As soon as you consume alcohol, your body begins to process and metabolise it. This is the process of the alcohol being broken down and then used as energy.
Typically, it takes around one hour for one drink to be broken down but this can depend on a range of factors and doesn’t mean that the alcohol is completely out of your system. Here, we explore the topic in more detail and explain exactly how and where alcohol is measured from.
How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your Body?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a set answer to this question. In fact, it depends on how much alcohol has been consumed, the type of test that is measuring the alcohol content and a number of biological factors.
- A blood test will still show signs of alcohol in your bloodstream up to six hours after the last drink
- A urine test can detect alcohol up to 14 hours after the last drink was consumed
- A breath test, which is the most common way to measure alcohol and uses a breathalyser, can detect alcohol up to 14 hours after the last drink
- A hair test, which is when your hair follicle is tested for traces of alcohol, can detect alcohol up to 90 days after consuming a drink
One thing to note is that when any of these tests are being taken, is that it’s not the amount of alcohol that’s been consumed that’s being measured but instead how much alcohol is in your system. This is known as BAC level or the blood/breath alcohol concentration.
After one standard drink such as a can of beer, a small wine or a single shot, your BAC levels are increased by 0.02 within one hour.
As mentioned, there are a few factors which impact how long the alcohol will remain in your system. Women typically have a higher percentage of fat compared to men and a lower percentage of water which can mean that the alcohol stays in a woman’s system for longer.
Many people believe that eating food helps when drinking alcohol, but the presence of it in the digestive system can actually slow the consumption of alcohol down. That’s not to say you shouldn’t eat though.
Similarly, certain medications like antibiotics and antidepressants can also slow down the body’s ability to process alcohol – as can your body make up. Petite frames can have higher levels of BAC compared to a taller person who drank the same amount of alcohol.
How Long After Drinking Can You Drive?
Again, the answer to this question can depend on a few different factors and can vary hugely from person to person. Plus, even if you feel fine, the effects of alcohol may still be in your body.
For this reason, it’s advised that if you’re going to drive at all, you should refrain from drinking – even if you’re not going to drive until the next morning.
Even if you’ve only had one drink, you might still not be able to drive. This is because the effects of alcohol can begin immediately as the alcohol is absorbed into your stomach and small intestine. From here, the alcohol will travel to your bloodstream and be transported around your whole body – including to the brain where it impacts the messages and signals being received. This is why alcohol affects your emotions, senses and movement.
When Does Drinking Become Alcoholism?
Alcohol can be part of a balanced and healthy lifestyle when it’s consumed in moderation. However, for some individuals, their alcohol usage can spiral and lead to tolerance and dependence.
If you’re worried about your own or a loved one’s alcohol usage then it’s important to speak to a professional and get the right help. Some of the most common signs that a person’s alcohol consumption could be a problem are:
- Heavily drinking alone or at inappropriate times in the day
- Developing a tolerance and requiring more alcohol to function or feel drunk
- Continuing to drink despite the effects it’s having on your health, finances, career and relationships
- Mental health concerns because of the alcohol
- Secretive and dishonest behaviour about alcohol and your consumption
Getting Help for Alcohol Problems
Alcohol addiction is nothing to be ashamed of but, if you’re suffering from it, you do need the help of a professional. This is because alcoholism, like any addiction, is a medical condition that requires leading treatment and therapies and the support of a team of experts.
Recognising or even admitting that you might have a problem is often the first hurdle. This is because many individuals don’t see the problem that their alcohol usage is causing and can’t get to grips with the fact that they’re addicted to something that is so readily available.
Our team is here to help you through and while we won’t force you to get help, we will outline how a private alcohol rehab centre works and the options out there for you.
At Rehab Clinics Group, we have leading addiction recovery treatment centres all over the UK. We’re dedicated to finding you a centre and treatment programme that suits your needs and budgets, and we keep you at the core of your treatment at all times.
Using a combination of behavioural therapy, talking therapy, counselling sessions and wellbeing activities, you’ll be supported to understand your alcohol addiction.
While there’s a focus on treating the initial physical addiction, you’ll also work with teams to build new lifestyle habits and coping mechanisms to help to achieve long-term recovery once you leave private rehab. Plus, local support groups and our telephone line will always be on hand to help.
So, whether you’re worried about your own behaviour or a loved one, or just want to ask a question or know the options, pick up the phone today and take the first step towards a brighter future on 0800 470 0382.