Asking “how long does it take to get sober” has a few different answers depending on how the question is interpreted. For someone who is currently drunk, they may want to know simply how long until they can expect to feel the immediate effects of their intoxicated state wear off. However, it can also carry another implication – that is, how long for someone to begin to feel the benefits of prolonged sobriety in recovery. Getting sober has a few different elements at play that can help each person determine the answer that best fits them and their own scenario. 


How Long Does it Take to Get Sober After Drinking?

getting soberThis version of “how long does it take to sober up” implies that someone is currently in an inebriated state. However, the answer isn’t very clear without more details. While there are many home remedies that someone can find that may purport to be able to sober someone up, there really is no substitute for time. The body needs time to break down the alcohol in someone’s system. On average, someone can break down about one standard drink per hour, or reduce their blood alcohol content (BAC) by somewhere between 0.01 – 0.02 percent per hour that someone isn’t drinking. However, a “standard drink” is a tricky measurement on its own. One “standard drink” can be a 12oz can of beer, or about 1.5flz of hard liquor. However, this can be altered in a number of ways. Not all beers or hard liquors contain the same amount of alcohol, and if someone is mixing their own mixed drink, it may contain 2 or 3 “standard drinks,” even if someone is just having one glass. There are also other factors that can contribute to someone’s BAC, such as someone’s weight and sex.

It is important to note that tolerance, or someone’s ability to appear to remain sober even when drinking, isn’t the same thing as BAC. The amount of alcohol that is in one’s blood is indifferent to any individual’s tolerance. Due to this, after a night of particularly heavy drinking, it can be easy to still have alcohol in someone’s system well through the entirety of the next day. This can often lead to situations where someone goes out drinking and still goes to work the next day, with alcohol still in their system. It is very possible that someone will have traces of alcohol even up until the night of the day after drinking, where they then get another beer to celebrate a day’s work, in the process never giving the liver a rest from the toxins and alcohol it is being asked to break down. So, how long it takes to sober up from alcohol is dependent on any number of factors, from how much someone drinks on a particular night to if they are drinking every day, as well as their own body weight and sex. 

How Long Does it Take to Get Sober in General?

Under the other definition of sobriety, this answer is going to be much longer than a day or two without drinking. Knowing how long it takes to sober up can also be interpreted as “how long to recover from the effects of one’s drinking?” This question requires a lot more to be addressed. While in recovery, the detox phase can help someone through the biological part of sobering up. However, there is a mental and emotional dependence that may still be present for those suffering from an addiction. In these cases, the battle for sobriety can last a lifetime. However, that doesn’t mean that sobriety is impossible, either. 

getting help for addictionDetermining how long it takes to sober up in this form involves first defining what someone wants out of sobriety. Depending on the person’s goals, they may not consider themselves “sober” for a long time. Someone may go through the detox and inpatient/sober living phases of their recovery before beginning to be able to see themselves in a sober light, while others may see the continuous trials and urges as a sign that there is still more work to be done in outpatient and group therapies. Either way, simple abstinence from substance abuse is commonly not enough when addressing how long it takes to get sober, as the constant threat of addiction and relapse can make someone feel as if they are still constantly battling the effects that drugs and alcohol have had on their lives. The fallout of substance abuse can include not just the immediate intoxications that come with their use, but also the social, emotional, and professional effects that substance abuse has had on their lives. How long it can take to “sober up” from these side effects of one’s usage can take years, and constant use of support systems, professional therapy, and personal and emotional growth in order to properly address. 

Recovering from these long-lasting effects of alcohol can take a much longer time. Effective detox can last at least a week, while it is encouraged to continue to attend sober living for at least a year before moving on to intensive outpatient therapy. These time frames are also dependent on each person and their own progress while in therapy to address their addiction to drugs or alcohol, as well as their own goals for their recovery. Outpatient therapy, then, can continue for many years following as someone learns to balance their new lives in sobriety with the various triggers and stresses of the real world.

“How long does being drunk last?” and “how long to sober up?” are very different questions. While recovery from the biological presence of alcohol can take an entire day, assuming that someone doesn’t begin to drink again before giving the body the necessary time to process the alcohol from the night before, recovery from the mental, emotional, and social aspects that come with substance abuse can take much longer. In this definition, sobriety is more than simply abstaining from the use of alcohol or drugs. Rather, it is the confidence in one’s ability to address their own addiction and own triggers, and cope with the various stresses and urges in each moment. While addressing these aspects is much more difficult, it is possible regardless of someone’s history of usage. 


The journey to sobriety is a long one, and will look different for each person. No part of getting sober from an addiction to drugs or alcohol is going to be easy. However, if you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction to drugs or alcohol yourself, Chateau Recovery can help you take the first step towards your own sobriety today. With an array of different programs available, there is always a place for you to begin your journey, regardless of your stage of recovery. Each program offered at Cheateau Recovery can be personalized to fit your own goals and needs, and the professionally trained, caring staff at Chateau Recovery will work along side you to establish your own strategies and coping mechanisms most pertinent to your specific situation. For more information on the programs and services available at Chateau Recovery, or to speak to a professional about your unique situation, call Chateau Recovery today at (435) 222-5225.