Last reviewed by Dr. Raj MD on January 12th, 2022.
Drinking alcoholic beverages has been a part of every celebration. As a matter of fact, some people are used to drinking alcoholic beverages on a day to day basis. The problem with alcoholic beverages is that they can alter the functions of the brain, especially when taken in large amount.
The law is strict when it comes to driving under the influence of alcohol as doing so can lead to an accident and other unfortunate circumstances. It is the primary reason why traffic management group conducts a random alcohol test. Some employers and institutions are also requiring their applicants to undergo an alcohol testing to check for recent alcohol intake. (1, 2, 3)
|Alcohol testing method||Window of detection|
|Blood||Up to 12 hours after the last intake|
|Urine||Up to 80 hours from the last intake|
|Hair follicle||Up to three months (90 days)|
|Breath||Up to 24 hours from the last intake|
|Saliva||Up to five days from the last intake|
How long does Alcohol stay in your system – infographic
Image 1: Various forms of alcoholic beverages.
Picture Source: edc2.healthtap.com
Picture 2: A blood sample is taken and check for the presence of alcohol/blood alcohol concentration.
Photo Source: drugsdetails.com
Photo 3: A freshly catch urine is checked for alcohol metabolites.
Image Source: www.health-street.net
Image 4: Strands of hair are needed to check for the presence of alcohol in the hair follicles.
Picture Source: surescreenlabs.com
Picture 5: A saliva swab is one of the methods used to detect alcohol intake.
Photo Source: the2012project.us
Photo 6: A small device is used to detect the alcohol content in the breath. It also detects the alcohol intoxication level.
Image Source: drugtestawareness.com
How long does alcohol stay in your system? It depends on the amount of alcohol intake, the alcohol percentage (concentration) of the beverage, frequency of use, and the testing methods used. (2, 3)
- How long does alcohol stay in your system for a blood test – A normal healthy liver can process one alcoholic drink per hour. A little bit of alcohol in the bloodstream can trigger a positive alcohol test. On an average, alcohol can be traced in the blood for up to 12 hours after the last intake.
- How long does alcohol stay in your system for a urine test – The alcohol content can be detected in the urine for up to 80 hours from the last intake.
- How long does alcohol stay in your hair – Alcohol can stay in your hair follicle for up to three months. The longest window of detection out of all types of test.
- How long does alcohol stay in the breath – A device called breathalyzer is used to detect the presence of alcohol in the breath. It can detect alcohol for up to 24 hours from the last intake.
- How long does alcohol stay in the saliva – Alcohol can be traced in the saliva for up to five days from the last intake. (3, 4, 5, 6)
How much alcohol intake is too much?
How much alcohol can your body tolerate? It primarily depends on the blood alcohol content and metabolic activity of the liver. The blood alcohol content is the level of pure alcohol in the bloodstream. A .10 blood alcohol content is equivalent to 1% of alcohol in your bloodstream. The effects of blood alcohol content to the body are as follows:
- .04 – The body is in the relaxed state.
- .08 – It is the legal intoxication level.
- .12 – The body becomes uneasy and there is a tendency to vomit.
- .30 – Loss of consciousness (4, 5)
- .40 – Fatal state
|Blood alcohol content/concentration||Effects to the body|
|.04||The body is relaxed.|
|.08||Legal intoxication level|
|.12||Uneasy and tends to vomit|
|.30||Loss of consciousness|
Why is there a need to perform an alcohol test?
Alcohol testing is done for a multitude of reasons such as for police investigation purpose, alcohol treatment program, if the law enforcer suspects you for driving while intoxicated, and so on. Alcohol testing regardless of the methods used (urine, blood, hair, breath) will look for chemicals EtG or ethanol. (5, 6, 7)
Alcohol Testing (Ethanol)
Ethanol can be detected in the urine one to two hours after alcohol is metabolized by the body, which means that it would take roughly around 2 hours after the alcohol intake for ethanol to show up in the urine. If you had too much to drink, then ethanol can be detected in the urine for up to 12 hours after the last intake. (6, 8)
Is it really accurate?
When it comes to testing for alcohol use, the ethanol method is somewhat inaccurate because ethanol is naturally created by bacteria in the body, especially if the patient has an active yeast infection and diabetes. It could lead to a false positive result. To prevent a false positive result, you need to submit another urine sample 30 minutes after the first urine sample. (5, 8)
Alcohol Testing (EtG)
An EtG stands for ethyl glucuronide. It is produced after the liver metabolizes alcohol. It is a much reliable test because EtG remains longer in the body than ethanol. It can detect EtG in the urine for up to five days. A single beer can be detected for up to 16 hours after the last intake while a stronger drink such as vodka can be detected up to 3 days after the last intake. (8, 9, 10)
How to get alcohol out of your system?
How the body metabolizes alcohol? It oxidizes ethanol to acetaldehyde and then to acetic acid to carbon dioxide and water. Not all alcohol you take is metabolized by the body. Some (about 5%) is excreted in urine, feces, saliva, sweat, and breath. If you are to undergo an alcohol testing and you would want to make sure you pass the test, then there are a few things you can do to help get rid of traces of alcohol the soonest time possible. These are the following:
- Hydration – You should drink plenty of fluids, especially water and natural fruit juices. Drinking water can help increase the frequency of urinating. Toxins including alcohol content will be excreted in the urine.
- Diuretics – These are substances that can make you urinate more often. You should go for natural diuretics such as cranberry juice and tea including green tea and dandelion tea. Natural diuretics not only get rid of excess water. They also help get rid of toxins.
- Eat foods that hasten the body’s absorption of alcohol – To increase the body’s ability to absorb alcohol, there are certain foods you need to include in your diet such as oats, beets, and natural grains.
The best way to get rid of alcohol from your system is to not drink it. If you are occasional alcohol drinker, then quitting alcohol is easy. However, if you are addicted to alcohol, you will surely have a hard time quitting. You will also experience withdrawal symptoms if you abruptly stop drinking alcohol.
Those who are addicted to alcohol should gradually taper down alcohol intake until such time that the body no longer craves for alcohol. Severely addicted to alcohol individuals are even put in a rehab facility to help them safely get rid of alcohol addiction. (3, 6, 9, 10)
Disclaimer: This article does not promote the use of any forms of alcoholic beverage. The purpose of this article is to draw awareness and information about alcohol and its effects on the body. We do not sell or promote the use of alcohol or any other forms of substances that can alter the normal functions of the body. The sole purpose of this article is for education and awareness. Let this article be a guide to come up with healthy life choices.