How long does alcohol stay in the system?
If you are enrolling in a detox program, taking an alcohol test for a job, probation drug test, or even as simple as planning how sober you have to be in order to drive after tonight’s party, you will find yourself constantly thinking how long does alcohol stay in the system?
To answer that question and keep your sobriety in check, you need to know
- Factors that affect intoxication
- How long does alcohol stay in your blood
- And How long does alcohol stay in your urine
- How long does alcohol breath last
Factors that affect intoxication
- Amount and speed of alcohol consumption
This is the main factor, considering the more drink, the more alcohol piling up in your blood. This alcohol then travels to your brain depressing it, thus intoxication.
Of course how long does alcohol stay in the system depends on the amount of pure alcohol in the drink, not the fluid amount?
So, a 5 fluid ounces of 12% alcohol wine is equivalent to 12 fluid ounces of 5% alcohol beer.
It is known that women become tipsy faster than men, but why? Despite having the same elimination rate in the liver (1 unit/hour), women have less alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH), an enzyme in the stomach to break down alcohol.
P.S for women: How long does alcohol stay in the system is also affected by your hormonal cycle, so drinking prior to your menstruation causes higher blood alcohol concentration (BAC)
Eating prior to drinking decreases the rate of alcohol absorption from your stomach to the bloodstream.
Considering 80% of the alcohol metabolism occurs in the liver, a healthy liver metabolizes better than a diseased one. That’s also why liver is a notorious victim of alcoholism.
To know how long does alcohol stay in the system, we must know that the system comprises blood, urine, breath, saliva, sweat, and hair follicles. And each has a different time frame during which alcohol will appear!
How long does alcohol stay in your blood?
This is highly variable since alcohol is cleared at 0.25-0.5 ounces per hour and a regular drink contains 0.5-1.0 ounce. However, it stays for an average 12 hours.
How long does alcohol stay in the urinary system?
Alcohol itself doesn’t stay for long, so a test for Ethyl Glucuronide (EtG: a by-prodect of alcohol metabolism) is more reliable, since it can be detected up to 80 hours (3 or 4 days) after your last drink.
This test is widely used as it is non-invasive, cheap, and has a wide time window.
How long does alcohol breath last?
If you are asking how long does alcohol stay in the system to know when you can drive safely, then this one is for you.
Alcohol can be detected in your breath up to 24 hours, according to how much alcohol you consumed.Some sources say that it can be detected as long as it is present in your blood.
Take care though because “How long does alcohol stay on your breath for a breathalyzer?” is a question with a slightly different answer. Alcohol in your breath could be from a mouthwash, or a mouth spray. It may even give higher alcohol concentrations if there are residues of your drink in your mouth.
So, please take the breath test after at least 15 minutes from your last drink to avoid false results.
How long does alcohol stay in your hair?
Out of all the answers to how long does alcohol stay in the system, this is the most (scaringly!) surprising one. 90 DAYS.
Alcohol metabolites get trapped in the hair for up to 90 days after your last drink, that is why hair tests are used for deep comprehensive analysis of alcohol consumption.
Usually, 1.5 inches of hair are collected, preferably the closest to the scalp and around 40 to 50 strands are needed to get accurate results.
So to predict the BAC or how long does alcohol stay in your system, keep in mind that the factors of intoxication and the type of test play a great role in your test results.