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How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your System? Blood & Urine

Posted by Sai Khung Noung on November 2, 2020
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Typically, ablood alcohol content, or BAC, test is only accurate within six to 12 hours after someone has had their last drink when determining whether someone was legally intoxicated. As a general rule, your body takes one hour to process one alcoholic drink. However, that widely varies depending on several factors, including weight, food in your stomach, frequency of use, and type of alcohol. There are many factors that can influence the length of a hangover. The duration of a hangover depends on how much alcohol was consumed, dehydration, nutritional status, ethnicity, gender, the state of your liver and other medications. Urine alcohol content is sometimes used to estimate a person’sblood alcohol content. The amount of alcohol in a person’s urine is approximately 1.33 times greater than the amount of alcohol in their bloodstream.

Outpatient treatment is addiction treatment that you receive when you go to a treatment facility during the week for a few hours or so at a time and then go home. Your outpatient treatment schedule will be dependent on your needs. On the flip side of that, drinking on an empty stomach can irritate your digestive symptom and cause your body to process alcohol quicker. This means that a larger portion of the alcohol that you consume will reach your bloodstream and brain if you drink on an empty stomach.

How The Body Processes Alcohol

The longer alcohol stays in the stomach, the longer it takes to be absorbed and the slower the rate of intoxication. Eating before drinking, and continuing to snack while you consume alcohol, will slow the absorption and reduce its impact, but prolong the detection period. Therefore, even if you consume only one drink per hour, your blood alcohol concentration will continue to increase.

  • Alcohol can be detected in the blood, urine and even on the breath.
  • That’s why heavy drinking can cause a variety of alcohol-related diseases and disorders.
  • Tests that look for biological markers of alcohol use are more reliable, but people do still try to cheat them.
  • For three consecutive days, the research subjects applied hand sanitizer to their hands every five minutes — roughly the same amount a nurse would use during a typical workday.
  • If you are a man with little to no alcohol tolerance, you will begin to feel the symptoms of alcohol when your BAC reaches 0.05%.

Depending on how much someone drinks and how much alcohol is in their system, the effects of drinking can vary and may become more severe. Therefore, you can never be too sure how long an alcoholic drink has been present in your body. Regardless, you can test alcohol levels through many different avenues.

How to Get Alcohol Out of Your System

The concept of a half-life only applies in certain situations, and it does not apply to alcohol. The chemistry of alcohol causes it to decrease at a constant rate until it is eliminated. Blood alcohol concentration will normally decrease at a steady rate of 0.015/hour in most individuals.

  • That’s why it’s worth keeping tabs on how a drink makes you feel well before you get to that point, so you can know when it’s time to take a break or cut yourself off.
  • By having the food in your stomach absorb some of the alcohol that you consume, you are allowing less alcohol to go through your body’s bloodstream and brain.
  • Every type of drink (beer, wine, liquor, etc.) has a different amount of alcohol in it.
  • The transition back to life outside of rehab is fraught with the potential for relapse.
  • You’ll start noticing the milder effects of alcohol within 15 to 45 minutes of sipping (think change in mood and maybe you’ll feel a little warm).
  • Jena Hilliard earned her Bachelor’s of Arts degree from the University of Central Florida in English Literature.

Generally, alcohol’s effects are feltwithin about 10–60 minutes. However, this can be slowed How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your System by many factors including gender, food consumed, other medications and genetics.

How the body processes alcohol

Alcohol can remain in your system for hours or even days after your last sip. So keep track of how many drinks you had to help you avoid a rough start to your morning. Women also tend to have a higher percentage of body fat and a lower percentage of water, which influences intoxication and the length of time it takes to get alcohol out of their system. The organ breaks down the alcohol into acetaldehyde, a chemical the body recognizes as toxic. Acetaldehyde metabolizes into carbon dioxide, which the body can eliminate. Our community offers unique perspectives on lifelong recovery and substance use prevention, empowering others through stories of strength and courage. We provide integrated treatment for mental health disorders and addiction.

Resting can help your body to conserve energy and direct more of it toward metabolizing alcohol. Ultimately, sleeping it off and staying hydrated may be the best things that you can do to give your body the time it needs to get alcohol out of your system.


You can attend a few hours of therapy each week over several months to help you achieve sobriety. A breathalyzer only detects very recent alcohol use, up to several hours before the test. Our stories are reviewed by medical professionals to ensure you get the most accurate and useful information about your health and wellness. Between 12–24 hours after your last drink, symptoms can progress to hallucinations or seizures. After 48 hours, symptoms can continue to progress even further to delirium tremens with more vivid hallucinations and delusions.

How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your System

Submit your number and receive a free call today from a treatment provider. People often underestimate how much they have had to drink because they aren’t using standard drink measurements. One standard drink is equal to one 12-oz beer, 1.5 ounces of liquor (whiskey, vodka, etc.), or a 5-oz glass of wine. The rate at that alcohol can stay in your system depends on various factors.

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