How Long is Alcohol in Your System: Blood, Urine & Breath?
After a hard night of raving (where, you know, you may or may not have had a drink or four), have you ever wondered how long alcohol stays in your system? We’re talking blood, we’re talking urine, we’re talking breath. Let’s be real, we’ve probably all thought about it at one point or another for whatever reason. Let’s look at how long alcohol really stays in your system, not just after a night of partying but even after you’ve had one casual drink.
It’s different for everybody
One thing to get straight is there is no foolproof, exact, standard period of time that alcohol stays in your system – it varies from person to person. Alcohol is absorbed into your bloodstream through both your stomach and the walls of your small intestine and it goes on affect virtually all of your other major organs. There are various factors that help dictate how long alcohol stays in your system, including your weight, age, and even gender as well as the size of your liver, and obviously, the alcohol content in whatever drink is consumed. It also depends on how much of a tolerance you have to alcohol – heavy drinkers will likely metabolize alcohol from their system more quickly than a casual, once in a blue moon drinker.
How does alcohol leave your body?
Alcoholic beverages are eliminated from your body primarily through your liver. The liver metabolizes about 95% of the alcohol consumed. The other 5% is taken care of through any liquid leaving your body – sweat, urine, saliva, etc.
In general, your liver can process and eliminate about one alcoholic drink per hour – and by one drink, we mean one standard-sized drink. If you are consuming more than one drink per hour, your liver is still metabolizing alcohol at the same rate so you begin to get intoxicated.
How long does alcohol stay in your blood?
There are ways of detecting alcohol content in the blood and they are much more accurate than, say, a breathalyzer test that may be administered by a police officer at the side of the road. The test of detecting how much alcohol is in your system can be known as a blood alcohol test, blood alcohol level test, an ethanol test, or blood alcohol content test, among other things. Alcohol can be most accurately detected in your blood between six and twelve hours after your last drink but may appear in a blood test up to 36 hours later.
You might be asked to take a blood-alcohol test for several reasons, including if you’ve been suspected of drinking and driving if you’re legally drunk in public, have alcohol poisoning, or are in a treatment program that prohibits drinking. When given a blood alcohol test, a blood alcohol level of 0.1 to 0.08 means you’re legally intoxicated while anything from 0.08 to 0.40 would mean that you’re highly intoxicated or very impaired. If you are above a 0.40 alcohol level, this is incredibly serious and could be a life or death situation.
How long do alcoholic beverages stay in your urine?
Urine tests are actually able to detect alcohol in your system for even longer after consuming your last drink than blood tests can. Urine tests look for alcohol metabolites such as ethyl glucuronide and ethyl sulfate that can detect the slightest trace of alcohol - even if alcohol itself isn’t present in your system, it will show up in urine samples.
When it comes to your average, run of the mill urine tests, alcohol can be detected in your system anywhere from 12 to 48 hours after your last drink. More advanced urine tests can show that alcohol was present in the system up to 80 hours after your last drink. According to studies, this 80 hour detection period may only apply to heavy drinking which is defined as more than six or seven drinks.
How long does alcohol stay on your breath?
A breathalyzer test is the quickest way to get a result when it comes to checking alcohol consumption on the spot. This is why it is used in cases like suspected drinking and driving as it can spit out a result in seconds by quickly analyzing your BAC (blood alcohol concentration or blood alcohol content). A breath test can detect alcohol in your system for about 24 hours on average after drinking. In the case of a suspected drinking and driving incident, it is considered unsafe to have a BAC of above 0.02 – this will be the same level of alcohol that is in your blood. For the most accurate results, a breathalyzer test should be given at least fifteen minutes after drinking and one minute before smoking.
Alcohol can be found in a hair follicle
Although alcohol is generally tested through blood, urine, and your breath, did you know that a hair sample can show one night of partying too hard? Using the EtG test, alcohol can be detected in both your hair and nails for up to three months after consuming alcohol, although this can be expensive and may not be as effective if testing color-treated hair.It’s interesting to know how long alcohol can be detected in your body using various methods and samples, for whatever reason you want to know and, hey, no judgment here. Regardless of your tolerance for alcohol, excessive drinking is never a good idea and you should protect your body at all costs when it comes to the effects of drinking. Our RaveAid dietary supplement helps both prevent neurotoxic damage with serotonin and flushes toxins from your system, thereby boosting your recovery after a night of partying just a little too hard. If you’re heading out into a situation where you know you may drink more alcohol than you probably should, the most important thing to remember is to take precautions to protect your body and stay safe.