How Long Does Alcohol Stay In Your System?

Published by Raffa Bari | Last updated: 23rd February 2023

Alcohol is a depressant that doesn’t actually stay in your system for very long. On average, your body is able to metabolise 20 milligrams per deciliter per hour.

This can be used to help you figure out how long the alcohol will stay in your system. It is a common metric used to allow people to figure out how long they have to wait between drinking and driving so that they can do it safely.

So if you have 20 milligrams of alcohol which could be around one or two drinks, then they will be in your system for the next hour or so.

However, this is not an exact science as it doesn’t take into consideration your body weight, tolerance level or if you are on any medication that can affect how your body process alcohol.

However, it does give you an idea of how long the alcohol you drink will be in your system. This can help you keep track of when you will be safe to drive. It can especially be useful for anyone trying to avoid withdrawal symptoms outside of a safe, medically supervised environment.

There are many factors you need to consider when it comes to alcohol. For example, how your body reacts to the effects, the dangers of alcohol consumption and how to get help reducing the amount of alcohol you drink should you worry you have developed an alcohol addiction.

At Cassiobury Court, we are here to provide you with the information you need so that you can make safe and well-informed decisions involving your drinking habits.

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How alcohol affects your body

Alcohol is a stimulant known as a depressant. This means that when you consume alcohol, you are causing a sedative-like effect on your brain.

This sedation is what causes you to become drunk. With your inhibitions lowered, many people enjoy the relaxing effect this can have.

Alcohol consumption also causes your reaction and thinking speeds to be down. This is the main reason it is dangerous for you to drink. While drunk as you are unable to react quickly enough and are more likely to take unnecessary risks.

In the short term, you can experience any of the following symptoms as a result of alcohol abuse.

  • Memory loss
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of inhibitions
  • Diarrhoea
  • Dehydration
  • Headache
  • Lack of balance
  • Poor vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Various mood swings
  • Passing out
  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Fall/injury risk
  • Conflict
  • Risky behaviours
  • Hangover
  • Drowsiness
  • Lack of coordination
  • Unintentional injuries
  • Domestic violence
  • Crime

In the short term, these side effects can cause damage, but it is the long term drinking effects that can really be dangerous.

The long term side effects can include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Nerve damage
  • Liver disease
  • Higher risk of stroke and heart disease
  • Heart attack
  • Damage to the brain
  • Vitim disorders
  • Ulcers
  • Malnutrition
  • Higher risk of cancers
  • Broken relationships/relationship troubles
  • Suspension of driving licence
  • Loss of job
  • Work troubles
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Shortened life expectancy
  • Fertility issues
  • High risk during pregnancies

The side effects of both long term and short term alcohol use can be life-altering. In addition, you could do serious damage to yourself or others. That is why alcohol should only ever be consumed in moderation.


The dangers of alcohol consumption

One of the biggest risks from alcohol use, especially when it is in large amounts, is alcohol poisoning.

Alcohol poisoning is what happens when you drink too much alcohol in too short a period resulting in your body being unable to filter out the toxins fast enough.

This can result in you experiencing difficulty breathing, elevated or lowered heart rate, your body’s temperature, gag reflex problems and in some serious cases, you could slip into a coma or even die.

Alcohol poisoning can cause serious and permanent brain and nerve damage and should be avoided. It is recommended that in order to avoid alcohol poisoning, you should never binge drink, especially after sobriety from a treatment plan found in an alcohol rehab centre, as your tolerance will be lower than you are used to.

There is also a danger of consuming alcohol when you are breastfeeding as. If the alcohol is still in your system, it will go through your milk and into your baby’s system.

The simple answer is that it is not safe to drink alcohol while breastfeeding, as it is putting your baby at unnecessary risk. However, suppose you do drink despite this. In that case, it is recommended to leave a few hours between drinking alcohol and breastfeeding.

You could also feed your baby before you drink or pump enough milk to feed your baby throughout the day when you have introduced alcohol into your system.

Drinking and trying to figure out how long it will be in your system to minimise risk is always difficult. You can never be quite sure as so many different factors contribute to how long the alcohol stays in your system, including:

  • Your age
  • Your weight
  • Your tolerance
  • Any medications you are on
  • Your height
  • Any existing medical issues, especially those involving your liver
  • The amount of alcohol you consume
  • The type of alcohol you consume

With so many factors at play, you can never be sure and put yourself at risk, especially if you are driving. If you are involved in an accident, you will be checked for alcohol, and if you are found to be driving under the influence, you will be in a lot of trouble.

  • A breathalyser can detect any alcohol you have had in the past 24 hours
  • Urine can detect any alcohol you have had between 12 to 48 hours ago
  • Your hair can prove if you have had any alcohol in the past 90 days


How to get help

If you want to work to reduce the amount of alcohol you drink, there are options available to you.

The first option is that you can join a local support group such as alcoholic anonymous. There you can work with others struggling with their alcohol usage to reduce the alcohol you drink.

Suppose you want to dramatically reduce or even stop drinking. In that case, the best option for you is to check yourself into an alcohol rehab centre where you can safely detox from alcohol and be set up with a treatment plan to help you deal with your drinking.

Raffa Bari

Raffa Bari - Author Last updated: 23rd February 2023

CQC Registered Manager

Raffa manages the day to day caring services here at Cassiobury Court. Dedicated to the treatment and well being of our visitors she is an outstanding mental health coach registered with BAAT (British Association of Art Therapists). Raffa has outstanding experience in managing rehabs across the country and is vastly experienced at helping people recover from drug and alcohol addictions.