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Detox from Alcohol: How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your System?

Pia VermaakPia Vermaak  July 5, 2024

Detox from alcohol, as soon as alcohol enters the body, it begins to break down (metabolism). However, there is a standard time it takes for each body to do so; however, because each human’s metabolism is unique, it will vary slightly from person to person. So, when does withdrawal start? About 8 hours after your last drink. But don’t worry – we have the most effective methods to kickstart your road to recovery. Ready? 

detox from alcoho

This process takes place within the liver, and here’s where the kicker comes in – how fast alcohol is metabolized depends on various factors such as your age, genetics, the amount of alcohol you consumed, your BMI, and how well you ate before alcohol consumption.

How Long Does Alcohol Stay in The Body?

According to the Alcohol Rehab Guide, alcohol can be detected in your urine for up to 5 days and be detected by EtG test for up to 10 to 12 hours! It takes the body about 1 hour to metabolize an alcoholic drink, but there are other factors like age, amount consumed, food intake, frequency, and tests that influence the duration. Let’s take a look at the tests! 

does alcohol show up on a drug test for work

Here are standard drug tests used and how long they can detect alcohol:

  • Blood test – A standard blood test can detect alcohol in the system for 10 – 12 hours post-drinking. 
  • Traditional urine test – This is a standard and quick test that can detect alcohol in the system for 10 to 12 hours after drinking.
  • Ethyl glucuronide urine test (EtG) – This type of urine test is different as it can detect alcohol in the system for up to 3 to 5 days.
  • Hair sample test – You won’t believe it, but hair can detect alcohol 90 days after drinking! 

How The Body Processes Alcohol – Detox From Alcohol

After drinking, the alcohol travels to the stomach, where 20% of it is absorbed, and then it goes into the small intestine, where the rest of the 80% is then absorbed into the bloodstream. Because the body has a very standard way of metabolizing and processing alcohol, the most important factor when wondering how long it stays in the system and how long it can be detected depends on the amount you’ve had. Our bodies are surprisingly well-equipped to digest and process alcohol. 

The body can process one alcoholic beverage in an hour, but this gets railroaded when a large amount is coming into the system. When the body is bombarded with too much alcohol, the metabolic process is compromised. It can damage the brain, liver, and other vital organs. Because alcohol is absorbed through the bloodstream, it travels and makes its way throughout the whole body and affects areas that lead to numbness and frequent urination. 

What Affects Alcohol Digestion in The Body?

Below are several important factors that can contribute to the digestion of alcohol:

detox from alcoho


Certain medications can affect the way that the body handles and processes alcohol. Some medicines can slow down the body’s ability to metabolize alcohol because they affect the speed at which the stomach empties itself and the small intestine. This can stunt processing, making the body become quickly intoxicated and oversaturated with alcohol. 

Here are some medications that are known to affect the way the body processes alcohol:

  • Cold and flu medication
  • Xanax or other anti-anxiety medication
  • Adderall or other ADHD medication
  • Chlorpropamide or other diabetic medication

Biological Gender

Females have more body fat and less water content in the body compared to males. Because of this, alcohol tends to stay in a woman’s system longer compared to men. Even if two individuals of the opposite sex are the same height, weight, and build, the man’s body will still dilute and process the alcohol quickly. This is because men have high levels of the enzymes known to help metabolize and digest alcohol (acetaldehyde dehydrogenase). 

Food and Diet

Blood alcohol concentration can be three times higher in someone’s system who has not eaten before drinking than someone who has. Eating a meal before drinking helps dilute the alcohol and slow the absorption of the small intestine, which is known to absorb the alcohol quickly and disperse it into the bloodstream. Eating before or while drinking can boost the liver’s enzymes and slow absorption.


Age plays an important role when it comes to alcohol processing. Older individuals tend to take medication, which affects the rate at which the body metabolizes alcohol as well, as there is less water content in the body as we age. The older you are, the longer alcohol stays in the liver and the slower it is processed. This means more prolonged effects and potential liver damage. 

The 3 Pillars of Alcohol Detoxification – Detox From Alcohol

If you’re addicted or have an intense relationship with alcohol, seek professional care because detoxing may cause severe side effects. 

Here are some methods you can try:

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Get rid of all the alcohol in your house! It may be difficult, but knowing that a drink is only a few steps away can drastically affect the road to detox. Replace the alcohol with healthier, non-alcoholic options. Detoxing can lead to a hydration imbalance. So drink enough water or whichever beverage you prefer. 

Take Some Time 

Addiction can take over your life, affecting your finances, relationships, and overall well-being. Taking time off can help you regain control and start rebuilding a healthier life.

Reach Out 

Don’t hesitate to reach out! You might feel shame and want to hide support can help you on your path to recovery.

Are You Struggling to Give Up Alcohol?

Signs of Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol can numb the central nervous system, which is what gives the feeling of being drunk. This can become addictive and result in many health problems like liver disease, cardiovascular issues, neurological damage, and mental health disorders. 

It’s important to know what the signs of an alcohol addiction are:

  • Short-term memory loss
  • Having blackouts
  • Drinking alone or in secrecy
  • Looking for reasons to drink
  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Losing friends and isolation
  • Drastic changes in appearance
  • Choosing alcohol over responsibilities
  • Weight changes
  • Feeling hungover when not drinking
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Low energy and fatigue
  • Poor coordination
  • Shakiness and dizziness
  • Immense feelings of self-loathing and guilt
  • Anxiety and mild hallucinations
  • Tendency of self-destruction
  • Intense cravings

Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal 

The phases of withdrawal are: 

Phase 1 (8 Hours Post Drink)
  • Insomnia
  • Abdominal pain
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
Phase 2 (24 to 72 Hours Post Drink)
  • Feverish skin
  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular and/or fast heartbeat 
  • Confusion and irritability
Phase 3 (2 to 4 Days Post Drink)
  • Seizures 
  • Hallucinations 
  • Agitation 
  • Fever


There is nothing wrong with a drink or two, but drinking alcohol frequently can result in an addiction. Alcohol addiction has some nasty side effects, like changes in behavior, mood swings, and physical symptoms. Who wants that? 

Recovery starts with seeking help. It’s not easy admitting you have a problem, but know that it doesn’t have to be one. Get the help you need today!

Pia Vermaak

Pia Vermaak 

Pia Vermaak is the owner of the leading digital marketing and content writing company, MotherTyper. Her skill sets include degrees/certificates in beauty, psychology, business, and writing! MotherTyper has writers from all over the world with different races, genders, and backgrounds, ensuring the perfect piece is written, researched, and presented to you!