The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention says two-thirds of adults drank alcohol in 2018. How much varies, of course, but no one wants to end the day with a DUI because they mistakenly believed they were sober when they weren’t.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), a plethora of factors contribute to how long alcohol stays in your system. Misunderstanding these factors makes it difficult to tell if you are legally safe to be behind the wheel and can lead to tragic consequences.
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How long does alcohol stay in your system?
Healthline.com says how long alcohol stays in your system depends on your age, weight, whether you’ve eaten recently, medications, liver disease, and the time between drinks. A cup of beer can stay in one person’s system longer than another person of a different weight.
The ability to metabolize alcohol slows down with age, says health.clevelandclinic.org. Alcohol has increased effects on people who are lighter in weight and shorter in height. Drinking on an empty stomach can increase the effects of alcohol. Various medications can have dangerous side effects when combined with alcohol. Any existing liver disease can affect your ability to handle and process alcohol. Binge drinking in a short period of time will also increase the effects of alcohol, according to health.clevelandclinic.org and healthline.com.
According to healthline.com, it’s estimated that a shot of alcohol is metabolized in an hour, a pint of beer in two, a glass of wine in three, and multiple drinks can last several hours.
The NIAAA estimates that one drink is metabolized and eliminated from your system after three hours, two drinks after just over four hours, three drinks after six hours, and four drinks after seven. The NIAAA goes on to say that this in turn depends on the factors mentioned above.
When it comes to driving, healthline.com advises, “The safest thing you can do is not get behind the wheel after drinking.”
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How long do tests detect alcohol?
The presence of alcohol can be detected by a urine test, a breath test, and even in your hair, says healthline.com. Alcohol can be measured in urine within 12 to 48 hours or even 80 hours, depending on how far along the test is. Breath tests, known as breathalyzers, detect alcohol within 24 hours, according to healthline.com.
Health.clevelandclinic.org states that alcohol can still be detected at the hair roots for 90 days after someone stops drinking. Healthline.com also says alcohol can be identified in sweat and blood.
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How long do other substances stay in your system?
According to medicalnewstoday.com, first-time smokers can detect cannabis in their system within three days, while regular smokers who smoke three to four times a week can detect the substance within five to seven days. Anyone who smokes cannabis daily can have it detected for up to 30 days.
According to WebMD.com, nicotine can be found in your blood within one to three days, in your saliva for up to four days, and in your hair for up to 12 months.
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