We are all aware that alcohol stays in our bodies for some time after we consume it, but how long does alcohol stay in our system exactly? Also, why is there a difference from person to person? Why does one person sober up much more quickly than another?
When you consume alcohol, your body begins to metabolize it. During the process of metabolization, the alcohol enters the bloodstream and then travels through all of your organs. The alcohol is partly excreted through our breath, sweat and urine. It takes time for the alcohol to enter your bloodstream after consumption, though. That explains why your alcohol level can rise after you’ve had your last alcoholic beverage. The rest of the alcohol that isn’t excreted through breath, sweat and urine remains in your bloodstream, therefore most alcohol screening tests require a blood sample. If only your breath is tested, one or two hours after consumption alcohol is no longer detectable, depending on your size, sex and how often you consume alcohol.
Alcohol affects each of us differently, hence the amount of time it takes for the alcohol to leave the system depends on various variables. Persons who drink alcohol much more often build up a tolerance for processing alcohol. For that reason, a heavy drinker’s liver may process three times as many drinks per hour. One ounce of alcohol has a greater effect on a petite female than it has on a strong man. Alcohol also stays longer in a female’s body than in a male’s, because their metabolization of alcohol is different.
A blood test can detect small amounts of alcohol for a long period of time. Small amounts of alcohol, such as one to three ounces can still be detectable in your Circulatory system ten to twelve hours after consumption, if you’re an occasional drinker. If you’re a habitual drinker, however, your blood and internal organs are capable of “storing” the alcohol from previous drinking sessions, therefore it takes much longer for your system — sometimes up to a week — to eliminate enough alcohol to pass a blood test.
A perfectly functioning liver is capable of metabolizing an ounce of alcohol per hour. That’s about one standard drink! Heavy alcohol drinker’s livers are often impaired and hence their livers can only metabolize much less than a perfectly functioning liver.
The functioning of the liver can not be speed! Remember that drinking large amounts of alcohol very quickly or using beer bongs can be fatal to your system. If the liver is not capable of processing any more alcohol, the blood must store, and alcohol poisoning — which often leads to death — can be the result.