How Much Alcohol Does It Take to Get Drunk? Factors and Effects Explained

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It’s important to know how your body reacts to alcohol.

If you want to get drunk, you should know how much alcohol it takes to get drunk. This will help you to avoid overdrinking. 

This article is a comprehensive guide that provides answers on the use of alcohol and personal health.

 How to get drunk infographic

How Fast Can You Feel the Effects of Alcohol?

The effects of alcohol is not felt instantly; the body gradually absorbs it and creates an exciting feeling within minutes, depending on your tolerance level and other factors.

These factors include:

  • Your gender, medical condition, and genetic formation.
  • Drinking on an empty stomach or using other substances.
  • What you’re drinking. Some drinks contain more percentage of alcohol than others. 

On average, it takes approximately 30 minutes to feel a shot of alcohol if you’re drinking at a moderate pace.

Here are some of the symptoms you may feel when your body reacts to alcohol:

  • More social
  • Less coordinated
  • Euphoric
  • Less inhibited 
  • 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 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 when the first intoxicant effect kicks in. 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:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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 in their bloodstream if they drink the same volume of alcohol of someone bigger.

Most people get intoxicated after taking three to four shots; this influence can happen more rapidly if the person involved is small in stature. 

Tolerance Levels

Tolerance plays a significant role in how alcohol kicks in; the more regularly you drink alcohol, the less your body responds to its effect.

However, those who are not used to drinking alcohol are more responsive to the intoxicant effect.

Your genetic makeup can influence your tolerance level too.

People of native and Asian ancestry are generally less tolerant of alcohol. This is because the enzymes created in the liver (acetaldehyde dehydrogenase) are not as effective in their races.

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 drugs.

Some examples of over-the-counter and prescription drugs that are likely to react with alcohol include:

  • Cold and flu medications like Sudafed, Benadryl, and Tylenol
  • Depression and anxiety drugs like Klonopin, Ativan, Paxil, and Valium
  • Antibiotics like Zithromax and Flagyl
  • Antipsychotic drugs like Risperdal and Seroquel
  • Diabetes drugs like Orinase and Glucotrol
  • Indigestion and heartburn medication like Zantac and Reglan
  • Pain killers like Naprosyn and Celebrex
  • Sleep medications like Lunesta, Ambien, and Unisom

Alcohol and drug interaction are often uncomfortable, and symptoms like nausea and dizziness are always accompanied. It can also be 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 begin with. However, they also can mingle with your alcohol. Alcohol can intensify the effect of lots of street drugs 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, and putting you at risk of sudden death.

Mixing alcohol with street drugs will intensify the intoxicant effect of both substances, which most times causes irreversible damage to the body or leads to death. These drugs include:

  • Heroin
  • Cocaine
  • Kratom
  • MDMA
  • Mushrooms
  • Molly

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 eaten before you drink, 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:

  • Dehydration
  • Trouble thinking
  • Vertigo
  • Migraines
  • Mood changes
  • 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:

  • Mental instability
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Slow breathing
  • 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.

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
  • Hallucinations

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:

  • Age and gender
  • Medication or drugs that you’re using.
  • Body weight
  • Drinking on an empty stomach
  • 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:

  • Eating food
  • Avoiding the use of caffeine
  • Drinking enough water
  • 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.

To check out the locations of our IV therapy services, click on the links below:

IV Therapy in Las Vegas

IV Therapy in Miami

IV Therapy in Los Angeles

IV Therapy in Orange County

IV Therapy in Tampa

IV Therapy in Washington D.C.

Hangover Symptoms

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:

  • Muscle aches and headaches
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Irritable mood
  • 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.