After a night of drinking, you may be feeling worse for the wear. If you're dealing with a hangover, you've probably even tried some of the various home remedies to alleviate the usual headache, nausea, and lethargy. Unfortunately, most of these remedies are ineffective, and some can even be more harmful, such as “hair of the dog” or having another drink in the morning. So, is there a way to flush alcohol out of your system faster? The liver has to do its work of processing the alcohol in your body, and there is no way to speed things up, but there are several things you can do to help yourself recover more efficiently.
The occasional hangover may just be the reminder you need to be more mindful of drinking moderately next time. But if hangovers become more frequent, it might be time to get some help to cut back on your consumption. Chronic binge or heavy drinking can lead to alcohol use disorder (AUD) over time, but you can get back in control of how much you drink with Confidant Health’s medication-assisted treatment for alcohol use. Our online alcohol rehab allows you to set goals for reducing drinking or eliminating alcohol altogether. Download our app today to get the support you need.
What Is Considered to Be One Drink?
The first thing to know before learning how to help your body heal from the effects of alcohol is how to prevent hangovers in the first place. Other than abstinence, drinking in moderation is the best way to reduce the chances of any alcohol-related problems. According to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, moderate drinking is considered to be two drinks or less in a day for men and one drink or less in a day for women.
How much is one drink? Several variables affect how much alcohol qualifies as one serving. The primary factors are the type and strength of the alcohol. The following are considered to represent one drink:
- 12 ounces of regular beer (approximately 5% alcohol)
- 8-10 ounces of malt liquor or hard seltzer (approximately 7% alcohol)
- A 5-ounce glass of table wine (approximately 12% alcohol)
- A 3-4 ounce glass of fortified wine, like sherry or port wine (approximately 17% alcohol)
- A 2-3 ounce glass of cordial or liqueur ( approximately 24% alcohol)
- 1.5 jiggers of brandy or cognac (approximately 40% alcohol)
- 1.5-ounce shot of distilled spirits, like vodka or rum (approximately 40% alcohol)
Each of the above drinks contains 0.6 ounces of pure ethanol, which counts as a single serving of alcohol. However, those are based on the average strength of each type of alcohol. To ensure you are drinking in moderation, check the strength or percentage of pure alcohol in your drink. This can be trickier to do if you are drinking at a bar or restaurant, but you can use the above as a guideline.
Effects of Alcohol on the Body
In low to moderate amounts, alcohol can have a euphoric and relaxing effect. But when consumed in larger doses, such as binge or heavy drinking, alcohol will begin to have various negative effects on the body. The higher your blood alcohol concentration (BAC), the more impaired you will become.
Mild Impairment (0.0–0.05% BAC)
When you first start drinking, you will begin to experience mild signs of impairment. You'll feel the relaxation and positive mood that makes alcohol consumption enjoyable but also some of the adverse side effects. Your memory won't be as sharp, and it'll be more difficult to focus. You may also become less coordinated, and your speech may begin to slow down.
Moderate Impairment (0.06–0.15% BAC)
As you continue drinking, you'll still feel euphoric and relaxed, but the harmful effects of alcohol will intensify. You'll experience further loss of memory, balance, and coordination. Moderate impairment can also make you more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as driving under the influence or becoming aggressive with others.
Severe Impairment (0.16–0.30% BAC)
Binge or heavy drinking can lead to severe impairment that significantly impacts memory, balance, coordination, decision-making, and impulse control. During this stage, you can also experience blackouts that leave you with no memory of the evening. Severe impairment also increases your risk of alcohol overdose and loss of consciousness.
Life-Threatening Impairment (0.31–0.45% BAC)
This is the most dangerous level of impairment from drinking. When your BAC reaches this point, you are at the highest risk of losing consciousness, alcohol overdose, and death.