You’ve had a few drinks and you’re feeling good, but now you’re left wondering how long it will take to sober up before you can drive home, or if the alcohol will be out of your system before you start work in the morning.
How Long Does It Take To Sober Up?
Although the time for alcohol to leave your system can vary based on age, weight and whether you have eaten recently, most people sober up at a rate of one hour for one standard drink of alcohol.
What is one standard drink of alcohol? It’s not about the size, but the amount of alcohol in each drink. Here are examples of one standard drink:
Image via National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohols-effects-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/what-standard-drink
That means the more you drink, the longer the alcohol stays in your body. If you have a dozen shots of vodka it will take more time for the alcohol to leave your body compared to two glasses of wine.
How long will you stay drunk? Here are the variables that will affect it:
Amount of drinks consumed
How fast the drinks were consumed
Age, weight and sex
Amount of food consumed
An individual’s tolerance level
You’ve likely heard tips to sober up fast - like drinking coffee, taking a shower, exercising, or more - the truth is this might make your head feel clearer, but only time will lower your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level.
Think twice before you drive.
Just because you no longer feel drunk, it doesn’t mean that you aren’t. It all comes down to your BAC. In the United States, you are considered impaired when your BAC is 0.08 or higher.
Avoiding A Hangover
Anytime you drink to intoxication, there is a chance for a hangover the next day. Hangover symptoms include:
Sensitivity to light and sound
Increased blood pressure
Hangovers are caused by dehydration, disrupted sleep, gastrointestinal irritation, inflammation and mini-withdrawal after the buzz wears off. The feeling of being hungover can last for 24 hours or longer after your BAC returns to zero.
How can you avoid a hangover?
Because the severity of a hangover increases with the amount of alcohol you consume, the best way to avoid a hangover is to drink in moderation or not drink at all.
When someone starts drinking, they don’t hope to develop an alcohol addiction. But what begins as a few casual drinks or a once in a while heavy drinking binge can lead to a dangerous habit.
How do you know when alcohol has turned from a few social or celebratory drinks into a substance abuse disorder, or alcoholism? Alcoholism results in an altering within the brain that controls someone’s motivation and ability to make positive, healthy choices.
Below are several warning signs of alcoholism:
Not able to stick to limits
Drinking more than you planned or intended
Increase in tolerance - meaning you need more alcohol to achieve the desired effect that you’ve had in the past
Drinking alcohol in situations that are hazardous - for example, drinking and driving
Continued alcohol consumption regardless of negative impacts - for example, problems in relationships, spending too much on alcohol, or health problems like diabetes
How Long Does It Take To Get Sober?
When dealing with an alcohol addiction, the amount of time it takes to get sober depends on the individual, how long they have been drinking, and other factors.
Getting sober means stopping drinking. With an active addiction, this can be hard to do on your own and individuals may experience symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.
When someone with alcohol dependence stops drinking, the sudden absence of alcohol in their body shocks their nervous system, which causes withdrawal. Symptoms can range from mild like shaky hands, insomnia or irritability, or in severe cases, seizures or stroke.
The severity of these symptoms depends on the length of time the individual has been drinking, the frequency of drinking, the amount of alcohol consumed and other factors.
Alcohol withdrawal should be taken seriously by anyone dependent on alcohol or anyone who has been abusing alcohol for a long period of time. Inpatient or medical detox are often recommended for those with a history of addiction.
After an individual has finished detoxing and started on the road to recovery, cravings can still be challenging. While cravings lessen over time, it can take a year or more for them to disappear - and some never shake them completely. This is where relapse prevention skills are necessary.
Getting Help For Addiction
If you or somebody in your life seems to have an issue with alcohol, professional help to address addiction may be the best option to help continue on the road to recovery.
At Care Addiction Center, we offer treatment plans that address every facet of your addiction, serving individuals in Geneva, Batavia, Sycamore, St. Charles, and Kane County, with online addiction treatment available anywhere in Illinois.
Want to hear about how long it takes to get sober from those that have traveled the path to sobriety? Listen to the Sober.Coffee podcast with Mike and Glenn, sharing stories of experience, strength and hope in recovery.
If you’re not sure if your alcohol use is a problem, why don’t we complete a confidential evaluation? Feel free to contact our Illinois rehab at: 630-402-0144