The amount of time alcohol stays in your system is not an exact science. One drink equals 20 mg/dl in your bloodstream, which registers as a .02 blood alcohol level. It takes approximately one hour to metabolize in your system. The exact amount metabolized is actually .016 per hour, which means that drinking multiple drinks will cause some level of alcohol to build up in your system even if you only drink one drink per hour.
Factors Affecting Alcohol Metabolism
A number of factors impact exactly when or how the effects of alcohol wear off. Food causes alcohol to be absorbed into the body more slowly, so your blood alcohol level may not go up as quickly. It will still metabolize at the same level, however.
The health of the liver also impacts the way alcohol is metabolized. Someone whose liver is not functioning well, which is often the case with long-term alcohol abuse, may metabolize alcohol more slowly than the usual rate. Genetic variations, digestive problems, and gender can also impact metabolism. Alcohol tends to absorb faster for women, and this can impact metabolism.
Body fat content, age, medications, and how fast you consumed the alcohol are all additional factors that can affect how your body processes alcohol and change the rate at which your blood alcohol level will reach safe levels (.02 or below). Alcohol metabolism is not an exact science and cannot be calculated with absolute accuracy in many cases.
Ways to Speed Up Metabolism of Alcohol
You may have heard that you can speed up the time it takes for alcohol to leave your system by doing certain things. Some say that taking a shower, drinking coffee, or vomiting will get alcohol to leave your system faster, but none of this is true. Even drinking water has only a negligible effect on alcohol metabolism because of the way it instantly enters your blood vessels and then your bloodstream shortly afterward through your digestive system.
In truth, there is no way for your body to metabolize alcohol any faster than the usual .016 per hour rate. This means that after a night of heavy drinking, defined as more than four drinks for a woman and more than five drinks for a man, you may still have a significant amount of alcohol in your system and may be above the legal limit, which is now only .05 in many states. You could still be too impaired to drive and could be arrested for DUI if you are stopped or could cause an accident, even though you “slept it off” and feel fine.
A dangerous condition that can develop while drinking heavily, alcohol poisoning occurs when too much alcohol is sent to the bloodstream by the liver, which can only filter about one drink’s worth of alcohol in an hour. A person with alcohol poisoning can develop symptoms like hypothermia, confusion, vomiting, and may look pale or bluish. He or she may also pass out or have a seizure. Medical intervention is necessary for someone with alcohol poisoning, as this can be a life-threatening condition.
The dangers of heavy drinking are well-documented and real. If you or a loved one need help to overcome alcohol abuse, Recovery Village at Palmer Lake is a Colorado drug and alcohol rehab facility that can help you recover from substance abuse disorder and avoid the dangers of alcohol. Contact us today!