How Long Does It Take to Sober Up?

This is another question that I found from looking at common google search terms, and I find it fascinating. I imagine that most people are asking how long it takes to come down from the immediate effects of alcohol. I can also imagine that some minority of people might be asking about getting sober more generally, and what time that takes. I also have to think that some people out there who are wanting to sober up in the short term might also benefit from some information on becoming sober permanently. If you are currently drunk, or you know someone who is currently drunk, “how long does it take to sober up” is a pretty straightforward question. Depending on sex and body weight, we can generally say that you will lower your blood alcohol level by 0.01 to 0.02 for every hour or two that you do not drink. So, if your current blood alcohol level is 0.16 and you feel very inebriated, you can expect to feel sober in 8-12 hours, but you might not feel great in the meantime. 

Another set of questions that often goes along with “how long does it take to sober up” is different ways that a person can get rid of a hangover. I only feel comfortable with one overarching hangover cure, and that is hydration. Hydrating your body while you are still drunk, if you can remember to do it, will help with this, and hydrating once you are feeling the effects of a hangover will help more than anything else. Drink 3 to 5 glasses of water and see how you feel in an hour or two is my advice, as a non-doctor and non-expert. I have also heard that caffeine and fatty foods can help, so maybe try coffee and bacon along with the water.

If you or a loved one is interested in getting sober permanently, I am even more interested in this question for that reason. Becoming a sober person on a permanent basis is usually called recovery, but the first step in getting to recovery is looking into substance use disorder treatment. Substance use disorder is the name for things that we generally referred to as alcoholism or drug addiction in the past. I have no problem with the terms alcoholism or drug addiction, but substance use disorder encompasses both very nicely, and can also refer to people that have become physically dependent on a drug and need medical intervention, but do not consider themselves addicts. I believe it is up to each person what they want to call the problems that they are facing and how they refer to themselves. In the past, the recovery community has become attached to calling people addicts and alcoholics for the rest of their lives if they dealt with those issues in the past. I know that this has some benefits when it comes to people relapsing, and calling yourself an “addict” might come in handy when you need to remember that you have to stay away from drugs for the rest of your life. On the other hand, labeling people “addicts” because they had a problem at one time seems incredibly unfair once we consider the fact that society at large has terribly misguided and wrong opinions on what being an addict means. Until society understands that addiction is just another disease, I, myself, will be uncomfortable with labeling others, and in general, I believe that substance use disorder is a very good term for all of the problems people face with drugs and alcohol. 

I am writing for the blog of a place called Florida Springs, in Panama City, Florida. If you or a loved one needs more information on treatment options, please look at the programs page on this website. Whether you are asking, “how long does it take to sober up” because you want to stop being drunk in the moment or forever, all of us know someone who has been touched by addiction diseases, and there is information and help out there if people that are reading this need it. Thanks so much for reading.

By T.A. Cannon (Contact me at