How long does it take for alcohol to kick in
You would be surprised to know how quickly alcohol begins to take effect after entering the body . According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and alcoholism, alcohol enters your bloodstream as soon as you take the first sip. The effects start to kick in about 10 minutes.
The effects and how pronounced they are vary from person to person, but it’s effects start pretty quick, however you don’t immediately notice them.
First know what standard drink is
Standard drink is a term typically used by experts . Alcohol content varies significantly between different drinks and brands, so a standard drink give a standardized idea of what’s in a typical drink for everyone’s ease.
In the United States, one standard drink contains approximately 0.6 ounces , or 14 grams of pure alcohol.
What if I’ve eaten.
Yes it’s different if you have an empty stom as your body absorbs alcohol much quickly during an empty stomach.
Once you swallow, the alcohol goes into your stomach, where about 20% of it is absorbed into your blood. Ftom there, it passes to your small intestine where the rest is a absorbed into your bloodstream.
If you have food in your stomach, it’ll prevent the alcohol from passing into your small intestine too quickly. The longer the alcohol stays in your stomach, the slower the onset of its effects.
What else plays a role
The number of drinks you have and whether or not you have food in your belly aren’t the only variables when it comes to how quickly alcohol takes effect.
Here’s a look at some other factors that play a role.
What you drink
The type of drink you consume makes a difference, too. Carbonated drinks such as champagne or a whisky soda, enter your system faster. This means that those drinks will generally kick in sooner.
On an empty stomach, a drink with 20 to 30 percent alcohol absorbs the quickest.
That means something like port, which has 20 percent alcohol, would raise your BAC faster than beer , which has significantly less alcohol, but also faster than something like vodka , which has 40 percent alcohol.
How you drink
Yes, how you drink matters . If you chug back a drink , those big gulps will get more alcohol into your body a lot faster. Sipping, on the other hand, allows the effect to kick in more gradually.
Your biological sex
Female metabolize alcohol at a different rate than male even if they weigh the same.
Here’s why :
Females have less body water to dilute alcohol, resulting in a higher concentration of blood alcohol.
Females typically have higher body fat ,and fat retains alcohol.
Women produce less alcohol dehydrogenase, an enzyme the liver release to break down alcohol.
Menstrual Cycle (Women)
It is important to say that only a few studies have assessed the role of females’ menstrual cycles on their behavioral response to alcohol in controlled laboratory conditions.
Yet, some findings have been reported. For example, alcohol might enhance some of the dysphoric (unease or dissatisfaction) sensations during the cycle’s luteal phase (last phase).
On the other hand, periods can increase the likelihood of dehydration. Because alcohol, too, leads to dehydration, the effects caused by the substance can be stronger.
The more you weigh , the more space alcohol has to spread out. Diffusing the alcohol throughout a bigger space means you end up with a lower BAC.
Multiple studies have shown that a leading factor influencing a person’s response to alcohol, especially in males, is a family history of alcoholism.
More specifically, males with a first-degree family history of alcoholism were reported to be less sensitive to some behavioral effects caused by alcohol.
Also, depending on your genes, your rate of alcohol metabolism may vary. Some people of Asian descent have a gene variant that influences how fast they can break down alcohol and causes symptoms like flushing or nausea.
Certain prescriptions and over the counter medications, herbal supplements, and recreational drugs can have adverse interaction when paired with alcohol. Be sure to talk to your doctor or a pharmacist before drinking.
How long does it stay in your system?
It depends on a lot of the factors discussed above as well as how much you’ve had.
Alcohol is removed from your blood at a rate of around 3.3 millimoles per hour.
To put this into perspective, this is how long the following drinks remain in your system;
Small shot of liquor: 1 hour
Pint of beer: 2 hours
Large glass of wine: 3 hours
What About Testing?
Even when its effects wear off, alcohol still may be detectable in your system. Here are some standard testing methods you should be aware of:
A breath test is perhaps the most common way of detecting alcohol. A small device (called a breathalyzer) measures your blood alcohol concentration. It can detect the substance as long as 24 hours after drinking.
Urine tests are effective over a longer time frame. They look for byproducts of metabolism, meaning they can detect alcohol 12-48 hours after consumption. More advanced urine tests are effective up to 80 hours after consumption.
Alcohol can be present in your hair for up to 90 days.
The substance can be temporarily detected in blood, sweat, and saliva.
Other Things to Keep in Mind
Here are some other essential things to keep in mind:
Know That These “Cures” Are Myths
Maybe you had a few too many drinks. You need to sober up before driving or meeting up with someone.
However, you should know that there’s no fast way to sober up. The only real cure is time. Understand that the following “cures” are just myths:
Caffeine can help your brain feel more alert. However, it won’t break down alcohol in the body or reduce impairment.
Making Yourself Throw Up
People often make themselves puke in hopes of sobering up. But, absorption happens within as little as 10 minutes of drinking. By the time you make yourself throw up, it’s too late. The alcohol will have already reached your bloodstream and made its way to your brain and other organs. Puking will do nothing to lower your blood alcohol concentration.
Eating might slow the absorption rate, but it won’t eliminate alcohol from your body.
How Long Does it Take for Alcohol to Affect Brain Function?
Alcohol takes approximately 5 minutes to reach the brain, although the beverage’s effects occur around 10 minutes.
When your BAC increases, alcohol begins to affect the brain and nervous system. This means you can experience changes in judgment and decision-making capabilities and become more uninhibited.
At the same time, because alcohol impacts cells in the nervous system, you can feel lightheadedness, slower reaction times, and inadequate coordination skills.
This list describes more effects caused by alcohol on the brain and nervous system. As you’ll see, alcohol’s effects can range from mild to moderate, depending on how much and how quickly you drink:
- Initial phase of euphoria
- Memory and reasoning impairment
- Memory loss
- Blurred vision
- Slurred speech
- Blackouts (loss of consciousness and memory)
In more severe cases, if your BAC reaches 0.30, you run the risk of coma or brain damage. This occurs because alcohol slows breathing and circulation, preventing oxygen from reaching the brain.
If your BAC goes over 0.35, you could die from alcohol intoxication (poisoning) or by the brain’s inability to regulate all of your vital physical functions.
Can You “Sleep Off” Alcohol?
No. You cannot “sleep off” alcohol.
When you stop drinking alcohol or are unconscious/sleeping, it does not mean that your BAC will stay steady or even go down. The body will continue letting alcohol enter the bloodstream. If you have alcoholic beverages in your stomach/intestines, it will continue to absorb and increase your alcohol level as you sleep. Because alcohol circulates throughout, your BAC level can rise and cause harm to your health.
Conversely, if you have already absorbed the alcohol in your stomach/intestines, your body will continue to break down/metabolize the alcohol as you sleep.
Your body needs time, and only that, to eliminate alcohol from its system.
What Do The Effects of Alcohol Feel Like?
The effects of alcohol will be different according to your BAC levels.
If you have a BAC between 0.01-0.03, you might feel a bit more euphoric (or happy). You may even shed inhibitions. This is the lowest measurable level of alcohol in your bloodstream.
However, the feeling will not last. As the BAC level increases, alcohol’s effects become more intense. With a BAC between 0.16-0.20, you may experience dysphoric (unsatisfied) sensations and nausea. You may be disoriented, slurring your words and losing your balance.
There may even come the point where your BAC is so high that you are mentally confused and need help walking. The effects of alcohol will not be pleasant and can raise the risk of health complications.
Conversely, some people experience more euphoric feelings of pleasure as their BAC rises, which is why they continue to drink.
Among adults aged 20 to 64 years, excessive drinking was the cause of 1 in 10 deaths.
Dangers & effects of Drinking Too Much
When you drink too much, you face both short- and long-term risks and dangers.
In the short-term, you may experience or suffer from:
- Increased heart rate
- Injuries, including motor vehicle crashes, falls, drownings, and burns
- Violence, such as homicide, suicide, sexual assault, or domestic violence
- Alcohol poisoning (intoxication)
- Risky sexual behaviors, such as unprotected sex or sex with different partners
- Impaired decision-making, leading to poor judgement, driving while impaired, motor vehicle crashes, fighting, and risky sexual behaviors
- Impaired coordination, leading to falls, accidents, motor vehicle crashes, and violence, such as homicide, suicide, domestic violence, etc.
In the long-term, you may experience or suffer from:
- High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems
- Cancer (breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, or colon)
- A weakened immune system
- Learning and memory issues
- Mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, or psychosis
- Social problems, like job or family relationship troubles
- Alcohol dependence or alcohol use disorder (AUD)
How to Prevent overdrinking
If you would like to prevent overdrinking, there are different possibilities.
Drink a glass of water (8 0z) after each alcoholic beverage
Record the number and size/volume of each drink every day
Write up a list of reasons why you want to hold off on drinking too much
Do not keep alcohol at your home or apartment
Choose alcohol-free days and become more observant about how you feel and think when you don’t drink
Ask your family or friends to give you support as you cut back on drinking
Avoid certain settings that could increase your chances of drinking excessively
Excessive alcohol use causes an estimated 95,000 deaths in the United States annually.
Tips to keep in mind
No one wants to be the person who went a little too hard.
Here are some best practices to avoid getting too drunk too fast:
Eat at least 1 hour before drinking.
Sip your drinks slowly.
Avoid shots, which you’re likely to down rather than sip.
Don’t drink more than one standard drink per hour.
Alternate between alcohol and nonalcoholic drinks, preferably water.
Limit or avoid carbonated drinks, like champagne, sparkling wine, and cocktails mixed with soda.
Sit down when drinking, since doing it while standing tends to make people drink faster.
The bottom line
Alcohol kicks in pretty quick. You’ll typically start feeling the effects within about 10 minutes or so, depending on the strength of your drink and how fast you drink it.