How Long is Alcohol in Your System?

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How Long is Alcohol in Your System?

If you are about to go on a night out, you may want to plan out how much you can drink, and a good rule to go by is that five standard drinks are metabolized in about five hours.

This is different for everyone, but typically the human body can oxidize one alcoholic drink per hour. If you want to get technical, alcohol remains in the blood for up to 6 hours, the breath, saliva, urine for 12-24 Hours, and hair for 90 days. Whether you are looking to sober up before driving or want to have it for your general knowledge, it is always a good plan to be educated regarding how long alcohol stays in your system.

How is it That Five Standard Drinks are Metabolized in About Five Hours?

When you drink alcohol, the alcohol passes through your digestive system, but it is not truly digested. Although five standard drinks are metabolized in about five hours, alcohol is mainly broken down in your liver by an alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme. Instead of being digested like food, alcohol goes into the upper gastrointestinal tract, and most of it is absorbed right into the bloodstream.

Once alcohol is in your bloodstream, it is carried throughout your entire body, finally heading to the brain. Your brain receives the alcohol within 30 seconds, and after 20 minutes, 90% of the alcohol will have reached your stomach. The reason experts state that five standard drinks are metabolized in about five hours is that on average, the liver can metabolize one standard drink per hour.

What is Considered a “Standard Drink?”

Now that you know that five standard drinks are metabolized in about five hours, you will most likely no longer be wondering how long it takes to metabolize a standard drink. Instead, now you might be wondering what a “standard drink” is.

One standard drink is defined as:

  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 8-9 ounces of malt liquor
  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 5 ounce shot of distilled spirits such as gin, rum, tequila, vodka, or whiskey

This means that one 12-ounce beer is equal to one five-ounce pour of wine, equal to one 1.5 ounce shot of tequila.

Five Standard Drinks are Metabolized in About Five Hours, But is That True For Everyone?

There are many factors that can influence how alcohol affects you and is broken down in your body, such as:

  • Age, weight, and gender
  • Speed of your metabolism
  • How much food you ate that day
  • The alcohol percentage of the alcohol you consumed
  • If you take medications

Alcohol Effects

When drinking in ordinance with the fact that five standard drinks are metabolized in about five hours, you can have a fun and safe night out. If you drink alcohol with the purpose of having fun, some of the effects can include, decreased anxiety, faux euphoria, lower inhibitions, feeling more comfortable in your skin, and feeling more social.

If Five Standard Drinks are Metabolized in About Five Hours, is it Possible to Overdose on Alcohol?

Alcohol overdose is also known as alcohol poisoning and can be extremely serious. Overdosing on alcohol occurs when there is such a high amount of alcohol in your system that your organs begin to shut down. As the alcohol in your blood (BAC) climbs, you might begin to feel negative effects rather than positive ones.

  • .06% – 0.15% BAC: Your speech, memory, attention, balance, and coordination will be somewhat impaired, but your driving ability will be obviously impaired. .08% is the level at which it becomes illegal to drive in the United States.
  • .16% – 0.30% BAC: At this point, you will see very significant impairments in your speech, memory, balance, and coordination. Your driving ability is extremely impaired, as your reaction time is extremely slow. Your judgment and decision-making will also be impaired, and there is a high risk of blackouts, vomiting, or even loss of consciousness.
  • .31% – 0.45% BAC: At this level, you have overdosed on alcohol. You are at risk of death due to the inability to breathe, and your heart rate can become dangerously low, leading to death.

Overdose Symptoms:

  • Extreme confusion
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Slowed or irregular breathing
  • Inability to be woken up
  • Vomiting
  • Clammy skin
  • Bluish skin color, or extreme paleness
  • Low body temperature
  • Extremely slow heart rate

If you mix alcohol with opioids, painkillers, or anti-anxiety drugs, you run a higher risk of overdose. This is because these drugs also suppress breathing, which can lead to death with even smaller amounts of alcohol consumed.

What is Binge Drinking?

Five standard drinks are metabolized in about five hours, but consuming four drinks in two hours is considered binge drinking. Binge drinking is dangerous because it does not allow your body to detoxify alcohol per hour. Instead, your liver cannot clear the alcohol from your body, which leads to a very rapid increase of your BAC.

Five Standard Drinks are Metabolized in About Five Hours, But is That True for Individuals With Mental Illness?

Drinking alcohol is linked to a few different mental health disorders, including depression, memory loss, suicide. Although you might feel relaxed at first after a drink, eventually, the long term effects can lead to severe mental illness. Even though five standard drinks are metabolized in about five hours, the effects can be much stronger for those with already existing mental illnesses.

Find the Help You Need Today

No matter what obstacles you are coming to Resurgence Behavioral Health with, there is a program designed just for you. Most insurance plans should include the cost of detox, family counseling, clinic visit, home health visits, and inpatient treatment. We offer many optimal choices that will help you regain life skills and provide a path to recovery.

No matter your financial capability, there is a treatment plan at Resurgence Behavioral Health that will exceed your expectations. We offer lifelong support to all of our clients and provide a path to recovery that works for you or your loved one. Please call today to speak with one of our treatment specialists and get you back on the road to recovery.

Addiction Treatment that
Just Works

Individualized treatment programs delivered in a comfortable, relaxed setting promote healing in your recovery journey.