How Long Does Alcohol Poisoning Last?

Alcohol poisoning happens when you consume an amount of alcohol that is too much for your body to process, resulting in severe mental and physical impairment. Alcohol poisoning can last in your body for a number of hours, even after you have stopped drinking alcohol.

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Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS


How long alcohol poisoning lasts depends on the person and how much he or she drank.

Alcohol poisoning is a result of a high level of alcohol in your bloodstream. This could result from heavy drinking, binge drinking, or other forms of excessive alcohol use.

Your blood alcohol concentration level (BAC) can be determined by a blood test about six to 12 hours after your last drink.

In general, alcohol poisoning can last within that time frame — the amount of time that alcohol remains present within the bloodstream.

Factors That Contribute To How Long Alcohol Poisoning Lasts

There are a few different factors that contribute to how long alcohol poisoning lasts in the body. Gender is one.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for example, recommends that women, in general, should drink no more than one drink per day, and no more than two for men.

Also, time is a factor. If you consume a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time, the alcohol overdose will last longer.

Tolerance Level

If you have a high alcohol tolerance, then alcohol poisoning could last longer. People with a higher tolerance level tend to drink more to feel the effects of alcohol.

However, that means that they are consuming a greater amount of alcohol. The more alcohol you have in your bloodstream, especially over a short period of time, the longer alcohol poisoning will last.

Amount Of Alcohol Ingested

The level of alcohol consumption is another factor that can influence how long alcohol poisoning lasts.

The higher your blood alcohol level, the longer it will take your liver to process it.

How The Body Processes Alcohol

It takes your body, specifically your liver, a certain amount of time to process alcohol.

While this amount of time may differ slightly from person to person, there is only so much alcohol that your body can process on any given day.

Blood Alcohol Content

When your stomach absorbs alcohol, it then goes into your bloodstream. How much alcohol you have consumed is reflected in your blood alcohol level.

The percentages of blood alcohol concentration correspond to levels of impairment:

  • .08% is the legal percentage of intoxication
  • .08% to .4% indicates impairment such as loss of motor control and slow breathing or drowsiness
  • .4% and above indicates severe impairment including irregular breathing and risk of passing out

Alcohol Metabolic Rate

Your body metabolizes alcohol at a certain rate every day which translates into a general rate per hour.

This varies, but in general, your body can process about six to eight ounces of ethanol a day, which translates to about .2 ounces of ethanol an hour.

Remember this is ethanol, pure alcohol. In terms of drinks, this means your body is able to process about one drink per hour.

For the one drink per hour rule, it is important to know what constitutes a drink.

One alcoholic drink is equivalent to:

  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 1.5 ounces of whiskey or equivalent hard liquor

Symptoms Of Alcohol Poisoning

Alcohol overdose is life-threatening but detectable, so it is important to know the signs of alcohol poisoning and when to call for medical attention.

You can help your loved one or yourself by watching for:

  • pale skin
  • clammy skin
  • low body temperature
  • slow heart rate
  • slow breathing
  • loss of consciousness

The dangers of alcohol poisoning also include complications from excessive drinking. An alcohol overdose can dull your gag reflex, causing you to choke on your own vomit.

Alcohol poisoning can also lead to injury from falling and irreversible brain damage.

Treatment For Alcohol Poisoning

If you see someone with signs of alcohol poisoning, do not try to treat it yourself. Call for medical help for alcohol poisoning treatment.

Until the medical professionals arrive, you can do the following:

  • provide water to prevent severe dehydration
  • keep the person awake
  • limit the person’s walking
  • Learn more about treatment for alcohol poisoning.

Find Substance Use Disorder Treatment At Bedrock Recovery Center

At Bedrock Recovery Center on the east coast, we know the dangers and lasting effects of an alcohol overdose. We also know there is addiction treatment for alcohol use disorder.

That’s why we offer comprehensive treatment plans to help you or your loved one achieve sobriety through detox, inpatient and outpatient programs, support groups, and more.

Call our helpline today to start your alcohol addiction recovery.

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  2. Clinical Liver Disease,about%20one%20drink%20per%20hr.
  3. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
  4. U.S. National Library of Medicine: Medline Plus

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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