How long does it take for alcohol to leave your system?

The length of time alcohol stays in the body differs from person to person.

How long does it take for alcohol to leave your system?
© Getty/ Ariel Skelley
How long does it take for alcohol to leave your system?

It’s the festive season, typically characterized by merrymaking. For most people, sharing eating and communing over drinks is a significant part of the celebrations. It’s why drivers are being advised to be extra cautious on the road as alcohol could impede their judgement. Even driving in the morning after a night spent drinking is not advisable as alcohol may take longer to leave your system.

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How long?

How fast or slow alcohol metabolizes in the body depends on how much you’ve had to drink, how fast and other individual factors. As a depressant, alcohol has a relatively shorter life span once it enters the body, according to Healthline. The level of alcohol in your blood can be determined through several tests including urine and blood tests. In urine, alcohol can be detected from 12 to 130 hours if a person has been drinking excessively, According to Cleveland Clinic.

It takes at least one hour to process one standard drink, and 25 hours to completely rid of your system of alcohol, although it can be detected in your urine and hair (root) between 14 and 90 days after your last drink. Denis McCauley, chairman of the Irish Medical Organisation’s GP committee warned drivers:

You metabolise all alcohol at a very steady-state rate. If you have one pint, it will metabolise at the same rate. If you have three pints, it will metabolise at the same rate. So it actually comes out of your system at a slow enough rate
Getty/ Alvaro Medina Jurado

Lining your stomach

There’s a myth that eating before drinking allows the body to hold in more alcohol. However, Mr McCauley dismissed this as a myth, adding that ‘lining one’s stomach’ could actually keep alcohol in the system longer.

If I had a cheese sandwich before I went out for a drink, I would metabolise even slower, because it would take longer for me to absorb that alcohol into my system, so it actually delays the alcohol absorption.

Other factors such as height, size, sex, ethnic origin and weight are also factors in how your body will metabolize, an article in RSVP Live states.

Sources used:

Cleveland Clinic: How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your System?

Health Line: How long does alcohol stay in your body?

RSVP Live: Irish GP's warning as he reveals how long it takes for alcohol to clear your blood before driving

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