How Long Does It Take To Sober Up (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 2 to 12 hours

Every time someone has a few drinks, the first question that pops up in their mind is when one will sober up. It means when one has drinks, after a certain amount, they will start feeling fuzzy and the time it takes for the person to get their focus again is called sobering up. Normally, a liver can metabolize a drink in an hour, and the alcohol levels in one’s body also decide how long it will take for a person to sober up properly.

The other factors that also determine how long it will take to sober up include how drunk a person is, how the alcohol affects the person, their age, gender, and many more. Not everybody gets drunk in the same way. Some will be able to walk in a straight line after an hour or two, while some cannot even stand straight after four to five hours. Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is the amount of alcohol that gets mixed in the blood after having a drink.

Blood Alcohol Concentration is the amount of alcohol in blood compared to the amount of water. When one drinks continuously, it will take about a day for them to sober up properly. There is a certain alcohol limit, which is about .08 grams per deciliter (dL), after which the person will be considered legally drunk.

How Long Does It Take To Sober Up?

Alcohol levelTime
Above 0.01 to 0.021 to 2 hours
Above 0.168 to 12 hours
Continuous drinking24 hours

How long alcohol stays in the system, how long the effects last in one’s body, is based on other factors like how quickly one drinks and also some other series of factors. When people are drunk, there are things people experience. Some of them include lowered alertness, impaired judgment, incoordination of muscles, trouble in concentrating, slurred speech, being drowsy, and much more. Nobody can know how long they will stay drunk, and there is no way one can know about their BAC without using tests.

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One of the major factors and the most obvious one that determines how long the drunkenness will last is based on how much one has had to drink. The alcohol, once ingested in any form, will enter the bloodstream within minutes, sometimes even seconds at rare chances. The more alcohol one consumes, the more alcohol will enter the bloodstream. It is not only the number of drinks one has but also the strength and type of alcohol one consume, that determine the level of alcohol in the blood.

After a drink goes inside the system, the body will metabolize the drink. The faster the body metabolizes the drink, the faster one will sober up. The higher the BAC, the longer it takes to become sober.

Why Does It Take That Long To Sober Up?

The weight of the body also plays an important role to become sober. When one weighs more, the level of BAC will be less. When one goes drinking with a friend, if they weigh lesser, they will get drunk sooner than the one that weighs more. It is because the amount of space in the body alcohol diffuses determines the BAC in a way.

Gender also determines the level of BAC in the body. Females contain higher body fat percentages. Since fat retains alcohol, females contain higher BAC than men, and this makes females take more time to get sober. The female body also contains less amount of water than men to dilute the alcohol they consume, and they also produce less amount of dehydrogenase. This chemical compound breaks down the alcohol through the liver.

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Conclusion

When one drinks alcohol on empty stomach, they tend to get drunk faster, which will take them a while to sober up. Yet, when one drinks alcohol with food in their belly, it will slow absorption of alcohol. The faster the alcohol is absorbed in the bloodstream, the higher the BAC, and the more time it takes to sober up.

The tolerance one has towards alcohol also plays an important role. When one doesn’t drink often, their tolerance level is low, and when they do consume alcohol, they will be drunk longer than the ones that drink regularly.

References

  1. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00036840110102743
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1360-0443.1982.tb02469.x
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