How to sober up

If you have ever gotten up at 7 a.m and felt the effects of last night’s decisions hit you with a second wave of drunkenness, you need to sober up. You wake up, stumble to the sink, get a glass of water, and feel the pounding in your head. You may have a meeting in a couple of hours or a family function to get to today. In any case, you need a solution. You need to sober up.

Headache from hangover
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

What does sober up mean?

Sobering up is putting in the effort to remove the effects of alcohol or drugs from your body. This short-term process allows you to perform urgent duties. People often confuse it with sobriety, which is a long-term goal to remove drugs or alcohol from your life permanently. Many normal (non alcoholic/addicts) do not need longer term solutions, like drug rehabs, for sobering up. In fact, about 90% of people that experience hangovers are not real deal addicts. 

The purpose of sobering up

As stated earlier, sobering up is something you do in the short term. It is to ensure that by the time that 10 a.m meeting hits, you are coherent enough to understand what is going on. Some may even need to participate in the activity.

The level of “sober” you need will also depend on the duty you need to fulfill. For example, you cannot operate an automobile at any level of drunkenness. If you are on a job site, you cannot perform any duty that requires focus. For example, people working construction would be unsafe if one of their team was inebriated.

Myths about sobering up

At this point, you may be looking for a shortcut on how to stop being drunk. The short answer: There is no shortcut. Scientists have yet to develop a magic pill that makes you instantly sober. If there were an easy answer, you would likely not be reading this blog. We will go through some of the myths sobering up below.

1. Drinking coffee or soda

If you have been in that 8 a.m meeting situation, you’ve likely used coffee before. It can be a great way to wake up in small doses, but it does nothing to reduce your blood alcohol content (BAC). While it may wake you up, it will also make your thirsty. Both coffee and alcohol will dehydrate you. You would be better served by drinking water.

2. Taking a shower

 Taking a shower is another way that people will tell you on how to sober up fast. Once again, there is no “sobering” feeling here; it is just another way to help your brain focus. This option doesn’t have some of the same harmful effects that come with drinking coffee or soda, so feel free to do so to help you feel better.

3. Eating greasy foods

Having greasy foods in your stomach can help you before you drink alcohol. However, “help” in this case refers to the speed in which the alcohol reaches you. It may reduce BAC in the short term, but all of the alcohol will still hit you regardless. After the drink has entered your bloodstream, greasy food does nothing for you.

4. Purging to remove alcohol or drugs

If you purge the drink before your body has a chance to process it, this strategy will work. Your body already has a natural defense mechanism against you poisoning it. But if the poison is already in the bloodstream, you cannot remove it. Throwing up will dehydrate you further, so this is not a solution.

What are real methods to feel better?

People who have been long-term alcoholics will tell you the tried and true methods of getting it out of your systems. Many of these people will address good short-term feelings, but don’t discuss how they feel even sicker after attempting their solution. For example, throwing up may help with nausea, but it will get you dehydrated.

1. Drink water

Coffee, alcohol, and soda all dehydrate you. As the first step towards your recovery and sobering up, drink water. While it may not make you “un-drunk,” it will help you beat the hangover. Some people will state you go back to being drunk with this method. A headache is a sign of extreme dehydration of the brain, so going back to drunk isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

2. Eat Healthily

If you are nauseated, a piece of bread or toast is an excellent way to start. It provides you with carbohydrates to settle your stomach. If you are not feeling sick, you can also incorporate an egg, some fruit, or some oatmeal. Try to keep food nutritious and straightforward so you can preserve your stomach.

3. Exercise

After getting some water and food into your system, a good next step is to try exercise. If you are new to this, maybe work with a light jog. Try not to start anything new or do anything straining. The idea is to work yourself back to a healthy state; you do not need to test yourself in this state. Avoid heavy lifting and strenuous workouts.

How long does it take to sober up?

Alcohol takes .15 percent per hour to leave the body. If you drink most regular beers, that is ½ drink per hour. So it takes you two hours for an entire beer to pass from your body.

While there may not be a way to become sober quickly, there are methods to help you through the process. These methods are to make you feel better, not to reduce your BAC. The only definite way to get the alcohol out is to wait for it to leave.


Sobering up versus sobriety are two very different things. The goal of sobering up is to give you a short-term boost. Abstinence from alcohol and drugs is a different thing entirely. If you are seeking permanent solutions, please reach out for help.

As we explored, there are many methods that people have suggested. Some of them are good for you to regain focus: such as taking a shower. Others may be detrimental, such as drinking coffee or throwing up. There is no shortcut to becoming sober. By recognizing that it is a recovery process, you have won half the battle. Be sure to drink plenty of water, eat healthy food, and perform light exercise to overcome your hangover and sober up.