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How long does alcohol stay in the system after the last drink?

How long does alcohol stay in the system after the last drink?

Excessive consumption of alcohol is not only accepted in the U.S., rather, it is greatly encouraged. Though it may not be the case on an everyday basis, it is certainly happening during weekends, holidays, night outs, big sport games, weddings, concerts, birthday and graduation parties, and other communal gatherings, making it challenging to escape alcohol during social events.

The consumption of alcohol is on a rise despite the fact that several warnings have been issued regarding the hazards associated with drinking including short- and long-term repercussions and driving under the influence (DUI). It is a well-known fact that alcohol and driving do not gel well. Does that mean that one is fit to drive the morning after a night out of drinking? Or is it all right to drive a couple of hours after the last drink? Is our system free of alcohol by that time? No. According to Dr. George Koob, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), that is just not the case.

What happens to the body when one consumes alcohol?

When one drinks alcohol, it passes into the bloodstream, which takes it to the liver to begin its breakdown. Based on the amount of alcohol taken, it can negatively impact one’s liver function. Liver, which is a blood-filtering organ, gets distressed even after a couple of drinks.

The fundamental function of the liver is to filter the blood that flows from the digestive tract towards the remaining body. However, when it breaks down alcohol, it encounters toxic byproducts of alcohol metabolism. This can be dangerous because if one indulges in heavy drinking, the liver gets exposed to a greater number of toxins than it can handle. This increases scarring, leading to fatty liver disease. Consequently, the blood flow can get restricted, leading to the death of the liver cells, portal hypertension, liver cirrhosis, and other liver-related disorders, thus compromising liver function.

Alcohol can be detected for up to 6 hours in blood

Since alcohol consumption can have such a debilitating effect on liver function, it is natural to be inquisitive about the length of time it stays in the human system. It is hypothesized that different people take different time to metabolize alcohol. According to Dr. Koob, usually, an individual takes 30 minutes to break down half a drink. Talking about blood alcohol content (BAC), he explained that if an individual’s BAC is at 0.08 and they don’t drink any further, their BAC will reach 0.05 in a period of about 2 hours.

It is important to note that in the U.S., an individual’s BAC is calculated in percentage correlating the number of grams of alcohol consumed for every 100 milliliters of blood. BAC is measured by using a device known as a breathalyzer which calculates the amount of alcohol expelled into the air when one blows air into it. One can be issued a DUI when one’s BAC is 0.08 or above. Even consuming 4 drinks can bring one’s BAC at this level. Yet again, it is important to remember that every individual’s body has a unique reaction to alcohol. As per the American Addiction Center’s addiction treatment network, alcohol can be detected for nearly 6 hours in the blood, around 12-24 hours in saliva, urine, and breath, and for up to 3 months or 90 days in one’s hair.

Protect yourself, seek recovery

A small glass of red wine has nearly 1.5 units of alcohol (10 milliliters of pure alcohol is equivalent to 8 grams present in a single unit). A small tequila of shot and a pint of a strong beer have 1 and 3 units of alcohol, respectively. Therefore, it is recommended that an individual keeps a count of the units of alcohol one has consumed if one is out as that will help them determine when to go slow or stop.

Another reason why one should be wary of alcohol is the amount of damage that it can cause an individual. Alcohol consumption can severely affect one’s quality of life, putting the person at a risk of DUI, accidents, violence, unsafe sexual practices, substance abuse, etc. Hence, it is imperative that when one realizes that their drinking is out of bounds, they must seek professional help at the earliest.

The road to recovery from alcohol addiction is not a cakewalk and therefore, it’s necessities to be embarked upon with staunch determination and support and compassion from family and friends. It is essential to seek a detoxification program that helps to remove the toxins accumulated in the body from extended periods of substance abuse. If you or someone you know is addicted to alcohol, get in touch with the 24/7 Alcohol Abuse Help to know about the best inpatient alcohol treatment centers. Call our 24/7 helpline 866-480-6873 or chat online with a representative to discuss your alcohol abuse treatment options.