How long does it take to sober up?

There cannot be a general defined time limit that an individual needs to sober up. This is because every individual metabolizes alcohol differently. These variations arise because of different factors that include:

  • Gender
  • Body weight
  • Tolerance to alcohol
  • State of body organs etc.

However, an average person metabolizes approximately 1 standard drink once an hour.

Let’s have a look at what is a standard drink? It can be:

  • A mixed drink of 1.25 oz. of 80 proof liquor
  • 12-oz. American pilsner beer that contains a volume of about 5% alcohol
  • A 5 oz. glass of wine
  • A 1.25 oz. of 80 proof liquor

In order to calculate the duration after which one will sober up, the number of standard drinks consumed should be counted. Then, wait for the number of hours equal to the number of standard drinks. One cannot speed up the process of getting sobered up by drinking coffee, taking a cold shower or by eating. After the consumption of alcohol, all one can do is wait for it to get metabolized.

This can be understood with the help of an example. Let’s suppose a person of an average weight of 150 lbs. reaches a blood alcohol level of approximately 0.16 percent after having 7 standard drinks. This is two times the legal limit to drive, i.e. the legal limit to drive is multiplied by two in order to get this much content of alcohol in blood. This is what we can call a sound definition of “too drunk”. In order to sober up, the individual would require about 7 hours. The drinking experience or the developed tolerance of an individual does not have anything to do with this. Moreover, this period of 7 hours cannot be shortened by any other means. All an individual can do is to wait.

The general rules of getting sobered up do not take into account the alcohol that can be present within the human body as a result of drinking the night before, as it gets accumulated. Therefore, it should be taken into consideration that one must take a significant break before consuming more alcohol.

Legal Drive Limit

The legal drive limit cannot be converted into a defined unit or number. This is because the tolerance of an individual depends upon various factors that include the weight of the person, his/her gender, his/her metabolic rate, current stress level, age and whether the person had something to eat before they had a drink.

In the United Kingdom, 80 milligrams of booze per milliliter of blood, 35 micrograms per 100 milliliters of breath or 107 milligrams per 100 milliliters of urine is the alcohol limit for drivers. The time required by a healthy liver to metabolize one unit of alcohol can be calculated. Again, factors like weight, gender, age etc. should be taken into consideration. Even a Christmas cake baked with booze in it requires about half an hour for the liver to metabolize.

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