How long does alcohol last?

Usually, alcohol remain in the body for about 2 hours, but this depends on several factors. Onset of effects generally occurs 30 minutes after administration…but what happens to the body and brain when you drink? We review more here.

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Alcohol metabolism, the speed at which alcohol is metabolized, and how long does alcohol work (its duration of effects) all depend upon several factors. However, onset of effects generally occurs 30 minutes after administration and one drink remains in the body for about 2 hours. But what exactly happens to the body and brain when you drink? We review more here, and invite your questions about alcohol, what does alcohol withdrawal feel like, or treatments for alcohol addiction at the end.

Alcohol effects on the body and brain

Alcohol acts as a depressant on the brain by affecting neurotransmitters in certain areas of the brain and central nervous system. Basically, alcohol facilitates the delivery of serotonin and dopamine to the brain and create reactions of relaxation, happiness, ease of mind. So what exactly happens in the brain and body when you drink?

The effects that alcohol has on your body highly depend on several factors, such your body weight, current health condition, age, and gender. However the path of alcohol absorption into the bloodstream remains the same for everyone, passing through the stomach and intestine and then slowly traveling through the blood. Then, alcohol crosses the blood-brain barrier and interacts with neurotransmitters.

Alcohol duration of action

It is estimated that a human body can process 0.25 ounces of alcohol per hour. Alcohol is absorbed quickly but metabolized very slowly in the body. This is why alcohol is detectible in body fluids for some time after administration. In urine, alcohol can be detected 12 to 24 hours after your last drink.

Usually, alcohol remains in the body for about 2 hours after consumption, although metabolism varies by person and depends on several different factors. Onset of effects occurs about 30 minutes after first administration.

How long do alcohol effects last?

The longer you drink, the longer you maintain the effects of alcohol, with higher doses of impairment. The thing about drinking for effect is that as you drink, you become less and less capable of normal functions; motoric movement are compromised, thinking is slower, vision is constantly changing, speech is becoming slurred and slower. So after a certain limit, intoxication symptoms make basic vital functions impossible. Effects of intoxication wear off and resolve within about 48-72 hours, while you go through what is known as hangover symptoms.

How long does a alcohol high last?

Feeling “high” on alcohol is equated with getting drunk, or intoxicated? Genetic factors do have their role in alcohol intoxication, as well the levels of tolerance binge drinkers and/or chronic alcoholics reach. But, in general, how long will you be drunk depends on several factors, such as:

  • the prescience of food administered before and during alcohol take
  • drinking other liquids, such as water or juices
  • the way you drink alcohol what type of alcohol you drink

For example, if a higher percentage if ethanol is taken through a straw, it is believed that the alcohol moves faster directly into the brain. Also, if you drink too fast and leave no time to the liver to process and the body to schedule excretion of the toxic fluids, you can become intoxicated with alcohol.

Alcohol high effects

The general effects of being drunk, or intoxicated, with alcohol include numbness and overall impaired body functioning. Firstly your extremities begin to feel heavy. Then, facial muscles can harden and lose flexibility (a subjective experience). Speech becomes slow, loud or too quiet, because you senses are also impaired at some level. With heavier drinking, you will directly affect the heart and liver. The heart may develop tachycardia and trigger unstable blood pressure. However, heavy drinking can also permanently destroy brain cells and interact with short-term memory loss and cognitive thinking.

How long alcohol lasts questions

As promised, we invite you to ask us your questions about alcohol.. We will do our best to respond with a personal and prompt response.

Reference Sources: Hazardous Substances Data Bank TOXNET: Ethanol
National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration: Alcohol and Highway Safety
National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse: Alcohol’s Effects on the Body
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.


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    1. Hi Kashima. Alcohol can be detected on many tests including breathalyzer tests, blood, or urinalysis.

  1. “Alcohol Duration Of Action” is false. While some people may metabolize alcohol faster than others, take it from someone who used to be drug tested for alcohol on a weekly basis, alcohol can remain in the urine for as long as 96 hours or more. Diluting urine by over drinking water will not change those results as UAs detect specific metabolites in the urine that are which created by alcohol. It took 1 failed drug test to map the correct time at which alcohol remained in my system. As i said before, everyone is different but I wasnt alone in my theory of how long alcohol stayed in ones system. There were both males and females of various body sizes testing positive from alcohol within a 72 and 120 hour period. Due to my class and test being on a thursday, i knew that i was able to drink Thursday-Saturday and be in the clear no matter how much or little i drank. I had tested positive for having 1 16oz budlight on a monday night; and was negative the following week when having multiple pitures of some draft on sunday evening. I just wanted to share this experience with everyone and hope it helps those who inquire about such.

  2. If I have to take ua’s and drank two 24oz beers and three shots Friday night and had to take a UA today (Monday) at 5pm, will the alcohol show up. I take the 8 panel etg testing? I typically do not drink, this is the only time the last 4 years if that makes a difference.

  3. I drank boomsfarm about 7:00pm and I drank a can of 24 can of bud wiser earlier in the day I have to take a urine test about 20:09 this morning will it be out of my urine test by then

  4. On Friday night I had 750ml of wine and two bottles of beer Saturday night. I’m 5’0 tall and weigh 220lbs. I had a UA on Tuesday at 1:30. Will the alcohol be out of my system?

  5. I just would like to know. If I don’t have a Beer for 14 days. Would Alcohol still show up in my Dr.s blood test

  6. I will be spending the night at a all girl party. If I drink 3 – 4 shots of vodka over the evening will alcohol still show up on a breath test after say 8 – 10 hours

  7. I realized myself after being sent home for being drunk but i didnt drink that day now 2 days later im still feeling the affects ofthe alchol

  8. I have a really high tolorence with alcohol so when I drink I drink. I was born with a low immune system so I don’t know if that affects my problem. Alcohol for some reason moves through my body so slowly. I have to have the whole next day off because I can’t drive. I have a bac breathalyzer and even at noon I was at .16. My last drink would be 1 or 2am. There has to be something wrong because alcohol doesn’t fully leave my body till at least like 5pm. So from 1 or 2am for my last drink then fully leaves around 5pm that’s a long time! Could you please help?

  9. Can drinking 2 bottles of wine (20%) 8 hours BEFORE a breatheliser test be detected as high level 0.11%
    Could my over zealous eating of sausages have contributed sucha high level, so late after the last drink? Or is the test wrong?

  10. Well. I didn’t know you could still feel intoxicated so long after drinking, I’m glad I looked it up.
    I drank quite a bit last night, I’d say probably the equivalent of 7-8 shots of Jagermeister in half an hour. Which I now know thanks to this site is a very bad idea. Won’t be doing that again..

    Its odd because I don’t think I was drunk, tipsy most certainly, but not drunk. The best way I can describe it is the sober bit of your brain in sitting in the center console, controlling everything, and monitoring your condition. However the rest of you is numbish and… not harder to control but it takes more mental effort to control it the way you want to. Like for example last night I had a case of the hiccups, and still mentally aware enough to do deep breathing exercises to make them go away, even though I had to firmly remind myself that giggling was something drunk people did and consciously had to stop myself from doing so.
    I feel like I was on the tail end of tipsy right before diving into the drunk end of the pool. Something that kind of made me sad was that it was so much easier to speak my mind clearly when I usually have trouble articulating how I feel about something. I also think I was mentally trying much harder to not appear like a drunk arse, which resulted in a much more expansive vocabulary than I normally use.
    My face and teeth were pleasantly numb, I was relaxed, I did have a bit of trouble moving but not so much I couldn’t walk correctly. My vision though, dear god I was constantly having to calibrate myself to compensate for my vision spinning slightly. Not that I should have been surprised since I have terrible vision to begin with and things spin occasionally even when I’m not drinking xD

    Something I thought was really nice though, I got the best night of sleep I have had in years, I slept a good 14 hours, woke up nearly painless (although I think I slept on my hand as its a little sore) and I had the most vivid dreams. I even apparently went to the bathroom according to my fiance which usually keeps me up for hours after I go. I am also a blanket hog when intoxicated.

    All in all I don’t think its something I’ll repeat given that fourteen hours later I still have the pleasantly numb-ish sensation, though its very reduced, and my will to do anything on my list today is completely shot. I think I’ll be spending the next few hours in bed watching youtube videos and just chilling out until all this passes. I am going to be very concerned though if I still feel this way tomorrow at work x…..x

  11. I seem to have a high tolerance for alcohol but I choose not to drink to excess. On the other hand my wife become impaired after only two or three drinks, and completely stumbling drunk when she drinks. My question is, she claims she is not drinking in the morning, but after 8 – 10 hours of sleep she still slurs her words and is obviously still under the influence. Can a person go 8 – 10 hours without drinking after getting drunk and still suffer the effects? And If so what can cause it?

  12. Regarding alcohol as a depressant:
    if one were to consume a LARGE amount of alcohol- would it be plausible for them to still be feeling this “depressed” or foggy effect for up to two or three days after the event?

    1. Hi John. Does he have any liver impairment problems. If the liver is not functioning properly it won’t process toxins as quickly and as efficiently.

  13. Hi,
    I’ve been a drinker for more than 20 yrs, not soooo heavy,on heavy drinks like whisky for longer than the like of wine,lately my memory is sooooo bad,annndddd sometimes even after two glasses of wine,I’ll wake up with vague memories of the most recent events going on in my life, for example, if I follow Eastenders,I have a problem connecting what I watched yesterday and today, the most recent events in remember seem like they happened years ago….Am not sure am making alot of sense but it’s all so hard to put into words what I go through. Now,is this due to years of drinking and can I make it better if I stopped completely or is it stress of not working for more than 10yrs watching over my son with Autism. Had a CT scan which was clear…Plizzzz helllllpppp. If it’s alcohol, is it too late that I’ve done permanent damage or what??? Hellllppppppppppp

  14. Hi Deborah. Alcohol is eliminated at the constant rate of about .015% BAC per hour, which is about one drink an hour. But, if someone had an alcohol level of .20%, (twice the legal limit for drunk driving in most states), it would take more than 13 hours after they stopped drinking for their alcohol level to reach zero.

  15. How long does alcohol stay on your breath if you drank 12 beers and stopped at 1:07am. Will you blow a number at 11:30 am the next days

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