How Does Alcohol Affect the Body?


Exactly how the alcohol affects you depends on a multitude of factors—body weight, age, gender, and current health conditions—yet the path of alcohol absorption into the bloodstream remains the same for everyone. It travels through the blood, past the intestine and into the brain, where it alters the neurotransmitters, creating reactions of relaxation, happiness, and ease of mind.

The human body can process about .25 ounces of alcohol per hour. Alcohol is absorbed quickly but metabolized rather slowly. It can be detected in body fluids for some time after administration, depending on the individual’s metabolism.

Consumption of alcohol by any method besides oral consumption is rare. Since alcohol is only detectable in urine for 12 to 24 hours, alcohol testing is rare.


Does Alcohol Cause a High?


Alcohol facilitates the delivery of serotonin and dopamine to the brain. Although we tend to differentiate this effect from that of other drugs by calling it a “drunk” instead of a “high,” it’s really the same thing.

Onset of alcohol occurs approximately 30 minutes after administration. One drink remains in the body for about 2 hours.


How Long Does an Alcohol High Last?


There are a lot of factors in that equation, including size, body fat percentage, the type of alcoholic drink, the amount of it, and the amount of food consumed before drinking it. It’s complicated and somewhat unpredictable. Underestimation is one the biggest reasons drunken accidents happen, like falls or car accidents. As you get drunker and drunker, you become less capable of normal functions. Motoric movement is compromised, thinking is slower, vision is impaired, and speech becomes slurred.


Getting intoxicated with alcohol repeatedly – a condition known as chronic drinking or binge drinking – can lead to all kinds of health issues including cancer, pancreatitis, malnutrition, dehydration, sleeping disorders, and, most famously, liver disease. Drinking faster than the liver can metabolize causes alcohol accumulation in blood and body tissues. Once a person’s blood-alcohol concentration exceeds .055, that blood and tissue starts to absorb all excess amounts. Over time, it loses its functionality.