In a society that seems to favor deception instead of accountability, those immersed in overconsumption of drugs and alcohol have an uphill battle in controlling the craving and cycle of use. It’s a reality we see and deal with 24 hours a day here at Maryland Recovery. When a relatively new product was brought to our attention that was formulated to reverse the signs of binge drinking by removing the symptoms and after-effects of a night on the town, we wanted to investigate if it was hype. But what poses more concern in our minds, is that if hangover prevention supplements deliver on what they promise, does it pose a serious risk to people struggling with alcohol use disorder (AUD) and those amidst recovery?
Take Thrive+® and Drink Like It Never Even Happened
It’s exactly what the makers of Thrive+ want the public to believe. Just take Thrive, as directed, before binging on alcohol and you’ll wake up the next morning like you never had the alcohol.
This is so wrong on so many levels.
A story online depicts the experience one woman had with Thrive+ after enduring a painful, two-day hangover from a night of overindulgence. In her story, she discusses her history of partying. She then proclaims her need to help prevent hangovers through the use of the Thrive+ supplement. The woman did not want to change her behavior (binge drinking) but find a workaround for it.
Alcoholism Is Behavior, a Choice Gone Out of Control
Now that you have a better understanding of the challenges in alcohol use disorder and binge drinking, let’s examine how Thrive+ works and whether it impacts drinking behaviors.
Thrive+ Hangover Prevention Supplement and How It’s Used
Hangover prevention supplements, in theory, are similar to other supplements on the market meant to lessen the bad of our unhealthy choices.
Remember when carb blockers were created? With a carb-blocker, people could consume the very foods they were trying to avoid like breads, pastas, rice and cakes. The supplement would block the absorption of the sugars from the carbs. But the carb-blocker doesn’t alter the behavior of consumption.
Thrive+ and other hangover prevention products work in similar ways. They allow the user to put a panacea on a bigger problem. But there are only so many hangover prevention pills you can take before the bigger picture becomes abundantly clear.
The Credibility of a Hangover Pill Is More Like a Dull Ache
Researchers at McGill University in Montreal Canada took a deeper look at Thrive+, from a formulation perspective. The main molecule in Thrive+ is dihydromyricetin (DHM) which is commonly used in Chinese medicine to treat parasite infections, reduce fevers, muscle spasms, and presents as a diuretic and a laxative. It is also used for alcohol poisoning. While there were studies in mice that showed efficacy in minimizing the stress to the liver from alcohol intake, it cannot jump to proof for human beings – because there’s an issue with absorption or bioavailability.
Any preventative supplement is only as good as its ability to absorb into the bloodstream and provide the necessary effect. According to Thrive+’s bioavailability, it’s flat, though human participants in a study showed a 50 percent reduction in hangover symptoms after use.
How then, did the woman’s account (noted earlier) of Thrive+ represent a completely different experience? It’s in the details of how the study was designed.
There was no double-blind placebo. Participants drank, got drunk and shared how they felt the next day. They repeated the process but used Thrive+ as directed before the drinking began. In addition, participants already knew about the product and what the expectation was providing a power of suggestion that mars the authenticity of their reporting.
Thrive+ Is a Lot Like Uber and Lyft
Social butterflies and clubbers in big cities jumped on the shared ride bandwagon when Uber and Lyft hit the road. While there are merits to these companies and what they offer, there is also a hidden danger to consumers with a tendency to binge drink. Uber and Lyft have collectively lessened the amount of alcohol-related accidents on the road. However, alcohol overconsumption increased. Uber and Lyft have provided a vehicle (literally and figuratively) for people to binge with a false sense of a safety net.
Thrive+ provides another means to continue risky behaviors without owning them. While it may give relief in the typical symptoms of too-many-cocktails, it doesn’t alter what happens during consumption and the ill-made decisions during the process.
Do hangover prevention supplements help you make better decisions? Can you choose wisely in where you go, what you do and who you do it with when drinking alcohol? Will it help prevent a sexual assault or blacking out? Now that would be something.
An Ounce of Prevention Isn’t Always Worth a Pound of Cure
Ask any health practitioner who specializes in alcohol addiction rehab and recovery whether Thrive+ or other hangover prevention products assist in the treatment of alcohol use disorder; you’d probably get a resounding ‘No”. Alcohol addiction isn’t just about the damage that the substance itself can cause to the user and loved ones, but it is the multi-layered effects to physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects to self that cannot be addressed by taking a pill.
The only way to truly thrive from alcoholism is to seek help from a licensed treatment facility that can offer safe detox, medication tapering and the life skills tools to realize sobriety for the long term.
If You or Someone You Love Needs Help with Alcohol Use Disorder…
Dr. Bhalavat is Board Certified in General Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine, and provides inpatient evaluation and consultation services at the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center, University of Maryland Harford Memorial Hospital, Maryland Recovery Partners, and Citizens Care & Rehabilitation Center. Dr. Bhalavat’s background includes treatment of depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia spectrum disorders, bipolar disorder, substance abuse and dementia.