How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your System?

Why are some employers going to such lengths to ensure that workers adhere to a strict no-alcohol policy? Some employment, such as jobs within the rail industry, requires workers to take regular mandatory drug and alcohol tests. Under the 1992 Transport and Works Act, working while impaired by drugs or alcohol is a criminal offence in the UK.

Positions of responsibility and the impaired judgement that comes from taking substances, including alcohol, do not mix well. Mass fatalities have occurred in the past owing to the intoxication of staff, who are under the influence of alcohol and other substances. Your work may have asked you to participate in testing, which is most likely for a very good reason.

If you are struggling with alcohol abuse, or can’t control your alcohol consumption, then it is essential that you seek professional treatment advice. Your substance abuse may not only put your life at risk, but it could risk the lives of people around you.

If you are worried about someone else’s alcohol substance abuse and want to help them, this article will tell you the ins and outs of alcohol use, testing for alcohol, and what treatment might be available. Support is available and accessible should you need it.

Alcohol Abuse

Some describe alcohol as being the deadliest drug. Its legal status in the UK means that many people think it is harmless, but this is far from true.

The Office of National Statistics shows that alcohol has ultimately led to the deaths of almost 9,000 in the UK alone. This number has increased by 18% from the previous year, meaning alcohol remains one of the most dangerous drugs available. This could be due to many factors, none possibly more impactful than the lockdown, which forced people to stay at home, increasing the temptation to drink.

People drink alcohol all around the world, in the most part, for social reasons. Some people refer to alcohol as a social lubricant, meaning that its effects enable individuals to become less anxious and more chatty. While this isn’t usually a problem, it can enable binge drinking, which is the act of drinking excessive amounts of alcohol in any one period of time.

For example, someone going on a night out may drink alcoholic beverages before going out, leading to more drinks later in the night. Binge drinking can be dangerous because it can lead to an alcohol overdose, known as alcohol poisoning. Other dangers associated with the effects of drinking excessive amounts of alcohol are the result of lowered inhibitions.

So, how much alcohol is too much?

Recommended Amount of Alcohol

According to the National Health Service (NHS), even a few drinks in one day could be too many.

While they highlight that there is no completely safe level of drinking, they recommend that you drink no more than fourteen units of alcohol a week, spread across three days or more. A standard drink of medium-sized wine contains about 2.3 units, and a standard drink of a pint-sized beer contains about 2 units. Therefore you can estimate that you should have no more than roughly seven servings of your favourite standard drink over a three-day period or more per week.

The dangers of alcohol consumption do not only exist when drinking too much in any given period. If an individual drinks an excessive amount of alcohol for an extended period of time, they could experience multiple health complications.

Long Term Alcohol Abuse

The effects of drinking too much alcohol at once are obvious. What might not be so obvious is the effects associated with heavy, and even moderate, long-term alcohol use.

Drinking alcohol daily over a long period can lead to irreversible physical and mental health implications. These can include:

  • Poor liver health – including liver damage and disease
  • Heart disease and heart attack
  • Central nervous system problems – including mental health issues
  • Seizures
  • Digestive system issues – including damage to the digestive tract, stomach, and small intestines, making it harder for your small intestine to digest essential nutrients
  • Problems managing body weight

As you can see, short and long-term alcohol use, and alcohol addiction, can be extremely damaging to your health. If you find that you are drinking too much, too often, or you cannot stop drinking even if you want to, you may need to seek medical advice.

Luckily, help is available. The Revoke Programme offers outpatient care to individuals wanting to begin their journey to recovery. Based in the heart of Central London, you can get discrete care that doesn’t take you away from your daily tasks and routines.

Testing for Alcohol

Your employer may have asked you to carry out a drug test, or you may just be curious about alcohol testing. Whichever reason you want to find out about testing for alcohol, you have come to the right place.

Different tests detect alcohol for different amounts of time. Two common tests involve testing your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or testing your urine samples for traces of alcohol.

Blood Tests

A tester may use a blood test to determine whether you have been drinking too much or if you have alcohol poisoning. These tests involve taking a blood sample from a vein in your arm. This sample is then tested to see what your blood alcohol level is.

Blood alcohol content up to 0.08% is generally considered to be safe. Blood alcohol levels of 0.08% and more are when you may experience the impairing effects of alcohol. If blood alcohol concentrations are 0.40% or above, you may be at risk of coma or death from alcohol poisoning.

Testing someone’s blood alcohol concentration is only reliable within six to twelve hours after their last drink. Therefore, testers will only use this test while an individual is still intoxicated.

Urine Tests

The way your body processes alcohol means that a tester can detect alcohol in urine less than an hour after you consume a drink. It depends on how much you drink, but generally, tests can detect alcohol consumed in urine up to eighty hours after your last drink. Some tests can even detect alcohol in urine for up to five days.

How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your Body?

The question “How long does alcohol stay in your body?” does not really have an accurate answer. How long it may stay in your system depends on how much alcohol you have consumed and how fast alcohol metabolises because of your body composition.

For example, the National Institute of Health (NIH), suggests that the same amount of alcohol per unit of body weight can produce different blood alcohol concentrations. The way your body processes alcohol is known as alcohol metabolism.

how long does alcohol stay in your system

Alcohol Metabolism

Alcohol metabolism takes place throughout various parts of the entire body. Alcohol absorption into the blood occurs through the stomach lining and the small intestine. Then, alcohol passes through the blood to the liver, which is the main organ through which alcohol metabolism takes place. It then begins to break the alcohol down.

In order to process alcohol, the body releases alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH). This is because a toxic by-product, the alcohol metabolite known as acetaldehyde, needs to be broken down rapidly into acetate. Processing alcohol in this way allows us to eliminate alcohol metabolites that would otherwise pose a risk to health.

Factors Affecting Alcohol Metabolism

As mentioned earlier, different factors affect the amount of time it takes for alcoholic beverages to metabolise in your body. Some factors that may influence this time frame include:

  • Any medications you might be on.
  • Sex – women take more time to metabolise alcohol than men.
  • Body size – The lower your weight, the less water you have in your body. This is because low-water fatty tissue holds water, which is where alcohol goes in your blood. More body fat generally means a lower blood alcohol content.
  • Age.

Alcohol Addiction

If you are worried either yourself or someone you know is drinking alcohol regularly and can’t stop, it could be helpful to know the signs and symptoms of alcohol addiction. Generally, addiction to any type of substance will have similar behavioural patterns. This is because addiction is a disease that affects many different sorts of people.

Symptoms of Addiction

If someone is struggling with alcohol addiction, they may be experiencing:

  • Lack of control over alcohol use
  • Making alcohol a priority over daily activities and responsibilities
  • Withdrawal symptoms associated with alcohol dependence

If this is the case, it is essential for that individual to seek a certified addiction professional to combat their addiction. There is a wide range of effective treatments that is both accessible and available.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment

Both therapy and certain medications have proven to be effective when combating an addiction to alcohol. If your alcohol use is very heavy, or if you are physically dependent on alcohol, then a doctor may recommend that you take addiction medicine alongside therapy.

You can access this treatment either as an inpatient, meaning that you will stay at a treatment facility while you recover, or as an outpatient, meaning that you will carry on with your day-to-day activities while undergoing treatment. Whoever your specific treatment provider is, both types of treatment have their benefits depending on your needs.

Getting Treatment for Alcohol Abuse

The good news is that addiction treatment is the best it ever has been.

At The Revoke Programme, we run an outpatient clinic, meaning you are free to fulfil your home and work responsibilities while participating in our discrete treatment. Our centre is situated in the heart of London, and you can step straight out of sessions and start using what you have learned from the first day of treatment.

We are here to help. Our expert and compassionate staff have been treating addiction for many years, so you can rest assured that you will be receiving some of the best care available.

Contact us today. Call us on 020 7060 9517 or leave us a message here if you are ready to start your journey and leave substance abuse behind you.

how long does alcohol stay in your system

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