Expert reveals exactly how long it takes for your body to return to normal after a full weekend of drinking – and it’s longer than you think

The holiday season has officially started.

Thanksgiving marked the start of a season full of big meals, late nights and, for most people, lots of booze.

And even though the weekend is truly over, some may still be feeling a little worse for wear.

Others, meanwhile, will have recovered almost immediately, ready for the new week that starts on Monday morning.

So at what point do you fully recover after a heavy weekend of drinking? If we start slowly, is there something wrong with us?

Speaking to, experts have revealed how long it takes for the average person’s brain and body to return to normal balance – and offered tips to speed up the process.

Alcohol travels from the bloodstream to the digestive system before leaving the body, which can take two to three days

The bottom line is this: your body won’t be back to normal for the next two, maybe even three, days.

Furthermore, loading up on food will not prevent the hangover.

Dr. Hussain Ahmad, consultant physician at Click2Apotheek in Britain, told that if you drink just one drink, the body processes it within two to three hours.

“However, multiple alcoholic drinks slow down the rate at which your body can metabolize and pass it on, and it can take up to 12 hours for it to completely leave your bloodstream,” he said.

But even after it leaves the bloodstream, it travels to other body systems, meaning it can take days for the poison to be removed.

Eating a large Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner can make you feel less drunk because it absorbs some of the alcohol, slowing its release into the bloodstream.

It can take up to three days for the body to function normally again after a drunken weekend, experts say

It can take up to three days for the body to function normally again after a drunken weekend, experts say

However, a large meal may mean it takes longer to recover from the impending hangover.

‘Although food is often recommended as a supplement to alcohol, it can slow the rate at which your body metabolizes alcohol, making it take longer to leave your system,’ says Dr Ahmad.

Clifford Stephan, nutrition scientist and founder of the sobriety site Booze Vacation, told that eating a heavy meal may make you feel less drunk, “which won’t help you the next day.”

Once alcohol leaves the bloodstream, blood vessels – which constrict when you get drunk, causing blood pressure to rise – return to their normal size.

β€œOnce the liver has filtered alcohol from the blood, it can resume its other functions,” says Rachael Richardson, dietitian and founder of Nutrolution, previously told This includes digestion and metabolizing vitamins and minerals.

However, alcohol still remains in your body as it travels from the bloodstream to the digestive system.

And after twelve o’clock the hangover starts.

The feel-good brain hormone dopamine begins to drop to unusually low levels, which can cause persistent sadness.

You’ll also feel dehydrated because alcohol is a diuretic, a substance that blocks signals sent from the brain to the kidneys telling them to retain water. This causes fluids to flow through the bladder more quickly.

While you are still drunk, you will have to go to the toilet more often. And if you’re hungover, you’re dehydrated.

Stomach problems are common for about two days while the drink remains in the intestines.

Alcohol can hinder the gut microbiome, a network of bacteria that live in the digestive tract and help us fight infections and regulate appetite.

But alcohol can destroy good bacteria while feeding bad bacteria.

This growth of bad bacteria leads to stomach pain, constipation and high stomach acid for several days.

Mr. Stephan suggests avoiding caffeine first thing in the morning to avoid worsening its effects.

“Many people will reach for coffee to jump-start their day, but coffee can be rough on your already irritated stomach lining and will dehydrate you further,” he said.

He recommends opting for lemon water with sea salt instead to replenish lost electrolytes β€” essential vitamins lost during dehydration.

And while your head may be pounding, consider skipping the Tylenol and Ibuprofen. “Your liver has just taken quite a hit, detoxing the alcohol from your system, and piling on regular painkillers the day after (which are also detoxified in your liver) will only make the injury worse,” Mr Stephan said.

The liver is also responsible for metabolizing drugs such as acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol.

About two days after you stop drinking, the alcohol is completely cleared from the body, returning the bloodstream to completely normal.

And within a day, bowel movements return to normal. Reduce constipation, diarrhea and pain. “The stomach acid decreases or returns to normal levels, your body starts to reset, all the acidity from all the alcohol calms down and your stomach starts to return to normal,” Ms Richardson said.


A screening tool commonly used by medical professionals is the AUDIT (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Tests). The ten-question test was developed in collaboration with the World Health Organization and is considered the gold standard in determining whether someone has alcohol abuse problems.

The test is reproduced here with permission from WHO.

To complete it, answer each question and record the corresponding score.

1674144052 204 Britains alcohol drinking guidelines should be slashed to TWO bottles

1674144066 198 Britains alcohol drinking guidelines should be slashed to TWO bottles


0-7: You are within the reasonable drinking range and at low risk for alcohol-related problems.

More than 8: Indicate harmful or dangerous drinking.

8-15: Medium risk level. If you drink at your current level, you risk developing problems with your health and life in general, such as at work and in your relationships. Consider cutting back (see below for tips).

16-19: Higher risk of complications from alcohol. At this level it can be difficult to cut back on yourself because you may be dependent and therefore need professional help from your GP and/or a care provider.

20 and older: Possible dependency. Your drinking is already causing problems, and you could very well be dependent. You should definitely consider quitting gradually or at least reducing your alcohol consumption. You should seek professional help to determine your level of dependence and the safest way to quit alcohol.

Severe dependence may require medically supervised withdrawal or detox in a hospital or specialized clinic. This is due to the likelihood that severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms will occur during the first 48 hours, requiring specialist treatment.