How Does Alcohol Move Through The Body?

By James Madeiros


Most of us have little concern for what happens to alcohol once we swallow it, particularly when it tastes good, but in case you ever wondered how it goes from your tongue to le toilette, here is a quick primer.

First, keep in mind that we’re talking about the alcohol rather than whatever liquid vehicle in which it travels. Let’s hope it’s the Top-Shelf Train and not the Boxed Wino Express, right?

The whole kit and caboodle first enters your body by way of the mouth (hopefully) and from there travels down your esophagus and into your stomach. That’s a pretty standard trip for more or less every consumable food item in your life.

Once in your stomach, however, several things happen to a boozy drink as it is broken down into smaller parts. The small intestine (duodenum) will absorb a good portion of the alcohol and more or less everything else. After your body extracts what nutrients it can, the rest is passed on as waste – and you’re already headed to the bathroom.

The alcohol, however, still has a ways to travel. The first stop after it clears customs at the small intestine is the liver, where it is broken down and converted into (a small amount of) energy. But, the liver can only process so much at a time, so whatever excess may be hanging out continues on to the heart.

Yeah, that’s right.

This is where it gets absorbed into your blood. Alcohol lowers blood pressure by relaxing the muscles of the heart, but thankfully it will continue to pump, pushing alcohol throughout your body. As it disperses, it causes blood vessels to expand and can make people blush with booziness.

Eventually, it will make its way into your brain and will take your neural connectivity from 4G down to dialup. From there, it will dissipate over time as fresh blood is pumped in to replace the fermented stuff (provided you stop drinking), but in the meantime you should avoid operating heavy machinery or accepting dares to “just go for it,” whatever “it” may be.

Legal Stuff: We should remind everyone that our blog entries are for your information only and are not intended as medical advice. If you’re going to drink, do it legally and responsibly; don’t be stupid =).

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