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How Long Does It Take for Alcohol to Kick In? Solved (2022)

Last Updated on September 17, 2022 by Lydia Martin

While it is true that alcohol is fast-acting, alcohol affects everyone differently. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states that alcohol may enter your bloodstream after your first sip.

But really, how long does it take for alcohol to kick in? Read on because the answer will surprise you. 

How Fast Alcohol Kicks Into Your System 

glass of whisky with ice cube

A healthy person will generally experience the effects of alcohol drinks within 15 to 45 minutes. However, it varies depending on different factors.

How your body processes alcohol can depend on how much alcohol you consume, how fast you drink, and its alcohol content. 

Your gender plays a vital role in how fast alcohol kicks into your system because men have a higher alcohol tolerance than women.

The alcohol effect will vary depending on your blood alcohol concentration (BAC), lifestyle, body weight, alcohol metabolism, and alcohol tolerance. 

8 Types of Alcohol & How Fast They Kick In 

8. Beer

beer mug

Beer can kick in as fast as 15 to 20 minutes. A standard 12 oz beer contains an average of 5% ABV, and its carbonation increases the absorption rate. 

A shot of liquor and a can of beer has the same amount of alcohol. If you sip a can of beer for over an hour, it will have a slower and weaker effect than if you consume alcohol all at once. 

7. Wine

A standard drink of wine (5 oz) is equivalent to a can of beer, and as fast as ten to fifteen minutes, it can start to kick in your system. 

Alcoholic beverages like wine contain about 12%, and since most wine tastes sweeter than other alcohol, you are more likely to consume more alcohol in an hour. 

Alcohol affects the brain and nervous system and depending on your alcohol consumption and pacing; you may feel its influence as late as an hour. 

6. Vodka

vodka in a shot glass

Highly concentrated beverages like vodka are absorbed faster by our body, so a shot of vodka can kick in as fast as 10 to 15 minutes. 

It typically reaches your brain within five minutes because when the alcohol concentration increases in your bloodstream will get you drunk faster. 

5. Whiskey

Your body will absorb alcohol quickly if you consume high ABV distilled spirits, and whiskey [1] will kick as quickly as 10 to 15 minutes. 

Once you consume alcoholic beverages, your body will process alcohol and kick quickly, depending on the rate of consumption and alcohol content. 

Excessive alcohol consumption in about an hour may get you drunk more easily than drinking alcohol slowly. A single shot of whiskey contains a high amount of pure alcohol. 

Consuming three to four shots of whiskey in an hour will kick in quickly. 

4. Tequila & Mezcal

If you consume liquor in shots, you will notice the alcohol effects quickly because shots increase your blood alcohol content faster. 

Tequila and mezcal are usually consumed in shots, so the alcohol will kick in as fast as five to ten minutes, especially if you consume too much alcohol. 

Mixing alcohol with fruit juices and other mixers may tone down the taste of alcohol, but do you know that you can be prone to binge drinking? 

3. Rum 

pouring rum on a glass

A standard drink of rum (1.5 oz) reacts as fast as ten minutes in your body. If you drink alcohol on an empty stomach, the alcohol will kick in five minutes.

A healthy body may metabolize alcohol faster, but alcohol absorption can also vary depending on your lifestyle. 

All types of alcohol affect the central nervous system of a person, and when it starts to kick in, you can become emotionally unstable.

2. Brandy & Cognac

Brandy and cognac are usually consumed neat and on the rocks, and they can kick in your system as quickly as ten to fifteen minutes. 

Consuming a standard drink in an hour may affect your body after 20 to 30 minutes. Fewer drinks in an hour will help you not get drunk faster. 

A can of beer and one shot of brandy and cognac will give you the same effect. 

However, if you mix alcohol with fruit juices or mixers and consume it in an hour, the booze will kick in after 30 to 45 minutes. 

1. Gin 

glass of gin

Gin is strong alcohol and will kick in your system as fast as 10 to 15 minutes, especially if you take multiple shots in an hour. When the alcohol reaches your bloodstream, it travels to the body and brain. 

If you consume gin on an empty stomach, the alcohol will get into your bloodstream quicker and kick into your system quickly. Also, high gin consumption in an hour may lead to alcohol poisoning and may put you at risk. 

Factors That Might Speed Up Its Effect 

Drink Size

The serving size of alcoholic drinks is one of the factors that may fasten the effect of alcohol. A 12 oz beer contains 5% alcohol, while a shot (1.5 oz) of distilled spirit contains 40% alcohol liquor. 

Higher amounts of consumption in an hour will speed up the effect of alcohol on your body. 

Type of Drink

close up view of ice cubes in alcohol

Another factor that escalates the effect of alcohol is the type of drink. Malt liquor gets you drunk quickly because carbonated beverages make absorption quicker, but distilled spirits kick in faster because of their high ABV. 

How You Drink

There are different ways to drink alcohol, but chugging will increase the effect of alcohol on a person’s body. 

If you drink alcohol on an empty stomach, you will surely get intoxicated quickly. Drinking water or having snacks while sipping your liquor will slow down the kick of your alcohol. 

Body Size & Weight

The body size and weight of the person intensifies the effect of alcohol. An average person who weighs 130 pounds has a higher BAC than those who weigh 170 pounds, even if they consumed a similar amount of alcohol. 

Greater weight does not absorb alcohol quickly because they have larger bone mass and skeletal sizes. 

Sex

Gender is one of the reasons why alcohol quickly kicks into someone’s system. Women have less body water to dilute alcohol, resulting in a higher BAC. 

Typically, a woman has a higher body fat percentage and retains the alcohol, while men have larger body mass. 

In addition, women have less alcohol dehydrogenase [2] that helps break down alcohol which is why they get drunk more easily than men. 

Medications

While doctors highly discourage drinking liquor while on medications, it can be a factor in why alcoholic beverages kick in quickly. Alcohol breaks down quickly when a person takes medication. 

Whether over-the-counter drugs, maintenance drugs, medicines for addiction treatment/ addiction medicine, or other drugs, it will be bad for your health to consume meds with alcohol. 

It would be best to stop drinking alcohol, get into treatment programs or have some treatment placement tailored by an addiction specialist. 

Age

As people get older, the metabolism gets slower, which means alcohol will get into your bloodstream quickly before it metabolizes. 

Older people have a higher fat-to-muscle ratio, and with less body water, the BAC gets higher. 

Alcohol Tolerance

If you have high alcohol tolerance, you will hardly feel the kick of alcohol in a standard drink. While it can be good news to some, if you have high alcohol tolerance, you are more prone to alcohol poisoning, alcohol dependence, and alcohol-use disorder. 

If you drink regularly or frequently drinking heavily, your alcohol tolerance will rise, but it may ruin your health. 

Its Effect On Your Body 

If the alcohol starts to kick in, you may notice lowered inhibitions, slurred speech, confusion, impaired coordination, and difficulty concentrating. 

It may blur your vision or cause dizziness and vomiting. Abusing alcohol (alcohol addiction) may lead to mental health problems and damage internal organs. 

How Long Does Alcohol’s Effect Last? 

two person holding a mug of beer

It will take at least nine to ten hours for the alcohol effect to last. How long alcohol will stay or last depends on your blood alcohol concentration which means a higher BAC means a longer effect. 

The half-life of alcohol is about four to five hours. However, urine tests can detect alcohol until 12 hours after last consumption. 

How To Avoid Getting Too Drunk Too Fast

To avoid getting drunk too fast, keep away from shots or set a drinking limit. Moreso, you can eliminate alcohol, consume nonalcoholic drinks in between or have one standard drink per hour. 

Also, it would be better to choose lower ABV drinks so you will not get drunk too fast. 

FAQs

How long does it take alcohol to reach the brain?

It will take five minutes for alcohol to reach the brain [3]. Alcohol travels within the bloodstream and arteries before it reaches your brain. 

How long does it take for one shot of alcohol to kick in?

It will take ten minutes for one shot of alcohol to kick in. However, it gets quicker if you consume multiple shots in an hour. 

How long does it take to get tipsy?

It will take 10 to 15 minutes to get tipsy. Also, after one to two drinks, you may feel tipsy. 

Final Say

It will take 15 to 30 minutes for alcohol to affect your system. Alcohol acts faster than you think, and the key is in your consumption rate. 

The faster and larger alcohol you consume, the quicker it kicks into your system. Moreso, women, lighter and older people, quickly feel the effect of alcohol more than men, heavier and younger people. 

References:

  1. https://www.britannica.com/topic/whiskey 
  2. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/enzyme-lack-lowers-womens/ 
  3. https://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/world-brain-day-2022-alcohol-consumption-impact-brain-parts-8044924/ 

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