How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your System?

People often ask: How long does alcohol stay in your system? You would especially want to know if you are planning to drink at a party but have to drive yourself home. Alcohol suppresses your body system, which can lead to impaired vision, coordination, reaction and judgment. It also increases drowsiness and can increase your risk for an accident while driving. It is good to remember that only 10% of the alcohol you drink comes out as such through your breath, sweat and urine, while the rest of it is broken down or metabolized. To help you understand how long alcohol stays in your body it is important to learn more about the concept of blood alcohol content or BAC, which we'll come to later in the article.

Factors Determining Alcohol Duration in Your System

There are several factors that determine how long alcohol stays in your system:

  • Weight. Like any drug, a fixed amount of alcohol will have a greater effect on a person with a smaller weight than on someone with a bigger weight.
  • Gender. Alcohol stays in women's system longer than it does in men. This is mainly because women have less water and more fat in their system compared to men. Therefore, they may reach a certain BAC reading by drinking smaller amounts of alcohol than men to get the same BAC level.
  • Age. Younger people who age 20-30 years are usually the quickest ones to get the alcohol out of their systems
  • Time Passed Since Last Drink. The longer the time elapsed after your last drink, the lower your blood alcohol content will be for the same amount of alcohol taken.
  • Other Factors. Other factors like drug intake can affect how fast the body detoxifies alcohol. People who are taking aspirin, pyrazole compounds, and paracetamol, for example, may have a slower rate of alcohol metabolism. Ethnicity may also affect the rate at which alcohol is detoxified, with East Asians, having longer lasting hangovers than others. Other factors that may affect the duration of alcohol in the body include the amount of alcohol taken, the type of alcoholic beverage consumed, food intake, and type of food taken. Furthermore, not everybody absorbs, metabolizes and excretes alcohol at the same rates, so the differences in our bodies may also affect how long alcohol stays in our systems.

How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your System?

How Long Does Alcohol Stay In Your Blood?

To determine the concentration of alcohol in your blood, the BAC or blood alcohol concentration is measured, which is read as a percentage. Knowing your BAC can help you determine how long it will take the body to get rid of the alcohol in your blood.

The metabolism or breakdown of alcohol is a predictable chemical reaction in the body. This substance is burnt off at a rate of .016 BAC per hour, which is equivalent to about one standard drink per hour regardless of your body size. However, your BAC rises at different rates according to body weight, so that small women may easily reach the legal limit of .08 with only two to three drinks while bigger men may have up to five drinks before reaching this level. The amount of body fat can also affect the rate of alcohol absorption, so a person with less fat will absorb alcohol faster while those with more fat will absorb it slower as the body metabolizes alcohol at the same rate (.016/hour).

You can refer to this chart to understand how long it takes your body to get rid of alcohol in your system (hours until zero alcohol). Since alcohol is metabolized at .016/hour, having a BAC reading of .016 will mean that it will only take one hour to get rid of the alcohol. On the other hand, having a BAC reading of .24 (you will be very drunk and at risk of blacking out) you are most likely to still have some alcohol in your system until the next day, making you legally drunk for ten more hours. There are no techniques to hasten or alter this process. Drinking coffee or other substances may increase your alertness, but this will not eliminate the alcohol that is still in your system.

BAC/Hours until Zero Chart

BAC Level

Hours Until 10

.016

1

.05

3.75

.08 (legal limit)

5

.10

6.25

.16 (2 times legal)

10

.20

12.5

.24 (3 times legal)

15

Here are two recommended links for you to quickly calculate your BAC rate:

  • http://www.healthstatus.com/calculate/blood-alcohol-bac-calculator
  • http://celtickane.com/projects/blood-alcohol-content-bac-calculator/

How Long Does Alcohol Stay In Your Urine?

For the body to start expelling alcohol from the body, at least 5% of the absorbed alcohol should have reached the kidneys. A hormone called vasopressin helps conserve body fluids, but alcohol depresses its function, so the body starts excreting alcohol about twenty minutes after it is ingested.

Urine tests for alcohol can detect its presence about 48 hours after ingestion. The Etg Urine Alcohol Test, however, detects ethyl glucuronide in the urine, which confirms alcohol ingestion as long as 3-4 days after intake, or about 80 hours after the liver metabolizes alcohol.

Tips for Keeping a Low BAC Rate

The best way to have a low BAC reading is avoid drinking too much alcohol. Drinking distilled spirits like vodka and gin also causes fewer hangovers than other types of alcoholic drinks. Although there are no studies suggesting effective hangover remedies available in the market, here are some tips on how to avoid it and keep BAC readings low:

  • Eating protein-rich foods while drinking alcohol slows down the absorption of alcohol, so try not to drink on an empty stomach.
  • Take time to finish your drink instead of gulping it.
  • Drink beer or wine, which contains moderate amounts of alcohol. Also, non-carbonated alcoholic drinks like beer are absorbed more slowly than carbonated alcohol such as vodka with water.
  • Never join a drinking contest.
  • Drink moderately while occasionally taking juices, water and non-alcoholic beverages in between.
  • Try to be more active while enjoying your drink by socializing, dancing, etc. to help control your intake and your BAC.
  • Ask a physician about undergoing a drug test if needed.