Drinking alcohol in moderation is a good mantra that we hear all the time from professionals and well-meaning people. Many of us do our best to follow this advice in order to stay sober and safe. We limit the number of drinks at any one time and we don’t drink and drive, among other things. Indeed, we try to stay in control of our faculties.
But, many of us believe, that after just a few hours after having a few drinks, we’re okay. We feel good, don’t feel any hangover. But WAIT! Is that enough? Are we really okay? Are we really sharp enough to drive in the morning after a night out with friends? Did you ever consider how long alcohol actually stays in your system? The answer is, it’s in your system longer than you realize, and if you’re not careful, the ramifications could be very dangerous.
Alcohol: What’s Going On In Your Body and Mind?
Booze, depending on how much you drink, can seriously damage your liver. It puts a tremendous amount of stress on this vital organ.
The main job of your liver is filtering blood that’s flowing from your digestive tract to the rest of your body. In the process of breaking down the booze you consume, your liver encounters toxins. Heavy drinking can make your liver fatty and cause scarring that can eventually restricts blood flow. This causes liver cells to die and, consequently, slow down and eventually halt liver function.
How Does This Relate To Me?
So, let’s go back to the question. How long does alcohol stay in your system? Individuals metabolize alcohol at different rates. In general, most people can break down half a drink every hour. Your blood alcohol content (BAC) gets lower at the rate of .015 per hour.
A Breathalyzer test measures your BAC by calculating how much alcohol is in the air you blow onto it. For reference, you can get a DUI if you drive while having a BAC of 0.08 ml or higher. If you weigh 160 pounds, four drinks can put you there.
Again, keep in mind that people’s bodies react differently to alcohol. All the averages you hear when it comes to alcohol use are just that. What happens to your friend when she has four drinks might not be exactly what happens to you if you try to drink as quickly as her.
Now that you know how long it takes a person (on average) to metabolize alcohol, how long it takes for your body to completely rid itself of the drug. According to addiction treatment network American Addiction Centers, alcohol is detectable for up to 6 hours in blood; about 12-24 hours in breath, urine, and saliva; and up to 90 days in hair.
For reference, a small glass of red wine has around 1.5 units of alcohol. (One unit of alcohol is eight grams or 10 milliliters of pure alcohol.) A pint of strong beer has around 3, and a small shot of tequila has about 1. You’ll be doing your body a favor if you keep count of how many units you’ve consumed while you’re hanging out at the bar. If you keep count, you’ll know when it’s time to slow down and stop.
Keep this valuable information in mind the next time you’re out with family or friends. Do have a great time, but be smart about it. Your Life will thank you.