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Are you drinking with caution?

Drink responsibly to be on your A-Game, because tomorrow matters. From timto time, we all like to indulge with a glass or 2 of alcohol, but how does this impact on our next day productivity? Many substances can give you hangover like symptoms. Basically, anything that causes dehydration or an allergic reaction (if you are allergic to it). The real culprits in alcoholic beverages are not just sulphite or congeners. If you are not allergic to sulphite, or if you only drink alcoholic beverages that have no congeners, you can still get a hangover by drinking more than what you liver can metabolise per hour. So after the quality of the beverage (for those who are sensitive to the impurities), it is the amount of alcohol we consume that is the issue.

We know that the average liver typically metabolises 10g of alcohol per hour. So when we drink more than that, the extra ethanol is metabolisedthrough a different pathway that leads to the build up of acetaldehyde in the body. Numerous studies have shown that this toxic by-product of alcohol metabolism causes the symptoms of hangover listed below.

Now, these symptoms can be labelled as “feeling seedy” or “off you’re A-game” the next day, but all of these labels, including “hangover” refer to the after effects of alcohol metabolism for the majority of people, and commonly include

  1. Headache (vasodilation and/or dehydration).
  2. Dehydration (excess urination-for every 200ml alcoholic beverage we void 320ml).
  3. Tiredness (depleting your body of nutrients and stressing your liver and other organs).
  4. Nausea and many other symptoms.

Lots of other things can give you the above symptoms too, like a simple flu for example. If these symptoms present after drinking, we associate them with or call them a hangover. It makes sense to look at what is in an alcoholic beverage that can cause these symptoms. Possible contenders are:

  • Congeners (Congeners are ingredients produced as by-products of fermentation and distillation. They include acetone, acetaldehyde, tannins, and some flavouring agents in different alcoholic beverages).
  • Sulphide not sulphur (some people are allergic to it and can cause vasodilation leading to headache).
  • Impurities (an expensive scotch has fewer impurities. So it is easy to swallow, taste good and gives you less side effects).
  • Ethanol (liver can only metabolise 10g/hr) excess leads to build up of acetaldehyde.

The percentage of the population that is sensitive to Sulphite (0.05%) is not that big, but we do know that everyone’s liver works the same way. The metabolism of congener alcohols as of ethanol is nearly exclusively catalysed by liver through alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme, which need a helping hand with alcohol dehydrogenase cofactors.

There is not just one simple answer. Anything that causes dehydration, stresses the liver, or depletes the body of essential nutrients, can result in the symptoms of hangover.

After removing the allergen issue for those minorities, the only way to reduce the side effects of alcohol metabolism (i.e. hangover) if you are not going to stick with W.H.O’s recommendation, is to support your liver to metabolise alcohol. That is done by taking amino acid cysteine, and alcohol dehydrogenase cofactors WHILST drinking, not after a big night.

Products which support the liver to more effectively metabolise alcohol are the best add on to have while consuming alcoholic drinks. These products should be provided as an add-on-sale in liquor stores, bars and pubs, to make sure consumers of alcoholic beverages do not have a bad experience the next day.

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Drinks calculator Smart App or a breathalyser

Drinks calculator Smart App or a breathalyserDrinks Calculator

Alcohol can be an addictive and harmful drug, and as a pharmacist, I believe alcoholic drinks should be more stringently labelled with dosage instructions, based on a consumer’s weight and gender, just as most pharmaceutical drugs are. In relation to alcoholic drinks, the only effort that has been made thus far to regulate the recommended dosage of alcohol, has been the “standard drinks” model recommended by WHO. Surprisingly, the standard drinks model has only been adopted by 11 countries, and even these don’t agree on one single definition. A drinks calculator App may provide an answer to this issue.

A standard drink in Australia is any drink containing 10 grams of pure alcohol.
A standard drink in the USA, is any drink containing 14 grams of pure alcohol.
A standard drink in the UK, is any drink containing 8 grams of pure alcohol.

Keeping track of the amount of alcohol you have consumed can be difficult. The most common way to achieve this is to express the amount of pure alcohol in a drinks as “units of alcohol” or “standard drinks,” depending on where you live.
The recommended number of standard drinks consumption per day and per week differs for men and women according to the WHO Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health (2014).

Drinks calculator Smart AppOur innovative Recoverthol App has been designed to address these issues. The features of this app include: time to sober, a standard drinks calculator and tracker based on where you live; interactive messaging system; and a dosage reminder for our product which promotes safe drinking. The most advanced function of the App is an “if you do, if you don’t” feature, that allows the user see what may happen before they choose to have another drink. By knowing this information in advance, the consumer may wait a while, or choose a lighter drink option.

A breathalyser can not give the user information in advance about how much alcohol is in different drinks or how long it will it take to be cleared based on weight and gender. Breathalysers are used after drinking. The Recoverthol App can be used before having a drink. The aim is to inform the user about what their level of drinking is before they decide to take their next drink, and to discourage consumers from drinking too much if they have already had too much. The Recoverthol App does not provide an accurate measure of your blood alcohol level. Your need a breathalyser to measure your BAC after drinking. You can, however, predict or estimate BAC by using by using a pharmacokinetic equation (i.e. Widmark equation).

In a recent scientific study, it was revealed that 89% of BAC apps evaluated, over-estimated the BAC level when compared to calibrated Breathalyser data (Weaver et al., 2013). In addition, BAC apps that collected a greater amount of data (e.g., gender, weight, number of drinks and hours of drinking) showed greater accuracy. Given the absence of such an app on the current market that can provide the user with information before drinking, Recoverthol App was designed using the Widmark equation to compare the effect of different drinks (not to measure BAC).

Despite their evident weaknesses, incorporating this type of pharmacokinetic equation within the app will provide users with estimates of blood alcohol levels associated with different types of drinks, and an estimate of how long it will take for that amount of alcohol to be metabolised to 0, based on gender and weight differences. These values can be obtained by users prior to deciding what drink they will have and when, and on the basis of this knowledge, choose not to drink a beverage with higher alcohol content, or to allow longer time between drinks in order to allow their BAC to decrease. As mentioned above, BAC apps using equations tend to over estimate the BAC levels when compared to calibrated Breathalyser data (Weaver et al., 2013), so we are safeguarded against under rating BAC levels to some extent.

Recoverthol Drinks calculator Smart AppWe believe the Recoverthol App will fill a market niche for applications that provide longer-term benefits to users before and whilst drinking, that no other App on the market currently provides. These benefits have been highlighted as areas of interest in focus groups studies identifying a need for Apps that promote self-care whilst drinking. For example, providing notifications to keep drinking water, stop drinking over the recommended standard unit of alcohol consumption per day, or to eat something to avoid hangover symptoms the next day (Weaver et al, 2013).

Recent use of this App amongst our testing group had shown that immediately following the use of this App, users became more cautious of their drinking habits and on many occasions have said that they would drink less (“wow, it takes 6 hours to process 2 glasses of wine”).

We have intentionally incorporated an interactive messaging system into our App that lets the user know if they are drinking too fast, or exceeding the recommended daily intake of alcohol based on WHO reports. The intended use of this app was not to provide a means of measuring BAC, but to provide a means of tracking alcohol consumption based on the types of drinks consumed over time, and the amount of time it would take for those drinks to be fully metabolised by the body. This information can provide consumers with valuable information about when to stop drinking in order to be sober for work the next morning. This feature was exclusively requested by the National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction (NCETA).

I believe that this App will actually encourage people to reduce the amount of alcohol they are drinking. Without some form of estimate, based on weight and gender, consumers are flying blind when drinking alcohol.

Download this app for free from:

Drinks calculator App on Google        Drinks calculator App iOS


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Fish or a Cadbury and Fatigue

the effect of alcohol resonates the next day mostly as fatigue

I have never been a big drinker. A glass and a half is all I can handle, but my friend can drink like a fish. Basically we each have our own limits. I’m not here to discuss how much drinking is good or bad. Obviously drinking to excess is not good for your health or well-being. Sadly, we don’t often listen to good advice. The point is that the effect of alcohol resonates the next day mostly as fatigue, no matter what your limit is, or how much you drink, Fatigue is a common health complaint to General Practitioners each year. It has been reported that fatigue, or tiredness contributes to a $63 billion loss to the Australian economy in sick days.

We know that alcohol interrupts your sleep. We also know that 90 % of the Australian workforce has been estimated to consume alcohol (VicHealth, 2012). Could it be that modern day fatigue may be a consequence of even low-risk drinking behaviour? Research shows that people who drink alcohol don’t sleep well. Couple this with an adult generation that are too time poor to eat well and follow a healthy diet, and we can see a few red flags that provide an explanation for the fatigue epidemic within our modern society.

We all know the consequences of drinking too much on a big night out. Waking up with a nasty hangover the morning after, does not make a great start to the weekend. You don’t have to drink to excess, however, to feel off your A game the next day. Even drinking a little can result in mild or ‘silent’ hangover symptoms like feeling tired, sluggish and unmotivated.


How often do you say I need a holiday or I’m tired? How often do you have to resort to caffeine and energy drinks to keep you going?

No matter how much you drink, you can’t avoid the effect of alcohol the next day.

Research has shown that 3 out 4 of moderate drinkers experience hangover.

NCETA reports hangovers to be responsible for 11.5 million sick days annually, at a cost of $3 billion to the Australian economy.  In the UK 17 million working days are lost each year because of alcohol-related sickness. In the United States, alcohol related absenteeism and poor job performance cost the economy $148 billion annually.

When we look a little deeper it becomes more apparent that there is a pattern in the work place in relation to absenteeism and accident rates. Reduced productivity and increased workplace accident rates have been consistently observed on Mondays, perhaps as a consequence of overindulging on the weekends. In support of this theory, 40% of all sick days are taken on Mondays, suggesting that workers often need a day to get over their weekends, and possibly a few too many drinks.

So what is the solution? Increasing the tax on alcohol? Prohibition?

Unless you can come up with a way to stop everyone drinking, 76% of the population are going to enjoy a drink or two. Approximately 6% of people will binge drink, 10-15% will fail to show up to work after a public holiday or an event, and 40% of sick days will be taken on Mondays.

We made Recoverthol

how to reduce fatigue

Recoverthol was made with the aim of reducing the side effects of alcohol on the body and improving lifestyle. The product promotes smart and safe drinking.

There are a few products on the market which claim to treat hangovers. The typically contain magic formulas containing exotic herbs from far off places. The effectiveness of these herbs has not been scientifically proven. At best, you would need very large quantities to show any effect, and the small amounts that are put in capsules really wouldn’t do much. This evident lack of scientifically based formulations is perplexing, given that we have the science to develop products that have a clear mechanism of action. Known mechanisms of alcohol metabolism motivated us to develop Recoverthol, which is a formulation that supports the liver in breaking down alcohol.

Based on the science of alcohol metabolism, Recoverthol was designed and formulated to assist the liver to maintain the metabolism of alcohol, even after a few drinks, when it is required to work to capacity. Recoverthol does not contain any magic formulas or herbs – only active ingredients and biochemical principles known to support alcohol metabolism.

Tablets and capsules are not the answer. We wanted to design and manufacture a product that was easy for people to use. If you tell people to take fluoride for strong teeth, they prefer to obtain a dose from their toothpaste as opposed to taking fluoride tablets. Research has shown that removing barriers will increase medication compliance. Providing an alternative to hard and bulky pills removes a barrier for many people that simply don’t like swallowing tablets. Having a product that you can easily use while you are drinking, that you can simply add to a drink of choice, offered a promising solution. Off course the trick was to make sure it wouldn’t alter the taste of the drink. Who would want that?

After almost 9 years of research and development, we have finally made it. A snap open vial that delivers a small volume liquid formulation that you drop into your drink, with out affecting the taste. Oh, and it works too. By helping the liver to metabolise alcohol more effectively, Recoverthol may assists in management of hangover symptoms.

Now, if I can be so daring as to use condoms as an analogy- when they first came on the market, they suffered a lot of criticism. Today, however, we know that condoms have been in instrumental in providing a means of birth control, but also in preventing the spread of may transmissible diseases. One of the biggest problems we faced whilst developing Recoverthol, was that some were worried that this product would encourage binge drinking. Obviously no one wants that.

We researched binge drinking extensively. We discovered that approximately 6% of any population binge drinks, and that this figure has not changed much over the years, despite the fact that hangover products come and go. We have also aimed to carefully position Recoverthol as a product that promotes smart and safe drinking. Recoverthol can be conceptualised as an insurance policy against hangovers. Similar to car insurance, you take out a policy to cover you in the event of an accident. Recoverthol will cover you for tomorrow, in the vent of you having a few too many drinks tonight. If you chose to buy insurance, you will typically be more careful and not drink to excess. We have also made an App to track the number of drinks you are consuming and to monitor how long that amount of alcohol will take to be broken down in your body. We believe personal education on the effects of alcohol will promote safe drinking and thereby reduce the side effects of alcohol the next day. This will have evident flow on effects for workplace productivity and the economy overall.


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chuck a sickie

A survey of over 2000 people conducted by indicated that 16% of Australians chuck a sickie the day after Australia Day. Similarly, up to 10% of people surveyed reported calling in sick the morning after Anzac Day and Melbourne Cup day. Greg Taylor CEO of, said he sponsored the survey of 2024 Australians because he knew there was a correlation between nights on the booze, and hangover related absenteeism in the workforce.

A study from the National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction (NCETA) at Flinders University reports that in 2013, hangovers cost the Australian economy $3 billion, accounting for 11.5 million sick days. This figure has risen from $1.2 billion in 2001. Each day of alcohol related absenteeism has been estimated to cost on average, $267.70 (one day’s wage, plus 20% employer on-costs, based on average weekly income for 2013).

Of particular interest is the finding that the majority (56.1%) of people surveyed in this study were categorised as ‘low risk’ drinkers (i.e., consumption of 4 or less standard drinks on one occasion). This finding suggests that it is the ‘silent hangover’ that puts most of the strain on the economy, not individuals that drink at high-risk levels. This has been a historical trend with low-risk drinkers reportedly accounting for over half of all alcohol related absenteeism (Pidd et al., 2006).

Furthermore, research shows that 3 out of 4 of moderate drinkers experience a hangover after drinking. Moderate drinking is defined as up to four alcoholic drinks for men, and three for women, on any single day, according to The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism (NIAAA), and a maximum of 14 drinks for men and 7 drinks for women per week.

In order to reduce the lifetime risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury, the Australian national guidelines for alcohol consumption recommend that healthy men and women drink no more than two standard drinks on any day (Australian Alcohol and Drug Foundation). In addition to the obvious detrimental health effects, we know that alcohol can also affect workplace productivity, with people failing to turn up to work due to hangover, or even worse, presenting for duty and being unable to perform to the best of their ability.

Ninety (90) percent of the Australian workforce has been estimated to consume alcohol (VicHealth, 2012). The majority of drinking is reported to occur at the end of the working day, or on rostered days off. Workplace safety, however, can be impacted, by staff with alcohol-induced hangovers who are unable to perform at an optimal level (i.e., as a result of impaired co-ordination, slow reaction times, and poor judgement).

According to the Australian Alcohol and Drug Foundation, 1/10 workers report that they have been affected by a co-worker’s misuse of alcohol (Dale et al., 2010). Specific impacts include: poor job performance, accidents or near misses in the workplace, as well as having to work over time to cover for a co-worker. Julie Rae, Head of Information and Research at the Australian Alcohol and Drug Foundation reported that co-workers even state that they don’t want to work with some people as a result of alcohol consumption or turning up to work with a hangover (Alcohol a major hangover for Australian workplaces. Australian HR Institute).

What has been done to address this problem?

We know that alcohol is a global problem. Much has been done to investigate the effects of alcohol consumption on our health and well-being, including workplace performance the day after alcohol consumption. You only have to search alcohol and health in Google to see a wealth of reports from government bodies and health organisations that offer health warnings and recommendations for safe alcohol consumption. Despite these reports, very little is being done at a community level to action these recommendations, or to provide real solutions which aim to reduce alcohol related absenteeism. It is time to take action and to address alcohol related issues in society, with an emphasis on providing innovations that reduce lost productivity, and encourage responsible drinking.

In brief, consumers are not aware of how much alcohol they are actually drinking. In addition, most people are unaware of safe drinking guidelines relative to their gender or country of origin. Individuals also tend to be unaware of how much alcohol their body can metabolise per hour, or how long it would take to clear out of their system, and for them to return to a fully sober state. People just wing it, and suffer the consequences the next day- either with a sore head, or with reduced workplace performance.

How can we help?

By making people personally aware of the negative effects alcohol can have, and by providing real solutions to remedy or avouid these effects, we can begin to actively educate society on what to drink and how to drink responsibly, and limit the impact of alcohol consumption on our ability to fully participate in our life roles. Through personalised education, including the proper labelling of alcoholic products (i.e., highlighting the individual effects of products relative to body size and gender), and the development of drink tracking applications (e.g., drink smart app), consumers can be more accurately informed about issues such as the time it takes for alcohol consumed to clear out of the body (e.g., a 65kg woman who drinks 2 standard glasses of wine between 7- 7.30pm, can expect to be sober by approximately 1am). Such innovations may support consumers to make better choices in maintaining safe drinking levels, and to maximise next day productivity. The use of drink tracking apps may encourage consumers to pace their drinking behaviour, or to choose lighter alcoholic options. These innovations endorse a prevention is better than cure philosophy.

In addition to these life- logging technologies, scientifically developed and clinically proven medicines which can support the body to process alcohol more efficiently, also have a place in this preventative approach. The market is saturated with hangover remedies that are used when symptoms are in full swing, and a day off work after a big night is needed to recover. Most of these so-called remedies also contain rare herbs from exotic places that have no scientific backing.

You don’t have to drink to excess to feel off your A-game the next day. Even a couple of quite glasses tonight can leave you feeling tired and sluggish tomorrow morning. If you want to indulge a little, make sure that you are at your best the next day- no-one wants to be treated by a tired doctor or driven by a taxi driver who is suffering the effects of the night before. Let’s look after ourselves and each other – drink smart and stay covered.



Dale, C. & Livingston, M. (2010) The burden of alcohol drinking on co-workers in the Australian workplace, Medical Journal of Australia, 193(3), 138-140.Roche,

A., Pidd, K., and Kostadinov, V. (2016). Alcohol- and drug-related absenteeism: A costly problem. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 40 (3), 236-238.

Pidd, K.J., Berry, G., Roche, A., Harrison, J.E. (2006). Estimating the cost of alcohol-related absenteeism in the Australian workforce: The importance of consumption patterns. Medical Journal of Australia, 185 (11), 637-641.

VicHealth 2012, Reducing alcohol-related harm in the workplace (An evidence review: summary report), Victorian Heath Promotion Foundation, Melbourne, Australia.


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Binge Drinking and Europe

Deutsche Hauptstelle für Suchtfragen e.V. (DHS) (2008) Binge Drinking and Europe.Hamm:DHS

Binge_drinking_and_europe_report 2008

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Download WHO, Global status report on alcohol and health 2018

WHO alcohol report 2018