EP 98: Reader Question – How long does alcohol take to leave the body?

Download EP:98 Transcript

I’ve heard that it takes one hour for our liver to metabolize one unit of alcohol…if this is true, why do you say it can take up to 10 days for alcohol to leave the body? Annie clears up this head scratching question and explains the science behind why our body doesn’t clear itself from alcohol in just a matter of hours.

How long does it take alcohol to leave the body?

Why do I say it can take up to 10 days for alcohol to leave the body when we’ve all heard that the liver metabolizes more than ounce of alcohol per hour. Why is that if it’s been said that it takes 1 hour to process one unit? Can you experience withdrawals without having any alcohol in the body?


It’s true that alcohol metabolizes through the liver. That’s how long the liver takes to detox it from your bloodstream. When you’re intoxicated so your mind is impaired your liver detoxifies it from your bloodstream and metabolizes it so it no longer impairs your mind. Now you’re no longer drunk and that’s why it’s so prevalent. One unit per hour is how long it takes until you can drive again or until you’re not drunk. That is really just about intoxication and not about how long it takes alcohol to leave the body.

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Beyond Impairment

If we’re talking about how long it takes for alcohol to leave the body completely, it takes much longer than that. Sometimes up to 72 hours and or even longer. How long alcohol can be traced in your system is quite a long time but then there’s a third component to how long it takes alcohol to leave the body that I’ll get further into.

Keep Listening

That’s how long it takes your body to regain normalcy after you stop drinking. Watch the video to hear more on how long it takes alcohol to leave the body and all of the contributing factors.

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Special music thank you to the Kevin MacLeod Funkorama (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License