Menu Close

Build a foundation for lasting recovery

How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your System?

a woman worries about how long alcohol will stay in her system

Alcohol addiction often goes unrecognized because drinking has been normalized by societies around the globe for millennia. Some people drink socially and have never felt intoxicated. Others drink daily without becoming addicted. Others become addicted after just one or two intense binges, whereas others may become addicted over years of slowly escalating alcohol abuse. Measuring the exact amount of alcohol that will make you drunk or how long it will remain in your system is difficult because so many factors are at play. But if you are concerned about your drinking and want to talk to someone about whether you need addiction support, reach out to Evoke Wellness Ohio at our alcohol rehab in Columbus.

At Evoke Wellness Ohio, we offer top-quality, evidence-based therapies on an inpatient and outpatient basis for people with an alcohol use disorder (AUD). Starting with medically supervised detox, we safely usher you through the stages of early recovery and continue to follow your progress in our aftercare program. Reach out to us today by calling 866.430.9267 or using our online form.

How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your System?

The length of time alcohol shows up in your system can affect you in several ways, including deciding when it’s safe to drive. The mental and physical health concerns related to intoxication, alcohol levels, and drinking frequency are significant.

How long does alcohol stay in your system? It is invariably different from how long it stays in someone else’s system. Some of the factors that affect that include:

  • What test is used
  • Whether the individual uses alcohol rarely or chronically
  • How hydrated you are
  • How active you are

Below, the area of the body tested is attached to the approximate time it will detect alcohol:

  • Blood – up to 12 hours
  • Saliva – up to 12 hours
  • Breath – 12-24 hours
  • Urine – 12-24 hours for moderate use, 72 hours after heavy use
  • Hair – up to 90 days

The way alcohol is metabolized, and many other factors, determines how long you will actually feel intoxicated.

How the Body Metabolizes Alcohol

Alcohol is always processed through the digestive system. It is not strictly digested, the way food is, but gets absorbed rapidly through the upper GI tract, passing through the lining of the stomach and small intestine straight into the bloodstream. This process can be slowed down if there is food in the stomach, but it does not reduce the level of alcohol that is absorbed.

Once alcohol is being transported via your circulating blood, it gets to the brain fairly quickly. As the blood passes through the liver, which is in charge of extracting toxins from the body, the alcohol has an effect on this detoxing organ. Some liver cells die, but for normal drinkers, they are able to rejuvenate. For heavy drinkers, the two organs most affected are the brain and liver.

How Long Will You Feel Drunk?

There is no formula for figuring out how long you will feel intoxicated nor how long your hangover will last. Two people with the same blood alcohol level will not necessarily become as drunk because the concentration in their blood may differ. This is often affected by how hydrated you are.

How long you feel intoxicated is affected by the following factors:

  • Gender – The body composition of men and women is different in ways that impact intoxication. Fat retains alcohol, which leads to higher blood concentrations and longer sensations of drunkenness. Women’s bodies naturally contain more fat than men’s. Women’s bodies also produce less dehydrogenase, a liver enzyme that deals with alcohol, and they also contain less water that helps dilute alcohol in the body.
  • Weight – The more you weigh, the more alcohol you can handle before intoxication sets in because it becomes more broadly diffused within the system.
  • Age – As people age, they remain intoxicated for longer periods because their body composition is shifting to more fat and less muscle. However, very young people, children, and teens are more likely to get drunk because their livers are not completely developed.
  • Food – Certain foods slow the impact of alcohol. Protein is important as it digests slowly and stays in the stomach longer. A balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates is ideal.
  • Medication – If you are taking an over-the-counter cold or flu medicine or prescribed anti-anxiety meds, angina medications, or antibiotics, your alcohol will hit you harder and faster.
  • How fast you drink – If you drink quickly, your bloodstream will contain higher concentrations of alcohol faster and get you drunk more quickly because your body cannot keep up as it attempts to metabolize the alcohol.

Given that it is difficult to control all the factors that go into why or how an individual becomes drunk, drinking responsibly is the best way to avoid intoxication.

Call Evoke Wellness Ohio Today if You Are Worried about Alcohol Abuse

Our team of professional clinicians is ready to help you overcome alcohol abuse and addiction. Call 866.430.9267 or fill out our online contact form to ask all your questions and see about the next steps. Begin your recovery journey with us today.