How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your System?

Every ounce of alcohol you ingest has an impact on your entire body. One of the numerous negative impacts of alcohol use is that it can lead to mental health issues. Men can generally metabolize one glass of wine every hour. The liver is the main organ responsible for breaking down alcohol, especially liver enzymes. Alcohol breakdown produces carbon dioxide and water as its byproducts.

The age, weight, gender, quantity of food ingested, and a variety of other factors affect the body’s ability to absorb alcohol. When you sleep or hydrate, alcohol cannot be absorbed faster. Depending on the body system and test used, different amounts of time are required to detect alcohol. In most cases, alcohol can stay in your system for 6 to 72 hours, depending on the type of detection test used.

Alcohol can stay in the body for up to six hours in the blood, twelve to twenty-four hours on the breath, twenty-four hours in the urine (72 or more hours with more modern detection techniques), twenty-four hours in the saliva, and up to ninety days in the hairs. Alcohol has a half-life of 4-5 hours.

Alcohol Metabolism:

Even though alcohol does move through the digestive system, it does not undergo the same degree of digestion as food. Once it enters the upper gastrointestinal system, a sizable portion of it passes through the stomach and small intestine tissue lining. It is then immediately absorbed into the blood. It circulates through the body after entering the bloodstream until it eventually reaches the brain.

When food is present in the stomach, the absorption process could be slightly slowed. Alcohol can either be absorbed by food, kept from coming into contact with the stomach lining, or transferred more slowly from the stomach into the duodenum (the first section of the small intestine), where it would typically be absorbed into the blood vessels exceptionally quickly.

Time Required by Alcohol for Metabolism:

Alcohol will start metabolizing by your body the moment it enters your bloodstream. The body uses metabolism to break down substances to absorb or use as fuel. Any meal or drink you consume triggers this process.

Your liver plays a significant role in the metabolism of alcohol when you ingest it. An individual will typically metabolize the same alcohol as one drink every hour, though this can change depending on weight, height, gender, and body composition. A healthy person will often feel the effects of a drink within 15 to 45 minutes.

When their blood alcohol content (BAC) exceeds 0.05%, most men with limited tolerance will start to show signs of intoxication. At 0.07%, their ability to drive will be seriously compromised. They will be drunk at 0.10%. If a lady weighing 150 pounds drinks around four drinks in an hour, her blood alcohol content (BAC) will rise to 0.1%, signaling drunkenness.

Symptoms to show Up When you are Drunk:

When your BAC is high, symptoms of intoxication will most likely appear on you. These signs include:

Impaired Coordination

  •  Slurred speech
  •  Confusion
  •  Lowered inhibitions
  •  Difficulty in concentrating on the things
  • Trouble remembering things
  •  Breathing issues (for example, respiratory depression, decreased respiratory effort)

Those who drink are more at risk of:

  • Risky behaviors, such as unprotected sex.
  • Motor Accidents
  • Violence
  • Suicide and Homicide

Time Required for Alcohol Withdrawal:

The enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase is principally in charge of metabolizing alcohol in the liver. Most alcohol is absorbed into a person’s body through the bloodstream. The average male liver can process one standard drink per hour, or around 0.015g/100mL/hour (i.e., a reduction of blood alcohol level, or BAC, by 0.015 per hour). In addition to being broken down by the liver, 10% of the alcohol taken is also expelled through sweat, breath, and urine.

A standard drink has the composition of the following:

• 12 fl oz of regular beer, i.e., 12-ounce beer

• Five fl oz of wine

• 8 – 9 fl oz of malt liquor

• 1.5 fl oz shot of distilled spirits (rum, vodka, tequila, gin, whiskey)

Factors That Affect the Rate That Alcohol Is Processed:

Various factors affect the time of alcohol metabolism inside the body of an individual:

  • Weight
  • Age
  • Metabolism
  • Gender
  • Strength and type of alcohol.
  • Any medication in the system

Coffee or taking a shower won’t speed up the breakdown and evacuation of alcohol, nor will drinking water, resting, or taking a shower. They might make you more awake, but they won’t get rid of the alcohol already present in your body. As long as your consumption rate exceeds your rate of elimination, your BAC will continue to increase.

The amount of alcohol consumed by an individual and the rate at which it is absorbed into body tissues are influenced by several factors.

Even while alcohol is metabolized constantly, some people might be more affected by its effects than others. This is because different people’s blood alcohol levels can differ for the numerous factors stated below:


Usually, the fat composition is more in the body of a female as compared to males, and the water percentage is lower in their bodies as compared to men. This leads to alcohol staying in a woman’s system for a long time. The rate of alcohol digestion is different in both men and women. Those females who drink alcohol just before their menstruation time will have an increased blood alcohol concentration, as alcohol consumption influence the hormonal levels inside the body of a female. Studies have also revealed that women produce less acetaldehyde dehydrogenase, the stomach-based alcohol metabolizing enzyme.

Size of the Body:

There are two factors that, most importantly, determine the alcohol metabolism inside your whole body. These are the content and size of an individual’s body. Individuals with higher fat concentrations in their bodies typically have increased blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) because there is a difference in the absorption of both low-water fatty tissues and high-water muscular tissues. The person who is shorter in height but has a muscular body would have a higher BAC than the person who is the same height but not the same composition.


Different medications interact with alcohol when you consume it and alter its metabolism inside the body. In conclusion, medications disturb the whole alcohol metabolism inside an individual’s body. Sometimes, taking medicine on an open stomach will cause the alcohol to get absorbed rapidly into the bloodstream. This results in higher BAC levels and intoxication that affects the body more quickly. Medications that are specifically known to interact with alcohol include:

• Anti-anxiety medications such as Xanax

• ADHD medications like Adderall

• Cough and cold medicines

• Diabetes medications such as Chlorpropamide

Alcohol Detection Time through different Tests:

There are different tests that rehab centers perform for alcohol detection inside an individual’s body. These tests are listed below:

• Blood Test: Up to 6 hours for blood

• Breath test: 12 to 24 hours

• Saliva Tests: 12 to 24 hours

• When testing urine for ethanol metabolites such as ethyl glucuronide and ethyl sulfate never, procedures typically require 72 hours or longer.

• Urine: 12–24 hours for earlier testing methods.

• Hair Tests: up to 90 days

The following is a description of the alcohol and drug tests:

Blood Tests:

Blood tests can be used to identify alcohol, and alcohol can be detected in the blood for up to 6 hours.

Breath Tests:

A breathalyzer can be used to perform a breath test, and various factors contribute to the detection of alcohol in the breath. Alcohol can be detected in a breath test between 12 and 24 hours after consumption.

Urine Tests:

To perform standard urine tests to detect alcohol in the body, urine samples are needed. Alcohol can be seen in urine for 12 to 24 hours after an alcohol test.

Hair Tests:

Hair follicles are needed to detect alcohol in a person’s system during hair tests. Hair testing is one of the best ways to find alcohol in a woman’s system.

Because alcohol is metabolized very fast, most doctors rely on observations of alcohol use, such as slurred speech or the smell of alcohol, or a breathalyzer test to determine intoxication or recent drinking.

Alcohol Poisoning:

Alcohol overdose or poisoning can endanger your life. Alcohol overdose is what happens when you consume too much alcohol. The life-sustaining processes, such as breathing or heart rate, may be severely harmed or even cease altogether.

The human body can effectively absorb alcohol, but when alcohol is consumed, it is not metabolized as rapidly, leading to alcohol poisoning. All alcohol taken by humans is thought to be digested and absorbed by the body between 90% and 98% of the time. The body then eliminates the remaining alcohol through sweat, urine, vomiting, and feces.

Sometimes, the adverse and worse effects of alcohol intoxication have been experienced by individuals as there is a rise in your BAC levels (Blood Alcohol Concentration), and there will be more risk and chances of an alcohol overdose:

• 06 – 0.15 % BAC: memory, coordination, attention, speech, driving ability significantly impaired, balance moderately impaired.

• 16 – 0.30% BAC: significant impairments in memory, speech, balance, attention, reaction time, and coordination; judgment and decision-making impaired; driving ability dangerously impaired; vomiting; risk of blackouts; loss of consciousness.

• 31 – 0.45 % BAC: risk of death from heart rate or breathing suppression, risk of life-threatening overdose, and body temperature.

Some of the symptoms of alcohol overdose are as follows:

• Loss of consciousness

• Vomiting

• Profound mental confusion

• Stupor

• Low Body temperature

• Slowed or irregular breathing

• Pale or bluish skin color

• Slow heart rate

• Clammy skin

Your risk of overdose increases if you binge drink, defined as drinking four drinks in two hours for women and five drinks in two hours for men. When you drink a lot of alcohol in a short time, you quickly raise your blood alcohol concentration since you’re significantly using up the liver’s ability to remove alcohol from your system.

The risk of overdose may rise if a person takes alcohol and opioid or sedative-hypnotic medications, such as painkillers, sleep aids, or anti-anxiety drugs. These medications’ effects on breathing are heightened when combined with alcohol, and even small doses of these compounds can result in an alcohol overdose.

Excessive alcoholic beverage use will impose a threat to the health activity and physical conditions of your body. The environmental and external factors will assess a potential threat to the number of alcoholic drinks drunk by a person.

Alcohol Abuse or Alcoholism Risks:

According to the National Survey conducted by the National Institute on Drug Use and Health, 14.5 million Americans, 12 years of age and older, experienced an alcohol use disorder in 2017. This figure represents 5.3% of all people in this age bracket. Alcohol-related deaths rank third among all preventable deaths in the country, with about 88,000 people dying annually from liver failure, overdose, drunk driving, and other accidents.

Since substance misuse continues to be a significant national public health pandemic that can be lethal, it is essential to know that help is available around-the-clock. People must understand the risks associated with drinking. Treatment centers in the United States provide a variety of therapy. You can avoid alcohol with professional help in long-term recovery from alcohol addiction.