How Long Does Alcohol Stay In Your System?

How Long Does Alcohol Stay In Your System?

How long to process alcohol in the body depends on numerous variables. One’s age, sex, weight, drinking history, and medical status all play a role in how the body manages alcohol. Here’s what you need to know.

How Long for Alcohol to Leave the System

On average, it takes the body about one hour to metabolize a standard drink. A standard drink refers to any drink that contains approximately 14 grams of pure alcohol. This amount comes to about 12oz of beer, 5 oz of wine, and 1.5 oz of distilled spirits. 

One’s alcohol metabolism largely depends on how often and how much they drink. Drinking heavily causes the body to work harder to process the alcohol. Furthermore, after a night of heavy drinking (when the exact amount of alcohol consumed is unknown), it can be impossible to predict precisely when all the alcohol will leave the system.  

Typically, after one starts drinking, alcohol takes around 60-90 minutes to reach the highest levels inf the blood. After that peak, the body starts breaking it down.

While the alcohol half-life varies, it typically falls within four to five hours. This is the amount of time it takes for one’s body to eliminate half the alcohol. 

What Impacts the Timeline? 

Everyone processes alcohol differently, so there isn’t a one-size-fits-all timeline. However, here are some key factors that might impact alcohol metabolism. 

Age: Alcohol processing typically slows down with age. Therefore, an older person will typically feel the effects of drinking more intensely than someone much younger.=

Weight: Alcohol can have more of an impact on people with lower weights. A lower weight is correlated with less water in the body. Less water can heighten the blood alcohol concentration. That said, a higher body fat percentage is associated with alcohol staying in the body longer.

Health issues: Preexisting heart, stomach, kidney, and liver issues can all impact how the body processes alcohol. Some heavy drinkers may not be aware of these health issues, and their alcohol consumption can continue to aggravate them.

Sex: Women tend to be more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol compared to men. This is likely because they tend to have smaller body weights. However, they do appear to eliminate alcohol from their blood faster than men. 

Medication: Certain medications can interfere with how the body breaks down alcohol. This applies to both over-the-counter and prescription medications. That’s why it’s so important to avoid drinking if you are taking medications that indicate this risk.

Amount of alcohol consumed: The frequency and intensity of alcohol consumption can affect alcohol processing. Even if someone drinks the same amount each day, how quickly (and close together) they consume those drinks can make a dramatic impact. 

How Long Does Alcohol Stay In Your Urine?

Alcohol can be detected in urine anywhere from 12-48 hours after the last drink. Urine tests scan for alcohol metabolite traces. More comprehensive, advanced tests may detect alcohol anywhere from 3-5 days after the last drink.

Hair follicle tests tend to be more accurate in showing alcohol use. A single test may show any alcohol consumption within the past 90 days. 

How Long Is Alcohol in Your Blood?

Alcohol remains in the bloodstream for several hours after the last drink. Typically, alcohol detection tests will measure alcohol in the blood for up to six hours. However, this number ranges based on several lifestyle and medical factors.

This percentage refers to the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC). After blood-alcohol levels rise above 0.5%, the impact of alcohol becomes more pronounced. In the US, driving a car with a BAC above 0.08% will result in a DUI (although any hazardous drinking above 0.01% may result in legal problems). 

Final Thoughts 

Each body processes alcohol at different rates. The more you drink, the more of an impact this pattern will have on your well-being. Over time, the compounded effects of drinking can lead to serious physical and emotional consequences.

Quitting alcohol isn’t easy, but it can certainly be done. Professional treatment offers a supportive environment for you to learn new tools and feel empowered in your recovery. Contact us at (866) 578-7471 to get the help you need. 

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29 comments
  1. I do love this educational one. We got different rates of processing alcohols in our body. Never go past your limit.

  2. This post is an educative one. Just like the popular saying ‘say no to Alcohol’. Thank you for sharing this.

  3. This was really informative. the truth is that alcohol works differential in each body so people needs to know their limit.

  4. This is an interesting article. You did a great job in compiling this article. Very comprehensive, detailed and well explanatory

  5. Alcohol stays longer in the body due to the intake of the alcohol been used. But it damages alots of cells in the body beware.

  6. This is an educative article. Though alcohol is not good for the health but consumers of alcohol has to be carefully with their level of intake.

  7. Thank you for showing the alcohol process. I do not drink alcohol but this is good info. THe other side tho others may use this to outsmart test? IT is rare though.

  8. Alcohols takes a while in the body due to the amount that is been deposited in it. Thanks for letting me know more about this.

  9. This is an eye opening article. The more intake of alcohol, the more it affects whole system of the body. Abstinence is the key to help.

  10. Alcohol intake can bring about physical and emotional effects. A word, they say, is enough for the wise.

  11. Alcohol causes alot of havoc to the body and it takes a little bit longer before wearing off the body. Thanks for the update.

  12. Alcohol stays in the blood stream after its consumption. It takes a long period of time for the body to pass it out of the body thereby causing some negative effects within the body to its users.

  13. Learnt something today. It’s worthwhile. Worth reading and Worth sharing. Thanks for the piece of information. Now empowered with right knowledge about alcohol

  14. Drinking alcohol has negative effects on drinkers’ lives. However, it is advisable to abstain from alcohol.

  15. I do love this article. In fact, it just opened my eyes to some details about alcohol that different bodies process alcohol at different rates. Thank you for this lovely article.

  16. We got different rates of processing alcohol in our bodies. Never go past your limit. It’s worthwhile. Worth reading and worth sharing. It takes a long period of time for the body to pass it out of the body thereby causing some negative effects within the body to its users. Thanks for the piece of information. Now empowered with the right knowledge about alcohol

  17. Whaow! Great article indeed. It’s always good to have all this information at one’s finger tips. I do find this content useful.

  18. There several factors that determine the longevity of alcohol in human body. They have been extensively discussed in the above article. Thanks.

  19. The article above as actually discussed extensively on the topic under consideration. Thanks for this piece of write up.

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