Everyone metabolizes alcohol differently, but on average, a moderately intoxicated person may take about 6-10 hours to sober up. How long alcohol stays in your body depends on factors such as:
- Overall health
- Amount of alcohol consumed
- Stomach contents when alcohol was consumed
After a particularly heavy night of drinking, however, it is possible for alcohol to stay in your system well into the following day. This can result in situations in which someone goes out drinking and then returns to work the next day with noticeable levels of alcohol in their blood.
4 ways to sober up fast
While these methods may not immediately lower blood alcohol levels, they may help you stay physically and mentally alert. However, if you have had too much to drink, you should avoid driving or operating any machinery until you are completely sober.
- Hydrate: While coffee can temporarily increase alertness, it will dehydrate you further. Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. This will help remove toxins from the body and replenish lost fluids. It will also help dilute alcohol in your system. Drinking fruit juices high in vitamins C and B, such as orange juice, can assist the liver in flushing out the alcohol from your system.
- Eat: According to a review published in the Journal of Clinical Liver Disease, eating meals high in fat, protein, or carbohydrates just before or along with drinks can help delay gastric emptying, potentially lowering alcohol absorption. Eating may also help reduce hangover symptoms the following day.
- Exercise: Walking or jogging can help get your blood flowing and fight drowsiness. If you feel like sweating it out, just make sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
- Sleep: Taking a nap can do wonders when you have had a little too much to drink. When you sleep, your body has time to recover and flush out alcohol from its system. Drinking water before sleeping can help as well.
What are the symptoms of a hangover?
After excessive alcohol consumption, you may experience a hangover that begins a few hours after you stop drinking. While hangover symptoms vary depending on the amount of alcohol you had, typically the more you drink the worse your symptoms will be.
Common hangover symptoms include:
- Sensitivity to light and noise
- Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
- Irritation, depression, or anxiety
- Decreased attention span
- Extreme tiredness or overall weakness
- Muscle pains
Unpleasant hangover symptoms usually go away on their own within 24 hours. If the symptoms persist for more than 24 hours, seek medical attention to rule out any underlying causes (such as severe withdrawal symptoms).
What are alcohol withdrawal symptoms?
Symptoms typically occur when you stop drinking alcohol after a period of heavy drinking. However, other serious dependence can lead to life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, such as:
- Convulsions: May begin 8-12 hours after your last drink.
- Delirium tremens (D.T.s): May begin 3-4 days later. Symptoms may include:
If you are struggling with alcohol addiction, there are programs and rehabilitation centers that can help you take the first step towards recovery.
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Flagel J. How Long Does It Take to Sober Up? Alcohol Rehab Help. https://alcoholrehabhelp.org/blog/sobering-up/
The University of Michigan. It Takes Time to Sober Up. https://uhs.umich.edu/time-to-sober-up
Jamrozy K. How Long Does It Take to Sober Up? Addiction Group. https://www.addictiongroup.org/blog/sober-up/
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