How Long Does Alcohol Stay in the Body?

Alcohol is detectable for about 10 hours after consumption. After that, it is usually not detected.

When a person takes alcohol, it slowly enters into its blood stream. While in blood, alcohol is slowly excreted out in sweat, breath and urine. It may be detected by Breathalyzers or urine analyzers during this phase.

Gradually, it is metabolized in the liver to be broken into its metabolites. It takes around 10 hours for alcohol to completely get converted into its metabolites.

Rate of Metabolism

Alcohol burns off at the rate of .016 BAC per hour, about equal to 1 standard drink each hour.

The rate of metabolism of alcohol is almost the same in all individuals, however, age, height, weight and sex do affect the BAC (blood alcohol content) of a person.

Alcohol is a toxic chemical and has detrimental effects on the brain, liver cells, kidney and other body tissues. So, our liver metabolizes it as quickly as possible to avoid its detrimental effects.

Until all the alcohol is metabolized, it circulates freely to reach all parts of the body. Alcohol reaches the brain easily.

It can even cross the placental barrier to reach the fetal tissues, if the mother consumes alcohol.

Factors Affecting Absorption of Alcohol in the Blood and its Metabolism

1) Whether alcohol was taken alone or with food is an important factor that will decide its absorption.

When taken on an empty stomach, alcohol gets absorbed very quickly. If food is taken along, its absorption is retarded.

The more bulky or fibrous the food, more slow is alcohol absorption.

2) Obese people absorb this chemical at a slower rate.

3) Females tend to have a higher BAC than male, when same amount of alcohol was taken by both.

Also, all damages caused by alcohol occur more in females than in males.

Detecting Alcohol

Alcohol is detected in the breath during early phase after its consumption. It may be seen in the urine samples after half an hour to about 8 to 9 hours of its consumption.

Medical Advice (Q&As) on “Alcohol Detection in the Body

  1. Roxy

    If I drink 30 ounces of beer on Sunday night, will the alcohol in my urine be detected in a test sent to the lab. My test is the following Wednesday. They are testing for alcohol use.

    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      It is unlikely to be detected.

      However, if you are a regular user of this chemical, it is difficult to comment.

  2. Toni

    I had 44 oz of beer on Sunday night. Last sip at 10 pm. Will the metabolite show up Wednesday afternoon? Lots of water with lemon till then.

          1. Buddy M.D. Post author

            ETG testing detects Ethyl Glucuronide, which is a metabolite of ethanol (alcohol). While ethanol is detectable for 10 hours, its metabolite can be detected for about 3 to 4 days!

        1. Buddy M.D. Post author

          The rate of elimination also depends upon your rate of metabolism. Unless your rate of metabolism is too slow, it should not take so long to eliminate this chemical.