Living the Luxurious Life: Trialling Intravenous Hangover Cures
“Let’s just get super fucked up, hey?”
It’s a plan. We drink rum, vodka, gin and Bintang longnecks skulled outside a bar, and multiple free shots of arak given out like candy to babies. We have long-winded conversations that go nowhere, get drenched in the rain and boogie to The Strokes at 2am.
If my life’s mission was to get loose, I’d be an overachiever extraordinaire. Collapsing into bed at 4am with mates, I’m sure that we’ve reached the desired state of super fucked up.
It’s all pretty gross: we’re a bunch of white 20-somethings following in the footsteps of other privileged Aussies making the pilgrimage to Bali to get as loose as humanly possible. And in the interest of taking things to the extreme, we’re literally going to fuck ourselves up to the point of seeking IV pain relief.
The Dose is a home delivery vitamin IV therapy service operating in Bali. They offer various treatments, including food poisoning recovery, anti-aging detoxes and the Big One: hangover cures. Australians in Bali are all over it like flies on shit, and I’m fascinated. While the intravenous infusions are touted as miracle cures by everyone from Dr. Oz to Simon Cowell, there’s little proof that they actually do anything, beneficial or otherwise.
The next morning brings with it the horizontal hangover: when you’re laying down and you feel like maybe you’re fine, maybe you’ve narrowly escaped a day of hell, but then you stand up and realise that the gods of getting loose have played a cruel joke on you. There’s nausea, that killer back-of-the-head ache, and the vague feeling that I’m existing on a planet that is not Earth but some kind of hellish sub-universe. But I am in Bali, and I’m determined to make the most of it.
Rolling two centimetres across the bed and feeling like I’ve run a marathon, I chuck my iPhone on charge, send a poorly-worded Whatsapp, and suddenly, help is on its way. It’s almost too easy.
I’m insanely curious about what makes someone sit with a needle in their arm for an hour to get rid of a hangover, something that is not only totally avoidable, but self-inflicted and temporary.
“It’s like healthy heroin,” I suggest to my friend Nat.
He replies with an exhausted and lengthy groan. “I’m not going to stop making this sound until the lady with the needles gets here.”
While my hangover is nowhere near as bad as Nat’s, I’m equally stoked that the lady with the needles is on her way. When Frida appears in the driveway of the villa, she is kind and smiley. She suggests a shady spot for the treatment so we don’t get too hot, and hands us some intimidatingly official forms to fill out
Occupation? Professional layabout. Emergency contact? Not my mum; she’d kill me if she knew I was doing this. Are you suffering fatigue or nausea? Yes and yes – but only because I pushed my body to the limits of how much booze one human can ingest last night (I deserve it.)
Lounging in my pyjamas, ridiculous sunglasses not covering as much of my weary face as I want, I’m ready to get jabbed. Frida is sweet and reassuring. She previously worked at a hospital in Jakarta, and has been working for The Dose for three months. While scooting around to hungover idiots to administer IV drips is surely cushier than the stress of working in a hospital, I have no doubt she’s internally making fun of how pathetic we are right now (and rightly so).
But I trust that I’m in capable hands. The flip-flopping of my stomach is definitely just the arak shots from last night fucking with me, not my entirely unfounded fear of needles making its presence known. I’m opening and closing my fist so that the vein in my inner arm pops out, waiting for alcohol swabs and the IV drip. It feels clinical. But looking out over the pool into the rice paddies behind our place and hearing locals playing music is a ridiculously picturesque backdrop to our super lavish seedy Sunday. The juxtaposition is jarring.
The jab itself is uncomfortable, but the prospect of a hangover-free day ahead after 45 minutes of fixating on the cannula in my arm is extremely alluring. I watch the liquid – saline solution, electrolytes, and something elusively named an Energy and Mood Booster (a concoction of B vitamins with various reported health benefits – none of them backed up by evidence) – drip drop into my IV. Frida tells us stories about her clients, other big night out in Bali initiates to the Vitamin IV club. She mentions a few guys who asked her if she could hook them up with morphine. I wonder if I’ll ever have a hangover that requires alleviation of the opiate variety (hope to God I don’t).
Once I’m done, Frida puts pressure on the injection site, band-aids me up and leaves us with a smile and an enthusiastic thank you from yours truly. Experimentally, I roll my shoulders, and tilt my head back and forth. Do I feel good? Do I feel less bad? The headache is gone, and my mouth feels less like sandpaper. I’m feeling less like I want to curl into a ball and die, and more like I could go a greasy feed and a sunbaking session.
But hangovers are the least mysterious creatures on the earth. Your body’s just dehydrated. Does it need vitamins, or just love the hydration? Sitting with a drip in your arm for an hour, your veins sucking up saline solution and electrolytes is obviously going to have a somewhat positive effect on the body that you’ve tried to absolutely wreck the night before. The Dose says “the worst symptoms of a hangover … are often relieved before the IV has even finished.” Did it work? I don’t know. My energy levels aren’t higher, nor is my mood significantly boosted. She’s no miracle cure.
But the day isn’t a write-off. To continue the theme of Privileged Aussies Take Bali, the rest of the afternoon consists of greasy burgers, mango sorbet and cocktails at sunset. My tendencies towards being a basic white bitch who loves to get loose aren’t exactly something I’m proud of, but at this point I’ve got to accept them. I’m in Bali getting drunk and getting IV drips. I’m one of them now. I’ve gone so far as to engage in this bizarre quick fix for wellness trend. I’m about as basic as they come. Going through a semi-painful process to alleviate symptoms of a hangover that I totally could have prevented by simply not drinking an ocean’s worth of booze? Sounds just ridiculous enough to be something I could get around.
If you’re keen to get loose in Bali and you don’t have a paralysing fear of needles, go for it. Splash out. Get fucked up, get the needle, and get that Energy and Mood Booster into you as soon as possible. Could be the placebo effect, but your girl is feeling pretty high on life right now.
Photos by Mahalia Lovell