Substance Use

Does Pooping Help You Sober Up?

drunk woman sitting on toilet

Table of Contents

Get Help Now

check insurance
Check your insurance by using our Online Form
call us
Talk to someone now.
Call (855) 430-9439

Whether you’re heading home after a night out or waking up to the aftermath of a few too many drinks, the idea of pooping as a solution to sober up might have crossed your mind. This curiosity often arises from a desire to find quick remedies for alcohol-induced effects, especially when faced with the prospect of driving or dealing with a hangover.

The scenario is familiar: you’ve had a night of drinking, and now you’re contemplating whether a visit to the bathroom could expedite the sobering-up process. The common assumption is that eliminating waste from your body, particularly through bowel movements, might somehow contribute to reducing the effects of alcohol.

However, it’s essential to dispel this notion, as the physiological process of eliminating waste does not play a significant role in speeding up the body’s metabolism of alcohol. 

Despite the common inquiry and potential urgency in seeking solutions, pooping doesn’t hold the key to a faster recovery from alcohol intoxication.

Call us
Ready to get help?
(855) 430-9439
Why call us? Why call us

How Alcohol Affects Your Body

Alcohol’s influence on the body is extensive, affecting various systems both immediately and over prolonged periods. It’s essential to grasp these effects to make informed decisions about alcohol consumption. (1)

Brain Function: In the short term, alcohol, a central nervous system depressant, induces relaxation but impairs cognitive function, affecting judgment, coordination, and reaction times. With chronic use, it leads to structural and functional brain changes, contributing to memory loss and cognitive deficits. (2)

Liver Function: The liver metabolizes alcohol, but excessive consumption overwhelms it. Immediate issues like fatty liver may arise. In the long term, chronic abuse can result in severe liver conditions, including alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and an increased risk of liver cancer.

Digestive System: Immediate effects involve irritation to the gastrointestinal, or GI tract, potentially causing inflammation. Chronic use contributes to digestive disorders such as gastritis, ulcers, IBS, and an elevated risk of pancreatitis. (3)

Cardiovascular System: Alcohol causes temporary vasodilation, leading to warmth, but excessive intake may elevate blood pressure. Persistent high consumption is linked to cardiovascular diseases like hypertension and cardiomyopathy.

Immune System: Acute use temporarily suppresses the immune system, while chronic abuse weakens it, making individuals more susceptible to infections and illnesses.

Endocrine System: Alcohol disrupts hormone regulation in the short term, affecting stress hormones. (4) With chronic abuse, may contribute to endocrine disorders, impacting reproductive hormones and fertility.

Understanding both immediate and long-term effects empowers individuals to make informed choices and fosters awareness of potential health consequences. Seeking professional advice is crucial if there are concerns about alcohol use, providing tailored guidance and support.

The Myth of Pooping to Sober Up

Can you poop to sober up, you ask? That’s a fascinating question that requires a little digging to explain. Alcohol consumption, especially in large amounts, can sometimes irritate the bowels and cause diarrhea. In addition, alcohol is a diuretic (makes you pee). (5)

This can make you have to go to the bathroom after drinking. Unfortunately, having bowel movements (or peeing) doesn’t sober you up. 

If you’ve heard that pooping helps with hangovers, too, that’s another myth to be busted. A hangover, like intoxication, is a symptom of how your body reacts to substances it’s not used to handling.

Pooping isn’t a cure for hangovers, though it can help relieve an irritated digestive tract frequently caused by the acids in alcoholic beverages.  

How Your Body Processes Alcohol

It makes sense why people often think you can poop to get sober or treat a hangover. Bowel movements help your body eliminate waste products that it doesn’t need or can’t use.

When you drink alcohol, it travels down the digestive tract, into the small and large intestines, and to the stomach, but it’s not digested like food. Instead, the alcohol is directly absorbed into your bloodstream, traveling to your brain, liver, and other body parts. 

The way the body processes alcohol doesn’t lie in the digestive system. The organ responsible for ridding your body of alcohol is the liver. (6) The National Institutes of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) indicates that alcohol is metabolized (broken down) in several ways. The most common way to break down alcohol is by the following two enzymes produced by liver cells.

Alcohol Dehydrogenase (ADH)

ADH is an enzyme that first metabolizes alcohol to acetaldehyde. This liver by-product is very toxic and known to cause cancer. (7)

Aldehyde Dehydrogenase (ALDH)

ALDH continues the breakdown of the alcohol by metabolizing acetaldehyde to acetate. Acetate is broken down into water and carbon dioxide, both of which are easily eliminated from the body.  (7)

Most alcohol is broken down in the liver (about 90%), and only a tiny amount is eliminated in pee, sweat, and breath. That’s why chronic drinkers who consume excessive alcohol have a greater risk of liver disease, including cirrhosis, fibrosis, steatosis, and hepatitis. Many health conditions can affect your system when large amounts are consumed regularly.

In addition, the production of acetaldehyde by ADH may be responsible for how alcohol affects your behaviors and psychological states.

How Long Does it Take to Sober Up?

In general, time is what’s required to sober up or get over a hangover. However, the precise time it takes depends on several factors, including the type of drug or alcohol taken, how much was taken, and if it was taken with other substances.  

The following times indicate how long it takes to sober up based on your blood alcohol content (BAC)

  • .04 BAC: 2.5 hours 
  • .08 BAC: 5 hours 
  • .10 BAC: 6.25 hours 
  • .16 BAC: 10 hours 
  • .20 BAC: 12.5 hours

Alcohol leaves the body at an average rate of 0.015 per hour. (8) Keep in mind that alcohol and other substances affect every individual differently. While one person may be able to sober up an hour after a couple of drinks, someone else may require a longer or shorter period to be sober. Many factors impact BAC, such as body weight, medications, and food (or an empty stomach). (9)

Common Myths and Misconceptions About Sobering Up

People have always tried to find faster ways to sober up. Many suggested remedies have been passed down as old wives’ tales or myths. Some still linger online, where inaccurate information is commonly spread on social media. It’s essential to get the facts straight when you’re dealing with your health from medical professionals.

Besides bowel movements, some of the most commonly believed ways people think they can sober up fast include: 

  • Caffeine 
  • Exercise 
  • Showering 
  • Water 
  • Throwing up 
  • Snacking or eating carbs
  • Taking supplements
  • Peeing
  • Drinking alcohol 

None of these approaches will sober up or lower your BAC, though they may make you feel more alert. That’s because they can’t eliminate the alcohol in your blood system. 

Your blood alcohol level is the true indication of how intoxicated you are from a legal standpoint — it’s dangerous to get behind the wheel of a car after drinking. Even a tiny amount of alcohol in the blood (.01 to .07 g/dL) can affect your driving ability. (10)

When to Seek Help for Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol addiction is a complex and challenging condition that can significantly impact various aspects of an individual’s life. Knowing when to seek help is a crucial step toward addressing and overcoming alcohol dependency.

Here are some key indicators and considerations for determining when it’s time to seek professional assistance and undergo a detox:

  1. Loss of Control: If you find it challenging to limit the amount of alcohol you consume and experience difficulty stopping once you start, it may indicate a loss of control over your drinking habits. Heavy drinking can be a sign of other issues.
  2. Impact on Relationships: Strained relationships with family, friends, or colleagues due to alcohol-related behavior can be a sign that your drinking is affecting your social connections negatively.
  3. Decline in Health: Persistent health issues related to alcohol use, such as liver problems, cardiovascular complications, gastrointestinal problems, or mental health concerns, signal the need for intervention.
  4. Occupational or Academic Impairment: If alcohol use and alcohol consumption is hindering your ability to perform effectively at work or in your studies, seeking help becomes imperative to prevent further deterioration.
  5. Failed Attempts to Quit: If you’ve tried to cut down or quit drinking on your own but find it challenging to maintain sobriety, it may be time to seek professional assistance.
  6. Legal Consequences: Involvement in legal issues, such as DUI charges or other alcohol-related offenses, can be a red flag that your drinking has reached a problematic level.

Once the decision is made to seek help, various treatment options are available. These may include:

  • Outpatient Treatment: This approach allows individuals to receive therapy and support while maintaining their daily routines.
  • Inpatient or Residential Treatment: In a more intensive setting, individuals stay at a treatment facility for an extended period, receiving 24/7 support and therapy.
  • Counseling and Therapy: Individual or group counseling sessions can help address the underlying issues contributing to alcohol addiction.
  • Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT): Medications may be prescribed to help manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings.

Determining the most suitable treatment option often involves consultation with healthcare professionals who can assess your unique situation and recommend an approach tailored to your needs. 

Seeking help is a proactive step towards regaining control over your life and achieving sustained recovery from alcohol addiction.

Are You Worried About Your Alcohol Intake? Get in Touch

The consumption of alcohol involves the digestive system, but pooping isn’t a tried-and-truth method to sober up. Nor is urinating, throwing up, drinking water, exercising, or other myths.

The only way to get rid of alcohol along with the intoxicated and hungover symptoms is by waiting it out. When you find yourself seeking ways to sober up fast so you can drive or get on with your life, you may be at risk of alcohol dependence.

Consider seeking substance abuse treatment and prevent harmful side effects or alcohol poisoning. Many options are available, from inpatient treatment and outpatient programs to individual therapy and support groups.

There’s no better time than now to get your life back. You don’t have to suffer from alcohol and drug addiction alone — Zinnia Health has your back. We’ll walk you through every step of the treatment process, ensuring a better chance of leading a sober life. So, take the next step by speaking to an addiction specialist by dialing (855) 430-9439 anytime. 


Call us
Ready to get help?
(855) 430-9439
Why call us? Why call us