Alcohol consumption is commonly a rapid activity. Without control, one glass of wine can turn into a bottle, one pint of beer can turn into a binge, one shot of spirit can result in an intoxicated evening. Although initial consumption is fast paced, do you really know the answer to the following question… How long does alcohol stay in your system for?
Many individuals will be shocked to hear that on an average scale, one unit of alcohol will take around one hour to break down within your system. However, it is also important to note that a large proportion of alcohol drinkers in the UK also have little knowledge around alcoholic measures and units. Do you know how many units are in your favourite tipple?
To help increase the awareness of excessive drinking, along with the internal process that your body goes through when consuming and breaking down alcohol, here’s our guide from our Action Rehab specialists. From factors that can determine how long alcohol stays in your system for, to average timescales and support for excessive drinking, here’s all you need to know about consuming alcohol and your post-consumption actions.
What is a unit of alcohol?
Before delving into the influential factors which control the presence of alcohol in your body, urine, blood, hair and salvia, it’s important that as a nation, we understand alcoholic measures and their impacts.
One unit of alcohol is roughly around 10mls or 8gs. To help visualise this:
- 1 unit of alcohol is normally found in a 25ml serving of a standard spirit.
- 2 units of alcohol will usually be found in a pint of low-strength (3.6%) beer, cider or lager.
- 2.1 units of alcohol is present in a standard glass of wine (12%).
- 3 units of alcohol is normally found in a large glass of wine (12%) or a pint of higher-strength beer (5.2%).
With this in mind, it is scary to add up the quantity of alcoholic units commonly consumed on a heavy night out, and its direct impact on how long alcohol stays in your system for. To help put these figures into reality, here’s a breakdown to answer the question of ‘how long does alcohol stay in your system?’ when considering each type of alcoholic beverage…
- Wine: The average glass of wine can take 3 hours to leave your system, half of your favourite bottle can stay in your system for 4.5 hours, and the average bottle can take 9 whole hours to leave your body.
- Beer: One pint of your favourite beer can stay in your system for 2 hours, 4 pints soon becomes 8 hours, and a binge of 8 pints can stay in your body for up to 16 hours.
- Spirits: A single measure of a standard spirit will take 1 hour to break down in your system, half a litre can take up to 20 hours, and a full litre can stay in your system for 40 hours.
If you consume alcohol on an excessive basis, these figures can be concerning, especially when considering your actions post-consumption.
Factors that determine how long alcohol stays in your system for
It is important to note that the above figures are averages. However, there are some factors which can determine and control how long alcohol stays in your system after drinking.
- Personal factors
Personal factors, such as your weight, gender and age can impact the length of time that alcohol remains in your system for. Typically, a lighter person will be affected greater than a heavier person when considering alcoholic units. It is also known that alcohol stays in the system of women longer than men, down to their greater amounts of body fat. Younger people are also known to break down alcohol quicker, reducing the time that alcohol can stay in the system for.
With this in mind, your genetics can play a big part when answering ‘how long does alcohol stay in your system for?’.
- The foods you eat
If you have food in your stomach when consuming alcohol, your body will take longer to absorb and react. With this in mind, an individual who’s consuming excessive amounts of alcohol without eating will reach their peak blood alcohol content level sooner. This will impact the amount of time that alcohol stays in their body for.
- The frequency of your alcohol consumption
If you consume excessive amounts of alcohol, on a consistent basis, you’re likely to have a higher blood alcohol content level than those who rarely drink. With this in mind, those who consume alcohol excessively will have higher levels of alcohol present in their body, taking it longer to leave their system.
- The amount of alcohol you’ve consumed
As highlighted above, the more units of alcohol you consume, the longer it will stay in your system for. As a result of this, the longer you will be affected by alcohol post consumption.
- The type of alcohol you’ve consumed
The type and strength of alcohol will influence the amount of time it will stay in your system for. Stronger alcoholic drinks will have a stronger impact, resulting in a prolonged presence.
How to measure exactly how long alcohol stays in your system for
Although breathalysers are commonly associated with alcohol testing, there are a number of different ways to measure the exact length that alcohol stays in your system for. When alcohol is consumed, it is metabolised by the liver, forming metabolites. These metabolites can be found and tested through urine, blood, mouth swabs, sweat, hair follicles and of course, through a breathalyser test.
Commonly, these measurements will need to be completed within 24 hours of your last alcoholic drink, helping to gauge the levels of remaining alcohol in your system.
How long does alcohol stay in the body?
In order to identify a positive measure of alcohol in the system, below are the timeframes that each test should be completed within.
- To test how long alcohol stays in your urine for, a test should be completed within 24-96 hours.
- To test how long alcohol stays in your blood for, a test should be completed within 12-24 hours.
- To test how long alcohol stays in your breath for, a test should be completed within 12-24 hours.
- To test how long alcohol stays in your saliva for, a test should be completed within 12-24 hours.
- To test how long alcohol stays in your sweat for, a test should be completed within 1-4 weeks.
- To test how long alcohol stays in your hair for, a test should be completed within 3 months,
The above timeframes indicate how long alcohol can remain in each individual metabolite for. It is however likely that tests will be completed 24 hours after your last drink.
Support for excessive alcohol consumption
By reading our above guide, alcoholic units and the amount of time it takes to stay/leave your system may be new to you. With this in mind, concerns now may be present regarding your alcohol consumption.
If you do feel like you consume excessive amounts of alcohol, which is impacting your quality of life post-consumption, it is important that you reach out for professional support. Here at Action Rehab, we help those who suffer with substance abuse and addictions receive the support and treatment they require to recover.
Although a reliance may not currently be present when considering alcohol, if excessive consumption does continue, it is easy to see how vast changes can be experienced internally. These changes can increase the susceptibility of developing an addiction, requiring rehabilitation and withdrawal efforts.
With this in mind, if you’re worried that you may be misusing alcohol, reach out for our support. Likewise, if you hope for further information to answer the question of ‘how long does alcohol stay in your system?’, we can offer further figures and positive steps to ease your post-consumption experience.
Concerningly, not many alcohol drinkers understand the process that their favourite tipple goes through when meeting their internal system, A large proportion will be shocked by the length of time alcohol can stay in their system for. We hope that this guide has increased your personal knowledge of the amount you’re consuming, its effects and how it remains in your body for longer than expected.
Posted on Tuesday, June 30th, 2020 at 12:27 pm in Latest News.