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How Long Does it Take to Get Sober

Asking “how long does it take to get sober” has a few different answers depending on how the question is interpreted. For someone who is currently drunk, they may want to know simply how long until they can expect to feel the immediate effects of their intoxicated state wear off. However, it can also carry another implication – that is, how long for someone to begin to feel the benefits of prolonged sobriety in recovery. Getting sober has a few different elements at play that can help each person determine the answer that best fits them and their own scenario. 

How Much Alcohol to Raise Your BAC?

Every person is unique so the way alcohol affects the body will be different. Factors such as age, weight, height, and metabolism all influence how much alcohol is needed for someone to feel intoxicated. There are people who feel drunk after just a couple of drinks, while there are also serious drinkers who still feel fine even after downing a six-pack.

However, just because you think you still feel okay, that does not mean that your BAC is not increasing. The more alcohol you drink, the higher your BAC will be. Typically, the higher your BAC, the more intense the side effects are.

In the United States, having a BAC of over .08% means you are legally drunk and can be arrested for driving under the influence (DUI). Not many people are aware that it doesn’t really take much to get to this point.

So, just how much is your BAC raised per drink?

As a general rule, your BAC can be raised by .02% to .05% for every one standard alcoholic drink you consume in an hour. As mentioned earlier, the BAC increase will depend on different aspects but weight and sex are usually common differentiating factors.

A man weighing 240 lbs. will have a BAC of .02% after having one standard drink per hour. On the other hand, a woman weighing 100 lbs. drinking the same amount of alcoholic drink will have a .05% BAC. On average, a standard drink in an hour can raise the BAC level of a man or woman weighing 140 to 160 lbs. by .03%.

How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your System?

To get an idea of how long alcohol stays in your system, you need to consider the various types of BAC tests. Law enforcement usually administers a breathalyzer or blood test if you are pulled over.

You can expect a positive result for approximately this many hours:

  • Urine — up to 12 to 24 and up to 80 hours, depending on how recently and how much you drank

  • Saliva — up to 2 to 48 hours

  • Blood — up to 90 days

  • Hair — up to 90 days

Remember, this doesn’t mean you aren’t sober for this long. It just means traces of alcohol remain in your system for this length of time.

Time to Get Sober After Drinking?

getting sober

It is important to note that tolerance, or someone’s ability to appear to remain sober even when drinking, isn’t the same thing as BAC. The amount of alcohol that is in one’s blood is indifferent to any individual’s tolerance.

Due to this, after a night of particularly heavy drinking, it can be easy to still have alcohol in someone’s system well through the entirety of the next day. This can often lead to situations where someone goes out drinking and still goes to work the next day, with alcohol still in their system. It is very possible that someone will have traces of alcohol even up until the night of the day after drinking, where they then get another beer to celebrate a day’s work, in the process never giving the liver a rest from the toxins and alcohol it is being asked to break down. So, how long it takes to sober up from alcohol is dependent on any number of factors, from how much someone drinks on a particular night to if they are drinking every day, as well as their own body weight and sex. 

How Long Does it Take to Get Sober, in General?

Under the other definition of sobriety, this answer is going to be much longer than a day or two without drinking. Knowing how long it takes to sober up can also be interpreted as “how long to recover from the effects of one’s drinking?” This question requires a lot more to be addressed. While in recovery, the detox phase can help someone through the biological part of sobering up.

However, there is a mental and emotional dependence that may still be present for those suffering from an addiction. In these cases, the battle for sobriety can last a lifetime. However, that doesn’t mean that sobriety is impossible, either. 
getting help for addiction

Recovering from these long-lasting effects of alcohol can take a much longer time. Effective detox can last at least a week, while it is encouraged to continue to attend sober living for at least a year before moving on to intensive outpatient therapy. These time frames are also dependent on each person and their own progress while in therapy to address their addiction to drugs or alcohol, as well as their own goals for their recovery. Outpatient therapy, then, can continue for many years following as someone learns to balance their new lives in sobriety with the various triggers and stresses of the real world.

“How long does being drunk last?” and “how long to sober up?” are very different questions.

While recovery from the biological presence of alcohol can take an entire day, assuming that someone doesn’t begin to drink again before giving the body the necessary time to process the alcohol from the night before, recovery from the mental, emotional, and social aspects that come with substance abuse can take much longer. In this definition, sobriety is more than simply abstaining from the use of alcohol or drugs.

Rather, it is the confidence in one’s ability to address their own addiction and own triggers, and cope with the various stresses and urges in each moment. While addressing these aspects is much more difficult, it is possible regardless of someone’s history of usage. 

Do I Have a Drinking Problem?

The DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) states that you may have an alcohol use disorder if you find yourself doing two or more of the following in the previous month:

  • Drinking more or for longer than was intended

  • Unsuccessful attempts to cut down or stop alcohol use

  • Spending a lot of time obtaining, using, or recovering from alcohol consumption

  • Craving alcohol

  • Failing to fulfill responsibilities at work, school, or home due to drinking alcohol

  • Continuing to drink despite having social problems caused by the effects of alcohol

  • Important social, work, or recreational activities are stopped or reduced because of alcohol use

  • Drinking in physically dangerous situations

  • Continuing to drink even though it is known to have negative effects on your health

  • Developing a tolerance to alcohol

  • Having withdrawal symptoms after stopping alcohol use

If you meet the criteria for having AUD, going to rehabilitation can help you stay sober.


The journey to sobriety is a long one and will look different for each person. No part of getting sober from an addiction to drugs or alcohol is going to be easy.

However, if you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction to drugs or alcohol yourself, Chateau Recovery can help you take the first step towards your own sobriety today. With an array of different programs available, there is always a place for you to begin your journey, regardless of your stage of recovery.

For more information on the programs and services available at Chateau Recovery, or to speak to a professional about your unique situation, call Chateau Recovery today at (435) 222-5225.

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