How Long Can Alcohol Be Detected In Blood?

Ethyl alcohol blood testing is a fast and accurate way of determining sobriety. It detects how much alcohol is in the bloodstream and has a short detection window of about 6 to 12 hours.

Alcohol can be typically detected in the blood for about 6 to 12 hours after a person’s last drink. The detection times for alcohol and other drugs can vary depending on a variety of factors.

In ideal circumstances, it can be detected as long as 24 hours. This is one of the comparatively shorter tests for alcohol in the body.

Find out more about how long alcohol can be detected in your system.

Does Alcohol Show Up On Blood Tests?

A standard, routine blood test does not detect ethanol (drinking alcohol). However, alcohol testing, as well as 5-panel and 10-panel drug tests, is very common for blood sample testing.

What Factors Affect How Long Alcohol Stays In Blood?

In general, you will have a higher blood alcohol concentration (BAC) the more you drink.

However, the results of a blood alcohol test can differ from person to person, even if they consumed the same amount of alcohol.

Things that can affect your BAC include, but are not limited to:

  • your gender
  • your age
  • your body weight and body fat percentage
  • the amount of alcohol consumption
  • the speed of your metabolism
  • your frequency of past alcohol use
  • use of drugs, including some prescriptions
  • various genetic factors

How Does A Blood Test For Alcohol Work?

After ingestion, the body metabolizes alcohol in a number of different ways.

An enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) breaks down alcohol into acetaldehyde, a toxic substance that your body wants to get rid of.

The body then breaks it down further to pass it through the bloodstream via red blood cells, using the liver and small intestine to absorb each alcohol metabolite.

This is why ethanol levels are detectable in blood. Blood ethanol is your body’s way of trying to expel toxins. The higher the ethanol concentration, the more is being expelled.

Are False Positive Results Possible?

On rare occasions, a false positive test result may occur due to the body reacting to other sources of alcohol, such as the alcohol found in mouthwash. However, this is very uncommon.

How Long Do Alcohol Blood Test Results Take?

It may take several weeks for your results to come back. Many alcohol blood test results will be ready in four to six weeks; however, some may take longer.

Like a breath test (breathalyzer), this detection method yields results faster than urine tests or other forms of toxicology, but it may take longer to be processed than the other clinical laboratory tests.

What Is A Standard Drink?

It can be difficult to track the amount of alcohol consumed, as every type of drink is different.

Alcohol content varies between beverages, but on average, a standard drink is considered to be:

  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 1.5 ounces of liquor

Typically, consuming one standard alcoholic drink results in a roughly 0.15% increase in blood alcohol level.

Surpassing the legal limit can cause slower reaction times, loss of consciousness, and other impairments.

Relatedly, binge drinking is defined as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s BAC to 0.08 percent or higher. This is usually the result of 4 to 5 drinks consumed within 2 hours for an adult.

Regular heavy drinking can cause lasting damage, such as liver disease, alcohol poisoning, and more.

Get Treatment For An Alcohol Addiction Today

Alcohol abuse affects countless people in the New England area, including people addicted to alcohol and their loved ones.

If you or someone you know feel the effects of alcohol addiction, our healthcare professionals are ready to assist you.

Call our helpline today to learn about your treatment options.

  1. National Institute of Health (NIH) | National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism — Alcohol Metabolism: An Update
  2. National Institute of Health (NIH) | National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism — Understanding Binge Drinking
  3. National Institute of Health (NIH) | National Center for Biotechnology Information — The role of gastrointestinal factors in alcohol metabolism

Written by Spring Hill Recovery Editorial Team

© 2024 Spring Hill Recovery | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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