I’m just guessing here, but I’m betting that you looked up “how long does it take to get sober?” for one of two situations. The first is that you are currently drunk and wondering in how many hours you’ll sober up. The second situation is that you’ve been drinking for a long time, and you’re wondering how long it will take you to get sober and stop drinking for good.
This blog post is going to be more helpful in the former situation—for when you need to sober up fast. And in case you were wondering, alcohol can stay in your system for about 3-5 days after consumption!
It’s important to note that, as with all wellness journeys, there are different factors affecting how long it takes to get sober. Not all alcohol consumption is bad. If you like to have a drink every once in a while, don’t let me stop you. However, if you’re finding that your alcohol consumption impedes your daily life, it’s time to consider if an alcohol addiction exists. And, if it does, consider whether or not you need to get sober.
Of course, that’s easier said than done—especially when you’re not sure how to kick binge drinking habits. That’s why, below, we’re sharing how long you can expect to get sober after drinking.
How Long Does It Take To Get Sober?
As I mentioned above, there are numerous elements that can affect anyone’s sobriety journey. To name just a few: how long you were drinking, the amount of alcohol you were drinking, and how frequently you were drinking.
Even though we often think that the effects of alcohol are only that it makes us more social or goads us into dancing on tabletops, it’s much deeper than that. For instance, if you’re drinking on an empty stomach, the alcohol will get into your bloodstream faster. Alcohol, when consumed in copious amounts, also wreaks havoc on your liver.
Before getting into scientifically proven ways to sober up quickly, I want to talk about some of the common myths we hear about getting un-drunk. For example, taking a cold shower or having a drink of coffee can make you sober up in a snap. This is false. Once you drink enough to feel the effects of alcohol (aka alcohol intoxication), there’s not much else to do except give yourself time to sober up.
Now that you’re aware of that, keep reading for real ways to sober up fast.
Ways To Sober Up Fast
Standard drinks have about 0.6 ounces of alcohol in them, which makes staying hydrated key. I’ve noticed that my hangover is far less debilitating when I drink a cup of water for every alcoholic beverage. For instance, if I’m having one drink per hour, I’m also drinking water every hour.
Staying hydrated also mimics the motion of bringing a drink to your lips. And that can help you keep a drinking ritual instead of missing or going back to booze.
Here’s a sentence I never thought I’d write: I love to run. It’s now my favorite form of exercise. I find that I’m completely at ease and feel more alert when I’m on the treadmill, trail, or pavement. That sense of peace is key when you’re trying to sober up quickly. If you’re feeling like reaching for a drink, maybe go for a run or to an exercise class.
Getting plenty of sleep
Alcohol stays in your system for anywhere between 12 and 130 hours, according to the Cleveland Clinic. And when there is booze in your body, your sleep can be detrimentally impacted. For example, the National Institutes of Health state that “alcohol abuse and dependence are associated with chronic sleep disturbance, lower slow wave sleep, and more rapid eye movement sleep.”
In order to put your best sober foot forward, you’ll need to get plenty of quality shut-eye. I used to think I could get by on four or five hours of sleep, but I was sorely mistaken. Sleep deprivation, aka what I was unwittingly doing to myself, can lead to memory issues, poor decision-making, and heightened depression or anxiety.
My best advice for sobering up? Get a good night’s rest whenever you can. This’ll help clear any brain fog or anxiety you may experience as a result of ditching the booze.
I’m going to be a bit vulnerable here: There was a time when I ate maybe one meal a day. I was in the throes of depression and eating didn’t bring me any joy. Which was probably because I hardly ever had an appetite. Instead of providing my body with its necessary nutrients, I turned to the bottle.
Our body processes alcohol very differently—especially on an empty stomach. I was looking to alcohol to solve a problem only I could solve, and that’s why I was never happy drinking it. Once I dragged myself out of my depression and started eating regularly again, I realized that food gave me energy and mental clarity. (Read: definitely not alcohol.)
Drinking other things instead of alcohol
While I’m not completely sober (I still have a drink or two on the weekends), I have to admit that I much prefer being sober. When I’m booze-free, I notice that I’m better able to remember the fun I had that night. Plus, in the morning, I don’t hate myself for over-indulging the night before. Truthfully, I used to be a little embarrassed to order a club soda or virgin margarita at the bar. I thought I was wasting the bartender’s time.
Now, however, I realize that I’m just doing what’s best for me. Once I got over that self-conscious hurdle, I was able to order a bunch of other things to drink instead of alcohol. One of my favorite things to drink in the afternoon is kombucha because it has a fizz similar to tonics. And, at night, I love to sip on a warm tea if I’m feeling cozy. If it’s a warmer summer day, I’ll reach for my sparkling water and make a delicious mocktail with a bit of honey and a splash of lime.