How Long does Alcohol Stay in Your System?

How long alcohol stays in system depends on many factors. Knowing it helps you predict how safe it is to take certain medications or perform activities such as driving.

Once alcohol is consumed it will slowly enter into the system and remain in the bloodstream until the body expels it. Alcohol can leave the body through the breath, perspiration and urine, though a majority will be broken down with the metabolism. The rate in which the alcohol is broken down does not vary based on factors such as the person's size, weight, sex or race, though this is commonly referenced in urban culture.

How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your System?

The health of many different organ systems will need to be considered:

  • Within a few seconds of drinking an alcoholic beverage, the alcohol will enter into the epithelial layer of the skin, which is the closest layer to the capillaries. As these cells become affected by the alcohol they will begin to interfere with the nervous system, causing blurred speech or blurred vision.
  • Approximately five minutes after alcohol has been ingested about 10 percent of the alcohol will still be in the stomach. This portion is often expelled through the sweat, saliva or urine.
  • After approximately 20 minutes, 90 percent of the alcohol that was consumed will enter into the small intestine, followed by the pancreas and the liver. At this point in the process the alcohol will be metabolized and the rate of absorption into the bloodstream will be much more rapid than it was previously. It is important to remember that the proofing on the substance you are drinking may not have much of an effect on how long it takes to remove the substance from your system. Whether you are drinking spirits, beer or wine most beverages contain a very similar amount of pure alcohol which will affect the body.
  • Even after you have stopped drinking, the amount of alcohol in your system can continue to rise due to this system. It is important to remember how this will affect the system. You cannot determine how long alcohol will remain in your system based on how long you have been drinking, but instead you must focus on how much alcohol you have consumed and how well your metabolism will break this substance down. This is known as the blood alcohol level and it is measured on the biphasic curve.

Ways to Slow Down Alcohol into Your System

How long alcohol stays in your system depends on a number of factors. There are a few different ways you can slow down the level that alcohol enters your system.

  • Eating while you consume alcohol will slow the intake of alcohol into your metabolism so that you can manage your sobriety more effectively.
  • It is also recommended that you sip drinks slowly to avoid having too much alcohol enter your system at any one time. You can only drink one alcoholic beverage per hour to avoid having too much of the chemical enter your bloodstream at any given time.
  • Drinking water or soda in between alcoholic beverages can help reduce the rate in which it enters the bloodstream.

While it is possible to slow the level that alcohol enters the system, you cannot increase the rate that it leaves the body. The human body will continue to expel alcohol regardless of whether or not the person is awake, so it will be metabolized at a constant rate, which makes it easy to predict how long the substances will stay in the system using the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) calculator.

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Guide

The BAC level will be lowered and broken down at a regular rate.

A Blood alcohol level of .02 will be broken down in approximately one and a half hours, BAC levels of .05 are broken down in three and a half hours, .08 is broken down in five and a half hours and .10 can take up to 6.6 hours to be broken down.

For the most part this level is the same for most people, regardless of changes to the body. The main difference comes in based on how people feel the effects of alcohol. In general, those who are smaller tend to feel the effects of alcohol more strongly than those who are larger. Men also tend to be more immune to showing the effects of alcohol than women.



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