Alcohol usage has been associated with several health problems and accidents, which is a worry in many communities. But how long does alcohol stay on your breath after drinking? This depends on several factors such as the type of alcohol consumed, the quantity drank, and even personal metabolism.
However, alcohol on your breath may typically be detected for up to 24 hours after consumption. When determining whether or not to drink before driving or performing other tasks that call for sobriety, knowing this information might help people make wiser choices.
What are the Signs of Being Drunk?
Anyone who has ever consumed alcohol in even moderate amounts probably has an understanding of how alcohol affects the body.
Some signs and side effects of being drunk include:
- Feeling relaxed
- A sensation of warmth
- Slowed reaction times
- Slowed heart rate
- Reduced blood pressure
- Slurred speech
- Loud or fast speech
- Lowered inhibitions (saying or doing things out of character)
- Reduced fine motor coordination
- Reduced cognitive processing ability
- Double vision
Other side effects can be risk-taking behavior such as drunk driving, injuries such as falls, violence, or unprotected sex resulting in sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and unwanted pregnancies.
Unfortunately, many people do not realize these side effects can occur upon drinking even small quantities of alcohol. Further, someone drinking on an empty stomach increases the effects of alcohol. Heavy drinking, also known as binge drinking, leads to extreme versions of these effects. If someone has trouble controlling their use of alcohol, there are safe and effective addiction treatment therapies available at Tulip Hill Recovery.
What Are the Dangers of Alcohol Abuse?
According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, an average of 95,000 alcohol-related deaths occur annually. Binge drinking by consuming a large volume of alcohol in a short period is alcohol abuse. Sadly, one of the significant dangers of alcohol abuse is alcohol poisoning.
Signs and effects of alcohol poisoning include:
- Clammy skin
- Loss of coordination
- Being conscious but unresponsive
- Inability to walk
- Loss of consciousness
No level of alcohol consumption has guaranteed safety. For those who choose to drink alcohol, health professionals recommend doing so in moderation. The current guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that men should consume no more than two drinks a day. While women should avoid drinking more than one drink a day. However, this is a vague guideline based on alcohol levels in a standard alcoholic beverage. Thus, not all beverages contain the same levels of alcohol. Regular beer, for example, contains different alcohol levels compared with malt liquor or distilled spirits. In addition, everyone metabolizes alcohol differently.
Anyone unsure about how much alcohol they can safely consume should consult their doctor. Furthermore, anyone under the legal drinking age, pregnant, taking certain medications that interact with alcohol, or recovering from a substance use disorder, should avoid alcohol completely. Additionally, doctors advise against consuming alcohol when breastfeeding, as alcohol transfers to breast milk.
Alcohol abuse often leads to addiction and overdose, which can be fatal. If someone has lost control of their alcohol intake, help is available at Tulip Hill Recovery.
What Is the Legal Definition of Drunk?
Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is the legal and medical measurement of alcohol intoxication. For example, having a BAC of 0.5% means there is 0.5g of alcohol for every 100 ml of blood. Having a BAC of 0.0% means a person is sober, and there is no alcohol detected in their blood.
How easily alcohol affects a person depends on how their body metabolizes it. People who drink regularly may build a tolerance to alcohol. Therefore, they need to consume more to feel the effects. But, whether a person feels drunk or how much alcohol they have consumed has no bearing on their blood alcohol levels. In the United States, the legal limit of alcohol is 0.08% BAC.
There is no real way of knowing someone’s BAC without conducting a test to detect alcohol. As such, following government guidelines is recommended. Just one drink could put someone over the legal limit.
How Is the Alcohol Detected in My System?
As mentioned above, how long alcohol stays in an individual’s system depends on how fast their body metabolizes the alcohol. Many factors affect the rate of metabolization.
When a person drinks alcohol it immediately enters the bloodstream. A small percentage enters via the small blood vessels in the tongue and mouth. Meanwhile, the stomach and small intestines absorb most of it. Food slows down the process.
The body eliminates alcohol as a toxin. Also, the body eliminates roughly 10% of alcohol through sweat, urine, and breathing. The liver metabolizes the other 90%. The liver breaks down the equivalent of about one drink an hour.
Factors that affect alcohol metabolism include:
- Body fat content
- Liver function
- Food intake
A blood alcohol test determines an individual’s BAC. However, various other tests, such as urine, saliva, and hair tests, also detect blood alcohol levels. In addition, a breath test, also known as a breathalyzer test, detects alcohol up to twelve to twenty-four hours after consumption. This means the breathalyzer detects alcohol in the breath, not on the breath. So, chewing gum will not affect how long alcohol stays on your breath when it comes to a breathalyzer test.
Meanwhile, a blood test detects alcohol levels for up to six hours. In contrast, a urine test exposes alcohol in the body for twelve to twenty-four hours. However, some newer urine tests detect alcohol for up to seventy-two hours, and saliva tests also work for up to twenty-four hours. Surprisingly, alcohol can be observed in the hair for up to ninety days.
BAC tests are performed for various reasons, but breath tests are the most common. Law enforcement performs breathalyzer tests to determine if someone is driving under the influence of alcohol.
How Long Does Alcohol Stay on Your Breath to Pass a Breathalyzer Test?
Police often perform roadside breathalyzer tests on drivers for traffic accidents or driving dangerously if they suspect the driver is intoxicated. Drivers over the legal limit of 0.08% BAC will be prosecuted for driving under the influence (DUI). Depending on the circumstances, DUI charges lead to fines, license suspension, community service, and jail time.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates 37 people die each day in drunk-driving crashes in the United States. Therefore, Law enforcement takes DUI seriously, and for a good reason. Drunk driving always carries a risk of catastrophic consequences, including injury and death.
If someone plans on drinking at all, they should make sure they have a safe way of getting home, such as a designated driver, cab, or public transport. If they know they need to drive home, they should stick to non-alcohol drinks, such as soda.
How Do I Drink Responsibly?
It’s more important to remember that alcohol stays in your system for hours after you’ve had a drink than to worry about how long alcohol stays on your breath. Drink responsibly and in moderation. Moreover, know when to seek help if you have a drinking problem. The effects of alcohol might seem enjoyable and harmless at first, but they can quickly lead to health problems, dangerous behavior, or addiction. If your drinking is out of control, please reach out for help.
Contact us at Tulip Hill Recovery to learn more about safe and effective treatment for alcohol use disorder.