Glass of alcohol

Alcohol Drug Tests: How Long Is Alcohol in Your Body?

Read this blog post as an infographic

Alcohol infographicDespite its prevalence and acceptance in social contexts, alcohol is a drug. Consumption of alcohol is legal in all but about a dozen countries, but there may still be contexts in which you’ll be tested for alcohol in your system (such as a breathalyzer test or a test related to employment).

Alcohol Test Detection Time by Type

Alcohol does not remain detectable in the body for long, and its detectability varies depending on the type of test. Note: the following timelines are approximate and vary widely from person to person.

Alcohol Saliva Test

Alcohol can be detected in saliva for up to 12 hours.

Blood Alcohol Test

Alcohol is found in blood up to 24 hours after consumption.

Does Alcohol Show Up in a Hair Follicle Test?

Alcohol does show up in hair follicle tests. In fact, this is one of the longest-lasting ways to detect if someone has had a drink: up to 48 hours.

Alcohol Urine Test

Alcohol is detectable in urine for up to 80 hours after stopping drinking.

What Influences Alcohol Detection Time?

The above alcohol detection tests are highly dependent on factors specific to each individual’s body. These factors include:

  • Age – Older individuals have livers that work slightly slower than younger people, meaning they retain detectable alcohol in their systems longer. 
  • Body Mass Index (BMI) – The higher your body fat, the more alcohol is retained.
  • Sex – On average, women have a higher body fat percentage than men. This means women typically have longer alcohol retention rates.
  • Food and Liquid Intake – While having food in your stomach before drinking is known to slow the uptake of alcohol, it also slows how quickly it is processed in your body, making detection times longer.
  • Liver Function and Health – A healthy liver processes alcohol more quickly.
  • Metabolism – The more efficient your body’s metabolism is, the more quickly it processes things you’ve consumed (including alcohol).
  • Amount of Alcohol Consumed – The more you drink, the longer it takes your body to process the amount of alcohol you consumed.
  • How Often You Drink – The frequency of drinking can also have an impact on how long alcohol is detectable in your system.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment

If you or a loved one can’t stop drinking even when you have to pass an alcohol test, you may need to seek professional help. Getting sober alone is difficult and potentially deadly. For residents of New Jersey and the surrounding areas, you can call SOBA New Jersey or contact us online for help.

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