How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your System?

Unlike some other chemicals, alcohol stays in your system for a relatively short period of time. The human body has evolved over the years to metabolize alcohol quite quickly. However, there are a number of factors that can affect how long alcohol remains present in your body. 

If you’re wondering how long alcohol stays in your system, there are a few things you might want to know.



Understanding How the Body Processes Alcohol

Alcohol is a readily available drug used by millions of people worldwide. Humans have used alcohol in some form for millions of years, so we’ve developed a capacity for digesting the substance relatively easily. When we drink booze, our bodies absorb the alcohol pretty quickly and begin to work on flushing it out of our system. 

As you may know, alcohol does contain calories. Some drinks even contain a few nutrients. As a result, the body breaks it down into parts like any other food. Around 20% of the total amount that you drink is sent directly into your bloodstream and transported through your veins to other parts of your body. The other 80% is transported to your small intestine where your body works to expel it from your system. 

When you consume food alongside your drink, it takes longer for your body to metabolize the substance. The liver and other organs are unable to completely absorb the alcohol until the food has been broken down as well. This is why it takes longer to get drunk if you are drinking on a full stomach.

Your Liver is Important

The liver is an important component of your digestive system. Everything that you eat, drink, smoke, snort or inject is processed through your liver. A healthy liver is capable of metabolizing alcohol within a few hours. This is why most of us can have a few drinks and feel generally okay the next day. 

A damaged or weak liver, however, is not able to process alcohol as easily as a strong one. Someone with a weak liver is not capable of metabolizing booze at the same rate as they would otherwise be able to. Alcoholics and habitual drinkers can do some serious damage to their liver over time. As a result, it takes longer for their bodies to process the alcohol they drink.

Generally, it takes the human body between 30 and 120 minutes to metabolize alcohol. This is because the drug has a relatively short half-life. Half-life is a term used to quantify how long a drug stays present in your body. This means that every 2 hours (or less) the total amount of booze in a person’s body is reduced by half. While a substance like heroin can stay present in your system for weeks, alcohol is expelled fairly quickly. 

Of course, some people drink alcohol excessively. They might drink booze in large quantities or consume it regularly throughout the day. These folks have a harder time getting alcohol out of their system. As the drug and its byproducts accumulate in the person’s liver, the drug can become more difficult to flush out entirely.

Certain factors can impact how long alcohol stays in your system. Some of these factors include: 

Amount consumed: Although the body is capable of processing alcohol, it doesn’t necessarily like it. Drinking too much at once makes your liver work harder. Exhausting your liver can cause your body to metabolize substances like alcohol much slower. 

Age: Unfortunately, our organs tend to get weaker as we get older. Our livers, therefore, usually deteriorate over time. Therefore, it can take longer for older people to metabolize alcohol. 

Food: Eating food with booze may help you to avoid getting drunk. However, it also makes it so that your body takes longer to metabolize the alcohol in your drink. 

Other drugs consumed: Once you start mixing alcohol with other drugs, you can make it difficult for your body to process the substances. Mixing drugs is always dangerous, but mixing them with booze can cause some particularly nasty side effects. 

Method of testing: Just because you don’t feel drunk anymore doesn’t mean you’ve gotten all of the alcohol out of your body. Blood, urine and breathalyzer tests will all show traces of alcohol in your system for different amounts of time.

How Long Does Alcohol Show Up in Your Urine?

Alcohol can show up in your urine for quite a while. This is due to the fact that the byproducts of alcohol will sit in your liver for hours as your body works to process them. It’s possible for you to show traces of alcohol in your urine for 2 or 3 days after your last drink. Of course, this depends on how much you drank, your body weight and the health of your liver.

How Long Does Alcohol Show Up on a Breathalyzer Test?

Unlike a urine sample, a breathalyzer test will only show how much alcohol is currently flowing through your blood. If you are completely sober, therefore, your breath won’t show any traces of alcohol you drank 24 hours ago.

Am I an Alcoholic?

The body metabolizes alcohol at a rough rate of .013% of your blood alcohol concentration every 60 minutes. Each beverage has its own alcohol content. Just two beers, however, can raise an average-sized man’s blood alcohol concentration to around .015%. These means that if an average-sized man drank two beers, it would take roughly an hour before his breath no longer showed evidence of alcohol consumption.

How to Get Alcohol Out of Your System Fast

If you’ve had a lot to drink, there aren’t any shortcuts to getting alcohol out of your system fast. The most you can do is stop drinking, have some water and wait for your body to do its thing. The same rule applies when you’ve consumed a small amount of booze. The best thing you can do is to drink water, eat some food and wait for the alcohol to leave your body.

If you are detoxing from alcohol and trying to get the leftover chemicals out of your body, there are a few things you can do: 

Alcoholism Quiz

Avoid sugar: Sugar, especially the processed kind, isn’t great for your liver. If you’re trying to get alcohol out of your body, avoid the sugary drinks and sip on some water for a while. This will allow your liver to focus on expelling the booze. 

Eat some asparagus: Asparagus can help to repair any damage you’ve done to your liver. It may not always taste great but it will enable your liver to function at an optimum rate. 

Drink green tea: Green tea helps to repair your liver, as well. Avoid the sugary green teas and stick with the all-natural kind. This will help your body to flush out the leftover alcohol much faster.

Are You Struggling with Alcohol Addiction?

Are you asking how long alcohol stays in your system because you drink excessively? If so, it could be time for you to get some help. There are plenty of resources that can help you get alcohol out of your body for good. Give us a call if you want to chat about your drinking habit or discuss treatment options.

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