How long do units of alcohol last?

Alcohol is one of those things that can make a person feel on top of the world or bring them crashing down. Either way, everyone wants to know how long the effects will last. While it may seem like an easy question, there are many factors at play that determine how long units of alcohol last and vary from person to person.

The Science behind It All

The science-based approach

Before we get into the nitty-gritty details, let’s take a step back and understand what exactly happens when you consume alcohol.

When you drink alcoholic beverages, your body breaks it down into acetaldehyde using enzymes called alcohol dehydrogenase and aldehyde dehydrogenase in your liver. Acetaldehyde is then processed further by another enzyme called acetaldehyde dehydrogenase before finally getting eliminated through urine, breath or sweat.

One unit of alcohol refers to 10 milliliters (ml) or 8 grams (g) of pure ethanol which equals roughly one standard drink for most people – about half pint (1 bottle/can) beer with average strength; a small glass wine or cocktail with around 40% ABV(alcohol/volume).

Factors Influencing How Long Alcohol Lasts

Numerous factors determine how long units of alcohol last in your system:

1. Your Body Weight

Your weight plays a significant role in determining how quickly your body metabolizes alcohol because larger individuals have more water content than smaller ones who metabolize slower rates.

2- Genetics

Genetics also impacts the speed at which someone eliminates booze out their bloodstreams due chemical interactions between enzymes responsible for breaking don acetaldehyde produced during drinking sessions.


Metabolic rate helps regulate eliminations steps creating longer-lasting levels within individuals over time depending individual metabolic efficiency differences

4-Standard of Drinks

People who drink frequently can process more booze, might lead to higher levels within a few hours , while infrequent drinkers might have lower concentrations for up to 12-24hrs.

5- Type of Alcohol

The type of alcohol ingested also affects the body differently like whiskey may take longer than beer.

How Long May Effects Last?

Now that we know some factors influencing how long units last in our bodies let’s break it down further:

Effects — Numerical-guidelines

Type of Drink One Unit Hrs to clear out Bloodstream
Wine 100 cl 2-3 hrs
Lager -Half pint -1hr
Whiskey -25 ml –2.5 hours

From the chart above, you can see that various factors come together to determine how long it takes your body to eliminate an alcoholic beverage – this is known as ‘blood alcohol concentration’ or BAC.

A general rule is that it takes about one hour for your liver to metabolize one unit properly. For example, if someone drinks three pints (six half-pint cups) beer during a night out on their empty stomach, they would be over the legal drive limit by early morning because at least six units are still undigested due longer digestion-rate patterns characteristic compared with wine which assimilates quicker.

Since everyone metabolizes differently based on individual characteristics and unique traits; determining specific elimination time frames accurately relies beyond any science-based conclusions.

Warnings About Mixing Booze

Several myths exist concerning different types/brands/ratios/alcohol mixing before consuming gets into bloodstream contributing harmful effects:

  • Beer before liquor never been sicker
  • Liquor before beer inch clear
  • No rhyme nor reason exists among alcohols consumption modes.

Instead, Follow these pieces of advice:

  • Drink water frequently between beers.
  • Do not drive within hours consuming any alcohol like using a taxi service if unsure about content being consumed.


In conclusion, how long units of booze last in your bloodstream is unique and individualized depends on several factors. Understanding what impacts its absorption rate and metabolism helps to stay safe while drinking as well as harm reduction strategies focused attention towards the importance self-awareness/healing meditated through healthy choices. Cheers!

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