How Long Does Being Drunk Last? What Factors To Include

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on September 29th, 2023

Navigating the intricacies of alcohol consumption and its subsequent effects is a topic that garners interest from a wide range of people, from casual drinkers to experts in the field. Understanding how long it takes to sober up and the varying factors that influence this process is essential for both safety and general knowledge. In this article, we delve deep into the nuances that determine how long being drunk lasts, the stages of intoxication, and other elements that affect the absorption and metabolism of alcohol.

How Long Do the Effects of Alcohol Last?

Understanding the duration of alcohol’s effects is more complicated than merely waiting for it to wear off. For the average person, the effects of a moderate amount of alcohol could wear off in approximately 6 to 8 hours. But that’s a simplified snapshot.

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Hangover or Detoxification Time

Post-alcohol consumption, you might find yourself battling a hangover. This is essentially the ‘detoxification’ period, which can stretch the feeling of being ‘out of sorts’ far longer than the intoxication period itself.

Blood Alcohol Level: A Key Indicator

A single drink for most people results in a blood alcohol level of about 0.02. Since alcohol is metabolized at a rate of 0.016 per hour, continuous drinking can lead to a buildup. This buildup can keep you intoxicated for longer periods, even if you think you’re spacing out your drinks adequately.

Can You Still Be Intoxicated After 24 Hours?

While it’s uncommon to be drunk 24 hours after your last drink, residual effects may linger, causing you to feel less coordinated, more irritable, and generally out of focus.

The Absorption and Metabolism of Alcohol

The Role of the Small Intestine

Around 20% of alcohol absorption happens in the small intestine. The rate of absorption can vary based on factors like your weight—generally, heavier individuals experience slower absorption rates.

The Liver’s Capacity

The liver can metabolize roughly 10 mL of alcohol per hour, or approximately one drink. However, numerous factors can influence this metabolic rate, making it crucial to remember that this is not a one-size-fits-all situation.

Factors Influencing How Many Drinks It Takes to Get Drunk

The Standard Measurement

One standard drink typically contains a 12-ounce beer with about 4% alcohol. While this may allow you to maintain a sober state if consumed over an extended period, drinking 4-5 beers within an hour will significantly affect your level of intoxication.

Signs of Drunkenness

Signs like sleepiness, slurred speech, decreased attentiveness, and poor muscular coordination indicate you’ve crossed into the realm of intoxication.

Stages of Alcohol Intoxication

Understanding the stages of alcohol intoxication offers a structured way to comprehend how drunkenness progresses. Here they are in sequential order:

Stage 1: Sobriety or Subclinical Intoxication

In this initial stage, the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) ranges between 0.01 and 0.05. People in this range may not exhibit outward signs of intoxication, but subtle changes in judgment and response speed can be present.

Stage 2: Euphoria

In the euphoria stage, your BAC could range from 0.03 to 0.12. You might feel more outgoing and less inhibited. However, negative aspects like impaired judgment and coordination also start becoming apparent.

Stage 3: Excitement

A BAC level of 0.09 to 0.25 corresponds to this stage. Emotional instability and a noticeable delay in reaction time become evident. Vision problems and a loss of balance are also common.

Stage 4: Confusion

At BAC levels between 0.18 and 0.30, coordination is severely compromised, and the individual may experience blackouts.

Stage 5: Stupor

In the stupor stage, BAC levels range from 0.25 to 0.40. The risk of life-threatening issues like alcohol poisoning becomes a serious concern.

Stage 6: Coma

BAC levels of 0.35-0.45 can lead to a coma, where life-sustaining functions are critically impaired.

Stage 7: Death

At BAC levels of 0.45 or higher, the risk of death becomes extremely high.

How to Recover from a Drunken Stupor

Time is the only foolproof remedy for reducing your BAC levels. Techniques like sleeping or hydrating may alleviate symptoms but won’t accelerate the alcohol metabolization process.

The Enduring Question: How Long Does It Take for Alcohol’s Effects to Wear Off?

Individual metabolism rates, body weight, and even gender can influence how long the effects of alcohol linger in your system. So, when considering the question of how long you’ll remain drunk, remember: It’s a complex interplay of factors that can’t be boiled down to a simple formula.


Alcohol’s effects are complex and multi-faceted, affected by a myriad of variables from metabolism rates to the type of drink consumed. Understanding this labyrinthine topic is crucial for anyone engaging in alcohol consumption, not just for the sake of enjoyment, but also for the health implications it brings. Being knowledgeable about these aspects can help you make informed decisions and approach drinking in a responsible manner.


Editorial Staff

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