How long does alcohol stay in the blood?

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alkohol we krwi

Alcohol is a popular drink around the world. It has been present in many cultures for centuries. However, according to many studies, any amount of alcohol is harmful to our health. Alcohol consumption, even in small amounts, can lead to a number of physical and mental disorders. According to one study, alcohol consumption can cause recurrent physical or mental problems. [1].

Any amount of alcohol is harmful. Why is it worth limiting its consumption?

Consuming a large amount of alcohol at one time can lead to harmful health effects [2]. To take care of your health and well-being, you should consider reducing your alcohol consumption and taking a conscious approach to alcohol consumption.

How long does alcohol stay in the blood?

The amount of time alcohol stays in the bloodstream can vary depending on many factors, such as the amount of alcohol consumed, body weight, gender, age, and metabolic rate. Here are some factors that can affect how long alcohol lasts in your blood:

Amount of alcohol consumed:

The greater the consumption of alcohol, the longer it can stay in the blood. The body needs time to metabolize alcohol, so the overwhelming amount takes more to eliminate it from the body. [3]

Body weight:

People with a higher body weight tend to metabolize alcohol faster than those with a lower body weight. Therefore, in people who are lighter, alcohol can stay in the blood longer. [4]


Women often metabolize alcohol more slowly than men. This is due to differences in the proportions of body fat to muscle mass and differences in the levels of enzymes responsible for alcohol metabolism. [5]


People with a faster metabolism can process alcohol faster, which shortens its duration in the blood. Differences in metabolism may be due to genetics, diet, or level of physical activity. [6]

Meal consumption:

Eating food before drinking alcohol can delay the absorption of alcohol into the blood. The presence of food in the stomach slows down the absorption of alcohol from the digestive tract. [7]


It is important to recognize that these factors have an individual impact on how long alcohol is present in the blood and may vary from person to person.

Below is a table that tells us about the length of “maintenance” of various types of alcohol in the blood: [8], [9]

AlcoholVolume(ml)Time in blood (h)
Wineglass150  0,5 -1 
Vodkaglass50 0,5-1

Are online calculators reliable?

Nowadays, when most of our activities are moving to the Internet, online calculators for measuring the level of alcohol have become very popular. However, can you rely on them? Are the results we get reliable?

Scientific research by Fanny Duckert [13] and David Crundall [14] concluded that online alcohol calculators can be useful, but their results are not completely reliable. This is because these calculators do not consider all factors that affect your blood alcohol level, such as body weight, gender, age, or food intake.

On the other hand, a study by Alex Stedmon showed that online calculators can be more accurate if they consider individual factors such as height, weight, and duration of drinking. [15]

Thus, the mentioned devices can be helpful, but their results are not fully competent. For this reason, you should not rely on them 100%. If necessary, it is best to use professional measuring devices or consult a doctor.

alcohol consumption

How long does alcohol stay in the blood and how long in the urine?

In addition to detecting alcohol in the blood, it can also be checked for its presence in the urine. The length of time alcohol is detectable in the blood and urine also depends on the previously mentioned factors, such as body weight, gender, amount of alcohol consumed and metabolic rate. In addition, urea, which is one of the main components of urine, is impermeable to alcohol, which makes this method relatively inaccurate. To obtain more reliable results, a blood, or breath alcohol test is used, which is more reliable. [11]

Detection of alcohol in the blood: Alcohol is detectable in the blood for several hours after consumption. After drinking one drink, blood alcohol concentration drops by about 0.015% per hour.

Detection of alcohol in the urine: Alcohol is detectable in the urine for many days after ingestion. After drinking one drink, alcohol can be present in the urine for about 12-24 hours. [10]

AlcoholTime in bloodTime in urine
Beer1-2 hup to 12h
Wine1-2 hup to 24h
Vodka1-2 hup to 36h

Blood alcohol measurement with a breathalyzer

Controlling your blood alcohol concentration is important in many situations, especially when driving. There are two ways to measure blood alcohol content: a blood test and a breathalyzer test.

A blood test is an accurate way to measure blood alcohol concentration, but it involves taking a blood sample, which is time-consuming and expensive [4]. In turn, the breathalyzer test is faster and less invasive, and the result is displayed on the screen of the device.

A breathalyzer is a device that measures the amount of alcohol in the air you breathe. It works on the principle of electrochemical measurement of alcohol concentration in the air exhaled by the tested person. The electrode in the breathalyzer generates an electric current that flows through the electrolyte. In the presence of alcohol in the exhaled air, the electric current changes its value, which allows the estimation of the concentration of alcohol in the inhaled air [16].

The blood alcohol limit varies by country and situation. In Poland, the permissible level of alcohol in the blood is 0.2 per mille for drivers and 0.5 per mille for other people. If this value is exceeded, the driver may be punished with a fine, penalty points, and even deprivation of a driving license [17].

How long does it take for alcohol to disappear from the blood?

Alcohol is a substance whose composition and properties may vary depending on the type of drink. Nevertheless, it is possible to estimate the time it will take for the alcohol to disappear from the blood after consumption. The body processes alcohol in the liver using enzymes such as alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH). In a healthy person, one serving of alcohol is metabolized by the liver in about an hour. How long alcohol is excreted from the body depends on many factors, including age, gender, body weight, amount of alcohol consumed, rate of drinking, food intake before alcohol consumption, and interactions with other substances, including medications.

The time it takes for alcohol to disappear from the blood also depends on the amount of alcohol consumed. Research suggests that blood alcohol concentrations peak around 30-90 minutes after ingestion and then begin to decline at around 15-20 mg/dL per hour (18).

For example, a person who drank 3 beers (about 450 ml) will have about 0.8 per mille about 3 hours after drinking the last beer. However, it is important to remember that people who drive or have work that requires attention should refrain from driving or working, even if they do not feel intoxicated. Blood alcohol content is just one factor that affects your ability to drive or work.

Can you be sober after 12 hours of drinking alcohol?

We often hear that you have to wait a while after drinking alcohol before you can drive a car or engage in other activities that require full coordination.

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But how long does it take to know you’re sober? After 12 hours of drinking alcohol, can it be considered that it has been completely eliminated from the body?

According to a study by the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse (NIAAA), the average time it takes for the body to completely eliminate alcohol from the blood is about 2 hours per drink.

This means that after consuming one drink, it takes about 2 hours for the alcohol to be completely removed from the body. However, keep in mind that alcohol’s metabolic rate can vary based on factors such as weight, gender, age, genetics, and more.

It is also worth paying attention to the symptoms of a hangover, which can occur even after an appropriate period of time. Hangover symptoms such as headache, nausea, weakness, and balance problems can affect your ability to drive a car or engage in other activities that require full coordination.

Thus, after consuming a larger amount of alcohol, say 4 standard drinks, it takes about 12 hours for the body to completely remove the alcohol from the blood. However, whether we can consider ourselves sober after this time depends on many factors and there is no clear answer. [19]

Ways to get rid of alcohol from the blood

Alcohol, when consumed, is absorbed from the digestive tract into the bloodstream. Then it circulates throughout the body, reaching all tissues. Alcohol affects the functioning of the nervous system, as well as the liver, which is responsible for removing alcohol from the blood. What are the ways to reduce it in the blood? [20]


One of the most important ways to get the alcohol out of your blood is time. The body needs time to remove alcohol from the bloodstream. On average, it takes an hour for the body to clear one standard drink from the body.

Consuming plenty of water

Drinking plenty of water can help speed up the removal of alcohol from the blood. Water helps to dilute the alcohol, which speeds up its removal from the body.

Physical activity

Physical activity can help speed up your metabolism, which can also help remove alcohol from your blood.


Deep and slow breathing can help reduce stress as well as speed up the removal of alcohol from the bloodstream. [21]


In conclusion, the duration of alcohol in the blood is dependent on many factors, such as the amount of alcohol consumed, body weight, gender, metabolism, and others. General guidelines suggest that alcohol can stay in the blood for about 2-3 hours after consuming one standard beer or one standard drink. However, individual differences can affect this duration. It is important to be aware of the effects of alcohol on the body and always consume responsibly.


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