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Everyone processes alcohol differently based on various factors. The rate your body metabolizes alcohol determines how long it takes for you to get drunk and sober up.
Most people feel the effects of alcohol in their bodies for approximately 12 hours. As their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) rises, they experience drunkenness. When it decreases, it fades into a hangover.
Here are a few factors that affect how long alcohol stays in your system:
The time it takes to sober up depends on how much alcohol you consume. The body can metabolize half to one standard drink per hour.
If you drink one bottle of beer, you can expect the alcohol to leave your body in 1 to 2 hours. Essentially, alcohol leaves the body at a constant rate of .015% per hour.
For example, if you’ve been drinking eight beers in 3 hours, it would take about 13 hours to sober up.
Everyone experiences drunkenness differently. However, certain things occur when a person's alcohol consumption is too high.
For example, as your BAC level drops after an alcohol binge, you may experience:
People who have been drinking heavily for an extended period might experience withdrawal symptoms even after the initial hangover passes.
Several factors determine a person’s BAC and how long it takes to sober up. This means two people can consume the same amount of alcohol but experience different effects.
Factors that determine a person’s BAC include:
Most adults have only a mild impairment or less when their BAC is .08 or lower. This is why .08 is set as the legal limit by many states regarding drinking and driving.
Once someone reaches this point, he or she is considered inebriated and unable to operate a vehicle safely. Many regular drinkers may not even feel any effects at this level but have the same impairment as ‘light drinkers.’
Heavy drinkers (more than 4 to 5 drinks daily for 5 to 6 days per week) may appear to function fairly normally even at a BAC of .20 to .25. But testing of their cognitive and motor skills shows impairment, even if they feel ‘normal.’
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The length of time it takes to sober up depends on how long it takes your body to metabolize alcohol. Most people feel normal within several hours, depending on how much they drank.
People who have an alcohol use disorder experience “sobering up” differently. It could be weeks or more before they feel like themselves again.
Even if they detox and there is no more alcohol in their system, it will take time to adjust.
The amount of time it takes someone with an AUD to sober up is affected by:
There is no cure for sobering up or getting rid of a hangover.
Eating food and hydrating help your body return to normal and feel better after binge drinking. However, time is the only true way to sober up.
While there is no way to force the alcohol out of your system, sleep is the best way to sober up.
Sleep allows your body to rest and recover. Any time you're asleep helps your body break down alcohol.
Drinking plenty of water and going to sleep will help your body metabolize alcohol. You should wake up and feel more alert than you did before.
Can a cold shower sober you up? Can drinking coffee while drunk sober you up? Most people have heard these myths associated with ‘sobering up quickly.’
Sometimes, you might feel better by employing a mythical “cure” such as drinking coffee.
It’s true, you might feel better because caffeine is a stimulant. However, it’s not helping your body process alcohol any faster. You are just counteracting alcohol’s tendency to make you feel tired.
Anything you do that counteracts the symptoms of drunkenness or a hangover gives the appearance of helping. It’s just masking the symptoms, not speeding up the process.
If you can't avoid drinking alcohol, learn to drink smart. Changing the way you drink can help you avoid heavy intoxication.
If you’re careful with your drinking habits, you wouldn’t need to sober up quickly in the first place. Aside from not drinking in the first place, there are many ways to avoid these situations.
Here are a few things you can try to avoid getting too drunk:
Your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) drops .015-.017% per hour.
After a night of heavy drinking, it can take your body more than 18 hours to completely sober up.
For example, if you had an alcohol level of .20%, it would take your body over 13 hours to reach a BAC of 0.
If you only had one drink, your maximum BAC would be about .02% and your alcohol level would be about zero within 1 hour.
Eating after drinking alcohol will not help sober you up or cure hangovers.
Food may make you feel better by providing nutrients to your body but it does not affect BAC levels. However, eating before or while drinking can help slow the absorption of alcohol.
When you can drive after drinking alcohol depends on how much you consume. If you had one standard drink, your BAC should return to 0 within one to two hours.
If your BAC is .20% or higher, it can take 13 hours or more to sober up. You shouldn’t drive until it wears off completely to prevent drunk driving consequences.
No. There is no way to speed up how quickly your liver breaks down the alcohol in your blood. You have to let the alcohol run its course.
For every standard alcoholic drink consumed, you should drink one 8 ounce glass of water.
Drinking water prevents dehydration and limits how much alcohol you drink, leading to slower impairment. Water does not cure "drunkenness" but it does help with hangovers.
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