How Long Until Alcohol is Out of Your System? - DreamLife (2023)

How Long Until Alcohol is Out of Your System? - DreamLife (1)

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How long it takes for alcohol to leave your system after you stop drinking depends on many variables, which we will examine here. For an alcoholic who is going through detox, this could be an important question, especially if you are trying to understand when withdrawal symptoms may begin.

Another reason people want to know when the alcohol they have consumed will be out of their system is for drug testing to know how long it can be traced in the body. People also may want to know this for legal and safety reasons such as avoiding a DUI and understanding how long the alcohol will impair their abilities and reasoning.

How Long Does Alcohol Last?

Alcohol is a depressant that acts quickly in the body. Within minutes of consuming alcohol, you can feel the effects as it is absorbed from the stomach and digestive tract into the bloodstream. As a depressant, it suppresses the central nervous system, impairing communication in the brain, altering emotions and perceptions, and affecting movements and senses.

People who drink alcohol may feel more relaxed and less inhibited after having a drink or two, but for some people it can cause them to become prone to angry outbursts and aggressive or violent behavior. Speech may be slurred, reactions times slowed, coordination and walking impaired, and judgment compromised while under the influence of alcohol.

How Long Does it Take for Alcohol to Wear Off?

People often want to know how long it takes for the effects of alcohol to wear off, especially in situations when you realize you have had too much or that you suddenly have to “sober up.” Popular wisdom falsely says to drink coffee to get sober or to take a cold shower, but neither of these practices will decrease the degree to which alcohol affects you and caffeine can make it worse, rather the flushing alcohol out of your system.

The substance in alcohol that causes intoxication is ethanol, which has a half-life of about four to five hours. That means in that time, half the alcohol in the bloodstream will be gone. Generally, people absorb alcohol faster than it can be metabolized, so it stays in the system longer.

Your degree of intoxication depends on your blood alcohol concentration (BAC), which is the ratio of the alcohol to water content in your blood. A BAC of 0.08 or .08 grams per deciliter of blood makes you legally drunk in the U.S. While two people could have the same BAC, how long it takes for the effects to wear off depends on how quickly their bodies metabolize the ethanol in the alcohol they’ve consumed.

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How quickly a person metabolizes alcohol depends on:

  • Sex (male or female)
  • Weight
  • Age
  • Metabolism speed
  • How much food eaten
  • Type of alcohol
  • How quickly alcohol was consumed
  • If there are other substances involved
  • Liver problems

On average the body can eliminate 0.015% BAC per hour, so depending on the person and type of alcohol, they may have a BAC of 0.02% – 0.03% at a rate of 1 drink per hour. That means, the body can take one to two hours to metabolize the alcohol consumed in that hour. If you have two glasses of wine with dinner, it could take up to six hours for you to fully break down the alcohol, depending on the variables listed above.

For a person with alcoholism who may consume closer to 10 glasses of wine (about two bottles) in a day or binge, it could take up to 15 hours or more for the body to fully metabolize and eliminate the alcohol consumed from the bloodstream. That means the person binge drinking two bottles of wine will not start to be “sober” until 12 hours to 15 hours after drinking.

How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your System?

The physical sensation of being drunk—also known as a drinking high—can vary from person to person depending upon a number of internal and external factors. A common way to determine an individual’s drinking impairment is by measuring their body alcohol content (BAC). This rough calculation is based off of how much alcohol an individual has consumed per hour, their body weight, gender, genetics, and other factors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a “standard” drink by these measurements has around 0.6 ounces (17 grams) of alcohol.

Across the United States, most states enforce a standard measurement of 0.08% as being beyond the legal limit of BAC in which a person (21-years or older) can lawfully operate any kind of vehicle.According to alcohol.org, the following BAC measurements often cause these symptoms:

  • 0.02%– 0.02% is the lowest measurable volume of BAC. This level is often associated with relaxation, euphoria, warmth, and altered decision-making patterns.
  • 0.05%– At 0.05% BAC, the average person may exhibit altered and exaggerated body movements and habits, such as speaking louder, poorer vision, and slurring words. This level is often considered dangerous to the individual. This is also the legal drinking limit in the state of Utah.
  • 0.08%– 0.08% percent is the near-standard level of illegal impairment, in which every state, except Utah, recognizes as too drunk to operate any mechanical device safely. Self-control and concentration is greatly reduced at this level.
  • 0.10%– Around 0.10% percent, an individual person struggles to control basic body functions, such as walking.
  • 0.15%– At around 0.15%, the average person may begin exhibiting signs of sickness as the result of alcohol consumption, in addition to heavily degraded body control and decision-making.
  • 0.20-0.29%– Beyond 0.20%, one’s body control is extremely diminished. As well, pain receptors are often turned down, so injuries may go unnoticed. This BAC level is most commonly associated with nausea, but it is also the stage in which a person may experience blackouts of memory.
  • 0.30-0.39%– Necessary functions like breathing and bladder control are at risk here, increasing the possibility of death.
  • 0.40-0.49%– At and beyond this stage, the human body’s capacity for drinking is at or near its maximum limits. It is possible to induce a coma state here, or suffer from heart attack, stroke, or other potentially deadly outcomes.

So, how long until alcohol is out of your system?Even after the effects of alcohol wear off, it can remain in the body for long periods of time. Depending on the body system, alcohol can last different lengths of time. For example, alcohol is traceable in the saliva and breath for up to 24 hours after drinking, while it can be detected in the blood stream for up to 12 hours and in urine for up to five days, depending on the test used. Most surprising of all, alcohol can be found in hair strands for as long as 90 days after the last drink.

How Long Before Withdrawal Sets in After the Last Drink?

Withdrawal will vary from person to person. An alcoholic who stops drinking and begins to detox could experience withdrawal symptoms six hours after the last drink, and withdrawal can last days, weeks, or even months in some cases. Most withdrawal symptoms peak around 24 – 72 hours after the last drink.

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Withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Heart palpitations or rapid heart rate
  • Shaking hands
  • Tremors
  • Sweating
  • Hallucinations
  • Fever
  • Paranoia
  • Seizures

Detox should be handled by professionals as the first step of residential treatment. For some people, severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening without proper medical attention. In some cases of long-term alcohol abuse and depending on many personal factors, alcohol withdrawal syndrome can be best managed with medication-assisted treatment (MAT) in a clinical setting to reduce the cravings and the pain of withdrawal symptoms and help them start the healing process faster.Learn more about DreamLife Reovery’s alcohol treatment program in PA.

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Resources:

  1. “The risk of drinking too much” – NHS; 23 May, 2019
  2. “How Many Glasses of Wine in a Bottle?” – Usual Wines, 2021
  3. “How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your Body?” – Healthline; Kristeen Cherney, Rev. by Timothy J. Legg, Ph.D.; 29 March, 2019
  4. “How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your System?” – Mental Health Today; 2015
  5. “How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your System?” – VeryWellMind; By Buddy T., Rev. by Steven Gans, MD; 25 Nov. 2019
  6. “How Long Does It Take to Detox from Alcohol?” – Healthline; By Rachel Nall, MSN, CRNA; Rev. by Timothy J. Leg, Ph.D.; 10 June, 2019
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Medical Reviewer:

How Long Until Alcohol is Out of Your System? - DreamLife (2)

Brooke McKenzie: Brooke McKenzie earned a bachelor’s degree and a Masters’s in Social Work, followed by earning her LCSW in 2009. She has worked in progressively more responsible positions in substance abuse since 2004, filling various roles from clinician to clinical director.Brooke spent the last 10 years as the Executive Director of a drug and alcohol facility, overseeing all levels of care including detox, residential, PHP, IOP and outpatient programming. Brooke’s determination for continuous growth and to combine her clinical experience with project management skills, led her to her most recent accomplishment of earning her MBA in Project Management from Seton Hill University. She places great emphasis on creating an atmosphere of professionalism and communication, whether that is with her colleagues, her patient’s families, outside organizations, or most significant – her patients. These assets continue to lead her success and growth in the field of behavioral health.

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FAQs

How long until alcohol is 100% out of your system? ›

Alcohol detection tests can measure alcohol in the blood for up to 6 hours, on the breath for 12 to 24 hours, urine for 12 to 24 hours (72 or more hours with more advanced detection methods), saliva for 12 to 24 hours, and hair for up to 90 days. The half-life of alcohol is between 4-5 hours.

How fast can your body get rid of alcohol? ›

How Fast Can You Sober Up? Alcohol leaves the body at an average rate of 0.015 g/100mL/hour, which is the same as reducing your BAC level by 0.015 per hour. For men, this is usually a rate of about one standard drink per hour.

How long does 1 unit of alcohol stay in your system? ›

According to the NHS, on average, it takes approximately 1 hour for a person's body to break down 1 unit of alcohol. 1 unit of alcohol is equal to 10ml or 8g of pure alcohol (ethanol).

Can you pass a alcohol test in 10 hours? ›

On average, a urine test could detect alcohol between 12 to 48 hours after drinking. Some advanced urine tests can detect alcohol even 80 hours after you've had a drink. Alcohol can stay in your hair for a period of up to 90 days. However, hair tests cannot determine a person's blood alcohol content.

Will alcohol be out of my system in 7 days? ›

In urine, alcohol can be detected from 12 to 130 hours if a person has been drinking excessively. Phosphatidylethanol (PEth), a biomarker that reflects alcohol intake, can be detected up to 14 days in urine. Alcohol can be detected from 12 to 24 hours in the breath, as well as in saliva.

How do I remove alcohol from my system the fastest? ›

Drink Lots of Water to Flush Out Alcohol

Experts say we all need at least eight glasses of water every day. However, when your goal is to flush out alcohol from your body, you should drink more of it. Drink water far more than the usual eight glasses per day. You might want to double the amount you drink.

How do you get rid of alcohol in your system fast? ›

There is nothing a person can do to quickly reduce the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level in their body. The liver needs time to filter blood and remove the alcohol from the system.
...
Appearing sober
  1. Coffee. ...
  2. Cold showers. ...
  3. Eating and drinking. ...
  4. Sleep. ...
  5. Exercise. ...
  6. Carbon or charcoal capsules.

What eliminates alcohol from the bloodstream? ›

More than 90% of alcohol is eliminated by the liver; 2-5% is excreted unchanged in urine, sweat, or breath.

Will all alcohol be out of my system in 12 hours? ›

Blood: Alcohol is eliminated from the bloodstream at about 0.015 per hour. Alcohol can show up in a blood test for up to 12 hours. Urine: Alcohol can be detected in urine for up 3 to 5 days via the ethyl glucuronide (EtG) test or 10 to 12 hours via the traditional method.

Can you drive 12 hours after drinking? ›

Even though you may have stopped drinking the night before, alcohol can remain in your blood for 6 hours and on your breath for up to 24 hours. You might feel okay to drive, but if the police pulled you over then you could be prosecuted for drink driving.

Would alcohol be out of your system after 12 hours? ›

In general, a blood test can measure alcohol in your body for up to 6 hours after your last drink, while breathalyser tests work for between 12 and 24 hours. Urine tests, such as the ethyl glucuronide (EtG) test, are also effective for around 12-24 hours after use.

How can I lower my EtG in urine? ›

Studies show that the intake of water prior to urine sampling results in a dramatic reduction in the EtG concentration, while expressing EtG as a ratio to creatinine is not affected by dilution.

Will I fail a drug test if I drank the night before? ›

Alcohol itself in urine has a relatively short detection window — usually up to 12 hours. But alcohol byproducts, such as ethyl glucuronide (EtG), can be detected in a person's urine for up to 80 hours after they have consumed their last drink.

Does alcohol affect a 24 hour urine test? ›

Preparing for the Collection

To the best extent possible, avoid using vitamins, coffee, alcoholic beverages, salt and vanilla-containing foods for at least 24 hours before you start collecting the 24-hour urine and during the entire collection period.

Will alcohol be out of my system in 8 days? ›

Alcohol stays in your system for between one and three hours, but urine tests and breathalyzers detect alcohol use for up to 24 hours. Hair tests can determine if you drank alcohol in the past 90 days.

Is 2 days off alcohol a week enough? ›

Your liver needs at least 48 hours without alcohol to repair itself. Cutting back your daily intake won't help your liver. The 2 days have to be alcohol-free and it's important they are 'consecutive'.

Can I pass an alcohol test in 72 hours? ›

If someone was engaging in heavy drinking, then the EtG could be detectable for 72 hours. However, if it wasn't heavy drinking, then the sensitivity of the test would be much lower at 48 hours. So, if one was not engaging in heavy drinking, then they could possibly pass a urine test in 48 hours.

What is the best drink to flush your system? ›

Drinking water is one of the best and fastest ways to flush out toxins from your system. Water transports toxins through your system via your bloodstream, making sure they're expelled from your body.

Can water dilute alcohol in urine? ›

Dilution is not effective for defeating alcohol test. One cannot significantly alter the alcohol concentration in urine even by drinking a large amount of water.

What is the best drink to flush your liver? ›

Here is a list of drinks that help in natural cleansing and detoxification of the liver according to Medical News.
  • Coffee. Coffee is good for the liver, especially because it protects against issues such as fatty liver disease. ...
  • Ginger and lemon drink. ...
  • Oatmeal drink. ...
  • Tumeric drink. ...
  • Green tea. ...
  • Grapefruit drink.
20 May 2020

How does a person's body eliminate 95% of the alcohol? ›

The liver is responsible for the elimination – through metabolism – of 95% of ingested alcohol from the body. The remainder of the alcohol is eliminated through excretion of alcohol in breath, urine, sweat, feces, milk and saliva.

Does drinking water reduce blood alcohol? ›

It is important to note that common strategies used to “sober up,” such as taking a cold shower, sleeping, drinking water and consuming caffeine, do not work to lower BAC. The only thing that can help alcohol leave your bloodstream is time.

How long do you need to be clean to pass a urine drug test? ›

Stimulants including cocaine, meth, and ADHD medications are detectable for about 2 or 3 days. Benzodiazepines and MDMA generally flag a urine test for up to 4 days after last dose. Marijuana stays in the system a bit longer, with amounts being detectable for between 1 and 7 days after last use.

Can I drive after 8 hours after drinking? ›

The advice from the police is clear: avoid alcohol altogether if you plan to drive. Because there is no way to speed up how long your body takes to process any alcohol in your system, there's no fail-safe way to guarantee all the alcohol you have drunk will be gone by the time you wake up the next day.

How do you tell if you're sober enough to drive? ›

Here are seven signs that you or a friend could use to help you know if you've had too much to drink to drive:
  1. Slurred Speech. Slurred speech is one of the classic signs that you're drunk. ...
  2. Trouble with Balance. ...
  3. Slowed Reaction Time. ...
  4. Unusual Speech. ...
  5. Trouble with Recall. ...
  6. Failed Field Sobriety Test. ...
  7. Try Phone Apps.
6 Aug 2019

How many hours after drinking Am I OK to drive? ›

A very approximate guide would be to give yourself an hour per unit of alcohol before driving. For example, if you've had a glass of wine worth 2.8 units, you should wait for about three hours before getting behind the wheel.

Can you still be drunk after 12 hours? ›

Your body would have started to metabolize the alcohol at dinner, but it would be 12 hours later by the time all of the alcohol leaves your system. Even if you've metabolized a large portion of the alcohol by 8 am, you could still be register over .

How do I know if I'm still drunk? ›

Know the Signs: 7 Indications that You're Too Drunk to Drive
  1. Slurred Speech. Slurred speech is one of the classic signs that you're drunk. ...
  2. Trouble with Balance. ...
  3. Slowed Reaction Time. ...
  4. Unusual Speech. ...
  5. Trouble with Recall. ...
  6. Failed Field Sobriety Test. ...
  7. Try Phone Apps.
6 Aug 2019

How can I lower my BAC fast? ›

There is nothing a person can do to quickly reduce the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level in their body. The liver needs time to filter blood and remove the alcohol from the system.
...
Appearing sober
  1. Coffee. ...
  2. Cold showers. ...
  3. Eating and drinking. ...
  4. Sleep. ...
  5. Exercise. ...
  6. Carbon or charcoal capsules.

Is sleep drunk a thing? ›

Sleep drunkenness is a sleep disorder that describes feelings of sudden action or reflex upon waking up. It's also called confusional arousal. Cleveland Clinic estimates that it happens in 1 in 7 adults, but the actual number of people can be much greater.

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