How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your System? - ARISE Treatment

Alcohol has become one of America’s favorite pastimes. When you go out with your friends to catch up, you may have a few drinks. When you are celebrating something, whether it’s a birthday, graduation, or a promotion, alcohol is usually involved.

Most people in America consume alcohol at least occasionally. According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “85.6 percent of people ages 18 and older reported that they drank alcohol at some point in their lifetime.”[1]

Unfortunately, many people who consume alcohol do so excessively. When you abuse alcohol, you are at risk of developing an addiction to the substance. Alcoholism is a chronic and progressive disease that requires extensive treatment to achieve recovery.

Knowing how long alcohol stays in your system can give you an idea of when withdrawal symptoms will begin after you stop using the substance. This is important, as you should always attend an alcohol detox program that can properly treat your withdrawal symptoms.

How is Alcohol Metabolized in the Body?

When you drink alcohol, it enters your digestive system and travels to your stomach and small intestine. Some of the alcohol will be metabolized in your stomach, with the remaining going directly into your bloodstream. Once the alcohol is in your blood, it rapidly travels all throughout your body.

Most of the alcohol in your bloodstream will end up in your liver, which is where most of the metabolization occurs. Your liver can process about one drink per hour, if you drink more than this, your system becomes saturated. The additional alcohol you have consumed will remain in your blood and other tissues until the liver can metabolize it.[2]

If you drink too much alcohol frequently, you will experience damage to your brain and tissues because the substance is remaining in your system for too long. While most of the alcohol you consume is metabolized in your liver, the remaining alcohol is eliminated through your sweat, urine, vomit, and feces.

Factors that Influence How Long Alcohol Stays in Your System

How long alcohol stays in your system is determined by several personal factors. In other words, the length of time it takes for alcohol to be eliminated from your body varies from person to person.

The factors that influence how long alcohol stays in your system include:

  • Age
  • Biological sex
  • How much food you’ve consumed
  • Body size
  • Whether you are taking any medications or illicit substances
  • Overall health

The older you are, the longer alcohol stays in your liver before it is metabolized, increasing the duration of intoxication as well as the risk of damage to your liver. Additionally, the amount of water in your body decreases as you age, causing your blood alcohol content level to be higher than a young person who has consumed the same amount of alcohol as you.

How Long Can Alcohol Be Detected in Your System?

While the exact length of time alcohol can be detected in your system depends on the factors mentioned above, there is a general timeline to be aware of. On average, it takes the body one hour to metabolize one standard drink. If you are wondering how long alcohol is detectable in your body, you will have to take a look at each type of drug test as their detection times vary.


Alcohol is detectable in your blood for up to 12 hours because the substance is eliminated from your blood at about 0.015 per hour.[3]


Urine testing can detect alcohol in your system for 3 to 5 days if the ethyl glucuronide (EtG) test method is used. If traditional urine testing is used, alcohol can only be detected between 10 to 12 hours after you last consumed it.


Lastly, hair tests can detect any substance in your system for up to 90 days after you last used it. This includes alcohol.


A breathalyzer is a device that you can blow into to reveal your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). It can detect alcohol in your system for up to 24 hours after your last drink depending on how much alcohol you consumed.

How to Detox From Alcohol Safely

When you suffer from an alcohol use disorder, your brain and body become dependent on the substance to function properly. This is what causes you to experience symptoms of withdrawal when you suddenly stop consuming the substance. Unfortunately, alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be extremely painful and even life-threatening if left untreated.

The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal may include:[4]

  • Shakiness and tremors
  • Sweating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Agitation, restlessness, or anxiety
  • Nervousness and irritability
  • Fast heart rate
  • Disorientation
  • Insomnia
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures

Because of the dangers of untreated alcohol withdrawal, the only way to safely detox is to attend a medical detox program. These programs will provide you with medications, 24/7 supervision, and emotional support that is necessary to recover from alcohol withdrawal. The medications provided will lessen the intensity of your withdrawal symptoms and prevent you from experiencing cravings to consume alcohol.

Find Help for Alcohol Abuse and Addiction in California Today

If you or a loved one suffer from alcohol abuse or addiction, recovery is possible. With the help of a reputable alcoholism treatment program, you can learn how to manage your emotions healthily rather than resorting to self-medication through the abuse of alcohol. Alcohol rehab centers can teach you how to prevent future relapses from occurring, allowing you to maintain long-term sobriety.

To learn more about our top-rated alcohol abuse and addiction treatment program in California, contact Arise Treatment Center today.




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