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How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your System? HARP Treatment

6.22.2018 | Allison Baldwin
How long does valium last in your system
How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your System? HARP Treatment


Regardless of what you’ve heard, there is nothing you can do to speed up how fast your body processes alcohol. The only thing that helps is giving your body time to do its job and naturally process and remove alcohol from your system. Drinking coffee or water, taking a shower or a walk, and even vomiting won’t help you sober up or or drop your blood alcohol level.

10% of it leaves through your breath, sweat, and urine, while the remaining 90% is metabolized by your body. Once alcohol is in your bloodstream, it leaves your body in two different ways.

The best way to stay safe and avoid legal penalties is to understand alcohol absorption and how your body processes alcohol to know how long it stays in your system.

The remaining alcohol is absorbed by your small intestine. Alcohol passes through your digestive system, but it requires very little digestion. After drinking it, 20% of the substance goes directly to your blood vessels, where it is carried throughout your body and to your brain. If there is food in your digestive tract, the absorption process is slower and it takes longer for you to feel intoxicated.

When alcohol enters your bloodstream, one of the organs it visits is the liver, where it is processed for removal from your body. While people may become intoxicated at different rates, a healthy liver will metabolize alcohol at the same rate regardless of a person’s ethnicity, sex, or weight. On average, a healthy liver will process one ounce of alcohol every hour.

While many people enjoy drinking socially, some might drink to excess. If you or someone you love is struggling with an alcohol problem, please contact the friendly and knowledgeable staff at HARP, a drug and alcohol treatment center.

While the liver generally metabolizes alcohol at a consistent rate, there are factors that do influence how quickly alcohol leaves your system – and how quickly you become intoxicated.

Download our brochure and learn what sets HARP apart from every other treatment center.

However, the process for metabolizing alcohol changes when someone drinks faster than their liver can process it. Additionally, once a person’s BAC reaches more than 0.055, the body begins to absorb the extra alcohol. This can result in many of the unpleasant side effects of drinking, including depression, disorientation, irritability, memory loss, nausea, and vomiting.

If you have a blood alcohol level of 0.08, which is the legal limit in most states for driving, it will take five and a half hours for this amount of alcohol to leave your system. Blood alcohol content (BAC) refers to the percentage of alcohol in your bloodstream. Since the liver can metabolize a single ounce of alcohol each hour, it will take one hour for one ounce of alcohol to leave your body. For most people, one ounce of alcohol will cause their BAC to rise to 0.015.

As a result, there are multiple tests that can measure how much alcohol is in your body. Alcohol can be detected in your blood, breath, hair, saliva, sweat, and urine.

Most people like to enjoy a drink or two with friends, but sometimes individuals have a little too much alcohol consumption. There’s plenty of advice out there about how to sober up before leaving the bar or a party, but many people don’t realize how long alcohol can stay in your system. In fact, you could think that you’re sober and still have enough alcohol in your body to test positive for a high blood alcohol concentration known as a BAC level.

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