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How Long Does It Take to Get Alcohol Out Of the Blood System? | How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your Body

Are you pondering about the length of time that alcohol stays in the system or the amount of time alcohol takes to leave your system? Well, this is a very common question which many people think about, especially after they have had a fun night filled with lots of drinking. To answer the question of how long alcohol stays in your system briefly, alcohol has the tendency to remain in a human’s bloodstream for up to half a day, i.e., approximately 12 hours. 

In this blog, we will offer your valuable insights regarding how alcohol is metabolized and the effects it has on the body. Make sure to keep reading till the very end to know all about how long does it take for alcohol to leave your blood system. Let us begin and find out the answer to the question of how long does it take to get alcohol out of the blood system:

How Long Does it Take to Get Alcohol Out of the Blood System: Understanding What Alcohol Metabolism Is

The human body breaks alcohol in your system in a very systematic way. That process is called metabolism, and it mostly happens in the liver after a person consumes or uses alcohol. This facilitates in removing alcohol from your bloodstream over a period of time. Let us take a detailed look at how long it takes for alcohol to leave your body.

How Alcohol is Processed in the Body

Once alcohol enters your body through drinking alcoholic beverages, the body starts processing it. The majority of this process happens inside the liver, where the already-present enzymes break down the newly-entered alcohol into substances which the human body can easily handle. 

The breakdown process includes transforming alcohol into a compound that is less harmful called acetaldehyde. It does that with the assistance of a specific enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase or just dehydrogenase (ADH). Followed by this, aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH), which is another enzyme, turns acetaldehyde into acetate, which for the record eventually turns into water along with carbon dioxide. 

This specific action of body metabolizing alcohol signifies that if you consume any amount of liquor which your liver cannot handle at a time, the remaining amount remains in your bloodstream. This is the reason which leads to the rise of alcohol content (BAC) levels. 

The Liver’s Role in Alcohol Metabolism

The human liver plays a major role after the entrance of alcohol in the body. For starters, it breaks down the majority of the alcohol, thereby making it a primary player in the management of blood alcohol levels. The liver alters alcohol, i.e., it changes it into substances which are harmless and which the body can get rid of without issues. 

This process also helps in preventing alcohol poisoning, getting rid of alcohol, and supports the overall health of individuals. Specific medications can have an effect on how the liver manages or handles alcohol. They might slow down the speed or increase the pace of the alcohol breakdown process. Having proper knowledge of this can facilitate in avoiding harmful effects due to consuming too much alcohol. 

Explaining BAC or Blood Alcohol Concentration

BAC or Blood Alcohol Concentration takes into measurement that alcohol percentage in a human’s bloodstream. Legal as well as medicinal fields utilize this measurement to check if an individual is legally intoxicated. 

For instance, in the U.S., having a Blood Alcohol Concentration level above the 0.08% mark signifies that you will be considered too intoxicated or drunk to drive a vehicle. This specific number aids police as well as doctors to understand the amount of alcohol consumed. 

Numerous factors can alter how fast the human body processes the entry and effect of alcohol, thereby leading to difference in BAC results. Factors that affect how alcohol is processed include a person’s age, gender, etc. Moreover, what they have eaten can affect how alcohol is absorbed and how long it takes for the body to process the entry as well as effect of alcohol. 

Women usually witness elevated BAC levels for lengthier periods because in general, they have a higher percentage of body fat and lesser water quantity in their bodies as compared to men. Having meals or consuming snacks when consuming alcohol can aid in slowing down how fast alcohol is absorbed by the body by putting extra pressure on the liver, i.e., by making it work more on breaking the alcohol down.  

Factors Which Affect Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Levels

Numerous factors can alter your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) levels. The size of your body has a major role in this. For example, if you have a higher fat percentage, your body’s BAC levels may be higher as compared to an individual with a lower percentage of body fat. 

Eating food items before drinking alcohol slows down the pace of how fast the level of alcohol rises in your body. This is primarily because the food present in your stomach makes it difficult for alcohol to get into your bloodstream quickly. 

The consumption of medicines can also mess with the alcohol-handling capabilities of your body. In some cases, it makes you get drunk quicker. Women, in most cases, witness higher BAC levels, mainly before the beginning of their periods. This occurs because women mostly have a lesser amount of water within their bodies and a higher amount of body fat as compared to men. 

How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your Body?

Alcohol has the capability to stay in your blood system longer, i.e., for many hours to days. It all depends on numerous factors. The amount of time varies because every individual’s body processes alcohol within their bodies in different ways. Hence, the time taken to clear alcohol from your system also varies. 

Detection of Alcohol in Blood, Urine, & Saliva

Medical professionals can identify alcohol in your bloodstream up to approximately 12 hours after you have consumed it. They utilize numerous special kinds of tests to check and verify whether alcohol is present in your system or not. Such tests measure the amount of alcohol which is still affecting your body. 

When it comes to urine and saliva, the process is a bit lengthier. A special test called “EtG” can identify the presence of alcohol in urine for around 3 to 5 days after you have consumed it. Although saliva tests are effective, they work the best within a shorter span after you have consumed alcoholic beverages. 

Factors Which Influence the Elimination of Alcohol from the Body

Many things and factors can alter the pace at which the human body gets rid of the alcohol present inside. How long alcohol stays in your system depends on the following factors: 

Gender or Biological Sex

Biological sex of an individual plays a major role in how quickly their body can eliminate alcohol. In the case of women, the alcohol stays for a longer time since they generally have a higher fat percentage and lesser water percentage. Moreover, women’s bodies break down alcohol at a slower pace as compared to men because of the differences between their bodies. 

Even if a male and female consume the same amount of alcohol, the latter will possibly have a higher BAC level. Hormones can also potentially alter how women’s bodies handle alcohol. Before menstruation, the levels of hormones make the BAC level rise quicker in women. 

Due to the aforementioned factors, comprehending how the biological sex of a human influences alcohol metabolism is very important for prevention as well as treatment plans related to intense drinking or binge-drinking sessions amongst different genders. 

Size of the Body

The size of the body plays a major role in how the intake of alcohol affects a person. It impacts how long alcohol stays in an individual’s body. People who are smaller in size often feel the effects of alcohol quicker than those who have a larger build primarily because they have a lesser number of tissues to absorb the consumed alcohol. 

This indicates that the weight of an individual as well as their overall body size influence the BAC levels. For instance, if a smaller and bigger person drinks equal amounts of alcohol, the former will likely have a higher BAC level. 

Larger-sized people may need more alcoholic beverages to experience the same effects, mainly because they have greater mass as well as more blood volume. This evident difference in how bodies of humans process alcohol highlights why it is crucial for avid drinkers to comprehend that “standard drinks” may not have the same effect on everyone. 

Intake of Food

The intake of food also has an effect on the length of time alcohol stays in your body. Eating before an individual starts drinking slows down the pace at which their body absorbs alcohol. A filled-up stomach aids in diluting the alcohol, thereby making its journey to the small intestine a lot slower. This indicates that their BAC levels do not soar too quickly. 

If you consume a meal or snack when drinking alcohol, it motivates your liver to hustle more. This makes the liver work on the alcohol breakdown more efficiently. If you have consumed food as compared to drinking alcohol on a completely empty stomach, Peak BAC levels may potentially be significantly lower. 

Frequent meals as well as snacks during or in between drinking sessions facilitate keeping the enzymes of the liver very busy. This significantly lowers the rate at which the consumed alcohol gets into the system, thereby helping your body in managing its effects more efficiently. 

Alcohol Consumption with Other Substances

Similar to how food has a specific effect on how the human body handles alcohol, mixing alcohol with other substances provides an additional layer of complexity. As mentioned earlier, consuming alcohol while taking specific medicines can pave the way for unexpected effects. 

For instance, certain drugs slow down the ability of the liver to break down alcohol, thereby resulting in higher BAC levels. This may make an individual get drunk quicker than general. Medicines like pain killers, aids for sleeping, as well as certain antibiotics are popularly known for such interactions. 

Mixing alcohol with dangerous and illegal drugs as well as other depressants is also highly risky. It can lead to nausea, intense vomiting, headaches, loss or proper coordination. The said combinations not only harm the physical health but also have a negative impact on the individual’s mental health. 

For instance, combining alcohol with benzodiazepines, which is a type of antidepressant, enhances the risk of experiencing an overdose. On the other side, certain stimulants might cover up intoxication effects, causing individuals to consume more alcohol than they can handle without issues.  

Common Myths About Sobering Up: What Works & What Does Not

The majority of people think that drinking coffee, taking a cold shower, or inhaling fresh air can quickly sober anyone up. However, these are all a bunch of myths. Although it is true that drinking coffee can make an individual feel more alert and aware, it does not lower their levels of alcohol in the blood. 

Similarly, taking cold showers, besides being an uncomfortable activity, does not quicken the process of sobering up, i.e., it is a myth that alcohol is eliminated faster. Moreover, although inhaling fresh air can make a person feel better, it does not alter their BAC level. The human liver, opposing all myths, processes the consumed alcohol at its own speed, and only the passage of time can truly reduce the BAC level. 

Consuming a big meal right after an intense drinking session does not dry up the alcohol levels either. The intake of food right before drinking can reduce the speed of alcohol absorption. However, it will not reverse the effects once you have already become intoxicated. 

There are some people who hold the belief that exercising or perspiring helps in the elimination of alcohol quicker. This also is not true. Physical activity may also enhance your mood, but it truly does not minimize BAC levels quicker than usual. The most effective method to avoid dependance as well as alcohol addiction is by comprehending all the aforementioned facts and consuming alcohol in a responsible manner. 

Alcohol Testing: When and How? 

As the name suggests, alcohol tests hold the power to check and verify if an individual has been consuming alcohol by drinking along with the amount. Let us take a closer look at the different types of alcohol tests as well as their duration and detection windows:

Different Kinds of Alcohol Tests

Different types of alcohol tests can measure alcohol and its total amount present in an individual’s body. Breathing tests, like the ones used by law-enforcing officers with a breathalyzer, search for the presence of alcohol in an individual’s breath. On the other hand, doctors as well as lawyers take the help of different kinds of blood tests to measure the amount of alcohol present in an individual’s bloodstream. 

As mentioned earlier, urine tests also check for indications of recent drinking activities and can conveniently detect alcohol in the body consumed from 3 to 5 days after consumption. Similarly, EtG tests can also show if an individual has drunk alcohol. The hair follicle drug test is another verification test. It looks for indications of heavy drinking over a period of the last three months, since alcohol can stay in the system for quite a long time. 

All of the aforementioned tests aid in detecting issues such as excessive alcohol usage or serious addiction. They act as useful tools which come in handy when it comes to managing health-related issues, especially those which are directly connected to excessive drinking, including the likes of depression, liver damage, etc. 

Having an idea about how the said tests work facilitates in understanding the impact which drinking has on the health of a human and when it might be a good time to seek treatment for addiction or help for substance use disorder

Duration of Alcohol Tests and the Window for Detection

Alcohol testing can indicate if a person has been drinking alcohol and for how long. Specific blood tests detect alcohol use or the presence of alcohol for up to half a day or 12 hours. Urine tests can detect alcohol, i.e., the ones done using EtG or ethyl glucuronide method can show traces of alcohol presence for 3-5 days. Hair follicle tests go above and beyond other tests, i.e., they find evidence of alcohol consumption for up to 3 months. Different kinds of substances break down alcohol in different ways and at different rates, which is why selecting the right test matters very much in acquiring precise results. 

Key Takeaways:

  • The human liver breaks down the majority of alcohol an individual consumes, converting it into substances which are less harmful. This procedure also assists in the management of BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) levels. 
  • How quickly alcohol vanishes from your bloodstream or body’s blood system depends on multiple factors, such as the amount of food you have eaten, the size of your body, and your gender. Women, in most cases, break down the alcohol present in their bodies at a slower rate than men. 
  • Alcohol can be detected in your system or remain in your bloodstream for up to half a day or 12 hours post drinking. Urine tests can find traces of alcohol for 3-5 days. Hair follicle tests indicate if an individual has been consuming alcohol for up to 3 months. 
  • Things such as coffee or cold showers do not really aid in removing alcohol from your system faster or sobering up faster. Only the passage of time can get the job done by lowering the BAC level.
  • Mixing alcohol with the likes of certain medicines or hard drugs can alter how quickly the human body processes it. It may also cause harmful side effects. 


Understanding the amount of time that alcohol remains in your system is important for maintaining consumption as well as staying safe and healthy. The human body takes time when it comes to metabolizing alcohol, with key factors such as food intake, body size, gender, etc., playing vital roles. 

Knowing the actual limits can facilitate in avoiding health issues and risks tied with drinking too much. For those who love drinking, getting educated about metabolism rates as well as testing methods can prevent a plethora of problems such as alcohol use disorder before they even begin. If worries regarding alcohol abuse and alcoholism come forth, seeking help from the right institution is a smart step. 

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