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How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your System?


In this post, we answer the question 'how long does alcohol remain in your system'. Roughly, it takes around one for the body to metabolise one unit of alcohol. Thus, if you consume a bottle of vodka containing 40 units, it will take a massive 40 hours for your body to remove this amount of alcohol from your system.

How much is one unit?

One unit is equivalent to 10ml or 8g of pure alcohol. There are roughly:

  • 2.1 units in a standard glass (175ml) of average-strength wine (12%)
  • 3 units in a large glass (250ml) of average-strength wine (12%)
  • 2 units in a pint of low-strength lager, beer or cider (3.6%)
  • 3 units in a pint of higher-strength lager, beer or cider (5.2%)
  • 1 unit in a single measure of spirits (25ml)

Doing the maths

Thus, how long alcohol remains in your system is influenced by the amount of alcohol you drink and the type of alcohol you drink.

Below, we give you an indication for how long wine stays in your system:

  • One glass of wine remains in your system for 3 hours
  • Half a bottle of wine remains in your system for 4.5 hours
  • One bottle of wine remains in your system for 9 hours

Below, we give you an indication for how long low-strength beer stays in your system:

  • One pint of beer remains in your system for 2 hours
  • Four pints of beer remains in your system for 8 hours
  • Eight pints of beer remains in your system for 16 hours

Below, we give you an indication for how long spirits such as vodka or whiskey stay in your system:

  • 500 ml bottle of vodka remains in your system for 20 hours
  • One single measure of vodka remains in your system for 1 hour
  • 750 ml bottle of vodka remains in your system for 30 hours
  • 1 litre bottle of vodka remains in your system for 40 hours

Personal factors that determine how long alcohol stays in your system

The above should be considered general guidelines. The actual time it takes for alcohol to exist your system is influenced by a number of personal attributes.

We list these attributes below:

  • Weight: alcohol will affect a lighter person more so than a heavier person
  • Gender: Alcohol remains in a women's system longer compared to a man due to a women's greater proportion of body fat
  • Age: Younger people are able to metabolise alcohol faster than older people
  • Frequency of drinking: a person who frequently drinks alcohol will have a higher BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) level than a person who rarely drinks

How alcohol may be detected in your system

When you drink alcohol, it is metabolised by the liver into metabolites. These metabolites may be detected in various drug tests:

  • Urine test
  • Blood test
  • Breathalyzer test
  • Mouth Swab test
  • Sweat Patch test
  • Hair Follicle test

How long is alcohol detectable in your system?

The vast majority of these tests must be conducted within 24 hours after alcohol was consumed. Otherwise, they will be unable to detect alcohol in your system.

Below, we list the various amounts of time each of these test must be conducted in order to indicate a positive reading for alcohol:

  • Urine - 24-96 hours
  • Blood - 12-24 hours
  • Breath - 12-24 hours
  • Saliva - 12-24 hours
  • Sweat - 1-4 weeks
  • Hair - 3 months+

How long does alcohol stay in your system infographic

Without further ado, we now introduce the infographic. This infographic visually answers the question "how long does alcohol stay in your system?":

Getting help

If you or a loved one require treatment for an alcohol addiction, contact Rehab Recovery today on 0800 088 66 86. Each year, we assist thousands of people across the country who are seeking workable and practical treatments for alcoholism and drug addiction.

Further resources

Published by: Rehab Recovery

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