The quick answer is “The average person’s liver can metabolize 1 ounce of alcohol every hour”. As soon as the drink enters your system, 20% gets absorbed in the stomach and the remaining 80% gets processed in the small intestine. However, if the consumption of alcohol in your drink is very high level, the quicker it will be absorbed in the body. This means that vodka (around 35-50%) will have a quicker absorption rate compared to beer (usually only 2-12%). Alcohol can be detected in urine, blood, saliva, sweat, breath and hair follicles. Alcohol can be detected in urine 12 to 48 hours after the last drink. The better the test administered the longer time can have lapsed for alcohol to register. Alcohol can be detected on the breath 24 hours after consumption.
Alcohol consumption has raised many debates all over the world. Some scientists and health professionals state that alcohol has its benefits. A most important use of alcohol with the highest proof is medicinal. This is listed in the Unites States Pharmacopoeia as a medicine. More than half of the health institutions in the largest US metropolitan area have reported offering alcoholic drinks to their clients.
Studies have reported that individuals who drink alcohol moderately tend to live longer and are healthier than those who abuse it or abstain from it. Research has also pointed out that a person who abstains from drinking alcohol has a risk of developing heart diseases. Also, alcohol has to be consumed regularly for one to enjoy its health benefits.
These studies highlight the benefits of moderate consumption of alcohol. But the sad fact is that substance abuse is one of the major health problems and has placed an onerous burden on society. Most people believe that alcohol is a stimulant, but in truth it is a depressant. That is why excess consumption of alcohol leads to:
- Short-term memory loss,
- Impaired judgment,
- Slurred speech and
- The inclination to violent behavior.
How Our Body Processes Alcohol
The body is an amazing thing which can handle the right amount of alcohol efficiently if in a healthy state. But what happens when you overload the system with more than it can take? Our body processes alcohol depending largely on how many metabolizing enzymes you have in your liver. This will vary depending on the individual but in general, when you have one drink the alcohol concentration in your blood will peak at around 30-45 minutes. Drink-aware Medical Adviser Dr Paul Wallace reminds us that “The amount of alcohol in your bloodstream depends on two things. The amount you take in, over what period of time and the speed at which your body gets rid of it.”
After the metabolizing process is complete the substance then passes onto the bloodstream and gets transported to the rest of the body. It then gets passed to the kidneys and lungs which remove the remaining alcohol through urination, respiration and perspiration.
Blood Alcohol Concentration, relates to the amount of alcohol that gets absorbed by your body when drinking. The metabolizing process happens at around 0.015 BAC per 60 minutes. When your bloodconcentration reaches 0.05 or more, you will feel the negative side-effects of alcohol such as nausea, vomiting, memory loss and the dreaded hangover.
Alcohol Blood Test
The presence of ethanol in the body can be measured through an alcohol blood test. Since alcohol is easily absorbed into the system, the amount in the blood can be measured a few minutes after it has been ingested. The peak level of alcohol in the bloodstream can be observed an hour after the initial intake.
With many laboratory tests, there are factors that might affect the results of the alcohol blood test.
- Using too much rubbing alcohol when cleaning the area for blood withdrawal.
- Diabetics with high levels of blood ketones (diabetic ketoacidosis) might give a false-positive.
- Intake of cough medicines or alcohol-containing herbal supplements.
Alcohol Breath Test
As the person exhales, the alcohol is detected once it goes into the breath analyzer. So instead of using the invasive blood test procedure, an officer of the law can now instantly test a person for the presence of alcohol in the system. Try to be sure the sample comes from the alveolar air and not from the mouth, stomach or throat. During training the officers learn the proper techniques for obtaining accurate results. For instance, having the user take a couple of deep breaths and exhale them forcefully will help you get the alveolar air from the bottom of their lungs. Most certified individuals observe the client for fifteen to twenty minutes- cautiously- before performing the test.
This non-invasive test detects alcohol in the saliva. It gives a comparable reading to the alcohol content in the bloodstream. It can effectively determine the alcohol level in the saliva 10 to 24 hours after intake. However, the enzyme (alcohol oxidase), is easily affected by extreme temperature ranges.