How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your System?

How long does alcohol stay in the body? This is a question you may need to know the answer to if you want to get sober. Maybe you have a drug test that is quickly approaching and you want to make sure you’re clean. Or, it's possible that you know you're an alcoholic, and you are nervous about going through withdrawal. Both are excellent reasons to ask this question.

If you regularly drink l, you need to know the answer. Not knowing how long alcohol stays in the system can put your life at risk. If you drink and drive without realizing you're over the legal limit, you could hurt yourself. You could also cause an accident and hurt someone else. It's quite common for people to feel as though they're OK to drive, when they're actually not.

Keeping Track of How Much You Drink

It is not always easy to keep track of how much alcohol you drink. A simple search online will uncover a lot of tips that supposedly help your body process it faster. These tips sound good, but they generally are ineffective.

Keeping Track of How Much Alcohol You Drink
The general rule of thumb is that it takes about an hour for your body to process one drink. Of course, this rule must be flexible. It's largely dependent on a number of things:
  • How much you weigh
  • Whether you are male or female
  • Multiple genetic factors
  • Your tolerance level
  • Your food consumption

In short, keeping your consumption to one drink per hour is important. It is the best way to keep your blood alcohol content level low and under control.

Additional Questions:

BAC refers to blood alcohol content. This is the amount of pure ETOH that is in your bloodstream. It is measured in percentages. For example, if you have a BAC of .04, this means that 4% of your blood is alcohol.

What Does BAC Mean?

As you look at the BAC scale, you'll see a variety of BAC levels. To make it simpler, these levels can be translated as:

  • .02 - At this level, driving usually is not impaired, and most people don't feel any different.
  • .04 - This is the level where most people feel very relaxed. They are not legally intoxicated, but driving can be impaired.
  • .08 - This level is the legal level of intoxication in most states in the U.S.
  • .12 - This level usually causes people to begin to feel sick.
  • .30 and .40 - When people reach this level, they are likely to experience a blackout, or loss of consciousness.
  • .45 - BAC levels that are this high are usually fatal. This constitutes poisoning, and requires immediate medical attention.

This is an area where people sometimes get confused. They tend to think that alcohol is different, depending on the type of drink being consumed. This isn't the case at all.

What is One Drink of Alcohol?

breathalyzer test does not have the ability to tell you what type of drink you had. The same is true for any other type of test.

People will often only drink beer because it's seen as the least harmful of all the drinks. They don't realize that one 12 ounce beer contains the same amount of alcohol as a shot of liquor. A 12 ounce beer has 5%, which is the same amount that's in one 5 ounce glass of wine.

It's important to know this information. The next time you choose to have a drink, be aware of how much you're actually consuming. Also, do the calculations to determine when you will be sober again.

This depends on a few different factors. One of those factors is whether or not you have eaten food. If you are eating and drinking at the same time, your BAC level will be much lower. The reason for this is because it won't reach the small intestine too quickly.

If you are a man, your body will metabolize alcohol faster than it does for women. This is because women's stomachs have less of the enzyme that breaks it down.

If your liver is healthy, you can expect to metabolize a drink an hour. Remember, this is based on the above definitions of what a drink is. The amount of time it takes to get sober depends on if you drink more than a drink in an hour. If you finish a drink at 5:00, and then have another one at 5:30, it's going to take you longer.

There are different types of tests for ETOH, and they all work differently. Alcohol levels can be tested in the breath, urine, hair, and blood. The two most commonly used tests are the ethanol test and the EtG test.

Alcohol Tests and How do They Work

Ethanol tests are urine tests. These are frequently used by police departments or treatment programs. The problem is that it can take as long as two hours before alcohol is detected in the urine. When it is detected, it may remain that way for an hour and a half. For higher BAC levels, it can be detected in the urine for as long as 12 hours.

The EtG test is able to detect it for several days after it has been consumed. This is beneficial in some cases. However, it can also be problematic in others. This test can give a positive result even when you haven’t been drinking that day.

If your BAC level is much higher than the legal limit, it will still be detected for longer. If your BAC level is lower, it should leave the urine fairly quickly. It can even leave within a few hours at lower BAC levels.

There are many informational websites that offer direction on how to rid the urine of it faster. They state that drinking more water can help the process along. They may indicate that exercising more can be helpful. They even say that taking a Vitamin B supplement can help. These all sound really good, but they aren't all that effective.

Your body still needs your liver to do its job to metabolize the alcohol. Until this process is completed, removing it from your system just takes time.

Most people know they'll have to do a breathalyzer test if they get pulled over for drinking and driving. That means that this question is a pretty standard one. People want to know how long ETOH stays in the system. However, they really want to know how long it stays in their breath.

A breathalyzer works by measuring how much blood alcohol is in your breath when you exhale. This is the easiest method to use during a traffic stop. Sometimes these devices can be thrown off, and inaccurate results are possible. A breathalyzer may mistake ketones for alcohol. They could also vary in their readings due to sensing acid reflux or changes in body temperature.

Still, your breath is one of the ways that ETOH is excreted from the body. You should wait to drive for as many hours as the number of drinks you've consumed. At that point, you should be safe to drive, and pass a breathalyzer test.

It wasn't discovered that ETOH could be detected in hair follicles until 1993. Researchers found that it could be found for a much longer period of time in a person's hair. In some cases, positive results can be found that date back three to six months.

The EtG test is what is generally used to test hair. However, it is not a fool-proof test. It's possible that shampoos, hairsprays and dyes can skew the results. Because of this, hair tests are usually used only as a way to complement other types of tests.

When possible, administering a blood test for ETOH is the most effective way to detect it. This is because it enters the bloodstream almost immediately after it is consumed. Within minutes, blood alcohol levels can be detected when someone is drinking.

Blood tests can be done in doctor's offices, rehabs, and sometimes, at police stations. Even so, they only give a small picture of the entire story. This type of test is only able to determine the amount that is present at the time of the test. After drinking, the body is constantly at work to metabolize it. That means that BAC levels are generally much higher than when the test is actually done.

Even so, the body still processes ETOH at a rate of one drink per hour. That means that if someone has ten drinks, ten hours later, their blood alcohol content would be 0. Of course, this is subject to change based on a number of factors we've discussed.

What Factors Influence How Long ETOH Stays in the System?

There are a number of different factors that can affect how long alcohol stays in the body. Once you quit drinking, your body will begin the job of processing what you consumed. While there are some commonalities here, there are some variances that can result in slower or faster processing. It’s all very subjective. Let’s take a look at some of the different dynamics that play a part.

People who are younger will tend to process alcohol at a faster rate than older people. This may be for a few different reasons.

As you age, your blood flow may slow down significantly. This also means that your liver functions will become slower as well. Also, you may be on medications that impact your liver. When this is the case, you will process it at a slower rate.

If you’re younger, you probably don’t need to be too concerned. Your liver is likely very healthy, so your processing time may be closer to the average.

Alcohol can take longer to process in those with a higher percentage of body fat. Likewise, it can be processed faster in people with high percentages of body water. This explains why women tend to process it more slowly than men do. It’s also why the moderate drinking standards are much lower for women.

There are some races that either lack the enzyme needed to break down alcohol, or that have lower amounts of it. In both cases, these individuals will have a more difficult time processing it. When they drink, it may remain in their systems for a much longer period of time. People who are of East Asian descent are an excellent example.

In addition, this can cause these individuals to suffer from various reactions to drinking. They have been known to experience:

  • Headaches
  • A rapid heart rate
  • Flushing in the face
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness

When you drink, alcohol is going to be absorbed into your digestive tract. If there is food present, it will affect how quickly it’s absorbed as well. When your stomach is full, you’ll find that you will process it much more slowly. This is simply because it takes time for your body to process both at the same time.

You may have heard that alcoholism can run in families. There is a strong connection between genes and alcohol addiction. The same is true for how long it takes it to leave the system.

If you tend to process alcohol more slowly than others, there could be a genetic reason. This is something that scientists are still researching. People with alcoholism in their family histories are much more likely to process it slower.

You may also be aware that your body size has a lot to do with how quickly you get drunk. Smaller people can become intoxicated on less than larger people can. Your body size does play a role in how quickly you can process alcohol. You may find that if you weigh more, you process it more quickly than someone who doesn’t.

There is a good reason why so many subscribe to the moderation management school of thought. This is the belief that you can use substances in moderation without much fear of addiction. This is evident when you’re talking about how your body processes alcohol.

Your liver can only process one drink at a time. If you are drinking moderately, you’re enabling your liver to be much more efficient. However, if you’ve consumed several drinks over the period of an hour, it will be much harder.

As each hour passes since your last drink, your body will continue to break it down. Time is the best way to remove alcohol from your system.

There are certain medications that can impact how your body breaks down alcohol. There are some that are known to prolong the process, and they include:

  • Antidepressant drugs
  • Anti-anxiety medications
  • Allergy drugs
  • Antibiotics
  • Medications for diabetes

Again, any medicine that has an impact on your liver is likely to slow down this process as well. It’s important to know what you’re taking and whether or not it has an impact on your alcohol intake.

Unfortunately, many people will use more than one drug at a time when they drink. For example, it’s quite common for people with opiate addictions to consume alcohol at the same time. They do this to enhance the high they experience.

Your body is still tasked with the job of breaking down every substance you give to it. It won’t be able to break down both of them at the same time. This means it will take longer for it to leave your system.

Do You Need to Consider Going to an Alcohol Detox Center for Help?

You may have come across this page because you were simply curious about how long it takes ETOH to leave the system. However, it’s possible that you’re here because you have a serious drinking problem. Maybe you’re considering quitting your use of this substance altogether, but you’re not sure where to begin. If that’s the case, it may be time to think about going to an alcohol detox program for help.

How Long Does Alcohol Remain in the Body?

There’s no shame in asking for help when you’re an alcoholic. In fact, it may be the only way that you’ll be able to stop drinking successfully. Still, this might be the first time you’re hearing about detox and how it can benefit you. Let’s talk about that in more detail.

If you’re an alcoholic who need to recover, detox needs to be your very first step. It’s important for you to address the physical side of your addiction. Otherwise, your recovery is likely to be very difficult. You need to get help for your cravings and other withdrawal symptoms you’ll experience when you stop. That’s what you’ll find when you go to a detoxification center.

At a detox center, the staff will have many different ways to help you through your recovery. There are many types of withdrawal treatments available. Your doctor will talk with you about your options and choose what’s right for you.

Reasons to Choose a Detoxification Program to Stop Drinking

When you decided to start drinking, you just started. You probably never thought you would have a hard time quitting. Most people don’t. However, now that you’re an alcoholic, you realize how powerful this addiction can be. What you probably don’t understand is how dangerous it can be to quit.

How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your System?

Regardless of how long you’ve been drinking, your body has come to expect that regular dose of alcohol. When you take it away, you’re going to experience a response. This is what people refer to when they talk about withdrawal. Keeping you comfortable is one of the main goals of detoxification. The other is ensuring your safety.

It usually doesn’t take very long before withdrawal symptoms start. In fact, some experts say that they can begin as soon as six hours after you’ve stopped drinking. This explains why so many people wake up in the morning feeling like they need to drink.

When you first stop drinking, you’re likely to experience mild withdrawals. These symptoms might be something you’re very familiar with. What most people don’t realize is that they will get much worse.

Some of the more typical alcohol withdrawal symptoms people experience when they quit drinking include:

  • Shakiness in their hands
  • Tremors
  • Symptoms of anxiety
  • Heavy sweating
  • Painful headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Trouble sleeping at night
  • Exhaustion during the day

Going to a detox facility can help you get through this part of your quit. The treatments you’ll receive will minimize the severity of your withdrawals. This will make the entire process much smoother and more bearable for you.

For some people their withdrawal symptoms become extremely severe. When this happens, it results in a condition known as alcohol withdrawal syndrome. A characterizing feature of AWS is delirium tremens.

Delirium tremens, or DTs, doesn’t happen for everyone. However, there are some factors that can put you at a greater risk. You might experience this condition if you have been drinking heavily for ten years or more. If you have ever suffered from a serious head injury, you could also be at risk when you stop drinking. The DTs can also occur within those who have been drinking hard alcohol excessively for several months.

You should begin experiencing symptoms of DTs within 48 to 96 hours after your last drink. However, this is not a hard and fast rule. There are people who have developed the condition as long as 10 days after their last drink. That means that even after the 96 hours are over, you could still be at risk.

The symptoms of DTs include:

  • Having visual or auditory hallucinations
  • Becoming delusional and suffering from delirium
  • Excessive sleepiness to the point of stupor
  • Feeling the need to sleep for a day or more
  • Extreme changes in the way your mind functions
  • Feeling sensitive to touch, sound and light
  • Becoming very agitated and irritable
  • Having total body tremors
  • Developing seizures

If this condition develops, it can be fatal. That’s why it’s so important to go to an alcohol detoxification center for help.

Detoxing can help to protect you against developing DTs. With the right withdrawal treatments, your risk can be significantly lowered.

What to Expect at a Detox Facility

Now that you know the reasons behind detoxing, you may be curious about what you can expect. Many people are when they’ve never had any type of formal alcoholism treatment before.

First and foremost, you should know that you will be treated as an individual. There is no “right” way to treat alcoholism. You have specific and unique needs that are yours and yours alone. Your doctor is going to take great care in listening to you tell your story. They’ll prescribe the treatments that are right for you, based on what you require for recovery.

There are several different ways that alcoholics can expect to receive help during their detox stay. It’s important for you to know what they are so you know what to expect.

Many people who come to alcohol detox centers will experience medication assisted treatment, or MAT. This means giving them medications to help them through the detox phase. There are several different medications that have proven to be very effective during withdrawal.

Some examples include:

  • Vivitrol
  • Disulfiram
  • Naltrexone
  • Acamprosate
  • Antabuse

These and other medications help in a few different ways. They can reduce the severity of withdrawal and protect the individual from any complications. They can also change the person’s desire for alcohol altogether.

Some people may need additional medications to protect them against specific symptoms. For instance, if your doctor thinks you might be at risk for seizures, they may prescribe an anticonvulsant.

Alcohol withdrawal medications can be extremely helpful as you go through this challenging time. However, they should be taken with caution. You will most likely have to participate in a counseling program while you’re receiving MAT. You should also find out if the drug you’re taking has any addictive properties. If it does, it should only be taken for a short time.

Your doctor may also recommend that you undergo some non-medicated forms of withdrawal treatment. There are holistic methods to treat alcoholism, and they can be very beneficial for you.

For many alcoholics, the reality is that they are deficient in critical vitamins and minerals. You may not have been eating very well while you were drinking. As a result, you could have lost weight due to be malnourished. Don’t be surprised if your doctor recommends medical nutrition therapy for you.

Your nutritionist will talk with you about your diet and eating habits. They’ll want to know the types of foods you’ve been eating and how often you eat. They will be able to help you put together a meal plan that you can stick to, even at home. Before long, you’ll notice that you begin to feel better. This is because your body is getting healthy again. Your liver and kidneys will be in a better position to filter out toxins related to your alcohol abuse.

Physical exercise will also likely become a big part of your treatment plan. You might not realize it, but your body will shed toxins through your pores as well. When you sweat, you’re getting rid of all kinds of chemicals related to alcohol. This might mean that you do some form of aerobic exercise each day, or perhaps participate in a sport. This will be a great benefit to your overall health as well.

Can You Try Detoxing at Home?

A lot of alcoholics are tempted by the thought of detoxing at home. Maybe you’ve had the same idea. You might know that it’s dangerous to quit drinking cold turkey. However, you’ve been researching various natural home detox methods online.

You’ll see that there are quite a few different suggestions. If you look hard enough, you can find vitamins, pills, cleanses and kits. All of these products sound like they might be miracles in a bottle. Unfortunately, they’re nothing of the sort.

As of today, there are no FDA approved treatments available for withdrawal online. That means that even if something sounds like it might work, it’s best to save your money. It would be much safer for you to invest in a quality alcohol detoxification center. There, you’ll be able to get the kind of help you really need. You also won’t have to worry as much about suffering through any potential complications.

How Long Does it Take to Completely Detox From Alcohol in a Professional Setting?

The amount of time it takes to will vary from person to person. As we’ve discussed, the process if a very subjective one. What ends up being true for you might not be true for someone else, even if they’re also an alcoholic.

You should talk with your doctor to determine how long they think you might be in detox. They may tell you that you should expect to be there for about a week; possibly longer. Most people need to remain there for about 7 to 10 days.

However, you may be someone who recovers faster. Maybe you haven’t been drinking as long, or you’re quite healthy. It’s not unheard of for people to only need to be in detox for a few days.

Regardless of what your doctor advises, please heed their instructions. Remember, they only have your best interests at heart. Their goal is to ensure your safety and help you build a foundation for long-term recovery and sobriety.

Why an Inpatient Detox Program is Your Best Option

It is our hope that you can now see the importance of detoxing if you’re an alcoholic. At this point, you may be wondering about the type of facility you need. While it’s true that there are different ways that you can recover, they’re not all the same. In fact, some methods may not be as safe as others.

Most people require inpatient care while they go through the detoxification process. This will allow the staff members to closely monitor you and your progress at all times. They can carefully keep a close eye on your symptoms and adjust your treatments as needed.

It’s possible that you were hoping to hear that an inpatient alcohol detox program wasn’t necessary for you. It can be inconvenient for many people to take the time to go into this type of facility. However, this time is going to be very well spent. You’re making an investment into your future, and that’s important.

It’s vital for you to detox from alcohol the right way. By choosing an inpatient program, you’ll get a lot of attention from staff members. You’ll have access to medical personnel in the event of an emergency as well.

There are other ways for you to get help if you can’t commit to an inpatient program. However, you need to know that they might not be safe for you at this point.

There are some detox centers that offer services on an outpatient basis. You will probably still be required to participate in therapy at the time of your treatment. Please think very carefully before you commit to an outpatient alcohol detox facility. You could be putting yourself in harm’s way when you make that decision.

You may be able to find a rapid or ultra-rapid detox facility near you. However, most experts agree that these types of programs are very dangerous. They involve giving you medications to speed up the process of detoxification. This could potentially put your health or even your life at risk. These types of centers used to be quite common, but they’re not as much today.

You could also go through detox in a hospital setting. There, you would have around the clock care, and you’d get excellent medical help. However, there are a lot of reason why this type of program isn’t as sought after by alcoholics. You may not be able to have any visitors while you’re in recovery. You also might not spend time with other patients for therapy.

Finally, you can also start by talking with your doctor about your plans to quit drinking. Your doctor may or may not be aware of your alcohol abuse history. Either way, it’s important for them to know. Tell them that you want to quit drinking and ask for recommendations. Some doctors will prescribe medications to help you with withdrawals. Others might offer you a referral for a trusted program that can help you.

Is Alcoholism Cured After You’ve Detoxed?

There’s a common misconception that there are medications that can cure addiction and alcoholism. Unfortunately, there aren’t. In fact, even going through a detoxification program isn’t going to cure you. This is often disheartening for those who were hoping to leave their problems behind them.

While detoxing isn’t going to cure you, it is going to be an important tool for your future. By going through this process, you are effectively addressing the physical side of your alcoholism. You’re treating your withdrawal symptoms and proving to yourself that you don’t need to drink. These are all very important.

As of this moment, there is no way to cure alcoholism. However, the best treatments in the world are available right at your fingertips. You can get a lot of help to move away from active alcoholism into a place of recovery.

Once you have detoxed, your next step will be to go to an alcohol rehab program. There, you’ll be able to start working on the psychological side of your addiction. It’s crucial for you to learn why you started drinking in the first place. You might know, but most people don’t have the entire picture.

At the alcohol rehabilitation center, the staff will guide you through this process. You’ll be working very closely with a therapist who will help you tremendously. You’ll also have group therapy sessions and you may even have family therapy. The more you can learn about your alcoholism, the better.

When you go to an alcohol rehab facility, their goal is to help you recover from the mental side of your addiction. This is very important because unless the reasons are addressed, you’re likely to go back to drinking.

One of the first goals your therapist will have is to determine if you have a co-occurring disorder. This is a mental health condition that can eventually lead to a substance abuse problem. Many people with mental illnesses turn to alcohol to get relief for them. It’s possible that this is what has happened with you.

There can be many different types of co-occurring disorders, including:

  • OCD
  • Social Anxiety
  • Adult ADD or ADHD
  • Depression
  • Anxiety Disorder
  • Panic Disorder
  • Bipolar Disorder

Many people will start drinking as a way to calm their symptoms. They’re happy when it seems to work, and that’s what drives them to continue doing it. They often don’t realize that what they’re really doing is feeding an addiction to alcohol.

If you have a co-occurring disorder, it’s your therapist’s job to find out. Once they do, they can begin giving you the treatment you need to feel more like yourself, without alcohol.

What Can You do if a Loved One is an Alcoholic?

It’s possible that you came across this page because you’re concerned for a loved one. You know that they drink too much, but you might not be sure if they’re an alcoholic. You may want to begin by taking our Family Member Addiction Quiz. This can help to answer some of the questions you might have.

If your loved one is an alcoholic, you might be wondering what you should do to help them. It might make you nervous to think about confronting them and talking about the problem. Or, maybe you’ve tried to bring it up in the past, and the conversation didn’t turn out very well.

You may be the only person that your family member will listen to regarding this issue. It’s even possible that they’re waiting for you to bring it up and offer to help. There are many ways you can address the addiction, and you may want to start with the following tips:

  • Do your research on alcoholism. If you’ve never dealt with it yourself, it’s important to know what it means to be an alcoholic. This is a disease, and it’s not always easy for people to just stop drinking. If you’re educated, you’ll be more prepared to help.
  • Look up various treatment programs near you. You’ll want to find an accredited facility that can help your loved one. Make sure they offer detox services and have a strong commitment to personalized care.
  • Talk with your loved one when they’re not drunk. This might be hard to do if you the person is always drinking. You may need to have this conversation first thing in the morning.
  • Be firm, but loving when you talk with them. They need to know that you mean business, but that you care about them and their health.
  • Don’t be afraid to set some ground rules. The last thing you want to do is enable them to continue on in their destructive behavior patterns. It’s very easy to enable because you want to keep the peace in your home.
  • Ask them to get help. Provide them with the research you’ve done and let them know that you’ll be with them during the process.

Sometimes even when we have the best of intentions, our loved ones just don’t want to listen. Yours may have a strong desire to continue drinking because they feel it makes them happy.

If that’s the case, it’s time to consider obtaining intervention services. This means that you’re scheduling a meeting with a professional. Other friends and family will also be invited to come. During the meeting, you will all be confronting your loved one about their drinking problems. Many times, this type of meeting will end in the alcoholic seeking recovery.

Amytal Addiction Treatment

Do You Need Alcohol Detox and Rehab?

It's possible that you have recently failed an alcohol test. Maybe you've failed more than one. In either case, you may be a candidate for detox and rehab. If you're not sure if you're addicted, taking an alcoholism quiz can help you. Depending on the results of your quiz, you may find that you need to consider getting professional help to recover.

Have You Recently Failed an Alcohol Test?

At Northpoint Washington, we offer treatment for those in need. If you are an alcoholic, it's much better for you to find out right away. Putting off getting the help you need is dangerous.

Do you have additional questions about alcoholism or treatment? If you do, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us and ask. You can contact us today.

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