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How long alcohol stays in your system

How long does alcohol stay in your system?

How long does alcohol stay in your system? Does it stay for minutes, hours? Does alcohol stay in the body for days? The answer to this question is quite simple. Once alcohol enters your bloodstream, it leaves the body by two means:

  • 10% of alcohol leaves the body through breath, perspiration and urine
  • Rest of the 90% is broken down in the body.

The process of alcohol digestion tends to be a rather direct process. How long does alcohol stay in your system relies more on how much alcohol a person has consumed compared to other factors. If you have had a chance to binge drink or had more than your fair share of alcohol, you can easily remember when it became too much to handle. Both the tissues and blood become a pool of unmetabolized alcohol at a point. Such a behavior repeatedly damages the brain and body tissues.

Alcohol Digestion:

Alcohol Digestion - Absorption of Alcohol

Alcohol happens to be a depressant drug that is within reach of almost everyone quite easily. Alcohol slows down the process of central nervous system affecting every physical and mental activity the person who has consumed alcohol tries to take. As a depressant, the body absorbs alcohol quickly as soon as you drink it.Unlike other drug types and food items, little or no digestion is actually required regarding breaking it down. After alcohol reaches the stomach, 20% of it goes directly

into the small blood vessels carrying the nutrients and water throughout your body. 80% of the remaining alcohol goes into the small intestines. The small intestine and stomach lining quickly takes in alcohol when it is consumed. From there it moves into another cluster of small blood vessels that run through the body. After alcohol enters into the bloodstream, it is dissolved in the water molecules of the blood.

This alcohol that has been watered down saturates the soluble tissues of the body except adipose tissues as alcohol cannot dissolve in fat. Then, its intoxicating effects begin to affect the body. After alcohol makes its way into the bloodstream, it goes down to the liver to get metabolized. Liver tends to metabolize alcohol at the same rate for everybody no matter what their sex, race or weight is. But those who are afflicted with a serious liver condition or disease have slower metabolism rates.

When food is taken which alcohol, it slows down the entering rate of alcohol in the body. With slower absorption rates, it takes longer for a person to get fully intoxicated by alcohol or which we commonly call as getting drunk. The main ingredient of alcohol ethanol is what causes the drunk effect. It influences the cardiovascular function of the body. It modifies both the good and bad cholesterol concentrations along with effecting other chemical reactions.

After 5% absorbed ethanol reaches kidneys, the body actively initiates the alcohol excretion process through urination. Moreover, alcohol hinders the vasopressin production. Vasopressin is a hormone responsible for conserving the body fluids. Without the presence of vasopressin to keep the body from losing fluids, the urination process begins to increase that results in alcohol excretion within 20-25 minutes of its consumption. But determining how long alcohol stays in your system and detectable in urine depends on how much you drink.

Alcohol Metabolism:

How long does alcohol stay in systemLiver takes about an hour to metabolize one ounce of alcohol on average. One once of alcohol usually produces a .015 blood-alcohol-concentration for most. This shows that if someone has .015 BAC level, he/she will have none or little alcohol present in their bloodstream after 10 hours have gone by. The more you drink, the longer alcohol stays in your system. Blood-alcohol-concentration of 0.08 that happens to be the legal limit for driving, takes about 5.5 hours to completely leave the body.

The process of alcohol metabolism gets bit different when a person begins consuming alcohol faster than the liver is capable of metabolizing it. The liver metabolism affects how alcohol shall effect your mood and make you feel if you continue consuming it. Especially when the BAC level goes beyond 0.055 both the body tissues and blood begin to absorb the extra alcohol that produces some really unpleasant effects like nausea, vomiting, memory loss, irritability, disability and depression.

These changes represent the biphasic or two-phase of alcohol in the body. After the person achieves the second phase, it is likely that he/she will suffer damage to both brain and body.

Duration for which Alcohol Stays in Your System:

Ethyl Glucuronide is a direct metabolite present in alcohol. Its presence in urine may be utilized for detecting recent consumption of alcohol by the body. EtG Urine Alcohol Test detects ethyl glucuronide in urine that confirms whether the body has ingested alcohol for as long as 3-4 days after consumption or after 80 hours when the liver has metabolized alcohol.

EtG test is also called as 80hour test for detecting consumption of ethyl alcohol. It has become a popular choice to know that how long does alcohol stay in your system. Its presence in urine is a positive indicator that the body recently ingested alcohol. The EtG tests effectively detects presence of ethyl glucuronide in urine. EtG stands for Ethyl Glucuronide. It is a new testing method is being practiced which is called EtG for detecting how long alcohol has stayed in your system. EtG helps in determining whether the body system has been recently involved in any alcohol metabolism.

If this method is used to detect the presence of ethyl glucuronide in urine, the achieved results help in knowing if the body has recently ingested alcohol within the time frame of approximately 80 hours. Even after moderate drinking, possibility of getting positive urine tests is still possible even after several days.

Alcohol can be detected in the body with Breathalyzers within 24 hours of alcohol consumption. Saliva test for ethyl glucuronide detects hints of alcohol in the body after 12 days of drinking. Hair follicle testing for alcohol consumption has proven to be the most successful and precise. With hair follicle testing for alcohol, alcohol ingestion can be detected in the system after three months of consuming alcohol. It can effectively detect traces of alcohol in the system after three months of alcohol ingestion.

Factors Determining How Long Alcohol Stays in Your System:

How long does alcohol stay in your system; blood alcohol concentration (BAC 0.8); breath (Breathalyzer) and saliva/urine (drug test) is based on numerous factors. Several key factors are involved in determining how long does alcohol stay in your system.

It basically depends on the type and amount of alcohol recently consumed by the body, food digested during that time span, weight, age, gender as well as different factors of the day-to-day living like body type, activity level etc. These factors also impact the duration of intoxication length as well as the ability of alcohol to get detected in blood and urine.

Men vs Women Alcohol BAC Level comparison Change

The alcohol absorption rate factors that involve gender/sex show that a man who consumes two drinks in an hour and weighs 150 pounds will have a lower blood-alcohol-concentration level than a woman weighing the same and drinking the same amount of alcohol in the given amount of time.

How? Well this can be further elaborated by a fact that men tend to have higher levels of the hydrogenase enzyme. After alcohol reaches the stomach, this enzyme begins the process of breaking down the alcohol molecules that assists in the metabolization of the body’s organs and

tissues especially, the liver. Moreover, women display higher blood alcohol levels in comparison to men right before menstruation as they also have higher percentages of alcohol retaining fat cells and lower percentages of water.

Everybody has his own individual metabolism system. Some people have fast baseline metabolism rates as compared to others. This makes them better equipped to both eliminate and process alcohol. Metabolism is somewhat influenced by genetics and some part of it is controlled by the lifestyle choices you make, sleep routine, stress levels and physical activity.

People having lean mass and healthy amount of body fat is connected to faster metabolism rate.
Effect of food on alcohol absorption

When somebody eats before alcohol consumption or drinks during, the enzymes present in the stomach focus on digestion process of the food rather than processing alcohol. This action thus delays entering of alcohol into the bloodstream. This means that BAC happens to rise between the time span of 60 minutes to 6 hours after the last drink was drank.

On the other hand, people who tend to drink on an empty stomach shall have peak BAC levels within 30 minutes to two hours of consuming their last drink. Furthermore, food items that are enriched with high-proteins tend to delay the alcohol processing more than foods having no proteins.

Aldehyde dehydrogenase ALDH and alcohol dehydrogenase ADH are the two enzymes responsible for controlling the alcohol metabolism. According to genetic studies, both ADH and ALDH are programmed by a number of genes in different forms. The ADH and ALDH allele that is carried by an individual strongly impacts on how long does alcohol stay in your system along with the risk of them becoming an alcoholic.


Some non-prescription medications and prescriptions tends to constraint the alcohol processing as they interfere with the functioning of the enzymes. Drugs and medicines for cold/flu, antidepressants and sedatives may result in faster absorption of alcohol in the small intestine when it reaches the stomach. Also, it accelerates BACs along with increasing the time alcohol remains detectable in your body.

Disease & Illness:

While suffering from an illness/diseases that causes body to dehydrate, if alcohol is consumed it shall be found in the system for longer compared to when they are not ill. Dehydration leads to slowing down of enzymatic activity and lack of sufficient amount of water in the body also disturbs the liver’s ability to eliminate and breaking down alcohol. And if you are taking medication during illness, that may also increase the time periods of alcohol being detectable in the tissue, urine and blood.

Drinking lots of water or other hydrating fluids does not really increase the alcohol elimination from the body as it is believed. Liver performs the basic function of both metabolizing and eliminating alcohol from body so its trace cannot be detected in blood, tissues or urine.

Measures to Slow Down Alcohol in Your System:

Alcohol is harmful and overtime, the more you consume, the more magnitude of damage to your brain and body. Drinking occasionally and in less amount, does not pose threat your health and well-being.

Here are few ways that you can go for to slow down the level of alcohol entering into your system:

  • If you eat while consuming alcohol, it is likely that your intake of alcohol is slowed down into your metabolism and you are able to manage your sobriety in an effective manner.
  • Drinking water or beverages in between alcoholic drinks helps in reduction of alcohol rate at which it enters into the bloodstream.
  • Furthermore, it is recommended that you should slowly sip your drinks in order to prevent too much alcohol from entering into your body at a time. You can have one alcoholic drink in an hour to keep from too much of the chemical entering into your bloodstream.

Although from following the above mentioned tips, you can easily reduce the speed and level at which the alcohol enters in your system. But, you cannot possibly increase the rate at which it leaves your body. The human body is programmed to continue taking out alcohol whether the person is awake or not. The alcohol will be metabolized by the liver at constant rate. This makes it easy to detect and predict how long does alcohol stay in the system using a BAC guide or calculator. The metabolism rate of body for alcohol is 0.005 per 20 minutes as 0.005×3= 0.015 resulting in alcohol leaving the body at 5 hours and 20 minutes.



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