How long does alcohol stay in your urine?
Being the most commonly abused intoxicating substance in the U.S; alcohol has got 17.6 million people hooked. That’s 1 in every 12 adults who are currently struggling with some form of misuse not to mention all those who regularly binge drink. So you are probably not the only one wondering how long does alcohol stay in your urine.
This seemingly innocent substance when compared with other drugs on the market is produced by the fermentation of starch, sugar and yeasts. However, its effects can be surprisingly damaging, if not even more so then the rest.
Causing impairment to the brain functions, motor skills, decision making, cognitive ability whilst reducing inhibitions; it’s no wonder employers call for a urine test to be done in certain lines of work. In the case of legal situations a urine test will also be carried out to reveal just how much alcoholic content remains in a person’s system.
The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence published figures stating 15 million full-time workers are heavy drinkers. So if a urine tests is undertaken it’s probably a precautionary measure, ensuring people aren’t a potential risk to themselves and others.
If your ability to work is coming into question and you have to carry out a urine test, knowing how long it stays in your system will prove helpful.
Why urine is commonly checked for alcohol consumption?
Urine tests are commonly used in legal situations to determine whether someone was acting in their right mind during a certain situation. There are also career scenarios such as operating vehicles which rely on employees being lucid and checking urine is a reliable method. Under such circumstances, consuming alcohol would be illegal. Here are some instances when urine will be checked:
- An individual’s given a ‘zero tolerance’ order
- Someone is in rehabilitation where they are required to be abstinent
- If there’s a relapse
- When comparing to BAC (blood alcohol concentration)
- Checking employees
Interesting fact! When roughly 5% of the ethanol absorbed gets to your kidneys, you start to excrete the alcohol through urination. Overall, 90% of alcohol that gets consumed is broken down by the liver with the leftover 10% leaving the system via sweat, breath and urine.
The two main urinary tests used
Medlineplus explains urine samples to be a microscopic exam of someone’s urine content. There are two ways to do this accurately which are: 24 hour urine test and then the clean catch urine sample.
So, how long does alcohol stay in your urine?
A standard fact is that the liver takes an hour to break down one ounce of alcohol producing a 0.015 blood-alcohol level. After ten hours have passed, the person would have cleared practically all the substance from their bloodstream.
Alcohol normally stays in your system up to 24 hours after having a few beverages and so would be found in your urine at this point. The standard test is usually able to detect urine anywhere between 9-13 hours after drinking.
There are however tests which can detect the substance for up to 48 hours. Going a step further, there is even a test (known as EtG – ethyl glucuronide is the broken down product of alcohol) which even though not standardized, can detect alcohol in urine for up to 80-85 hours post-consumption. However, the latter test is not popular due to the amount of household and commonly used items which contain traces of alcohol.
When asking the question ‘how long does alcohol remain detectable in your urine however, there is no concrete answer. The amount of time varies depending on a number of individual factors as well as the type of test being used.
Despite the above time frames, you could still test positive for a urine test several days after drinking even moderate amounts of alcohol. Additionally, breathalyzer tests can detect traces within 24 hours, saliva tests up to 12 days and hair follicle testing can detect alcohol up to three months after consumption!
Did you know? Ever wondered why you need to pee so much when drinking? Alcohol suppresses the production and release of the hormone vasopressin which conserves bodily liquids. When lacking this hormone the body starts flushing out alcohol within 20-25 minutes of drinking. However, when we talk about how much remains detectable in your urine, how much you drink is a massive factor.
What affects the amount of time it remains in your urine?
There are various factors influencing the amount of time alcohol remains present in your urine. This is what makes the question how long does alcohol stay in your urine, tricky to answer. Some of the main things affecting your systems ability to eliminate the substance are: age, gender, fitness level, organ health, body type amongst other things. Let’s look at these in more detail:
How quickly alcohol is absorbed differs from women to men. For example, a man who weighs 140 lb and has two drinks in an hour will have less alcohol in their blood compared to a woman the same size that drinks the same amount in the same time.
Why does this happen? It’s mainly because males have more of the hydrogenase enzyme which means once the substance reaches the stomach it gets broken down quicker. This enzyme plays a pivotal role in the organs ability to process the drink and break down the molecules of alcohol. Additionally, just before menstruation women have less water in their bodies and increased amounts of the cells that hold onto alcohol.
- Your genes
Genetics also plays an underlying factor in how long alcohol stays in your urine for. There are two enzymes in the body that help break down the substance and these are aldehyde dehydrogenase and alcohol dehydrogenase. These genes can be encoded in different forms and which one you carry will have a big impact on how quickly your body metabolizes your drink. They can also make you more at risk of being an alcoholic too. However if there is alcoholism in your family, it doesn’t mean you are doomed to become an alcoholic.
- Whether you’ve eaten
If you eat before you start drinking, the enzymes in your stomach will be preoccupied with breaking down the food instead of the alcohol. Therefore the alcohol won’t be filtered by the bloodstream till a later stage causing the BAC to rise anywhere from 1-6 hours after drinking.
Those who drink without eating will experience a rise in BAC anywhere between 30 minutes to 2 hours so will get drunk quicker. Therefore food affects the rate of absorption but doesn’t necessarily affect the rate of elimination.
- Your metabolism
Metabolism plays a crucial role in how quick your body processes and get rid of your drink. The quicker metabolism you have, the better your system can flush out the alcohol. Even though your genes will dictate largely which type of metabolism you have, other factors such as fitness level, sleep, stress and lifestyle can affect it too. Normally those with a healthy ratio of body fat vs. lean mass will have a quicker metabolism.
- Medications your taking
If someone is on medication, depending on what’s taken it may suppress the metabolizing process by inhibiting enzymes which help process alcohol. For example, various cold medicines and antidepressants can cause alcohol to become absorbed quicker when they reach the small intestines and cause a higher BAC whilst lengthening the time to eliminate.
Need some extra help?
You can release the pull alcohol has on you with the residential and outpatient services offered at BLVD Treatment Centers. Tailored to fit your specific needs, you can seek solace in the undivided attention of our experienced counselors.
When opting for the residential rehab option, you can take advantage of:
- Individualized Detox Treatments
- Chef-Prepared Gourmet Meals
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If you’re still unsure of whether you’re an alcoholic or not, try taking this quiz for a confidential answer. Either way, you’ll get the help and support you need at one of our centers located in: Hollywood, Portland, Orange County, San Diego, West Los Angeles, Give our team a call to see how we can help on 8885376671.