How to Sober Up
- Your body eliminates alcohol at a rate of .015% per hour
- The time to sober up from other substances can vary
- There are various ways to help yourself sober up from different substances
- There are also various myths about sobering up
- Abusing substances can lead to long-term health consequences
- Various treatment options are available to help you recover from addiction
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How to Sober Up Fast: Facts, Myths, and Tips
When you consume too much alcohol or drugs, your body needs to sober up to function normally. While there are some ways to improve your short-term mental and physical functioning, sobering up quickly is generally impossible.
It can take hours for your body to flush out alcohol or drugs from your system, depending on how much alcohol or narcotic drug you've consumed.
Even if you use methods to enhance alertness and awareness, you shouldn't drive or make important decisions until the substance’s effects are entirely flushed out of your system.
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Time Needed to Sober Up
One of the most common substances people consume is alcohol. If you’ve had one drink, your body eliminates alcohol at a rate of .015% per hour — around half a drink per hour or .25 to .30 ounces of ethanol.
Alcohol metabolism is a consistent process that does not vary based on gender, body type, or size. So, if you have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .20, it will take you around 15 hours to be completely sober.
For certain drugs like cocaine, molly, and meth, the time you need to sober up varies. Depending on the amount you consume, it may take days for your body to eliminate all traces of the drug. Hence, avoiding any drug is the best way to stay sober.
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How to Sober Up
How to Sober Up from Alcohol
There’s nothing you can do to reduce the amount of alcohol in your body after a night of excessive alcohol drinking. Only time can reduce the BAC in your body.
Alcohol leaves the body at a constant rate of .015% per hour. Because one standard drink can raise your blood alcohol level by .03%, it can take more than 2 hours for all the alcohol to leave your body or half of the drink per hour.
However, you can take steps to feel more alert:
Drinking water is essential for preventing dehydration. It counteracts the dehydrating effects of alcohol.
Moreover, drinking water between drinks can help prevent excessive alcohol intake. It also lets you stay hydrated while drinking, which can help reduce hangover symptoms.
Sleep is one of the most effective ways for someone to heal from alcohol's effects. The more natural sleep you get, the more sober you will feel.
The body requires natural sleep to recover and recuperate. Even taking a brief nap can help with metabolization. Getting plenty of sleep can also help improve your concentration, metabolism, and energy levels.
Eat Bland Foods
Eating bland foods can prevent upsetting your stomach further while raising your blood sugar levels. If this still upsets your stomach, drink water fortified with vitamins and minerals.
Bland foods include toast, oatmeal, bananas, applesauce, and crackers. They’re easy to digest and help your stomach settle. Avoid spicy or greasy foods, which can further irritate the stomach.
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How to Sober up From Meth
Meth or methamphetamines are stimulants, and the duration of their effects can vary depending on how much you use and your overall tolerance for the drug.
Unfortunately, you can only sober up from meth by waiting it out. Stimulants can take several hours to clear your system.
Meth highs wear off after 4 to 12 hours, and the comedown effects can last 3 to 6 hours. In the case of meth, be wary of its comedown effects.
How to Sober Up from Cocaine
It's impossible to sober up quickly from cocaine. The time it takes to sober up from coke can depend on how much you've taken.
Generally, a cocaine high lasts 15 to 30 minutes, but you may still feel lingering effects a few hours after taking it. After a few days, you'll sometimes feel comedown effects (lessening sensations generated by the drug as effects wear off).
There are ways to feel more alert and appear sober after taking the drug:
Quality sleep is one of the best ways to sober up from coke. It helps your body flush out all traces of the drug and helps you feel more alert.
Try to get 8 to 9 hours of sleep and avoid other substances like alcohol or drugs, which may further worsen your condition. Alternatively, take naps throughout the day to help you feel more alert and energetic.
Consume Healthy Foods and Drinks
Rehydrate with a glass of water or an isotonic drink to replenish your system. Eat plenty of nuts and bananas. Avoid coffee or energy drinks, as these will make you more anxious and jittery.
You can also drink orange juice to boost serotonin levels and replenish nutrients after taking coke.
How to Sober up from Molly
Although you'll sober up from the drug after a few hours, it will stay in your system for 1 to 3 days. In some cases, it can last longer.
Like alcohol intoxication, it's almost impossible to speed up the sobering process after taking Molly. You'll start to feel the effects of molly after 30 to 45 minutes, and it can last for about 3 to 6 hours.
These are some methods you can take to become more alert and aware:
After sufficient sleep, Molly's effects on a person's brain revert to normal. However, with continued use of Molly, you develop a "tolerance" to the substance, requiring an increased drug dose over time.
The effects that typically cause a crash or ‘hangover’ from taking the drug can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms that linger for days.
Consume Healthy Foods and Green Tea
Drinking plenty of green tea and consuming vegetables and fruits help you feel more alert and aware. Drinking water for hydration is also essential.
For some, you can supplement your diet with potent neuroprotectors like ALCAR (Acetyl-L-Carnitine) and NA-R-ALA (Alpha Lipoic Acid).
Drink Orange Juice
Molly causes a surplus release of serotonin, leading to mood-boosting effects. Serotonin is the "happy hormone" needed to cancel the harmful effects of a comedown.
However, serotonin levels reduce significantly when the results of the drug wear off. This drop can lead to negative thoughts and feelings during the comedown.
Orange juice is rich in Vitamin C. This essential vitamin aids in the production of serotonin.
How to Appear Sober
There isn’t much you can do to speed up the sobering process. However, some tips can help you appear sober:
1. Sit Down
Standing up and swaying is a sign that you’re not sober. When you’re sitting down, you can keep your balance.
If you can’t sit down, hold on to something. This position will offer you support and prevent you from falling.
2. Speak Slowly and Limit Your Words
Speaking too fast when you’re not sober can result in slurred speech. Talking too much can also lead to discussing complex or emotional topics. These topics can be difficult for someone who isn’t sober, so limiting your words may be best.
3. Spray Perfume or Eat Strong-Scented Food
The scent of alcohol on you can be a telltale sign that you’re not sober. Spraying perfume will help hide the smell of alcohol. You can also eat strong-scented food like mints, garlic, or curry.
4. Fix Your Appearance
Being drunk or high can affect your appearance. Your hair can get messy, your clothes can get dirty, or your makeup can smudge. Looking at the mirror and fixing yourself can help you appear sober.
Myths About Sobering Up Fast
There are various myths surrounding methods on how to sober up fast and cure hangovers. These include:
Vomiting won't lower your body's BAC, but it can alleviate feelings of nausea. Once alcohol is absorbed into your bloodstream, there is nothing you can do except wait.
2. Eating Fatty Foods
Drinking on an empty stomach is not advisable, as this can lead to faster intoxication. Without the necessary nutrients in your system, your body speeds up the metabolization process of alcohol.
However, not all food is good to eat before you drink alcohol. Eating fatty foods can only help before drinking alcohol. It can slow down the rate at which your stomach lining absorbs alcohol, but not by much.
Consuming fatty foods after drinking alcohol will not reduce your BAC. It can also upset your stomach even more.
After drinking, consider stopping at a health food store for some healthy food and drinks to replenish the lost nutrients in your body.
3. Drinking Caffeine or Energy Drinks
Coffee and energy drinks cannot reduce your blood alcohol level. It may only give you a short-lasting energy boost. It can also increase heart rate and anxiety while hiding the effects of alcohol.
Furthermore, drinking coffee and energy drinks causes dehydration. On the contrary, water is better for rehydrating your intoxicated body.
4. Taking a Cold Shower
Taking a cold shower to sober up can be more harmful than good, especially if you’re experiencing alcohol poisoning. The shock of the cold water can cause people to lose consciousness. It can also aggravate brain damage caused by alcohol poisoning.
How Does the Body Process Alcohol?
The body doesn’t digest alcohol. Instead, the substance travels to different body parts through the bloodstream. It first affects your:
Alcohol is metabolized in the liver by two enzymes: alcohol dehydrogenase and aldehyde. First, dehydrogenase turns alcohol into acetaldehyde, which is very toxic and can cause cancer.
Then, aldehyde turns the acetaldehyde into acetate. Acetate breaks down into water and carbon dioxide for it to exit from your body.
Effects of Substance Abuse
Substance abuse can negatively affect your mental, physical, and social health. It can also lead to addiction or life-threatening problems, including:
- Financial trouble
- Relationship issues
- Legal issues
- Decreased productivity at work or school
- Loss of interest in activities
- Increased risk of accidents
- Heart, liver, and kidney disease
- Exacerbation of mental health issues
- Motor and brain function impairment
If you’ve been struggling to sober up from alcohol, cocaine, or other drugs, you must seek help. Alcohol and drug abuse can be dangerous and has long-term consequences. In many cases, it even leads to death.
How to Sober Up for Good
You can treat drug and alcohol addiction. However, it’s not simple. Addiction is a chronic illness, so people cannot stop using drugs for a few days and expect to be cured.
Most patients require long-term or repeated care to recover their lives and maintain sobriety. Here are some common treatments for alcohol and drug addiction:
- Detox: Medically supervised detox used to avoid harmful withdrawal effects
- Inpatient programs: Involves checking yourself into a rehab facility for 24-hour medical supervision
- Outpatient programs: Treatment programs where you are freely allowed to leave the rehab facility
- Partial hospitalization programs: Treatment programs where you stay at a rehab facility for a day and return home at night
- Support groups: Provide a much-needed community to help maintain sobriety after treatment
Relapse Prevention Strategies
A significant part of overcoming addiction is avoiding relapse. Different strategies can help you avoid drugs and alcohol and prevent a return to substance abuse.
These strategies include:
- Identifying and avoiding triggers that cause you to use drugs or alcohol
- Joining effective recovery programs or support groups
- Writing down your goals and rewards for staying sober
- Practicing relaxation techniques, such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing
- Seeking out positive relationships with friends and family who support your sobriety
- Keeping yourself occupied by engaging in hobbies or activities
- Avoiding high-risk situations, such as parties involving drugs or alcohol
Furthermore, a strong support system can help you stay sober. When recovering from addiction, you will need an understanding and reliable group of friends and family who want to see you get better and succeed.
How Long Does Alcohol Stay In Your System?
The liver oxidizes 95% of the alcohol you consume and turns it into water and carbon monoxide. On average, it takes 1 hour to break down 1 unit of alcohol. One unit is equivalent to 10 ml of pure alcohol.
The breakdown time will vary depending on several factors, including:
- Your weight
- Your age
- Your metabolism
- The strength of the alcohol consumed
- The presence (or lack) of food in the stomach
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- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Drinking Levels Defined.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, n.d.
- Irwin et al. “The effects of dehydration, moderate alcohol consumption, and rehydration on cognitive functions.” Alcohol, 2013.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "MDMA (Ecstasy/Molly) DrugFacts." National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2020.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "Cocaine DrugFacts." National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2021.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine. “Myths about drinking alcohol.” MedlinePlus, 2022.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "Treatment." National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2023.
- “What happens when you drink alcohol.” Nidirect, n.d.
- National “Alcohol units.” National Health Services, 2021.
- Farzam et al. "Stimulants." StatPearls, 2022.
- University of Michigan. “It Takes Time to Sober Up.” University Health Service, n.d.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Alcohol Metabolism.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2022.