Alcohol is one of the most popular drugs in the world. Since it’s not yet considered a controlled substance, people consume it anytime and anywhere. 

But because employers know that working people (especially those in safety-sensitive jobs) who are under the influence of alcohol can threaten their own lives and others, they now include urine alcohol testing in their drug testing programs. 

The question is – how long does alcohol stay in your urine? Read on to find out.

How Long Does Alcohol Stay in the Body?

Once taken, the tongue and the mouth’s mucosal lining directly absorb a small amount of alcohol.  

Then, once in the stomach, the tissues lining the stomach and small intestines process it and transports it to other body organs through the bloodstream.

If you drank alcohol on an empty stomach, you’d feel intoxicated faster. It’s because food either absorbs the alcohol or prevents it from coming into contact with the stomach lining.

The liver metabolizes one standard drink per hour for men. So if you’re a man who just consumed five alcoholic beverages, alcohol will leave your body in about five hours.

What is a standard drink?

standard drink comes in the form of the following:

  • 12 fl oz of regular beer.
  • 8-9 fl oz of malt liquor.
  • 5 fl oz of wine.
  • 1.5 fl oz shot of distilled spirits (gin, rum, tequila, vodka, whiskey).

Other factors influence the rate of alcohol breakdown in the body. These are:

  • Weight
  • Age
  • Metabolism
  • Gender
  • Amount of food eaten
  • Type and strength of the alcoholic beverage
  • Medications that are taken before drinking alcohol

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Why use urine for testing alcohol?

Alcohol blood tests can detect the substance for up to six hours. On the other hand, breathalyzers and saliva tests can detect alcohol anywhere from 12-24 hours.

On the other hand, an alcohol urine test looks for the ethanol metabolite Ethyl Glucuronide or EtG. It’s because EtG stays in the body for up to 80 hours or three days.

Will drinking plenty of water or coffee sober you up?

No, doing these things won’t speed up the elimination of alcohol in the body. Even sleeping longer or taking a shower won’t do. Yes, drinking coffee or lots of water and taking a cold shower can make you feel refreshed and awake. However, the body eliminates alcohol naturally through an enzyme called Alcohol Dehydrogenase produced by the liver.

But even if you’re already sober, EtG will remain in your body. So if you’re scheduled for an alcohol test, your best bet would be to stay away from any alcoholic drinks for three days or more.

It is said that UA drug testing cups sometimes show false positives. Why does this happen?

Admittedly, false positives can happen if:

  • you recently ate plenty of foods poured with alcohol (baked Alaska, flambes)
  • used mouthwashes or breath mints before the test
  • took a cough syrup like Nyquil

This is why you should inform the evaluator of any medicines you took or food you ate before the alcohol drug test. Another thing to keep in mind is the cutoff levels of different drugs. 

Yes, taking Panadeine Forte for your headache might give you positive test results for opiates. However, the test will also show that the concentration is within the therapeutic range. This means you are not misusing opiates.

So how long does alcohol stay in your urine? Generally up to 80 hours depending on your age, gender, and other factors.

Would you like to know more about this topic? Visit the Ovus Medical Blog. We have plenty of information you can benefit from.