Can You Sweat Out Alcohol?
After a night of heavy drinking, you might think that a good workout in the morning or a trip to the sauna will get you right back to normal. Anything to sweat out the booze that is still in your system.
While this method might seem like a quick and easy way to detox, and it might even appear to work, it’s not quite that easy. Sweating out alcohol is a common misconception that does not have any scientific validation.
Keep reading to learn more about how alcohol reacts to the body and to learn why the answer to the question of “can you sweat out alcohol?” At Luna Recovery Services in Houston, Texas, we can help you or a loved one receive the proper levels of care including medical detox, inpatient, and/or outpatient treatment.
What is Alcohol?
To get a better understanding of how alcohol reacts to the body, it’s important to know what alcohol is. You might be thinking, “well alcohol is alcohol” and you would be right. However, there is much more to it than that.
Believe it or not, alcohol is a psychoactive substance. It is also a depressant. The alcoholic drinks that we drink contain ethanol which is created by fermenting grains, fruits, potatoes, botanicals, or other sources of sugar.
While when consumed in moderation alcohol might not seem to have many adverse effects, drinking can increase the risk of a variety of health and mental ailments in addition to the risk of dependency and addiction.
What Happens To Your Brain and Body When You Drink Alcohol?
When you drink you probably notice that you start to feel different. You might notice that after a few drinks you might feel more relaxed and you might even have a “buzz.” While for most people, alcohol creates pleasurable sensations, that doesn’t happen for everyone. Some people might feel angry or violent or even anxious after they drink.
The way you feel when you drink is the result of how your body and brain react to the alcohol.
When you drink, the alcohol can interfere with the communication that happens inside the brain. This interference can affect the overall functionality of the brain, resulting in changes in mood and behavior as well as coordination issues. That’s why when people drink they might notice that they get calmer and more relaxed or angrier. It’s also why you shouldn’t drive or operate machinery after drinking.
Drinking can also have adverse effects on the body. For starters, drinking alcohol can wreak havoc on your liver. Your liver can’t properly break down the alcohol which means, over time, drinking can do irreparable harm to your liver.
In addition to your brain and liver, drinking can also cause damage to other vital organs in the body including your:
- Immune system
Can Your Body Sweat Out Alcohol?
The simple answer to this question is no, at least not in the way you may think. While some alcohol can leave the body by sweating it is such a small amount that it doesn’t make a difference. Only roughly 10% of alcohol can be eliminated via urine, breath, and sweat.
When you sweat as a result of drinking, you aren’t sweating out alcohol, you are simply sweating as a byproduct of drinking. The only true way to get alcohol out of your body is to allow your liver to process and break down the alcohol over time.
While roughly 10% of alcohol is eliminated through urine, sweat, and breath, the other 90% is oxidized by the liver.
Alcohol Detox and Sweating
If you are suffering from an alcohol dependency or addiction, the safest and best way to rid your body of all the alcohol that is in it before you start treatment is via a medical detox.
During the medical detox process, withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable and even dangerous if not properly monitored and treated. That’s why it is important to undergo detox treatment under the care and supervision of trained medical professionals. This can be done at either a local medical facility, a dedicated detox center, or a treatment center that also offers detox services like Luna Recovery.
Not only can attempting to be self-detox dangerous and possibly even life-threatening, but it can also increase the risk of a relapse.
As we mentioned, alcohol withdrawal symptoms during the detox process can be unpleasant and even dangerous when not properly monitored. One of those unpleasant withdrawal symptoms can be uncontrolled and unexplained sweating.
Some of the other common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:
- Trouble sleeping
- Irregular heartbeat
- High blood pressure
By undergoing medical detox, whoever is monitoring your detox process can administer medications to help cut down on cravings and alleviate some of the above symptoms to make the detox process more comfortable.
Some people may experience night sweats while going through the alcohol detox process. They may find themselves waking up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat for no reason or may wake up in the morning in a puddle of sweat.
This is the result of the alcohol’s effect on your central nervous system which can control body temperature control and regulation in addition to heart rate and blood pressure.
Can I Sweat Out Alcohol Using Other Methods?
While working out or sitting in the sauna the next morning might make you feel better after a night of drinking, you aren’t eliminating any alcohol from your system by doing this.
Whether it be while you are drinking, immediately after you stop drinking, or the next day, sweating after drinking is simply your body’s reaction to the toxins in the alcohol hitting your system. Sweating as a result of drinking can also be an indication that you are drinking too much alcohol in one sitting.
Does Exercise Lower BAC?
Another common misconception is that sweating via exercise can also help lower your blood alcohol level (BAC) and sober you up. This is also not true. While certain things can play a role in your BAC, sweating and working out are not one of them.
Some of the factors that can affect your BAC include:
- Body type – The more body fat you have the higher your BAC will be when you drink
- Gender – Women typically have a smaller amount of water retention than men meaning alcohol will stay in their system longer
- Number of drinks consumed – The more you drink, the higher your BAC will be
- Time in which those drinks were consumed – The faster you drink, the higher your BAC will also be
- Weight – The more you weigh, the more water your body retains. This will dilute the alcohol and lower your BAC
- Empty stomach or food in your stomach – Eating shortly before or while drinking will slow down the absorption of alcohol which can lower your BAC.
- Fatigue – If you are tired or not well rested your liver won’t be able to work as efficiently when it comes to metabolizing alcohol which can lead to a higher BAC.
- Hydration level – The more hydrated you are, the more diluted the alcohol will be in your system, thus keeping your BAC lower.
- Drink mixers or dilution of the alcohol – If you are drinking a drink that involves ice and/or mixers, these items can dilute the alcohol which can keep your BAC lower. This doesn’t apply to all mixers though. Carbonated mixers can cause your BAC to be higher.
Can Sweating Out Alcohol Help You Sober You Up?
By now you probably realize that if sweating isn’t going to get rid of the alcohol or lower your BAC, it is also not going to sober you up. Nothing can sober you up other than just waiting for the alcohol to leave your system on its own.
Many people think taking a cold shower or drinking a cup of coffee can also sober you up. While just like exercising and sweating these things might make you feel more alert and sober, they are not doing anything to lower your BAC and sober you up.
Luna Recovery Can Help You Recover From Alcoholism
If you or someone you know is struggling with alcoholism, you must detox from alcohol under the proper medical care to avoid severe withdrawal symptoms and other mental and physical health complications.
At Luna Recovery Services in Texas, it is our goal to make the entire recovery process as stress-free as possible. That’s why not only do we offer inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, and partial hospitalization programs, but we also offer detox so that we can be with you every step of the way on your road to recovery.
For more information about the treatment programs that we offer, including alcoholism treatment, contact us today.
Dr. Allaire received his Bachelors of Science in Biology from the University of Houston, as Valedictorian of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and his Medical Doctorate from Baylor College of Medicine, where he served as Chief Resident. He is the medical monitor for the Physician Counseling Committee of the Harris County Medical Society and the Medical Director of Serenity House Detox. Dr. Allaire specializes in medically assisted detox cases, treating patients in recovery from addiction or other mental health disorders, the medical assessment and monitoring of patients with addictive disorders, medical care related to eating disorders and the medical treatment of patients with mental health conditions.