How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your System?

While it is welcome, enjoying alcohol might be fine for just a short time. After that, you have to report back to work where engaging in drinking is highly frowned upon. You could also be on medication that has serious interactions with alcohol that could turn deadly. It is at this point you start wondering, how long does alcohol stay in your system?

What are the symptoms of alcohol abuse? 

Many different terms are used to describe a person with an issue with alcohol in their central nervous system, such as an alcoholic, an alcohol abuser, an alcohol dependant, or an alcohol use disorder, which many mental health professionals use. Binge drinking is another term used, where the person will engage in a lot more than one standard drink and have a bigger drink per hour consumption rate.

All of the above are classed as alcohol abuse, although there are two types of categories that an alcohol drinker will fall into. Some people require alcohol to be in their systems to enable them to carry out everyday functions, even including getting out of bed in the morning. The other type is people who consume a lot of alcohol either regularly or occasionally, but the main difference is they do not need alcohol to perform daily activities.

Two guys thinking how long will alcohol stay in their system

The symptoms of alcohol abuse can include:

  • Reduced mobility or ability to control movements
  • Poor reflexes
  • Issues with concentrating
  • Experiencing blackouts
  • Gaps in recalling events
  • Slurred speech
  • Liver problems with continued alcohol abuse
  • Increased tolerance to the point a standard drink has no effect
  • Difficulty controlling alcohol intake
  • Lie and make excuses regarding their drinking
  • Drink driving

What Is Blood Alcohol Concentration BAC?

This is what measures the blood alcohol levels in your body and indicates how much alcohol is in your bloodstream from the alcoholic drink you have consumed.

It is given as a percentage, and a reading of 0.08% BAC means that the person is intoxicated and would be driving illegally with this blood alcohol level in the human body.

There are different tests that people can take to determine how much alcohol is in their blood stream, including urine, breath, hair, and blood test.

What are the factors that affect alcohol metabolism?

The body processes alcohol differently for each person, although various other factors can determine how long alcohol stays in your system and body composition also plays a part.

When thinking about how long does it take alcohol to leave your system, the following factors should be taken into consideration for how the body can metabolize the alcohol:


If a woman has the same amount of drink as a man, it is known that the woman’s body will process alcohol or metabolize the alcohol slower than the man’s body. The main reason for this is because they generally have more body fat, so the alcohol stays in their systems longer.

Body Size – Weight

If you have a larger build, the fat within your body will soak up some of the drink before it enters your bloodstream or goes towards your liver; it will also take you longer to feel the effects of an alcoholic drink. People who have a small build will feel the effects of alcohol at a quicker rate.


Younger people can process alcohol a lot quicker than someone older. This could also be due to the heart rate being slower as you get older, and if you are suffering from a liver condition, the body processes alcohol at a slower rate.


If you drink on an empty stomach, you will notice the effects of alcohol a lot quicker, although the body will process alcohol quicker than if you had food in the stomach. When food is in the stomach, the absorption rate is a lot slower and stays in your system longer. If you want to have a lower BAC level, having food before you drink will slow down metabolizing the alcohol.

Family History – Genetics

This can have a slight impact on how quickly your body can process alcohol and can potentially increase the time that alcohol stays in your system.


If you are taking medication, that indicates you should not drink while using them, and if you do so, the alcohol in your blood can remain for longer. It is always best to think of safety first and prioritize your medication over alcohol.

Type of Drink

Drinks can contain different amounts of alcohol. Depending on the type you are drinking, it may take longer for it to leave your body.

Alcohol detection time in the body

If you have wondered how long it takes for alcohol absorption to happen in the body, it will depend on a few factors. The alcohol will enter the bloodstream via the stomach or small intestine, then be transported around the body until it reaches the liver and will be processed.

Due to the way the body process an alcoholic drink, the alcohol will remain in certain body fluids or follicles for either a longer or shorter period.

Different tests will reveal the level of alcohol in each of your body fluids, and the time it will stay in each.

How long does alcohol stay in your urine?

It can stay in your urine up to 4 days after your last drink. This is due to two metabolites formed when alcohol is metabolized in the body: Ethyl Glucuronide (EtG) and Ethyl Sulfate. If an EtG test is taken, this is where the four days comes into play as these metabolites stay in the urine.

How long does alcohol stay in your blood?

Between 12 – 24 hours, although just like the urine, the metabolites that are formed can be detected long after the 24 hours.

Two tests that can be used are Phosphatidyl Ethanol (PEth test or BAC) and Breathalyzer tests.

After alcohol consumption, Phosphatidyl Ethanol (PEth) is created and can remain in the blood even up to 4 weeks later and will be detected with the PEth/BAC test.

The Breathalyzer test will detect the alcohol in your breath and give instant reading; these are common for drink-driving tests.

How long does alcohol stay in your saliva?

It can be present in your saliva between 24 to 48 hours after alcohol consumption. A swab test will be used and can tell the body’s BAC level, although it can test positive even if the body has got rid of the alcohol for 6 to 12 hours after.

How long does alcohol stay in your hair?

It can show up to 90 days after alcohol is absorbed. A hair follicle test will show if EtG is present, as this is present in the blood stream, and as you sweat, it will absorb into the hair.


How long does a glass of wine stay in your system?

It can take up to 5 hours for your body to process a glass of wine after drinking it.

Can you flush alcohol out of your system?

By drinking water, you can lower your blood alcohol content level in your bloodstream. Other ways also include eating food after consuming a large amount of alcohol as this will absorb the alcohol. If the alcohol consumed is too much for your body, you may experience vomiting or diarrhea, removing the alcohol from your system.

Your body will metabolize alcohol and will emit around 1 ounce each hour.

Do drug tests detect alcohol?

If a drug test is screening for alcohol, then yes, they can detect the alcohol.

Does probation test for alcohol?

If you are abstaining from alcohol and it is an order that you are required to follow, then yes, they will test for this substance. Depending on the test that is taken, blood, hair, saliva, or urine tests will each detect if alcohol was consumed at different time lengths; remember, many tests will detect alcohol even after 24 hours of your last drink.

How can I test my alcohol at home?

Many test kits can be purchased for use in your home. A breathalyzer is a good choice if you want to measure your blood alcohol content, especially if you plan on driving. You can purchase urine tests that will show the level of EtG in your urine if you have been drinking recently. Many of the tests that you can buy are affordable, and alcohol can be detected easily.


From the information above, you can see that to answer the question of how long does alcohol stay in your system. Many factors will contribute to the length of time that alcohol will work to remain in your body.

The factors include your gender, age, weight, food consumption, family history, and medication.

Your body will naturally process alcohol and will get rid of around 20mg of alcohol per hour in each 100ml of plasma that your body has.

If you are drinking large amounts, and there is a lot of alcohol in your system for a while, it will take the body time to get rid of it. You can do a few measures to assist, such as having water to drink or eating some food. The half life is also something to be considered.

Many tests can be taken to reveal alcohol levels in your body, and you mustn’t drink too much as alcohol poisoning can occur. There is treatment available for those suffering from alcohol poisoning, which can affect your liver. For those with liver issues, you should seek out treatment as soon as possible before you even think about drinking more.

If alcohol has become an issue for you, there are many treatment options available to you, including rehab treatment, to save your mental health and liver.