

It’s not exactly ambiguous.

Drugs are bad and you shouldn’t do drugs. We get it. It’s so belabored at this point that it might as well be background noise.

However, it’s for that very reason that we should scrutinize that message. I don’t know if anyone has noticed, but despite all those anti-drug ads and programs, drug abuse is still a big problem. People are still doing illicit drugs and thousands still die from it.

Why is that?

Did these people not hear the same anti-drug messages that we’ve all been hearing for years?

It’s very likely they did. It just didn’t have any effect on them. That raises plenty of other questions. Before I even try asking those, I’d like to share a brief personal story about my experience with these anti-drug programs. Once I do, I hope it reveals why their impact is so muted.

When I was in grade school, the now-infamous Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program, better known as DARE, was in full-swing. All over the country, various schools and community programs would take time out of their schedules to hold these DARE-sponsored events. Those events were meant to be informative, but they always came back to just telling kids not to do drugs.

I was in the third grade when I first went through it. I distinctly remember only caring about it because it meant an entire afternoon had been cleared of other schoolwork. That’s how most of my friends at the time thought of it, too.

The program itself wasn’t that elaborate. We just had two men, a DARE spokesman and a police officer, sit down in front of our class to talk about drugs. I don’t recall any discussions about addiction or why people do drugs in the first place. Almost everything revolved around identifying certain drugs and learning to say no to them.

Some of those drugs, namely marijuana, are now legal in large parts of the country.

Curiously, the two drugs they never mentioned were alcohol and tobacco, which are far more likely to be abused.

I’m sure there was a reason for this and it had to do with these two drugs having billion-dollar companies behind them, but I digress.

What my third-grade brain took away from this was mixed, at best. Going through this program, these well-meaning adults painted a strange picture. They made it seem like there are these evil, nefarious drug dealers lurking in the shadows, looking to jump you on your way home from school, and shove illegal drugs in your face.

As a kid who read a lot of comics and watched plenty of cartoons, I found that to be very strange. Even crazed supervillains had some motivation behind it. These DARE people never talked about that. They didn’t mention things like drug cartels or gang violence. They just said these drug dealers are evil people who just want to get you addicted to drugs.

I honestly wanted to ask questions, but we never got a chance. This whole program was basically a lecture, not a discussion. The only questions they answered involved what certain drugs looked like and what they were often called.

Things got even more confusing in later years when I went through other parts of the program, which often included watching cheesy, poorly produced videos about the horrors of drugs. We would see pictures of ugly drug addicts and people getting arrested. At no point did we ever learn why these people were addicted or what happened to them after they got arrested. It was all so basic and bland.

Now, I understand keeping things basic for school kids, but it’s also worth noting that kids have bullshit detectors. They may not be as smart or as knowledgeable as an adult, but they’re not stupid. As a result, the way DARE framed drugs, drug dealers, and drug abuse never came off as something serious. It just felt like another case of adults talking down to kids again.

In that sense, I really didn’t get much out of DARE. If anything, it often left me confused.

I understood what drugs were, but the way DARE talked about them left little room for nuance. I still remembered at the time my parents often saying we had to stop off at the drug store on our way home. I knew what they meant. Some of us had prescriptions that needed filling. My parents explained it to me. I understood that, despite my age.

Now, here’s this program that constantly tells us drugs are bad and you should never do drugs, but never specifying what exactly they mean by “drugs.” Technically, aspirin and cough syrup are drugs. Were those just as dangerous? Again, I never got a chance to ask questions to clear that up.

Even as I reached middle school and high school, DARE programs didn’t change much. They just hammered away at that same message. Somebody from a police department would come to talk to a bunch of students and tell them not to do drugs. At this point, though, we were so numb to it that I remember some of my classmates falling asleep or doodling on their notepads the whole time.

To date, I’ve never met anyone who says the DARE program stopped them from doing drugs. That sentiment is mirrored in actual research done on the effectiveness of this program. For the most part, it didn’t work. In some cases, it actually had the reverse effect because it sent the message to kids that drug use was far more common than it actually was.

Then, there were the kids and teenagers who did drugs just to spite adults. Tell them not to do something and they’re just going to want to do it even more. I don’t know how common they were, but I know for certain those people exist.

Now, I’m an adult and looking back on it, I won’t say the DARE program was a total farce. I don’t doubt for a second that the intentions behind it were good. I know people who’ve had drug problems. Drug abuse is serious and it really does a lot of harm. However, there are far better ways of talking about it with kids and adults alike. None of them involve talking down to anyone.

I also feel like DARE was incomplete. It talked about drugs, but not the kinds of drugs people most often abuse, namely alcohol and tobacco. I didn’t learn about that until I was nearly in college. By then, most people already knew about it from other, non-DARE sources, so it was far too late to do anything about it.

It also felt like a missed opportunity because drug addiction has evolved since I was a kid. Today, abuse of prescription drugs is a far more serious issue than crack cocaine ever was. It’s killing people at a terrible rate and the way it manifests is nothing like what the DARE program described.

These days, DARE is largely seen as some cheesy relic from the late 80s and early 90s. That’s true to some extent, but having gone through it, I also think it’s worth looking beyond the dated references. It showed that we all realized there was a drug problem in this country. We needed to address that problem. We just went about it the wrong way with DARE.

I’m not saying we’ve fixed our approach to educating people about drug abuse. People are still using, abusing, and dying from drugs at an alarming rate. If DARE taught us anything it’s that there’s plenty of room for improvement. We just have to be willing to be serious, realistic, and understanding of this issue. If we aren’t, it’ll only get worse.

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Drunks Vs. Stoners: How College Shaped My Opinion On Both

College is a weird and wonderful time. The experience varies for everyone, but it’s remarkable in that it gives teenagers on the cusp of adulthood their first taste of real independence. Most handle it fairly well. Others don’t. We know who those people are. We can identify them in almost every college movie ever made.

My experience was special in so many ways. I often credit college with finally cracking the thick shell of misery, social anxiety, and self-doubt that I’d built up over four years of high school. It was an experience I needed. I’m a better adult because I went to college. I learned many life lessons there, but I’d like to share one particular lesson that stands out more than most.

It has to do with stoners and drunks. Depending on your college experience, if you had one, this should bring back memories.

Specifically, I’d like to highlight why I preferred hanging out with stoners more than drunks. It’s something I confronted early on in my college career. As a freshman, I lived in an all-male dormitory. It was quite rowdy, to say the least, and I have any number of colorful stories that I could share. One in particular stands out and it set the tone for how I’d deal with both groups.

Even for those who didn’t go to college, there’s a good chance you’ve dealt with heavy drinkers before. They come in many varieties. Some are happy drunks, like me. When I get drunk, I tend to laugh, stumble, and hug random strangers for no reason. I’m overly affectionate, albeit sloppy. I tend to make a fool of myself, but in a not-so-messy way.

Then, there are the not-so-happy drunks. They’re the kind of people who, when they drink, have a tendency to get more confrontational. They’re not always violent, but they are uninhibited in terms of their willingness to pick fights. I remember being at a bar and seeing someone get pissed off because some girl laughed at his shirt. I could tell from how he was standing that he had a few too many.

While these types of drunks weren’t as common as the happy drunks, they often left their mark and not just with hangovers. Even among happy drunks, they did some damage and not all of it was physical. They would say things and conduct themselves in ways that made for some awkward conversations once they sobered up. One guy in my dorm had a bad reputation for pissing in the elevator every Saturday.

With stoners, the story was different and a bit more consistent. I got to know a few in my sophomore year. They were, by and large, the easiest kind of people to hang out with. Once they got stoned, they weren’t too picky about how they wanted to spend their time. They were happy just watching TV, listening to music, and lofting about without a care in the world.

For someone with sub-par social skills, like me at the time, they were a pleasant surprise. I was able to get along with them a lot easier than heavy drinkers, who instinctively wanted to do something crazy every half-hour. Stoners are just content re-watching Star Wars and bad sitcoms.

That mellow attitude was also gender neutral. There wasn’t much variation between the male and female stoners. The only thing I noticed is that the women just laughed more when they got stoned and were less likely to get paranoid. The women drinkers, however, tended to be a bit more volatile. They rarely got violent, but they were a lot more inclined to yell at people for no apparent reason.

One girl I knew through a roommate once got into a shouting match with her TV because the speakers kept shorting out. I’m pretty sure the TV won.

However, when it comes to incidents that best highlight why I prefer stoners over drunks, one stands out among the rest. It happened during my junior year. It was late at night and I was just returning from a friend’s birthday party. I’m almost at my dorm when I come across four guys who were definitely drunk, as their inability to stand clearly demonstrated.

They weren’t violent or confrontational, for the most part. A couple smelled awful, though. I suspect vomit was the source. They were actually really friendly with me because I was wearing a football jersey. They laughed and joked with me. Then, for reasons I still don’t understand, they decided to start throwing lit matches at each other to make one another dance. They even offered me a chance to throw one.

I politely declined and was on my way. I was laughing for most of them, but I was genuinely worried. It only took one mis-thrown match to make their antics dangerous. Thankfully, that didn’t happen. It’s still a memorable incident in that it made stoners a bit less stressful to hang out with.

To this day, I know plenty of people who drink and smoke pot. They’re all genuinely wonderful people with jobs, families, and heart. I’ll gladly have a drink with any of them. When it comes to just hanging out with no discernible goal in mind, I still prefer stoners. Their so affable and mellow. They’re also less likely to puke in my kitchen sink.

Yes, that happened once.

No, I’d rather not go into detail.

It’s just one of the many insightful experiences I gained in college. It might not be the most groundbreaking, but it did prepare me for the adult world in a strange, yet wonderful way.

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10 Hours Of Ron Swanson Drinking Lagavulin Whiskey By Fire: You’re Welcome

Let’s be honest. We’re all sick of news about pandemics, social distancing, mounting death tolls, and incompetent politicians. I’d say we’re all a bit stir crazy, but I fear that would be understating it.

It’s times like this when it helps to find some unique method of relaxation. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. It doesn’t even have to make much sense. If it helps you relax, then go for it. Embrace it. Do what you can to cope with this objectively awful situation.

To that end, I offer you my new favorite video for relaxation. It just happens to be the manliest kind of relaxation imaginable. It’s a full 10 hours of Nick “Ron Swanson” Offerman drinking whiskey by a roaring fire. It’s as amazing as it sounds.

You’re welcome.

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Happy (And Bittersweet) St. Patrick’s Day!

Let’s not lie to ourselves. Some holidays are more noteworthy than others. As long as we’re being honest, a sizable number of people probably didn’t remember that today is St. Patrick’s Day. For once, you have a perfectly valid reason for forgetting. When there’s a global pandemic making headlines, tanking the economy, and disrupting society, you can be forgiven for letting it slip your mind.

I won’t deny it. I usually don’t make a big deal of St. Patrick’s Day. For me, it’s just a fun event that involves going out to a bar, hanging out with friends, and drinking beer while watching sports. Given all the sports cancellations, most of those plans are already shot. It’s disappointing. It also makes it difficult to get in any St. Patrick’s Day spirit.

Even if you don’t care for the holiday, it still sucks that we lost what is a fun social event that you can celebrate on your own terms. Chances are most will just spend this day trying to make due with this harsh new reality of enduring a global pandemic. It’s not fun or festive, to say the least.

However, that doesn’t mean we can’t find a way to enjoy it. I made sure I had a case of beer and some Jameson’s Whiskey on hand for today. I may not be able to hang out at a bar or enjoy a good party, but I can still kick back with a few beers and celebrate in my own special way. I encourage everyone to do the same. Even if you don’t drink, do what you can to make this bittersweet holiday a bit more enjoyable.

Times are tough. They’re bound to get tougher, but they’re destined to get better. Make the most if it. Find a way to have a little fun on this bittersweet St. Patrick’s Day. If not, then plan on making up for it at some point. That day will come and when it does, it’ll be sweeter than any beer or whiskey you could ever taste.

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Daily Sexy Musing: Drunk Love

drunk-hookup-main

When it comes to matters of love and sex, alcohol has a mixed reputation. On one hand, it lowers our inhibitions and makes us more willing to pursue feelings that we wouldn’t have pursued. On the other, it can really hinder the actual mechanics of intimacy. Anyone who has tried to kiss someone while drunk knows that all too well.

In college, I saw many cases of alcohol both helping and hindering various acts of romance. I’ve watched a couple do shots and have the best time together at a club. I’ve also seen people do just as many shots and fall over one another in a very unromantic way. It’s a mixed bag, but like any tool, it depends on how it’s used.

As someone who didn’t start drinking until much later in life, I can appreciate how alcohol helps us navigate the various social processes that often come with romance. It doesn’t just loosen inhibitions. It frees our words, so to speak. It allows us to be more upfront than we otherwise would and I think that valuable in any romantic pursuit, especially those with poor social skills.

Others may have had bad experiences with alcohol and not just in terms of their love lives. I understand that and this Daily Sexy Musing may not work for them. For those who have found a way to incorporate the effects of alcohol into a healthy, sexy relationship, I think we’ll be on the same page. Like anything, you can overdo it. When you strike a healthy balance, though, the benefits are as remarkable as they are sexy.

A can of beer.

A glass of wine.

A shot of whiskey.

A bottle of vodka.

Whatever form it takes, we gleefully imbibe. That hot, burning sensations in our throats warns us what we’re in for. Nerves will be dampened and inhibitions will be lost. We take on those risks in hopes of reaping greater rewards. There may be pain and discomfort later, but with every drink, we embrace the here and now.

I feel my tongue loosen.

I feel your body open.

I feel our souls reveal themselves as the effects take hold.

We laugh, cheer, and dance. Everything starts to spin. It’s no longer possible to scrutinize every passing moment. For once, rules and propriety cannot keep us bound. I won’t apologize for feeling good, nor will I hesitate to share that experience with others. When others scorn, I just take another drink.

Every sip is an affront to a world intent on containing our passions. A lurid smile and playful grasp spits on the foundations of civilization. Rather than build and toil, we cheer and celebrate. We step away from our duties, defy our overlords, and live life on our terms. A drink may start as an excuse, but it soon becomes a catalyst.

The price we pay later goes up, but the feelings we embrace in the moment gain value. Through slurred speech and blissful daze, we are free and unbound. Everything becomes possible. Everyone becomes a new connection. For once, the life we live is our own.

With every drink, we turn restraint and to revelry.

With every drink, we turn deviance into decadence.

With every drink, we turn distress into catharsis.

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Contemplating The Perfect Drug (And Whether We Could Handle It)

psychedelic-delirium-hallucination

Imagine, for a moment, you took the perfect drug. By that, I don’t mean the kind of drug that alleviates a headache, settles an upset stomach, or just makes it so you can function normally. I’m not talking about the kinds of drugs that gives us Captain America level superpowers either. I’m talking about the kind of drug that alters, enhances, or somehow changes the way you experience the world, physically and mentally.

It is a very subjective thought experiment, especially compared to some of the others I’ve explored. It might even be somewhat inappropriate to contemplate as parts of this world are dealing with a serious prescription drug problem and violence generated by the illegal drug trade. However, with the War on Drugs that Richard Nixon first declared being almost 50 years old, I think a little nuance on the issue is warranted.

In the same way we’ll never have a society of perfect monogamy, despite the best efforts of religion and government, we’ll never have a completely drug-free society. Human beings have been experimenting with drugs since ancient times in some form or another. Some major historical figures are known to have done drugs that would’ve gotten them thrown in jail today.

The choice of drug may vary, but so too does their reason for taking it. Some seek to alleviate pain. Some seek to enhance pleasure. Some are just bored and want to experience something new and profound. Whatever the reasons, the fact that so many different people from so many different eras, cultures, and situations seek drugs is revealing in and of itself.

In some respects, it reflects our inherent dissatisfaction with our current limits. We are, at the end of the day, at the mercy of our bodies, our brains, and the evolutionary mechanisms behind them. We get tired too easily. We can’t run as hard or as fast as we want. We can’t remember things that well or learn new things that efficiently. That doesn’t even begin to the limitations that effect our sex lives.

If anything, our own evolution gives us a powerful imperative to seek out powerful drugs. Our bodies and brains are programmed with two imperatives, survival and reproduction. If we can find a drug that enhances both, then we’re just improving our evolutionary standing in the world.

While I wouldn’t make that argument to a DEA agent, I think it’s worth contemplating the kind of drug that would do more to help us transcend our limitations than what we have now. Modern drugs, legal and illegal alike, do some amazing things. However, as anyone who has dealt with the side-effects of pain killers knows, there’s room for improvement.

Ignoring side-effects for a moment, think of the effects and benefits of the familiar drugs in existence right now. Look at what they do, how they do it, and why people pursue those effects in the first place. Then, imagine which of those effects you would want to include with the perfect drug.

Would it make you really astute and focused like Adderall or Ritalin?

Would it make you really relaxed and mellow like Xanex or Marijuana?

Would it make you really energized like cocaine or amphetamines?

Would it give you better stamina and endurance like anabolic steroids?

Would it give you mind-altering perceptions like LSD and DMT?

Would it make you extremely happy and empathetic like MDMA?

Chances are, you might want a little of everything. What you want might also depend on your situation. If you want a drug that’ll help you lose weight, you’ll probably want the effects of steroids and amphetamines. If you want to sleep better, you’ll want the effects of Xanex or weed. If you just want to be happy, sometimes all you need is a cigarette or a beer.

The perfect drug, by definition, would be able to grant you all or at least part of these experiences. Ideally, you wouldn’t need to a new prescription or a new dealer. The same drug would be capable of evoking those effects. It may require some tweaking of the dosage, mechanisms, or chemical processes, but it’s still capable of delivering.

It may sound like an impossible substance and to some extent, it is. However, it’s still only as impossible as our limitations and there are plenty of ongoing efforts to transcend those limitations through biotechnology, nanotechnology, and human/machine interface. I’ve mentioned a few of those efforts, including smart blood and neural implants. With future refinements, they’ll provide the catalyst for the perfect drug.

It may take the form of a special pill full of programmable biomatter. Maybe you want it to help you sleep. Maybe you want it to help you focus. Maybe you want it to help you make love to your spouse for five hours straight. With the right programming and the right application of biology, it can do that.

For some effects, maybe a pill isn’t enough. To have the kinds of effects that would give someone the kind of physical or mental enhancement they seek, it may be necessary to inject this programmable matter directly into the body via an IV drip. That might be cumbersome, but it allows for more direct delivery than a pill.

Even if it’s more effective, it still might not be ideal. Some of the most addictive drugs, like tobacco and alcohol, have a social element to them. People bond when they do them together and since humans are such a social species, that might be a necessary component of the perfect drug.

Perhaps instead of an injection or a pill, it can be ingested as a drink like tea and coffee. That will allow people to congregate and make it a social event at a bar or club. It can be part of a greater bonding experience, a group of people all sharing in the benefits of the perfect drug. It effectively complements every component of the human condition.

On the issue of side-effects, this is where the perfect drug would have to clash with flawed biology. On paper, a perfect drug would have no adverse side-effects. It wouldn’t have withdrawal symptoms, damage organs, or turn your urine blue, which does happen.

In the real, less-than-perfect world, every drug will have side-effects. Even if biotechnology and neural implants gives people superhuman durability on par with Wolverine from the X-men, it’s likely that such powerful experiences will result in equally powerful impacts, both mental and physical.

One of the most likely effects, which might still be the most damaging, involves what happens to people when they’re not on the perfect drug. Even if the drug causes no withdrawal symptoms and generally leaves the body intact, it still creates a discrepancy in experience.

There’s the state the person was in without the perfect drug. There’s the state the person was in when they took it. If the gap between the two is big enough, as would likely be the case for the perfect drug, then even an enhanced mind within an enhanced body would struggle to some extent.

It would be like going from taking a private jet across the ocean to riding a mule. One is just going to be so much richer and more intense than the other that it doesn’t matter how enhanced you or your brain are. You’re going to want that drug and you’re going to do whatever it takes to get it.

In a future where people can enhance their bodies, augment their brains, and rid themselves of disease, what else will drive them other than the inherent human desire to transcend more limitations? Those experiences and the methods to get them, either by a drug or some other means, might end up being the most valuable currency in the future.

For now, we’re stuck with a diverse array of drugs with a wide variety of effects. They all come with their own unique risks and their own blend of side-effects. With more and more drugs being developed, as well as refinements to existing drugs, people will continue using drugs and seeking them, even if it means clashing with the law.

We’re still a long way from a perfect drug like the one I just described, but it’s an idea with contemplating. It reveals why we seek drugs in the first place and what we’re looking for in using them, despite all the risks and side-effects.

We don’t just seek health, strength, or new experiences. We seek to improve and enhance our own condition. How we go about it and how well we handle it depends on a lot of factors. We might never create a truly perfect drug, but as medical science and human enhancement continue to evolve, we may still achieve its effects.

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Filed under human nature, Sexy Future, Thought Experiment

Post-New Year Advice: Treating A Holiday Hangover

This post may be a day late, but I feel like it’s one of those posts that needs to be said. It doesn’t just apply to the holidays, the time after the holidays, or the time in between holidays. This could very well apply to any day of the year, but some more than others. Anyone who has had a day where comfort comes in one too many glasses of wine, bottles of beer, or shots of whiskey knows what I’m talking about.

Yes, I’m talking about hangovers. For some people, the mere mention of the word is enough to trigger reflexive dry heaves. Some say hangovers are God’s way of letting us know we’re having too much fun. I think they’re more a harsh reminder that our bodies are woefully imperfect hunks of flesh that can’t always handle our vices.

I’ve certainly experienced the joys of a fun night followed by a painful morning. The worst hangover I ever experienced came after an NFL preseason game of all things. I watched the game with some buffalo wings and a fresh bottle of Jack Daniels. For me, this is perfect football food and I was excited about how the game and the upcoming NFL season.

Unfortunately, the game was kind of crappy. The team I was rooting for really stunk. Naturally, I found myself reaching for the Jack Daniels after each lousy play. Then, like an unplanned one-night-stand, one thing led to another. Before I know it, the entire bottle of Jack Daniels is empty. Yes, I said the entire bottle.

Naturally, I became very drunk. I became so drunk that I could barely stand up and I started dancing to the music on commercials. So while it may have been a lousy game, I still found a way to have fun that night.

The next morning, however, was not so fun. I emerged from a restless sleep feeling like a truck hit me and then an entire team of elite kick-boxers took turns kicking my head. It was bad, to say the least. I threw up at least twice and didn’t leave my bedroom until 4:00 p.m. the next day. I don’t know if it could’ve been worse, but it was pretty damn bad.

So, with that painful experience in mind, I’d like to share some hangover remedies. Now make no mistake. There is no miracle cure for a hangover. You can’t just down a bottle of whiskey and expect to be all upbeat and chipper the next morning. Hangovers are a product of biology, chemistry, and sub-par human physiology. As anyone who went through abstinence only education knows, you can’t fight biology.

You can still make things easier for yourself. There are ways to at least ease the symptoms so you don’t feel like you lost a cage match with an angry gorilla. With help from the fine folks at WebMD, here are some of the ways you can ease your hangover agony:

  1. Consume Prickly Pear before you drink
  2. Eat a good meal and drink plenty of water before you start downing shots
  3. If possible, drink clearer alcohols like vodka and gin since they tend to incur less severe symptoms
  4. Don’t smoke, which is not only considerably worse for you, but will augment the symptoms
  5. Down a light drink the next morning to alleviate the symptoms, but don’t overdo it because that’ll just make the symptoms worse
  6. Make sure you have ibuprofen and Pepto-Bismol handy in the morning

Again, none of these are miracle cures. You may still feel like shit, even if you do everything on this list and try a few folk remedies from your crazy uncle. At some point, the agonizing process of a hangover has to run its course. Like teenage hormones, you can’t fight it. You just have to endure it.

I hope this helps everybody get through some rough days in 2017. If you want some more less proven remedies, check out this video from WatchMojo. I want to help people with this blog. Alleviating a hangover may not seem like much, but once you experience one, you’ll appreciate the sentiment.

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