How to flush Alcohol from urine. Is it possible?

Picture this. You’re out having a few drinks with friends. The next thing you know, you’ve had one too many. You want to sober up. How do you flush the alcohol out of your system? Maybe you should drink some water. Maybe you can grab a cup of caffeine. Maybe you can even gobble up a carb-heavy meal/snack. Do any of these actions actually help to flush alcohol from your system quickly? Many seem to think so.

A group of young people are in a circle raising their glasses of alcohol together wonders how to flush alcohol from their urine after a drinking.

The concept or idea of flushing out alcohol from the body is not the most accurate. In fact, it is not possible to “sober up quickly” or to “quickly flush out the alcohol” from your system. The majority of the alcohol that enters your body and into the bloodstream is processed in the liver. About 90% of alcohol consumed is metabolized in the liver. Only 2-5% of alcohol consumed is eliminated through other means such as sweat and urine. There is no way to speed up alcohol metabolism in the body.

Flushing out alcohol from the body is usually when a person attempts to drink non-alcoholic fluids in order to eliminate alcohol through the urine. Unfortunately, increased fluids will not make the body metabolize the alcohol faster. The fluids can rehydrate the body and improve physical symptoms after the liver has done its job and processed the remaining alcohol.

Alcohol metabolism in the body

Alcohol is processed in the body more quickly than most other substances. On average, it takes about one hour for a normal body to eliminate one standard drink. The more you drink, the longer it will take for the body to process and eliminate the alcohol. If you drink four beers, it might take you an average of four hours or so to metabolize the alcohol in your body. So what constitutes a standard drink?

  • 12 oz beer = 1 standard drink
  • 1.5 oz shot of liquor = 1 standard drink
  • 5 oz glass of wine = 1 standard drink
Infograph showing timeline detection for various types of alcohol testing such as urine, breath and blood tests.

Of course, how fast or slow your body will process and get rid of alcohol depends on multiple factors. Factors to consider:

  • Amount of alcohol consumed
  • Percentage and strength of alcohol consumed
  • How quickly you consume alcohol
  • Body size (height and weight)
  • Medication – Some medications can interact with alcohol and affect the absorption process of alcohol.
  • Age – For someone older, alcohol will stay in the liver longer before it moves into the bloodstream or is metabolized. This increases the intoxication levels of alcohol. Ultimately, older people process alcohol at a much slower rate and therefore it may take longer for them to flush out from the body.
  • Biological Gender – Alcohol is metabolized differently in men and women. Alcohol tends to stay in women’s bodies for longer due to the higher percentage of body fat and less water. Water dilutes alcohol and fat retains it. Hormones in the body can also affect the ability to process alcohol.
  • Food – Food can help dilute alcohol and slow the stomach emptying into the small intestine, where alcohol is absorbed. Food can slow down the rate at which alcohol is absorbed. However, food does not affect the rate at which alcohol is processed and eliminated by the liver.
  • Other medical issues – The overall health of the liver and kidneys can affect how the body processes alcohol. If a person has liver disease due to heavy drinking, the liver may need to work extra hard to process the alcohol and can cause it to work slower or inefficiently.

How to flush Alcohol from your system and how to flush Alcohol from urine

Unfortunately, there is no amount of water or caffeine you can drink that will help you flush out alcohol from your system or your urine. Intake of fluids in general is beneficial for the body and helps to regulate body temperature, lubricate joints, maintain healthy blood pressure, carry nutrients to cells and help with organ performance. Because alcohol is a diuretic, the body loses water when consuming alcohol. Staying hydrated while drinking can help keep other aspects of the body from losing or slowing down its functions. However, the liver will metabolize the substance at its own rate despite your desperate attempts to speed up the process.

Some misconceptions about flushing out alcohol include exercising, eating after drinking, vomiting and taking a cold shower. Although taking these actions might make you feel better and more stable after drinking, it does not affect the blood alcohol content level and doesn’t help flush alcohol from the body.

Infograph with 5 major risk factors to consider about alcohol use disorder.

On average, alcohol can stay in the body for about 25 hours. The half-life of alcohol is about 4-5 hours. It takes about 5 half-lives for the body to fully eliminate alcohol from the system. 

Testing for alcohol such as Ethyl glucuronide (EtG) tests can detect alcohol for hours after initial intake. In urine, alcohol can be detected for up to 48 hours after drinking and can continue to show up even up to 72 hours. With blood tests, alcohol can be detected for up to 12 hours after intake. In breath and saliva tests, alcohol can be detected up to 24 hours after intake.

Removing alcohol from the body is a form of detoxing. Alcohol detox is the process of eliminating the body of alcohol and going through the process of withdrawal. Detoxing from alcohol depends on how much and how often a person drinks. The withdrawal process can begin anywhere between 12-24 hours after the last dose and can last for up to about a week. During the detox and withdrawal phase, patients can experience intense cravings, cold and flu systems, shaking, paranoia, anxiety and the development of mild seizures. There are three main phases of alcohol detox. The first 8 hours after the first drink starts the initial stages of withdrawal. Between 24-72 hours, physical and psychological symptoms will begin to peak. And on days 5-7, symptoms will slowly decrease in intensity. With severe drinking habits, some side effects may continue after the first week.

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How to recover after drinking

Once alcohol detox has been completed, there are a few tips to consider to help you recover more quickly. Implementing these changes can help with hangovers. They don’t necessarily help with detoxing the body from alcohol.

  • Exercise
  • Drink plenty of water and replenish your electrolytes. When drinking alcohol, it can cause and electrolyte imbalance and this often leads to headaches, digestive issues, fatigue, nausea and vomiting.
  • Sleep and get rest
  • Eating nutrient-dense foods. Eating complex carbs such as crackers and bagels can also help alleviate symptoms of nausea as well as bring up blood sugar levels that were lost from alcohol consumption.

Reach out to Hotel California by the Sea

We specialize in treating addiction and other co-occurring disorders, such as PTSD. Our Admissions specialists are available to walk you through the best options for treating your addiction.

Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder

Alcohol use disorder is one of the most common forms of substance abuse. Hotel California by the Sea provides a specialized alcohol addiction treatment program for clients struggling with this mental health disorder. Our detox, residential, PHP and IOP programs are designed with the client’s needs in mind. Our trained clinicians and addiction specialists provide tools, resources and support through effective evidence-based treatment methods. Treatments include cognitive behavioral therapies, group therapies, and EMDR therapy.

At Hotel California by the Sea, our alcohol use disorder treatment program offers a well-rounded treatment plan addressing the physical, psychological and emotional aspects of addiction. We help our clients find their sobriety and live healthier lives in recovery.