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How long does alcohol stay in your system? What are the symptoms of alcohol abuse? Learn more about alcohol abuse and treatment for alcohol use disorders at Aliya Health Group. 

How Is Alcohol Processed in the Body?

After being digested, alcohol travels to the small intestine and stomach, where it is transported to circulation through tiny blood vessels. The 80% of alcohol left is absorbed by the small intestine, with the stomach accounting for around 20% of its absorption. The liver is the site of alcohol metabolism, where enzymes disintegrate alcohol.

Understanding the effects of alcohol requires knowledge of the rate of metabolism. In one hour, the liver can break down one ounce of alcohol. The liver metabolizes alcohol, and the amount of time it takes to break it down depends on how much you drink. It will build up in the blood and bodily tissues until it can be digested. If you ingest more than one ounce of alcohol per hour, your system becomes saturated. The average person will metabolize alcohol at a rate of .05 per hour.

When Will You Start to Feel Drunk?

Mild to severe intoxication symptoms are possible depending on how much of a substance you consume, how quickly you ingest it, and how rapidly your body processes it.

Common signs of alcohol intoxication are:

  • Ataxia: Ataxia occurs when an intoxicated person has trouble walking straight. This is known as a walking impairment.
  • Lethargy and confusion: People who are intoxicated experience excessive weariness and confusion.
  • Euphoria: People who are intoxicated may feel happy and exhibit actions they wouldn’t typically show.
  • Loss of inhibitions: After just a few drinks, people may feel more at ease, vulnerable, and uninhibited.
  • Poor judgment: Being intoxicated can cause people to make bad choices and participate in unsafe activities, such as drinking and driving.
  • Speech problems: Slurred speech and other speaking issues are typical signs of drunkenness.
  • Vomiting: Intoxicated people may vomit as their body attempts to get rid of the chemical in their system.

Reduced focus, weakened senses, modifications in mood and temperament, and a relaxed sensation are other indicators of drunkenness. A severe case of intoxication may result in loss of consciousness or even death.

How Long Does Alcohol Take to Leave Your Body?

Everyone metabolizes alcohol at a steady pace of around one standard drink per hour. Your age, gender, body type, and general health are a few of the numerous variables that might affect how long you experience the effects of alcohol.

Your body metabolizes alcohol over a specific time period. One standard drink typically takes one hour to process. With that being said, alcohol can still show up in different tests up to 90 days after consumption.

One factor that affects how long alcohol is detectable in your body is the type of alcohol test used:

  • Breath: A breathalyzer reading accurately reflects the alcohol content in your blood at the time of the breath alcohol test.
  • Blood: The bloodstream expels alcohol at roughly 0.015 per hour. A blood test can detect alcohol for up to 12 hours.
  • Urine: The traditional alcohol test can detect alcohol in someone’s urine for 10 – 12 hours. In contrast, the reliable ethyl glucuronide (EtG) test can detect alcohol within urine for up to three days.
  • Hair: A hair follicle test can detect drugs and alcohol for up to 90 days or more.

It’s important to note that high levels of intoxication may take longer than one hour to be processed by your body. So, if you are feeling any signs of impairment, it’s best to wait a few hours before engaging in activities that require alertness and concentration. 

When Will Alcohol No Longer Show Up on a Test?

Depending on your body system and the test used, it can take a long time to detect alcohol in your system. In most cases, alcohol can stay in your system for six to 72 hours, depending on the amount of food you’ve consumed, the type of alcohol you’ve drank, and the type of detection test used. Alcohol may linger in your body for up to six hours in your blood, 12 to 24 hours in your saliva and breath, 12 to 24 hours in urine (72 or more hours with more advanced detection methods), and up to 90 days in your hair. The half-life of alcohol is four to five hours.

How Can I Sober Up Fast?

Unsurprisingly, each person is unique. Height, weight, stress levels, fitness, BMI, and sex — not frequency, but whether you are a man or woman — are a few variables that affect how quickly certain individuals digest alcohol. You can’t change how rapidly your body absorbs alcohol other than waiting it out.

These are, however, some things that can interfere with the length of time it takes for alcohol to leave your body:

  • Coffee: Although it may make you feel more awake, caffeine does not assist your body in processing alcohol. You may still be impaired and inebriated even when you feel awake and attentive. 
  • Cold showers: Cold showers have little effect on BAC reduction. You may temporarily become aware after a cold shower, although handicapped. Some people mistakenly believe that taking a cold shower will make them lose consciousness. 
  • Eating and drinking: Eating before, during, and after consuming alcohol can reduce the rate alcohol enters your bloodstream. Additionally, drinking lots of water can help your body remove toxins and prevent dehydration. 
  • Sleep: The most effective method for aiding sobriety is sleep. As time passes during sleep, your body rests and heals. The more you rest, the more you will sober up since it provides your liver time to process the alcohol. 
  • Exercise: Exercise may assist you to become more aware and can help your body become more awake. However, there is no factual data to support the idea that exercise helps hasten the metabolism of alcohol. 

Everyone reacts to alcohol differently which includes how long it takes until a person feels sober and how long it takes for alcohol to completely leave a person’s body. Taking precautions like drinking less can help alcohol leave your body faster and which will help you sober up.

How Long Does It Take for Alcohol to Negatively Impact Your Body?

The researchers at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism discovered that as soon as you take your first drink, alcohol starts to enter your system. Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is the most common way to measure how intoxicated someone is. BAC is the percentage of alcohol (ethyl alcohol or ethanol) in a person’s blood. A blood alcohol content of 10% indicates that there is 1 part alcohol in every 100 parts of blood in the body.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports a nationwide legal limit of blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08%. Anyone operating a vehicle with this BAC or greater would be breaking the law whether they showed outward indications of intoxication or not.  

Alcohol abuse among adults is rising for women but not for men. Over the past twenty years, there has been a significant rise in adult emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and fatalities due to alcohol use. The increases in these outcomes have been greater for women, which is consistent with the evolving patterns of alcohol consumption. According to research, women are more vulnerable than men to alcohol-related liver inflammation, cardiovascular disease, memory loss, hangovers, and several other diseases. There is a need for preventative measures that target rising alcohol intake and specific health hazards for women.

What Amount of Alcohol Can Kill You?

When someone has a BAC between 0.60 and 0.80, the most common result is death. However, there are many circumstances that can affect how much alcohol it takes to kill a person. It’s crucial to be aware of habits that reflect a pattern of binge drinking, which is defined as consuming four drinks for women and five drinks for men in less than two hours. This amount of drinking can result in a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of more than 0.08%.

Alcohol poisoning is a serious medical event with potentially fatal outcomes. It occurs after you consume too much alcohol for your body to process. When there is too much alcohol in the circulation parts of your brain, your body loses its ability to regulate vital processes like heart rate, breathing, and body temperature.

Alcohol poisoning signs and symptoms include:

  • Disorientation
  • Unconsciousness
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Slow breathing rate
  • Sluggish heart rate
  • Cold skin
  • Low body temperature

Unfortunately, people often assume that someone with alcohol poisoning will be all right after sleeping it off. Not only is this belief incorrect, but it can be incredibly dangerous. As a depressant, alcohol interferes with brain functions that regulate body functions including the gag reflex. Paired with this, drinking alcohol can also result in an upset stomach, nausea, and vomiting. 

When someone consumes enough alcohol to pass out, they are at a greater risk of choking on their own vomit. This is because their body likely lacks the ability to trigger their typical gag reflex while unconscious. Without a gag reflex, the individual may inhale their own vomit. As a result, they may accidentally block their airway which can lead to suffocation and death. People who overdose on alcohol also risk permanent brain damage even if they survive the event.

What Are the Risks of Alcohol Abuse?

Excessive alcohol abuse increases your risk of numerous dangerous health disorders.

Risks of excessive drinking may include:

  • Injuries caused by falls, drownings, car accidents, and burns
  • Violence, such as homicide, suicide, sexual assault, and violence against intimate partners
  • Alcohol poisoning, or a medical emergency brought on by excessive blood alcohol content.

Chronic illnesses and other major issues can also develop over time because of heavy alcohol usage, including:

  • Digestion issues, liver maladies, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke
  • Cancer of the rectum, liver, colon, mouth, throat, esophagus, and voice box
  • Immune system deterioration, which raises the risk of getting ill
  • Memory and learning issues, including dementia and subpar academic performance
  • Anxiety and sadness are among the concerns with mental health.
  • Disorders related to alcohol consumption or dependency

Alcohol Abuse FAQs

All of the body’s organs are impacted by alcohol. It is a depressant that enters the circulation quickly and negatively impacts the central nervous system after leaving the stomach and small intestine. At first, enzymes in the liver break down alcohol. However, the liver can only process a tiny volume of alcohol at once, so extra alcohol circulates throughout the body as a result. For this reason, the quantity ingested directly affects how strongly alcohol affects the body.

No. It would be unrealistic to expect all heavy drinkers to match the clinical diagnostic standards for alcoholism. While any amount of alcohol abuse is serious, alcohol use disorders are chronic diseases with specific criteria.

Common warning signs and symptoms of an alcohol use disorder may include:

  • Unable to control one’s drinking
  • Using alcohol despite having personal or professional issues
  • Need more alcohol to achieve the same results
  • Being so desperate for a drink that you have no other thoughts

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans in 2015-2020, drinking alcohol should be done in moderation. More specifically, moderate is defined as one drink per day for women and two or fewer drinks per day for men.

According to the DSM-5, alcoholism is a highly inheritable component. In fact, 40 to 60 percent of people with a genetic background linked to alcoholism are more likely to abuse alcohol themselves.

The most common characteristics associated with alcoholism include:

  • Impulsivity
  • Disinhibition
  • Negative affectivity 

These symptoms range in intensity depending on the amount of alcohol consumed and the individual’s alcohol tolerance.

Do I Need Treatment for Alcohol?

While limiting alcohol is the best approach to preventing alcohol poisoning, this method doesn’t always work for some people. If you decide to drink, it’s a good idea to do so sensibly and follow the rules for moderation. However, if you drink too quickly, take medication or other substances, or have certain prior medical conditions, you might still experience issues with alcohol even if you follow these rules. In general, it is a good idea to speak with your doctor if you have problems controlling your alcohol use.

That said, there are some people who try to drink in moderation and find that their control over alcohol never pans out. If you struggle to control your excessive drinking habits, you may be struggling with an alcohol use disorder. In that case, you may require treatment in an inpatient detox facility. During treatment for alcohol, you will receive necessary medical care and participate in therapeutic treatments that will assist you in regaining control over your life.  

For those who may not require an inpatient detox facility, there are still steps that you can take to ensure that your drinking habits remain healthy and within safe limits. Speak with a doctor or mental health professional about a plan for curbing your alcohol consumption. Consider joining a support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or another program designed to help people with alcohol problems. In addition, make sure to stay in tune with your own mind and body and recognize the signs that indicate a problem before it gets out of control. With proper treatment, you can get back on the path to living a healthier life. 

Alcohol Detox at Aliya Health Group

The difficulties of alcohol abuse can be life-threatening, however, many people still struggle to seek out comprehensive treatment. These programs help individuals take back control of their lives. With individualized therapy plans, 24-hour medically monitored detox services, and supportive aftercare options, treatment for alcohol abuse can provide the help you need. While it may be scary, beginning treatment in alcohol detox is the first step in your journey to a healthier, happier tomorrow. 

For many people with alcohol addiction, detox is an important part of their healing journey. All of our addiction treatment centers that provide alcohol detox do so in a safe, confidential, and empathetic environment. 

During treatment in alcohol detox, you will receive many services including:

  • 24/7 medical care
  • Board-certified medical staff
  • Licensed and credentialed clinicians
  • Individual and group therapy
  • Private room options
  • Chef prepared meals
  • Transportation as needed
  • Continuing care services
    • Inpatient treatment
    • Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)
    • Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)
    • Outpatient Program

Aliya’s skilled medical team of trained professionals provides quality around-the-clock care. For this reason, our various treatment modalities help individuals ease withdrawal symptoms. For example, we provide research-backed medications and continuously assess vital signs within your treatment toolkit. Our trained professionals will also attend to emergencies quickly and efficiently as needed. While undergoing detox for alcohol in one of Aliya Health Group’s treatment centers, clients participate in researched-back therapy sessions while beginning the first stage of recovery from alcohol use disorder.

Reach Out For Help With Alcohol

No matter what stage of recovery you or someone you care about is in, Aliyah Health Group is here to help. Having merged premier rehabilitation facilities across the United States, we are able to provide our guests with unrivaled treatment at every level of care. Each of our treatment programs provides a wide range of services available, including one-on-one counseling, group therapy, and intensive outpatient programs to meet your needs and provide the support you need to make a successful recovery.

Our licensed and experienced clinicians are here to guide you through each step of the process and ensure that your treatment program is tailored to fit your individual needs. In addition, our alcohol treatment centers also offer supportive services for family and friends of those struggling with alcohol use disorder, helping to ensure that everyone in the recovery journey has the resources they need to make a successful recovery.

If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol, please call us today at 888-965-3085 to find the right level of care for your unique situation. With Aliyah Health Group by your side, you can be confident that you are getting the best care and support possible.

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