Whether we’re winding off from a busy day or just having a perfect time with friends, cracking a cold bottle of beer or a bottle of cocktail from time to time is something we all have done. When consumed on a moderate level, alcohol is less harmful; however, abusive use can lead to adverse health effects.
So, before grabbing the next bottle of cocktail or cold beer, don’t you think it’s important to know exactly how your body reacts to alcohol? How fast do you feel the kick of alcohol? And how can you use the beverage without abuse?
This article is a comprehensive guide that provides analytical answers on the use of alcohol and personal health. But before we get a head start, let’s look at various factors.
How Fast Can You Feel the Results of Alcohol?
The effect of alcohol is not felt instantaneously; the body gradually absorbs it and creates an exciting feeling within minutes, depending on your tolerance level and other factors.
Your body’s reactions to alcohol is based on some important factors that we can’t control like gender, medical conditions, and genetic formation.
Factors like drinking on an empty stomach or using other substances can affect your response too.
What you’re drinking also has a significant effect; some drinks contain more percentage of alcohol than others. The percentage of alcohol from a can of beer is nothing compared to what’s present from a vodka shot.
On average, it takes approximately 30 minutes to have the shot of alcohol if you’re drinking at a moderate pace. What you’re drinking also has a significant influence on the feel. It could take more or less time; it also depends on the individual's tolerance level.
Alcohol goes into the stomach and travels further into the small intestine where it then gets absorbed directly into the bloodstream. Once it gets into the blood, it creates a kicky effect that changes your mood. Here are some of the facts relating to how you feel when your body reacts to alcohol:
l More social
l Less coordinated
l Less inhibited
l More fatigued or tired.
Typically, it takes an hour for your body to metabolize a drink, but the intoxicant effect starts within 30 to 35 minutes. You can use this gauge to pace yourself. Drinking more than a glass every thirty minutes means you're drinking too fast and too much.
Alcohol Consumption: Male vs Female
Alcohol is metabolized differently by the body and is based on gender difference. Women are likely to get tipsy and experience more intoxicant effects than men. They have more fat and less water weight compared to men.
This means women absorb more alcohol into their bloodstream where the first intoxicant effect kicks off. The faster your body absorbs alcohol into the blood, the quicker it creates the intoxicating effect. Here are some reasons why women seem to metabolize more alcohol than men.
l Hormone differences. A high level of estrogen makes the brain more responsive to alcohol. Naturally, women have more estrogen compared to men. This is one of the major reasons why they feel the effects of alcohol a bit quicker.
l Digestive enzyme differences. Men have higher levels of dehydrogenase than women. On a medium scale, women have half the amount of dehydrogenase compared to the percentage in men.
l Height and weight differences: People who are on the big side tend to metabolize alcohol slowly. Men often weigh more and are taller than women; this also contributes to their reaction.
Women consume less alcohol than men but are more prone to on the edge of organ damage. One of the highest alcohol disorders was recorded between 2002 and 2013; the report shows that over 80% of organ damage from alcohol was found in women.
Who Is at Risk?
If you have observed a bar, you will notice that the percentage of men exceeds that of women. Men are more likely to become alcoholics, but women suffer more bodily damage that results from the abusive use of alcohol.
An epidemiological study that shows a response to alcohol between sexes at an early age shows that both sexes are affected by alcohol in similar ways. However, as maturity encroaches, men are likely to become heavy drinkers as women due to stereotypical characteristics.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, female alcoholics have higher death rates than their counterparts. Women are more likely to suffer from liver diseases, breast cancer, circulatory disease, infertility, and finally, early menopause.
A report shows half the total number of men and women were reported drinking alcohol with a volume ranging from 14.2% to 29.5%. Among the group, men had the highest volume and quantity than women. There was a significant difference in the level of consumption between the two sexes.
Alcohol and Weight
The influence of alcohol on the nervous system depends on the quantity you have in your bloodstream. Because alcohol is being distributed across the body by plasma (the water content in the blood), it dilutes a bit faster if you have enough water in your bloodstream.
Usually, those who weigh less have less percentage of water and blood compared to someone on the heavy side. To this effect, people of small stature will have more alcohol if they subject themselves to drink the same volume of alcohol with someone bigger.
Most people get intoxicated after taking up three to four glasses; this influence can happen more rapidly if the person involved is small in stature. It is important to know that alcoholic content in distilled spirits, wine, and beer varies generally.
Alcohol and Weight loss
Naturally, someone who weighs more takes longer to feel the kick of alcohol due to the high amount of blood plasma, which helps to dissolve alcoholic concentration.
If you are planning to lose weight, using this beverage isn’t a viable option. Aside from red wine, 90% of alcoholic beverages leads to weight gain. Irrespective of what you’re drinking, if you’re a heavy drinker, you are more likely to gain weight.
When this effect is compared in male and female, males are more likely to put on weight than females, and this is due to the volume and how frequent they consume the beverage. Alcohol gives your body excess calories; this serves as an appetite booster, leading to weight gain.
The average wine drinker takes two thousand more calories; this is equivalent to 18 doughnuts monthly. Since alcohols are energy-dense food, they do not hold many nutrients. This is one of the reasons why they are referred to as empty calories. Theoretically, here are some of the reasons why alcohol leads to weight gain:
- It has lots of empty calories.
- Your liver turns almost all of the 94 percent of the ethanol in your body to energy.
- Since the body gets enough energy from alcohol, it stops converting fats and carbohydrates into energy.
- When your body gets too much energy from alcohol, the excess is converted into fat.
Regardless of what you’re drinking, heavy drinking leads to weight gain. However, females are less prone to this effect when it comes to the use of alcohol. Alcohol redistributes fat in the body, creates surplus calories, increases impulsivity, and promotes appetite.
Alcohol and the Liver
People who drink regularly for a protracted period often go through various changes and adjustments that result due to the presence of alcohol in their system.
Usually, it takes about ninety minutes for the average human to digest a standard drink. But for those who drink alcohol regularly, absorption is more rapid than a first timer. This is why addicts have a higher tolerance level; that is, they tend to drink more before they experience the intoxicant effect.
A fast metabolism results from the liver's efficiency when it comes to breaking down alcohol and building more quality enzymes to digest the beverage.
Regardless of your height and weight, the liver can only withstand a standard drink within an hour. Drinks are considered as standard when it contains:
l A 12-ounce beer
l A 7-ounce glass of malt liquor
l A 4-ounce glass of wine
l A 1.25-ounce shot of 80-proof liquor
People who are on a higher risk of developing this liver disease are those who:
l Drink large amounts of alcohol
l Have been drinking a long time (usually, for more than eight years)
l Have a genetic makeup that makes them susceptible to alcoholic liver disease
l Are obese
l Are women
To understand your exposure to alcohol-liver-disease, you will need to know how your body reacts and the right volume to drink. To this effect, it’s important to know the percentage of alcohol in a beverage. As stated before, different types of beverages contain different percentages of alcohol.
l Beers have 2% to 7% alcoholic content.
l Wines have 10% to 15% alcoholic content.
l Hard liquors have 40% to 45% alcoholic content.
In liquor, the alcohol concentration is also called proof. For instance, an 80-proof liquor has 40% alcohol.
To be at risk of alcohol-liver-disease, you will need to drink about 1 1/2 ounces of alcohol daily or drink more than three ounces for ten years. Drinking 1 1/2 ounces per day is compared to drinking about three glasses of wine, three cans of beer, or going for three-shots of hard liquor daily.
How Long Does It Take To Develop Cirrhosis?
Men have a higher chance of developing Cirrhosis if they drink two to three ounces of alcohol daily for 10 -15 years.
This is also applicable when you drink six shots of liquor, six cans of beer, or five glasses of wine. Statistically, about 50% of men who drink 5-8 ounces of alcohol per day for a protracted period have higher potentials of developing Cirrhosis.
Typically, the longer and more you drink, the higher your risk of liver damage. Although, this varies in individuals and is not applicable to everyone who drinks for a protracted period.
It is advisable to know your limit and try not to exceed it. Avoid drinking more than the required standard per hour.
Abusive use of alcohol over time can lead to the development of chronic disease and other health issues including heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and cancer of the throat, liver, colon, and mouth.
Alcohol-related liver disease (ARLD) results from the abusive use of alcohol from years of excessive drinking, which often cause the liver to become swollen and inflamed. This damage often leads to Cirrhosis, the final stage of liver damage.
Tolerance plays a significant role in how alcohol kicks in; the more you drink alcohol, the less your body responds to its effect. And most times, you’re more likely to consume more alcohol before you get the drunk feeling. However, those who are not addicted to alcohol are more responsive to the intoxicant effect.
Your genetic makeup can influence your tolerance level too. For example, people who have liver diseases running in their families increase the likelihood of getting the disease themselves if they drink heavily.
People of native and Asian ancestry are less tolerant. This is because the enzymes created in the liver (acetaldehyde dehydrogenase) are not effective in their race. These people with different genetic makeup can get drunk faster and will stay intoxicated longer.
People with a genetic alcohol intolerance react to the drinks. For example, they have flushed cheeks and an increased heart rate. Others’ skin becomes pink. No matter the volume you consume, you are also at risk, though this intensifies with constant usage.
Your tolerance level increases based on how often you use alcohol. A change in your tolerance will require high consumption of alcohol to get the intoxicant effect. And most times, alcoholic tolerance is usually a clear sign of alcohol dependency.
Alcohol and Medication
Be it an over-the-counter drug or a prescription drug, alcohol is a solvent that interacts violently with medication. This is why it is advisable to seek the attention of a health professional before using any prescription.
Some examples of over the counter and prescription drugs that are likely to react with alcohol include:
l Cold and flu Medications like Sudafed, Benadryl, and Tylenol
l Depression and anxiety Drugs like Klonopin, Ativan, Paxil, and Valium.
l Antibiotics like Zithromax and Flagyl
l Antipsychotic drugs like Risperdal and Seroquel
l Diabetes drugs like Orinase and Glucotrol
l Indigestion and heartburn medication like Zantac and Reglan
l Pain killers like Naprosyn and Celebrex.
l Sleep medications like Lunesta, Ambien, and Unisom
The above mention drugs react violently with alcohol. There are over a hundred more. This is why it is important to seek your doctor's attention before using new prescriptions; a significant percentage of both over-the-counter drugs and prescription drugs react violently when used with alcohol.
Alcohol and drug interaction are often uncomfortable, and symptoms like nausea and dizziness are always accompanied. It's mostly accompanied by life-threatening signs like a change in breathing level or an increase in blood pressure.
Mixing drugs with alcohol intensifies the dose and exposes you to the risk of overdose. We recommend seeking the attention of a professional if you experience any of these signs.
Alcohol and Drugs
Street drugs are not advisable to get. However, they also can mingle with your drug. Alcohol can intensify the effect of whatever drug which can be deadly. There is a higher trend of overdose when people mix their substances.
Opioids and cocaine are the deadliest. Opioid drugs slow down breathing, and when it mixes with alcohol, you’re more likely to have your breathing stop.
Cocaine meets the alcohol in the liver to create a chemical called cocaethylene, making the effect stronger, thus putting you at risk of sudden death.
Mixing alcohol with street drugs will intensify the intoxicant effect of both substances, which most times cause irreversible damage to the body or lead to death. These drugs include:
They can lead to adverse effects like organ failure, organ damage, or even death once used with alcohol. We recommend seeking professional help if you suffer from any of the above addictions.
Using alcohol with medication/drugs will only intensify the effects, which can most of the time result in difficulty concentrating or carrying out any form of mechanical skills.
How Long Does Alcohol Take to Kick in on an Empty Stomach?
The stomach and the small intestines absorb most portions of alcohol. So, if you have an empty stomach, alcohol can affect you faster. On the other hand, if you have had your meals, it is possible to experience some delay.
A full belly implies a longer time for it to get absorbed. It is advisable to eat at least an hour before reaching for a bottle of alcohol. Drinking on an empty stomach can intensify hangover symptoms, which can lead to:
l Trouble thinking
l Mood changes
l Nausea and vomiting
Once you observe any of the symptoms mentioned above, you can remedy it by drinking enough fluids, resting, or eating light foods like crackers.
The Risks of Drinking on an Empty Stomach
Drinking on an empty stomach leaves you open to health issues. It can lead to alcohol poisoning, which leads to coma and brain damage. Sometimes it can be fatal by causing health issues that can lead to:
l Mental instability
l Loss of consciousness
l Slow breathing
l Trouble moving or speaking
If you observe the above symptoms, we recommend seeking medical help as soon as possible. Alcohol poisoning can lead to irreversible organ damage.
It takes from thirty minutes to two hours for alcohol to get absorbed into the bloodstream. The time varies, and the level of concentration can also be a major contributing factor, whether the alcohol is taken on an empty stomach or with food.
It's advisable not to use alcohol on an empty stomach due to its potential risks. Although it is intensive, the intoxicant effect creates a tipsy feeling within seconds, but it exposes you to death and other side effects.
Ideally, you can eat an hour ahead before using the beverage. And if you’ve put off the habit for some time, then it is best to snack before or while drinking.
How Long Does it Take for Alcohol to Affect the Brain?
We associate drinking with pleasure and reward. But other factors like stress often play a role in making addicts. Generally, people tend to become alcohol addicts because of their need to relieve stress.
Parts of the brain that control our stress and reward systems are influenced by hormones; over time, the body gradually adjusts to the changes created by alcohol.
Once alcohol is absorbed through the stomach and then gets into your bloodstream, they reach the brain in as little as five minutes and create an effect that is experienced within ten minutes.
Abusive use of alcohol can lead to permanent brain damage. It can damage the white matter fibers in the brain that connects various parts of the brain. Damage to these fibers could make it difficult for several parts of the brain to connect and function optimally. In severe cases, the brain can be permanently damaged.
Brain damage could result in dementia, a situation known as Korsakoff's syndrome. Korsakoff's syndrome occurs when the alcohol content stored in the body is too much, thereby preventing the body from synthesizing the right amounts of thiamine (Vitamin B1). Some of these symptoms include:
- Having trouble recalling from short term memory
- Long-term memory gaps
- Difficulty learning new information
We strongly recommend total abstinence from alcohol if you are diagnosed with Korsakoff syndrome. Eating healthy with the use of thiamine supplements can enhance your recovery too.
It takes five minutes for alcohol to get to the brain; the intoxicant effect starts within ten minutes. The liver starts to process it within twenty minutes.
How Long Does It Take to Get Sober?
Generally, it takes an hour for the body to metabolize a standard drink. However, your tolerance level has some significant contribution to this too. If you consume too much alcohol in a short period, it will take a longer time to get sober.
It also depends on the factor mentioned above and the percentage of alcohol in your bloodstream. Alcohol is expelled off the bloodstream at the rate of 3.3 Millimoles an hour. Below is a perspective regarding how long it takes for drinks to remain in the system.
- A large glass of wine: 3 hours
- Pint of beer: 2 hours
- A small shot of liquor: 1 hour
Generally, a liquor shot wears off in an hour, a pint of beer lasts for two hours, while a large glass of wine lasts for three to four hours. Some important factors can also determine how long alcohol stays in your body. These factors include:
l Age and gender
l Medication or drugs that you’re using.
l Body weight
l Drinking on an empty stomach
l Your pace and quality of alcohol
The following steps can help you expel the intoxicant effect of alcohol within the frame of an hour or two:
l Eating food
l Avoiding the use of caffeine
l Drinking enough water
l Limiting your shots to one glass per hour
The intoxicant effect that results from the use of alcohol goes off within hours; however, the body still retains its trace for some time. Hair tests allow you to detect alcohol up to two to three months.
IV Therapy to Help With Hangovers
IV therapy quickly combats hangover symptoms within half an hour to an hour. They help to rehydrate while flushing your toxins out and restore all of the lost nutrients.
IV therapy is used to alleviate the highest level of hangover symptoms. It supplies the body with the necessary fluids and re-hydrates the body within minutes.
Everyone can recover from a hangover, but it often takes more waiting hours to feel relieved of such stress.
This effective intravenous treatment helps to combat different symptoms directly from its source. Here are some of the hangover symptoms that are addressed with the use of a Hangover IV Drip:
l Muscle aches and headaches
l Weakness and fatigue
l Nausea and vomiting
l Irritable mood
l The dizzy feeling from dehydration
Your body’s reaction to alcohol depends on some important factors. Some of these factors are what you can control while others aren’t. It is important to know your limit and respect your body's needs.
Excess alcoholic intake will only flood your bloodstream and make your condition and control difficult. Drinking safely and moderately can reduce the risk of health issues related to the use of alcohol.
Excessive alcohol abuse will lead to organ damage in the long run; therefore we recommend you drink responsibly. Remember, drinking moderately and safely is a sure way to lower your risk of alcohol-related health issues.