How Long Does Alcohol Remain In The Body?How Long Does Alcohol Remain In The Body?

The time for which alcohol stays in a person’s body depends on the person’s overall health and how much they drink. Prolonged alcohol use can damage the liver, brain and other vital organs.

Understanding the Effects of Alcohol

Alcohol is a CNS (central nervous system) depressant that causes the body’s functions to slow down. How long alcohol stays in someone’s body depends on the size of their liver and body mass. The human body metabolizes alcohol at a constant rate of 20 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) per hour.

Alcohol slows your breathing rate, heart rate, the ability of the brain to function properly. This can begin within 10 minutes of consumption and peak at around 40 to 60 minutes. Alcohol remains in the bloodstream until the liver breaks it down.

Alcohol affects everyone differently. The BAC or blood alcohol concentration is affected by the type of alcoholic beverage, the amount consumed, presence of food in the system, and genetic factors. This is why two people drinking the same amount of alcohol may show different effects and it could have a different effect on their BAC.

How your body reacts to alcohol depends upon your –

  • age
  • weight
  • gender
  • physical health
  • genetics
  • whether you smoke
  • Quantity and frequency of consumption
  • Whether you mix alcohol with other drugs
  • binge drinking

Alcohol use disorder occurs when the using alcohol causes significant damage, health problems or distress. Many people are unable to meet the requirements related to their career, school, or home life because they abuse alcohol.

What happens to Alcohol in the Body?

Once you consume alcohol, it quickly travels to the digestive system. The stomach absorbs about a fifth of the alcohol into the bloodstream. The rest is absorbed into the small intestine.

Once absorbed, alcohol travels to the liver, where it’s metabolized with the help of alcohol-metabolizing enzymes. The enzymes change alcohol to acetaldehyde, a highly toxic substance that can damage tissues and lead to alcohol addiction. Once acetaldehyde is broken down, it is oxidized into carbon dioxide in the heart, skeletal muscles, and brain cells.

Since people have different variations of the enzymes in their body, some are able to process alcohol faster than others.

It takes the liver an hour to metabolize one ounce of alcohol. So, the amount of time the liver takes to process alcohol is affected by the amount you drink.

The rate at which alcohol is metabolized is greatly affected by organ health. Alcohol can cause damage to the heart, liver, brain, pancreas, and contributes to certain cancers as well.

by Sam Walton
References and Bibliography

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