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How Long Does Alcohol Stay In Blood For?

Knowing how long alcohol stays in your blood is not only important. But it can even get you out of potentially dangerous situations. 

The way our bodies metabolise alcohol has been a hot topic for years. But it is difficult to pinpoint exactly how long alcohol stays in your blood. Factors such as weight, age and health determine how long alcohol stays in your system. 

The Effects of Alcohol Use 

The physical effects of alcohol

One can feel the side effects of alcohol almost instantly. Once you drink alcohol, your stomach and small intestine absorb it. From there, it travels to the brain and into the spinal cord. 

Alcohol is a depressant. That means it slows down your brain’s activity levels.

Alcohol changes the way you think. Many people claim to feel less anxious and more confident when they drink. Others tend to become more talkative or even aggressive.  

The chemical process affects people in different ways. Some of the most common side effects are:

  • Slurred speech,
  • Increased blood pressure (flushed cheeks),
  • Nausea,
  • Difficulty balancing,
  • Delayed reaction time, and
  • A loss of coordination.

The emotional effects of alcohol

There are many noticeable effects of alcohol consumption. The emotional effects of alcohol are most notable. That is because our brain relies on a delicate chemical network to stay healthy. Drinking alcohol interferes with normal brain function.

Our brain relies on signals to travel between neurotransmitters to function. Alcohol, as a depressant, affects how well our brains can send these signals. Alcohol is a chemical depressant. 

These effects may have both short and long-term consequences:

  • Increased anxiety levels.
  • Depression.
  • Potential chemically-induced psychosis.
  • Increased risk of self-harm & suicide.

How Long Does Alcohol Stay In Your System?

The duration of alcohol in the body

The half-life of alcohol is around 5 hours. That means that it takes approximately 5 hours for a body to eliminate half of the alcohol in its system. More often than not, the absorption rate of alcohol is faster than the metabolic rate. So, if you drink too fast, your body will fail to metabolise alcohol.

The liver processes most of the alcohol you drink. Roughly 5% of the alcohol you drink is stored and excreted through other areas of your body. That small percentage remains in the body over a certain period, depending on the person.

How Long Does Alcohol Stay In Your Blood?

Alcohol can show up in a blood test for up to 12 hours after you drink it. 

How Long Does Alcohol Stay In Your Urine?

Alcohol remains in your urine for 10-12 hours. The amount of alcohol in your urine can change as your body breaks it down.

Alcohol In Your Hair Follicles

Like many other drugs, alcohol can remain in your hair follicles for up to 90 days.

How Long Does Alcohol Stay In Your Breath?

The average breathalyser can detect your blood alcohol content for approximately 24 hours. 

The 24-hour rule is accurate, but it is important to note that everybody is different. That means that everyone has a different reaction to alcohol.

There are a few factors that can affect how long alcohol stays in your system:

Factors That Affect Alcohol Duration: 

There are a few variables to consider when determining exactly how long alcohol lasts in your body. These include:

  • Gender

Statistically, women tend to have a higher amount of fat compared to men. That means that female bodies tend to hold alcohol for longer. 

  • Genetics 

Studies have shown that genetics affect how long alcohol stays in your system. Studies state that the rate at which one processes and excretes alcohol correlates with genetics.  

  • Age

As you get older, your metabolism slows down. Your liver takes longer to process alcohol as you age, meaning it is in your system for longer.

  • Ingestion Rate

How quickly your drink can also determine how long alcohol stays in your blood. The more alcohol you drink, the longer it lasts in your body.

How To Quit Drinking Alcohol 

Should you quit drinking?

If you drink often and in high amounts, it may be in your best interest to cut down or even quit drinking alcohol. Quitting alcohol may be easy for some people. But others who drink more often may find the process far more challenging. 

You may try to quit drinking but find the process too overwhelming. Consider seeing a physician or attending group meetings such as AA (Alcoholics Anonymous)

 Clinical advice and support groups will ease the process. That will allow you to feel supported and less lonely throughout the journey.

About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is the leading provider of affordable medical insurance in South Africa. Members enjoy access to a network of healthcare providers. We have designed healthcare products to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service.

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