Alcohol is a legal but addictive substance that can stay in the system for anywhere from 10 hours in urine to 90 days in hair.
This is a wide detection window that varies according to the type of drug test that is used, the amount of alcohol consumed, and other personal factors.
Heavy and frequent drinking can be a sign of alcohol abuse and addiction. If you’re concerned about getting a positive test result for alcohol, treatment may be recommended.
Alcohol Detection Times By Drug Testing Method
Alcohol use can be detected by testing the breath, urine, blood, saliva, or hair follicles. These drug testing methods can vary in their sensitivity, detection window, and accuracy.
Alcohol detection times, by drug testing method:
- breathalyzer tests: up to 24 hours
- urine tests: 10 hours to four days
- saliva tests: 24 to 48 hours
- blood tests: up to 12 hours
- hair tests: up to 90 days
How Long Does Alcohol Stay In Urine?
Alcohol can be detected in urine for 10 to 12 hours.
The metabolite ethyl glucuronide (EtG) can be detected in a urine screening for up to 24 hours, or up to four days if you drink an excessive amount or are a chronic, heavy drinker.
Read more about testing for alcohol in the urine
How Long Does Alcohol Stay In Blood?
Alcohol will generally only be detectable in the blood for up to 24 hours in people who drink in moderation.
Read more about testing for alcohol in the blood
How Long Does Alcohol Stay In Saliva
Alcohol can be detected in oral fluids like saliva or sweat for 24 to 48 hours.
How Long Can A Breathalyzer Detect Alcohol?
Breathalyzer tests can detect levels of alcohol for up to 24 hours after your last drink, on average.
How Long Can Alcohol Stay In Hair?
Hair alcohol testing can detect alcohol use for anywhere from nine to twelve weeks, depending on how much a person drinks and how often.
Read more about testing for alcohol in the hair
What Factors Can Affect Alcohol Detection Times?
The amount of time alcohol stays in the body can vary depending on a wide range of personal, biological, and genetic factors.
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Factors that can affect how long alcohol stays in your system:
- amount of alcohol consumed
- how often you drink alcohol
- alcohol tolerance
- alcohol dependence
- metabolic rate
- liver and kidney function
- polydrug abuse (use of multiple drugs)
How much you eat or drink before and while you’re drinking can also affect alcohol absorption. This can affect how long a drug test is able to detect alcohol consumption.
Why Alcohol Tests Might Be Used
Drug and alcohol tests can be court-ordered, ordered for legal purposes, or ordered by an employer or healthcare provider.
Why someone might get tested for alcohol use:
- court-ordered alcohol testing
- suspicion of driving under the influence
- after getting arrested for a crime
- alcohol monitoring during a substance abuse treatment program
How To Get Alcohol Out Of Your System
Getting alcohol out of your system takes time. The amount of time will depend on how much you’ve had to drink, whether you’re alcohol-dependent, and other factors.
Although hydration can play a role in alcohol absorption, you won’t be able to flush it out of your system faster by eating or drinking water.
If you’re alcohol-dependent or addicted to alcohol, it can be dangerous to stop drinking all at once. Don’t try this alone.
An alcohol detox program can offer medical support and supervision to help you safely detox from alcohol and get it out of your system.
Find Alcohol Detox Near You
If you’re unable to stop drinking alcohol without experiencing withdrawal symptoms, a detox program is the safest and most effective way to get alcohol out of your system.
Alcohol detox programs can offer:
- medical support
- medical supervision
- medicine for alcohol withdrawal
- care coordination
Chronic or severe alcohol addiction can lead to dangerous withdrawal symptoms, including seizures, hallucinations, and death.
Detox programs can provide medical support and help you find additional treatment to prevent relapse.
We understand how difficult it can be to try and stop drinking alcohol by yourself. Call our helpline today to find alcohol detox or addiction treatment for yourself or a loved one.
Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.
These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.
- Redwood Toxicology Laboratory—Laboratory Testing Reference Guide
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: NCBI—Ethyl glucuronide in hair and fingernails as a long-term alcohol biomarker