How Long Does Alcohol Stay In Your System?

The length of time alcohol can be detected by a breathalyzer or another type of alcohol test varies depending on a number of factors, such as the health of the immune system, body height and weight, gender, and more.

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The amount of time alcohol stays in your system varies depending on the body weight and gender of the person tested and what type of alcohol or drug test is used.

How much time has passed since the last instance of alcohol consumption greatly affects how long immediate tests — such as breath and saliva tests — are able to detect alcohol.

However, other tests can detect alcohol in the body for up to 12 weeks after the last drink, such as a hair test.

Learn about alcohol abuse and addiction.

How Long Can Tests Detect Alcohol In Your Body?

Tests that search for traces of ethanol — which alcohol is the parent chemical genus of — can usually detect alcohol metabolites in sweat, urine, saliva, and blood for up to 72 hours.

More novel urine sampling tests such as the EtG method can detect ethyl glucuronide in the system for up to 80 hours.

Methods Of Alcohol Detection

Standard alcohol tests consist of a few different categories: hair and salivary sampling, urine tests, breathalyzer tests, and blood tests.

The type of testing administered is generally related to the circumstance in which the test is required, as the only types of portable tests are breath and urine tests.

For instance, law enforcement most commonly administer breathalyzer tests after someone is pulled over on suspicion, or if an altercation occurs in a public place.

How Long Alcohol Stays In The Blood

Blood tests check for alcohol by drawing blood intravenously and measuring the blood alcohol content (BAC) of the individual.

These tests are extremely effective and can detect blood alcohol levels for up to eight hours.

Learn more about alcohol detection times in blood.

How Long Alcohol Stays In Urine

The most common alcohol urine tests can only detect ethanol for 12 to 24 hours after the last alcohol use. Newer methods, such as the EtG test, can detect alcohol for up to 80 hours.

Learn more about alcohol detection times in urine.

How Long Alcohol Stays In Saliva

While measuring the amount of alcohol in the system usually takes the form of urine, blood, or breath testing, saliva tests do exist as a less common means of measuring alcohol content.

Similar to the older urine testing methods, saliva tests can only detect alcohol for 12-24 hours.

How Long Alcohol Stays In Hair

Hair sampling is the longest maximum duration alcohol test, which can detect ethanol for up to 90 days after the person last drank alcohol.

Factors That Contribute To How Long Alcohol Stays In Your System

Blood alcohol concentration can be determined by testing to reveal the amount of alcohol consumed in a given time frame, but there are several factors that can affect this.

For instance, someone used to binge drinking on a regular basis may constantly refill that ‘buffer’ and continually push the detection window down the road.

This person may also have a more callous and alcohol-hardened liver due to drinking alcohol consistently for a prolonged period of time and thus may process alcohol faster.

Health Risks Of Alcohol Addiction

There are significant physical and mental health conditions associated with alcohol addiction, including alcohol poisoning from excess consumption.

The effects of alcohol when consumed for a prolonged period of time manifest themselves as symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

Alcohol by nature is a depressant, meaning that it impairs cognitive function and overrides the authority of neurotransmitters in the brain, leading to an imbalance of stress chemicals.

This can lead to mental health disorders, such as anxiety, depression, psychosis, and suicidal behavioral tendencies.

You can also damage the liver with prolonged heavy drinking causing such an effect that renders the liver unable to recover. Unfortunately, this is a chronic and incurable disease.

Treatment Programs For Alcohol Abuse

There are many treatment programs geared to helping people recover from alcohol abuse.

Some of these rehabilitation programs and services include:

Find An Addiction Treatment Program At Bedrock Recovery Center

At Bedrock Recovery Center in Canton, Massachusetts, we understand how hard it can be to quit use of alcohol for good. That’s why we offer a range of intensive treatment programs to help you enter and maintain long-term recovery.

If you or a loved one are looking to sober up with an alcohol rehab program, give our helpline a call today to discuss enrollment at Bedrock.

  1. U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) — Effects of Alcohol in the Body

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

Published on: August 23, 2023

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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