How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your System?


Many people use alcohol for different reasons. Some use it for medicinal purposes, while others use it for relaxation. If you have a drug test and want to pass it, you must know how long alcohol stays in your system. That’ll give you an idea of whether to use detox methods to eliminate alcohol traces or let your body naturally outgrow them.

On average, your blood shows alcohol traces up to six hours after consumption. Your breath and saliva show it for up to 24 hours, and your urine test can detect alcohol even after 72 hours.

Furthermore, your hair contains alcohol traces for up to 90 days, and if you consume alcohol limitlessly, it can increase such time as your body won’t function properly.

So how can you pass an alcohol test with the substance in your system? Is there any way you can get rid of it fast?

How Does The Body Process Alcohol?

The body processes alcohol in a very uniform way, with perfect coordination. Just as you consume alcohol, it travels down your throat to your digestive system. After around 30 seconds, the tissue lining begins absorbing it within the stomach and small intestines. Unlike a regular diet, alcohol is not thoroughly digested; instead, it moves to the bloodstream through the gastrointestinal lining.

Once it reaches the bloodstream, it swiftly travels through the body and is carried to the brain. This is why you feel the effects of alcohol in your entire body soon afterward. In fact, alcohol intake is best with an empty stomach. It helps better in processing alcohol.

That’s because the food absorbs the substance and slows down its process of reaching the tissue lining and moving into the small intestine. Otherwise, in less than 20 minutes, 90% of alcohol spreads in the entire body, and only a small portion remains in the stomach, which is eliminated as sweating, vomiting, breathing, and urine.

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What Process Goes On While Metabolizing Alcohol?

The liver plays the most important role when it comes to metabolizing alcohol in the body. But before reaching the liver, the body uses some steps to absorb alcohol. Let’s see below.

  1. Digestive System

The first place alcohol reaches is the stomach which leads the alcohol into your pancreas, liver, small intestine, and bloodstream, which lets it travel further to the brain and other body parts. Most alcohol is sent to the liver, which carries out different processes to metabolize alcohol.

Your stomach also has some enzymes, known as Alcohol Dehydrogenase (ADH) and Aldehyde Dehydrogenase (ALDH), that help decompose the alcohol. ADH is usually found in higher quantities in men’s metabolism systems, and the people who never drink have these enzymes in little to no amount.

Similarly, if you do not have enough ADH, your stomach won’t be able to digest it, and it will move straight to your bloodstream. This is why people who try alcohol for the first time feel the effects kicking in soon afterward.

  1. Liver

The liver is like the hero of the story here, as this is where the body metabolizes alcohol. This is where the question of how much alcohol I should consume arises. A healthy liver metabolizes a small amount of alcohol at a time, about one drink per hour.

If somebody binge drinks or consumes a few drinks, the concentration increases, and your liver becomes saturated. This way, it takes longer for alcohol metabolism than usual. The extra alcohol remains in the system and travels in the blood and other tissues till it breaks down completely.

How Long Until Alcohol Metabolizes?

Alcohol metabolism in your system depends on the concentration of alcohol and the percentage consumed. A healthy person can expect to begin seeing the effects of alcohol after half an hour or so. On average, a standard drink contains around 0.4% alcohol per glass. In Fact,many people wonder how long does THC Stay in Saliva Glands? Well, THC stays in the system for a long period of time.

Once you begin consuming the substance, alcohol requires around an hour to reach the peak level in your bloodstream. Once there, the body begins to process alcohol which results in metabolites.

The substance abuse stays in the system for over 24 hours and up to three months for a hair test. However, the half-life of alcohol is around five hours, meaning you need at least five hours to eliminate half of the substance in your system. You might think that two half-lives should suffice to get rid of it entirely. But human body composition works differently, and so does half-life.

You will need five half-lives to clear an alcohol test and begin to experience withdrawal symptoms.

Factors Impacting The Metabolization of Alcohol

When it comes to BAC and alcohol testing, many factors can affect the breakdown process. Alcohol is processed in a uniform manner and at a constant rate.

However, numerous people believe that the effects of alcohol kick in long after their drink or last for way too long. Of course, there is a variety of opinions on this matter as the BAC keeps fluctuating from normal to high. Some reasons for its fluctuations are:

  • Gender

The biological sex has great importance as the metabolization process in women is not the same as in men. Women tend to have a higher processing rate, and alcohol stays in their system for a longer period.

One of the prime reasons for this slow functioning is that men have less fat and more water in their bodies. This is why the dilution process in women’s bodies is slow. This remains true even if the body size and height are similar because hormones play a huge role. In fact, women are reported to have a lower percentage of ADH in their bodies.

  • Age 

Teenagers and older people have a slower metabolism as the blood stays in the liver for a long time and takes time to move to the bloodstream.In such cases, you can opt for detox teas or even drinks to cleanse your system effectively. Similarly, the water in the body also decreases as age goes by, becoming a factor for a higher percentage of BAC in the system and slow metabolization.

  • Medications

Different medications bring about different consequences. Often these intermingle with alcohol and can cause changes in the metabolism. This, in turn, influences the way our body accepts, processes, and eliminates alcohol. Some of these begin by cleaning the stomach and moving to the small intestine. This causes quick absorption of the substance in the blood rather than the usual process. It also causes higher BAC and negative blood tests.

  • Weight

Your body size significantly determines how fast alcohol passes through your system. As a general idea, bodies having high water muscle tissue can absorb alcohol way better than low water muscle tissue can. It has to do with BAC. More body fat is directly proportional to higher BAC and vice versa, and this is irrespective of the height.

  • Time Of The Day

Although this doesn’t have a substantial effect, the time you consume alcohol does matter. During the daytime, all your organs are alert, active, and in motion — meaning the system has other things to cater to, and metabolism is slow. Since at night time you don’t have much work to do, your muscles are relaxed, and your body is in normal mode — this is when the alcohol will work the fastest.

  • Yoga

Exercise helps bring your body into action. As you work out, the elimination process works faster, and alcohol leaves the body in the form of sweating, hard breathing, urinating, and more.

  • Measure Alcohol Consumption 

Another important factor is knowing the amount of alcohol in your drink to see how long alcohol stays in your system. For instance, wine has a relatively higher alcohol percentage meaning it will take longer to leave the body.

You can do a bunch of things to ease the elimination process:

  • Make drinking water a habit
  • Consume more food
  • Stay away from intoxicants and caffeine

What Is Alcohol Poisoning?

Alcohol poisoning works in two phases, is very common, and is often referred to as ethanol toxicity. It happens when excessive consumption takes place with no bounds.

The first stage is an acute form caused by drinking non-stop, and the second phase is chronic and develops over time. In this, you consume large amounts of alcohol, but since you have developed a tolerance to the liquid now, your body doesn’t instantly react, and you are conscious of your surroundings and are able to maintain your balance.

If you consume large amounts of drink over and over again without any break, there is a potential risk of damage to the liver, brain, heart, and some body parts. Similarly, if there is excessive alcohol consumption in one go, there is a chance you can be a target of alcohol poisoning, and that is a serious threat to your life. It happens regardless of your weight, age, or even tolerance level.

This is because as you are drinking alcohol, your body is processing it and the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) keeps increasing. BAC refers to the amount of alcohol in your body. At some point, it crosses the normal limit and overpowers you such that your physical, mental health and emotional senses stop functioning.

Even if you stop drinking immediately, you will feel the effects of alcohol abuse and may even experience poisoning. Your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels continue rising after more than half an hour of no drink.

Outcomes of poisoning can be dreadful and lethal. One thing to keep in mind is that do not try to treat the consumer yourself, as you may worsen the situation. Instead, call in licensed medical professionals for immediate treatment options. They will be able to assist the person and give professional medical advice.

Some common yet life-threatening alcohol withdrawal indications are:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Failure of coordination
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Cold body
  • Problematic heart changes

Some other major consequences include:

  • Liver failure
  • Dementia
  • Vitamin deficiency
  • Damaged brain cells

Because of this alcohol problem, people in the US have a legal limit of having a BAC lower than 0.8% before driving, or they are prohibited to drive. A mere 0.5% of alcohol in your body can cause effects like nausea, vomiting, and depression.

At 0.8%, your motor skills stop working, and you lose your balance. Therefore, it is better to avoid substance use and keep alcohol use to a minimum.

How Do You Know  If You Are Drunk?

When you’re drunk, you’re in for so many rides and experiences. With each sip, your BAC goes up, and you can feel the intoxication creeping in. Below are some symptoms or signs that you are officially drunk:

  • Confusion
  • Slow actions
  • Mumbling as if in sleep
  • Not being able to breathe properly
  • Poor coordination of senses
  • Can’t remember things
  • Focusing requires too much energy

These are some of the emotions or actions you feel happening when you are intoxicated. But when you are out of your mind, there are consequences too. These could be as severe as:

  • Suicide
  • Shouting
  • Hit and run accidents
  • Develop a mental health disorder slowly.
  • Speaking more truth than necessary
  • Damaged behavioral health conditions

How Long Does Alcohol Stay In Your System?

You will want to ask yourself that question if you have a blood test or drug test coming up and you know it’s going to be the end of your life. Each body organ works differently and needs different catering. The period in which the taste goes off your tongue is not the same as it goes out of your urine. So how long does it take?

Generally, you need around 25 days to eliminate alcohol from some parts of your body, but it doesn’t end there. Alcohol detox follows a series of steps starting from how many drinks you have had, what percentage of substance was included in it, what speed you consumed it, etc. After determining these factors comes the suggested time limit your body needs to get rid of all the alcohol. These are :

Blood Test: Signs of intoxication can show up on your blood test even after 12 hrs of the last drink.

Urine Test: Alcohol can show up in the urine test somewhere around 12 five days, depending upon the amount consumed and the type of tester used. A sensitive tester can track traces over a long period.

Breath Test: The smell of alcohol stays in your breath for more than 24 hrs.

Saliva Test: Alcohol can show up in the Slavia around two days after the last drink.

Hair Test: The alcohol fumes travel from the brain and expel at the roots of the hair. Since the roots are not tampered with on a daily basis, the intoxicant traces can be found even after three months of your last drink. Of course, this depends upon the quality of the tester too.

Is Urine Test Better Than Breath Test?

If you are the one who is testing, then yes, and if you’re the one who is being tested, you’re not going to want this. Urine tests work by tracing and detecting the presence of alcohol metabolites in your system.

The breath tests detect alcohol by monitoring the breath rate in the expired lung. As the driver breathes deeply, the air goes down, and the ethanol percentage comes up. The breath sample is only taken when the breath level stabilizes.

The device is called a breathalyzer, and it also checks your BAC. The minimum percentage is 0.2%, and anything above that is strong intoxication and causes temporary loss of eyesight and judgment.

Can Caffeine Or Food Help You Become Normal Faster?

Caffeine has antioxidant properties, and food can help absorb the alcohol quicker, but it does not guarantee that it can help you sober up.


Food can help with how the alcohol is processed in your body and not how fast it can be eliminated. In an empty stomach, the alcohol directly hits the tissue lining and moves into the bloodstream and the small intestine.

You will feel stronger effects and more intoxication in which hangovers and perturbed sleep top the list. An advantage of the situation, alcohol remains in the stomach for longer periods as it absorbs into the food. The alcohol will stay in your system for as long as the food does.

This way, your stomach has extra time to disintegrate and metabolize in the bloodstream before it goes into the small intestine. This can help in avoiding and surpassing the majority of the adverse effects it has to pose, but there is little chance that it can help you clear the alcohol tests.


To put it simply, caffeine works as a stimulant that awakens your mind and regenerates focus. Alcohol, on the other hand, is a depressant drug, and it instantly makes you feel sleepy, languid, or just way too happy.

As understandable, both the components cancel each other out and reserve their effects. And even though this weird relationship has taken place now, the two don’t integrate well. It is common for people to consume alcohol mixed with energy drinks or coffee, and it does work by waking them up and not feeling very intoxicated.

But it is still possible that you drink a little too much, and then none of these techniques will be able to help you eliminate the alcohol quicker.

Should You Consume Alcohol While Breastfeeding?

Although alcohol use is permissible during breastfeeding, if you can avoid it, you should avoid it. It contains elements that can be harmful to a new born baby. However, if you do plan to continue alcohol use, there are some key points you need to keep in mind while doing so. These are:

  • The maximum limit for a day should be one standard drink, and the alcohol percentage in the standard drink should be less than 0.05%
  • Before you consume alcohol, pump breast milk in advance, so the milk you’re feeding is free of unwanted elements.
  • You must give at least a 120-minute break to nurse your baby after consuming alcohol.
  • Know that regular intensive alcohol drinking is not for you.

Why Is Alcohol Abuse Bad?

It is not uncommon to witness people having major alcohol addiction nowadays. Alcohol abuse leads to alcohol use disorder, and even though many people suffer from it, only a few come forward to share their battles with the world.

Reports tell that often the people going for addiction treatment have certain mental health problems. Maybe this is why they are so against getting treatments as they have seen mental health services administration, and the place hasn’t pleased them a lot.

There are some specific types of alcohol disorders that are common in certain patients. These include:

Depressed People: This is by far the most common reason. Most of this percentage consists of Asian people. More than 28% of people who fall into this category tend to have alcohol addiction problems.

Schizophrenic People: Schizophrenia is a scary disease and affects a huge population in the US. An average value of 33% of people are schizophrenic and are prone to drinking even with disease control.

Dual Personality Syndrome People: The highest of all, around 70% having personality disorders are true binge drinkers. In fact, the alcohol withdrawal effects these people face are simply terrifying.

Apart from this, some other early identification factors include:

  • Alcohol consumption from teenage or less
  • Childhood trauma
  • PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
  • Genetics and lineage of consumption
  • ADHD

These are not all, there are many symptoms and many cases that perhaps we still don’t know about, but our search hasn’t stopped yet. The listed dangers are those that you would face even after an alcohol detox. In such cases, it is better to avoid drinking pure alcohol in the same amount as you would with a regular drink.

Conclusion: How Long Does Alcohol Stay In Your System? 

Alcohol abuse is a serious problem in our society, and we need to unite to fight it off. Intense alcohol consumption can cause problems like liver failure for no reason. Now that you know how long does alcohol stay in your system and how much alcohol causes how much damage, it is time you make wise decisions.

If you or a friend are struggling with a drinking addiction, seek medical help now. It can he

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