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How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your Body?

Whether or not you are an alcoholic, it's important to know how long alcohol stays in the body.

According to Mental Health Daily, more than 85% of adults in the United States consume alcohol at some point. 55% of these people have had a drink within the last month. Alcohol is a popular choice because it's assumed to be safer than other drugs. However, it can be even more dangerous.

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How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your System?

For most people, alcohol is metabolized at the same rate. BAC levels drop at around .015 an hour. This all depends on a number of factors, but weight is a major one. Generally, if you drink approximately one drink per hour, your body will metabolize it in an hour.

How Long Alcohol Stays in the Body

The more you weigh, the more drinks it takes to reach a higher BAC. Whether or not you are analcoholic, it's important to know how long alcohol stays in the body.

According toMental Health Daily, more than 85% of adults in the United States consume alcohol at some point. 55% of these people have had a drink within the last month. Alcohol is a popular choice because it's assumed to be safer than other drugs. However, it can be even more dangerous.

What is Alcohol?

What is Alcohol?

The actual names for the alcohol people drink are ethanol and ethyl alcohol. It is the ingredient that causes drunkenness in alcoholic drinks.

This substance is formed when yeast ferments the sugars in various foods. For example:

  • Wine is made from fermented grapes
  • Beer is made from fermented barley
  • Hard cider is made from apples
  • Vodka is made from fermenting beets, potatoes and other plants
  • Rum is made from honey, sugarcane and other sweet sources

While alcohol use is considered to be socially acceptable, it's important to understand that this is a drug. It may be a legal drug, but it can be just as dangerous as illicit substances. Actually, because it's legal and assumed to be safe, that can make it even more dangerous.

Most people are able to drink alcohol occasionally without incident. They may drink weekly, monthly or even less frequently and suffer no ill effects from this. Some experts even think that occasional alcohol use might be beneficial. However, it doesn't take much for alcohol abuse to become a problem. Once it does, the individual becomes at risk for forming an addiction to it.

How Much Alcohol Content is in the Most Common Drinks?

Not all alcoholic drugs are the same.

What is Alcohol?

It's important to understand what alcohol content means, and how much of it is in each drink. For instance:

6%

Beer contains between 2% and 6% alcohol.

8%

Hard cider contains between 4% and 8% alcohol.

20%

Wine contains between 8% and 20% alcohol.

  • Tequila contains around 40% alcohol.
  • Rum contains around 40% alcohol.
  • Brandy contains around 40% alcohol.
  • Gin contains between 40% and 47% alcohol.
  • Whiskey contains between 40% and 50% alcohol.
  • Vodka contains between 40% and 50% alcohol.
  • Various liqueurs contain between 15% and 60% alcohol.

It's important to understand this because drinking certain drinks will have various effects. For example, let's say one person drinks 8 ounces of beer and another drinks 8 ounces of rum. The person who consumed rum will be much more intoxicated than the one who consumed beer. Before you drink, you need to know how much alcohol is in your drink. This can help you to set the proper limits so you don't overdo it.

Is Alcohol Addictive?

Alcohol is highly addictive. In fact, it's probably more addictive than most people realize.

How Long Does Alcohol Stay in the System?

According to one study, the reward center of the brain is heavily stimulated in those who drink excessively.

The study included two groups of people. One group was made up of heavy drinkers, and the other one was light drinkers. For both of the groups in the study, it was typical for them to release endorphins when drinking. Endorphins are associated with rewarding the brain when experiencing something pleasant.

Addictive Effects of Alcohol

To give you a better idea of what this means, your brain releases endorphins regularly. Their release is stimulated in many different ways. When you eat a good meal, have sex, or spend time with a loved one, you're releasing endorphins. Alcohol causes the same thing to happen. However, when it happens over and over again, larger amounts of them are released.

The study suggested that some people naturally release more of them in response to drinking. These individuals may get more pleasure out of consuming alcohol than other people do. As a result, they're more likely to drink too much and become alcoholics.

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What is Alcohol Abuse?

Alcohol abuse is what happens before an addiction sets in. People abuse alcohol all the time. Sometimes people abuse it by simply drinking too much occasionally. Others drink too much regularly. Binge drinking is a form of alcohol abuse. The fact is that people often abuse it without realizing they're doing so.

The holiday season is a very stressful time for a lot of people. Some have suffered the loss of loved ones in previous years. This can make it hard for them to find joy in the season. Others may get carried away by the excitement and choose to celebrate too much with friends, family and co-workers. Regardless, alcohol abuse is at an all-time high this time of year.

As a result, alcohol-related problems tend to spike between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. Drunk driving accidents, suicide, domestic violence and depression are all increased. As you might suspect, the problem is even more serious among those who are recovering alcoholics. Many view the holidays as being a time when they're free to celebrate the season.

Addictive Effects of Alcohol

The CDC has fact sheets that can help you understand what it means to abuse alcohol. You are drinking excessively any time you go over specific limits. They do state that drinking excessively does not necessary indicate an alcohol problem. However, every time you drink more than you should, you're putting yourself at risk.

According to the CDC guidelines, binge drinking means drinking 4 or more drinks on one occasion for women. For men, it's consuming 5 or more drinks on one occasion. Heavy drinking for men is drinking 15 or more drinks per week. For women, it's 8 or more drinks per week.

Any of these are indicators of alcohol abuse. Most people are able to drink responsibly, and they never even consider abusing alcohol. However, for others, it takes very little for their drinking to get out of control.

Alcoholism is often called an alcohol use disorder. This is a condition that results in physical or mental health problems. When someone suffers from alcoholism, they are called an alcoholic. This is what happens when the use of this substance becomes an addiction.

  • Medically, alcoholism is said to be present when someone:
  • Has consumed large amounts of alcohol over a long period of time
  • Has problems cutting down on how much alcohol they drink
  • Spend a lot of time obtaining and using more alcohol
  • Have strong desires and cravings for this substance
  • Has a hard time fulfilling their responsibilities because drinking has become the priority
  • Has social problems due to alcohol use
  • Has serious health issues due to alcohol use
  • Drinks even in risky situations
  • Has withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop drinking
  • Needs to continue to drink larger amounts in order to get the same effects

For someone with alcoholism, nothing is more important than drinking. Even so, this can take on several forms. Some alcoholics may only drink excessively on weekends. Others may feel the need to consume it every single day. Some people may drink first thing in the morning. Others may only drink after they get home from work.

It's really more about your relationship with alcohol than how much you drink. There are those who are able to drink a lot on a regular basis, and then quit without a problem. Even though they may drink heavily, they wouldn't be considered alcoholics.

For someone who is an alcoholic, nothing is more important than drinking. They'd rather consume it than do anything else, and this is evident in every area of their lives.

This is a question that many people want to know the answer to. Studies have shown that alcoholism can be genetic. However, why is that some people within a family become alcoholics while others don't?

There are a lot of reasons why people may turn to alcohol to cope with their problems. Likewise, there are a lot of potential causes for alcoholism. Some of these can include:

  • Dealing with excessive amounts of stress
  • Being depressed
  • Struggling with anxiety
  • Having problems at work
  • Going through a divorce

These are only a few of some of the more common causes. People tend to turn to alcohol to make themselves feel better in the short-term. Their goal isn't to become addicted. Their goal is to just get through the situation they're in. In a way, it's a way to self-medicate.

The issue is that continued alcohol use can become a serious problem. It can easily lead to an addiction. Once it does, the only way to recover is to get professional help.

Alcohol's Effect on the Body

It doesn't take long before alcohol starts to take its toll on the body. In fact, the effects of alcohol start right after you've taken your very first sip. For those who only drink small amounts once in a while, this isn't a cause for concern. Mild or even moderate drinking is considered to be normal, and fairly harmless for most people. However, it is the repeated consumption of alcohol that is more problematic.

 Effects of Alcohol on the Body

The following explains everything that happens within the body and the mind with excessive drinking:

The pancreas can be greatly effected by drinking too much. It causes digestive enzymes to be abnormally activated. As they build up, this can cause inflammation of the pancreas, or pancreatitis. This can develop into a long-term problem with devastating consequences. Also, your blood sugar can be impacted as well. You could develop hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) from drinking too much.

There are several liver conditions that can develop as a result of excessive drinking. Cirrhosis is among the most common disease. The liver's job is to filter out harmful substances from the body. Drinking too much is taxing on the liver, and it doesn't allow it to do its job. Long-term, chronic liver problems can result. Some of these may not be able to be reversed, and may even require a liver transplant.

Your heart and lungs are directly impacted with excessive drinking. You have a much higher chance of developing a heart-related problem than those who don't drink. You could also be diagnosed with high blood pressure, or have a heart attack or a stroke. Breathing issues could develop as well.

Heavy drinking has a tremendous impact on the health of your immune system. When this is compromised, you could get sick more often. It's harder for your body to fight off germs. Alcoholics are typically more at risk for pneumonia, tuberculosis and a host of other illnesses. You are also at risk of developing cancer eventually.

Finally, alcoholics are at risk of developing depression, anxiety, or several other mental health issues. Alcohol is a known depressant drug. Drinking frequently tends to put people into a permanent state of depression. When they stop drinking, they tend to become anxious because those effects are no longer present. People often drink as a way to help themselves cope with stress, and it will work for a little while. However, what they don't realize is that these effects aren't going to be long-lasting. It usually doesn't take long before they end up feeling more stressed than before they started drinking.

Your blood sugar regulates so much within your body. Your pancreas helps to regulate your blood sugar levels by regulating insulin. Insulin is what dictates how your body responds to glucose in your blood. When your pancreas doesn't function as it should, you can experience low blood sugar levels. This is otherwise known as hypoglycemia.

Also, when your pancreas becomes damaged from drinking, it can lower how much insulin you produce. This can cause hypoglycemia, which means that you have too much sugar in your bloodstream.

Either condition is dangerous, and can eventually lead to diabetes. This is why people who are diabetics have to avoid alcohol in excess.

Your central nervous system is direction impacted when you drink alcohol. One of the first signs you'll notice is that you begin to slur your speech. This means that the communication between your brain and your body has been impacted. It's also why coordination becomes more difficult the more you drink. You may have a hard time maintaining your balance.

People who drink excessively often notice that their hands and feet become numb. You may have a hard time forming long-term memories too. Eventually, you can suffer from permanent brain damage. This is known as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome.

What Affects Your Blood Alcohol Level?

There are also other factors that affect how long alcohol stays in your body. These include:

  • The amount you drink in a sitting: For example, perhaps you drink five glasses of wine in an hour on one occasion. The next occasion, you only had one glass of wine in an hour. Your body processed the one glass much faster than the five glasses.
  • How quickly you drink: If you're drinking alcoholic drinks very quickly, your BAC level will rise faster. This can also make it take longer for the alcohol to leave your system.
  • How much alcohol is in your drink: You already know that different types of drinks have different potency levels. This affects how long it takes to clear your body of alcohol too.
  • Your age: The younger you are, the faster your body will metabolize alcohol.
  • Any drugs or supplements you may be taking: These can have a profound effect on your metabolism rate.
  • Your sex: Because of body fat percentages, women tend to metabolize alcohol at a much slower rate than men do.
Alcohol in Your System

Where to Go if You Need Alcohol Rehab

If you think that you may need help overcoming your alcohol dependence, please contact us and one of our addiction counselors can help you get the treatment you need.

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How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your Body