How long does alcohol stay in your system?

Alcohol,Drugs 26 February 2009 | 11 Comments

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.

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11 Responses on “How long does alcohol stay in your system?”

  1. Berkeley says:

    Thank you!

    I searched google for “How long does alcohol stay in your system?” and came to your page.

  2. Cat says:

    Thank you for your kind comment, Berkeley. We plan to add many more articles in the future.

  3. Scout says:

    How long does 1 drink stay in your sytem? /
    How long does one drink stay in your sytem?

  4. Joey says:

    I had 4 mixed vodka drinks and need to have a urine screening 10 days after the event. I’ve been drinking about 12 oz. of cranberry juice every day since. I can NOT take a detox… What are the chances that I will pass the urine screening? Any help you can provide will be greatly appreciated! Thanx…

  5. Administrator says:

    Joey, the likelihood of a measureable amount of alcohol showing up on a urine test 10 days after your last drink is slim to none. Furthermore, you’re probably just as well off drinking water as cranberry juice if you’re trying to flush your system. The time that any susbstance is will remain in your body depends on your unique physiology. So, you should consult a trusted physician for a more personalized answer.

  6. Matt says:

    this is by far the most helpful page i’ve found so far on this subject! -thanx

  7. Matt says:

    My School has required me to submit to weekly alcohol testing over this summer. I drank a large amount of Vodka the first week, and still passed a urine test 7 days later. Now they want me to submit to blood alcohol testing instead and I drank 5 shots of 151 three days ago. Can I still pass the next test at the end of this week?

  8. robert says:

    How long does one beer stay in your system how and how long can it be detected in urine

  9. robert says:

    I no its one drink a hour. But not to sure about how long it stay in urine I had one 12 draft at a bar at 930pm how long till the urine is clean

  10. michael says:

    My last consumed alcoholic beverage was 2 nights ago. Was a 12 pack of 6% per volume at 12 ounces each. In 3 more days, I am required to take a very important urine test for alcohol. I have bad health concerning my liver. What are the chances I could pass if I work constantly with a sweat for 5 or so hours tomorrow and what are my best cleansers to increase the speed of my metabolism ? I find this rather an important screening.

  11. Pete Mitchell says:

    Hi Micheal,

    It’s the livers job to cleanse your system of alcohol so running or sweating or training really has no noticable effect.

    It’s all down to your liver, and if it’s weak or impaired it’s going to take longer than a healthy liver. You may get away with it but I’d really look to reducing your alcohol intake as a habitual thing. Make it a regular lifestyle goal.

    Good luck with the test.

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