How long does alcohol stay in the body?

How long does alcohol stay in the body? Alcohol is classified both as a drug and as a depressant. It enters the bloodstream within a few minutes of consumption and has a short span of life in the body. The consumer’s body shall begin to metabolize the alcohol at the rate of 20 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) per hour. Around 20 percent of the alcohol is absorbed by the bloodstream, while the small intestines absorb the other 80 percent. Any residual alcohol shall not be metabolized by the body but will be excreted by sweat, urine, and saliva.

After the alcohol reaches the bloodstream, it is passed into the liver to be metabolized—the enzymes produced by the liver enzymes help break down the alcohol molecules. When alcohol is consumed rapidly, it remains in the body as the liver cannot metabolize it quickly. The person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) determines the effects of alcohol on the consumer’s body. The effects that alcohol produces on the consumer’s body include confusion, slurred speech, impaired control, difficulty concentrating, reduced inhibitions, nausea, vomiting, impaired balance and coordination, irritability, etc.

What are the factors which determine how long alcohol stays in the body? 

Various factors play a role in the amount of time the alcohol stays in the body. Alcohol is processed differently in different people and also depends on the quantity and frequency it is consumed. The key factors that affect the rate of alcohol staying in the body include:

  • Age of the consumer: Alcohol stays in the body longer if the person is older. As the blood flow is slower, and the older people are more susceptible to consume medication that affects the liver, it cannot be eliminated from the body as quickly as in younger consumers. These factors indefinitely affect the metabolic rate of alcohol by the liver and influence the absorption rate of alcohol by the body.

  • Sex of the consumer: Alcohol lasts longer in the bodies of women compared to men. Women have a higher body fat percentage and a lower percentage of body water than men.

  • Body size: A person with a smaller size and body frame will be affected more greatly than a person with a larger and more muscular frame. This is how a person’s body mass and frame play a role in alcohol consumption.

  • Medications: Many consumers consume alcohol along with other medications. Medications can alter how the body processes alcohol. Diabetes medication, anxiety pills, anti-depressants, antibiotics, allergy medications, etc., can change how the body processes alcohol.

  • Food: The digestive tract absorbs alcohol. The presence of food in the stomach plays a key role in the absorption rate of alcohol by the body. Having a full stomach can slow down the absorption rate of alcohol drastically.

  • Family history: Studies show that alcoholism has a genetic link. However, genes are not the only factors responsible for alcoholism. Genetic and environmental factors play a role in how the body processes alcohol. Alcohol and the central nervous system also have a link to genetics.

  • Drinking frequency: Lower the frequency of drinking, and the faster the liver can metabolize alcohol. People who drink rapidly and quickly experience alcohol’s effects more quickly.

How long does alcohol last in the consumer’s body?

The alcohol stays in the body for different durations in different parts of the body. It can be seen that alcohol has varying effects, which include:

  • Blood: The alcohol concentration in the blood is termed blood alcohol concentration (BAC). It helps in determining how long the alcohol stays in the body. Studies show that a person who drinks on an empty stomach is prone to have alcohol in their system even a day after consumption. Alcohol then enters the bloodstream and other organs.

  • Saliva: Alcohol can be traced through a saliva swab even after 24 hours after consuming it.

  • Urine:  The detection of alcohol in urine depends on the sensitivity of the test. However, the latest technologies can trace alcohol up to eighty hours or 3 to 4 days after alcohol consumption.

  • Hair: Alcohol can be traced through the hair even after 90 days of consumption. It stays in the hair the longest.

  • Breast milk: Alcohol will remain in breast milk for the same amount of time it stays in the blood. Breast milk while the alcohol is still in the blood cannot be used. Pumping milk does not help in eliminating it from the system.

  • Breath: Alcohol can be detected on the breath up to 24 hours after the last drink. A breathalyzer is used for testing alcohol on the breath. This is how long does alcohol stays in your system tested with a breathalyzer.

    Alcohol in the body has varying effects that depend on various factors—the key to the safe use of alcohol is in moderation. Avoid binge drinking. Alcohol can have an adverse effect on mental health, as well. It is important to understand how alcohol reacts with the body and how it negatively impacts the organs.