There's a new drink coming that possibly can help you sober up fast. How does it work?

By Claire Wolters | Fact-checked by Davi Sherman
Published November 30, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • Set to launch this year, a new functional drink called Safety Shot claims to rapidly reduce blood alcohol levels after drinking.

  • Company studies on the product are promising, but some experts are skeptical about its use in the real world.

If you’re trying to sober up after a night of drinking, taking a shot can be a bad idea. Unless, of course, that shot is booze-free or comes with ingredients that fight against alcohol’s effects.

That’s what Safety Shot, a new functional beverage expected to launch later this year, claims to do. The drink is the “first patented drink that promises to reduce blood alcohol content and improve central nervous system activity, motor cortex function, and cognition in less than an hour,” according to Forbes. The drink works by enhancing metabolic pathways that break down alcohol in the body while strengthening the stomach wall to help prevent it from absorbing residual alcohol, Forbes says.[]

The company plans to market Safety Shot directly to the public and potentially to hospital and emergency settings. For hospital use, the company anticipates filing an investigational new drug application with the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to see if the product can be used as a remedy for alcohol poisoning, Forbes reports.

Safety Shot studies

Several studies have been conducted on Safety Shot, with more underway.

In October, Nasdaq published results from a product test of Safety Shot. The results showed that Safety Shot significantly reduced blood alcohol content (BAC) following an hour of drinking, according to a press release on the findings.[]

All test participants spent one-hour drinking alcohol. After drinking, the Safety Shot group stopped drinking for 30 minutes, at which time they performed a variety of sobriety tests and were given a breathalyzer to measure their BAC After the tests, participants immediately drank six ounces of Safety Shot and waited 30 minutes before repeating the same tests.[]

Members of the control group waited approximately five minutes after drinking and rinsed their mouths with fresh water before taking a breathalyzer test. The control group participants then waited 30 minutes and took a second breathalyzer test. The Safety Shot group experienced a 0.079% reduction in their BAC per hour, whereas the control group experienced a 0.01% reduction per hour, according to the press release.[]

In November, the company announced that it had initiated a double-blinded placebo-controlled clinical trial on Safety Shot. The study will include 36 participants and test the effects of Safety Shot on alcohol levels in people’s breath and blood.[]

Safety Shot in the real world

Some substance recovery specialists express doubts about the effectiveness of the product, particularly in dire situations. To work as designed, Safety Shot must work against alcohol absorption in the body and with the natural pathways created to break down alcohol.

Left to its own devices, the body breaks down alcohol as ethanol, primarily through the liver. In the liver, an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) transforms ethanol into acetaldehyde, which is then broken down into acetate by another enzyme called aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH), according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Acetate is then broken down to water and carbon dioxide, mainly in tissues other than the liver.[]

Jared L. Ross, DO, NRP, TCCC, FACEP, FAAEM, says that there is currently no known treatment for increasing the activity of ADH or other enzymes that break down ethanol. Without more publicly available evidence to demonstrate how Safety Shot works, Dr. Ross calls the product “unlikely to be effective, and potentially dangerous, [as it might] encourag[e] people to consume more alcohol than they normally would or make other risky decisions, such as driving after drinking.”

Maintaining an adequate nutritional state can help the body eliminate alcohol faster than when the body is in a time of need (eg, fasting), according to studies. This is because ADH levels are higher in a fed nutritional state—and because food may increase liver blood flow, regardless of what kinds of food or balance of macronutrients you’re getting. Additionally, fructose—natural sugar from fruit—is known to increase alcohol metabolism.[] 

Ryan Peterson, MD, Addiction Specialist and Medical Director of NuView Treatment Center, a substance use recovery center in Los Angeles, says that ingredients in Safety Shot, including Vitamin B12, may support the body’s process of breaking down alcohol. Dr. Peterson adds that current information about how Safety Shot works is not clearly presented.

“I think this could work because Vitamin B12 can actually help lessen the impacts of alcohol intoxication: Vitamin B12 helps further convert acetaldehyde into acetate and into carbon dioxide and water,” Dr. Peterson says. “Vitamin B12 is even called the ‘hangover cure’ among us addiction medicine and substance abuse specialists.”

Dave Koval, Chief Operating Officer at Synergy Sobriety Solutions, a drug use recovery treatment center in South Florida, says that “functional medicines show great promise as treatments for several issues, including alcoholism.” He stresses the importance of supporting liver health to maximize the body's ability to perform natural detoxifying processes.

Koval encourages people to continue to practice harm reduction strategies and drinking in moderation, regardless of pending treatment.

“Time and moderation continue to be the most effective ways to lower blood alcohol levels; it's important to remember that,” Koval says. “While they are complementary to overall health plans, functional medications should not be used in place of moderation when it comes to alcohol use.”

What this means for you

A new functional beverage may increase the speed at which the body breaks down alcohol. Some workers in substance use recovery, however, are skeptical of the product’s effectiveness.

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