How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your System

by Jennifer McDougall

Alcohol is mainly broken down by the liver, which can metabolize around one standard drink per hour for males. Age, weight, gender, and the quantity of food consumed can impact how quickly the body processes alcohol. Sleeping or drinking water will not enhance the rate of alcohol absorption.

How Long Does It Take for Alcohol to Leave Your System?

Alcohol detection periods might vary depending on the bodily system and test employed. Alcohol detection tests may detect alcohol in the blood for up to 6 hours, in the breath for 12 to 24 hours, in the urine for 12 to 24 hours (72 or more hours with more sophisticated detection methods), in the saliva for 12 to 24 hours, and in the hair for up to 90 days.

How Does Alcohol Get Metabolized?

Although alcohol goes through the digestive tract, it does not undergo substantial digestion in the same way that food does. Instead, when it enters the upper gastrointestinal system, a large percentage is absorbed directly into the circulation via the stomach and small intestine tissue lining. Once in the bloodstream, it travels throughout the body to the brain.

When food is in the stomach, the absorption mechanism may be slightly delayed. For example, food can absorb alcohol, prevent it from contacting the stomach lining or impede its passage from the stomach to the duodenum (the first region of the small intestine). It is otherwise rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream.

Overdoes are more likely if you binge drink, defined as four drinks in two hours for a woman and five drinks in two hours for a male. Extreme binge drinking is defined as drinking twice or more than the binge drinking thresholds. A high amount of alcohol consumed in a short period of time dramatically outpaces the liver’s ability to eliminate alcohol from the body, resulting in a rapid increase in BAC.

When a person combines alcohol with opioid or sedative-hypnotic prescriptions, such as pain relievers, sleep aids, or anti-anxiety meds, the risk of overdose increases, these medicines also inhibit respiration, and when taken with alcohol, these effects are amplified and can result in an overdose with even low doses of alcohol.

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