Alcohol FAQ

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Published on Dec 1st, 2017


Most alcohol tests are designed to detect EtG, the byproduct of alcohol metabolism in the human body.

While alcohol itself is processed fairly quickly, EtG metabolites remain in one's system several days after a drinking episode.

The accuracy of instant EtG tests is one of many reasons why alcohol testing is popular throughout every industry. Here's are the most frequently asked questions to help you select an EtG test.

What is EtG?

Ethanol glucuronide, or EtG, is a direct metabolite of ethanol alcohol. More time is required to metabolize EtG than its parent alcohol compound, so EtG markers in urine or saliva can detect alcohol consumption 3-5 days after intoxication.

What is an alcohol EtG test?

The alcohol EtG urine test is a biomarker test that detects the presence of ethyl glucuronide in urine samples. When alcohol is consumed, the liver metabolizes alcohol to form a compound called glucuronic acid, which reacts with alcohol to produce ethyl glucuronide (EtG). Even though alcohol dissipates from the body within a few hours, EtG remains in the system for sometime after as a reliable indicator of alcohol consumption.

What are the cutoff levels of EtG to be tested positive for alcohol abuse?

When using an alcohol urine drug test, the minimum EtG cutoff level to yield a positive test result is 300 ng/mL of urine. Saliva alcohol testing can detect alcohol abuse when blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels are equal to or greater than 0.02% BAC.

Is it possible to cheat an EtG test?

The EtG biomarker for alcohol is too complex to be denatured or stripped from a sample using standard adulteration techniques. It is very difficult, if not impossible to adulterate or cheat an alcohol EtG drug test.

What are alcohol biomarkers?

Alcohol biomarkers are physiological indicators of alcohol exposure or ingestion. Measured biomarkers may provide evidence of alcohol dependence, chronic heavy alcohol consumption, or an alcohol addiction. Indirect alcohol biomarkers offer blood-based measurements of:

  • Gamma Glutamyltransferase (GGT)
  • Aspartate Aminotransferase (AST)
  • Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT)
  • Mean Corpuscular Volume (MCV)

Laboratories can now detect direct alcohol biomarkers, ethyl glucuronide (EtG) and ethyl sulfate (EtS), in urine and saliva specimens. Alcohol urine drug testing and saliva alcohol tests provide more affordable and less invasive ways to screen for alcohol.

What are the different types of alcohol testing?

Many tools provide drug testing for alcohol:

  • Blood alcohol testing, which is effective, yet expensive and invasive
  • Urine alcohol testing, a reliable method of detection; however, 1-3 hours is required for urine to contain alcohol
  • Saliva alcohol testing, which approximates blood alcohol concentration up to 5 days after use
  • Breath alcohol testing, to provide immediate insight into imminent alcohol use

How accurate and reliable is an alcohol EtG urine/saliva test?

Since EtG metabolites can only be produced upon alcohol consumption, any detected EtG biomarkers reliably indicate alcohol use. EtG cannot be masked by illnesses, e.g. urinary tract infections, diabetes, etc., as false positives are eliminated in the detection process.

How long can EtG be detected using a saliva alcohol EtG test?

The presence of EtG in urine or saliva specimens suggests ethanol alcohol ingestion approximately 3 to 4 days before drug testing for alcohol. Although it takes the body roughly 80 hours to eliminate EtG, saliva alcohol testing offers an extended window of detection of up to 5 days.

My EtG test report is positive. What does it mean?

Several factors that might yield a positive alcohol drug test result:

  • Intentional alcohol consumption, yielding 300 ng/mL of urine, or a minimum BAC level of 0.02%; this is the most likely cause of positive alcohol drug test results
  • Incidental alcohol consumption i.e. consuming food and other substances with alcohol ingredients
  • Auto-Brewery Syndrome, a rare condition where ethanol is created via improper gut fermentation

What is the meaning of "DOT Approved"?

DOT Approved drug tests are carefully assessed for accuracy and consistency by the Department of Transportation. DOT Approved drug tests can be applied for Periodic, Random and Reasonable Suspicion drug testing to keep intoxicated drivers off the road. Drivers and alcohol do not mix well together, and the DOT maintains a strong legion against driving under the influence.

What is the definition of being above the legal drinking limit?

The legal drinking limit is standardized to help adult members of the public avoid legal penalties for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. Under reasonable suspicion of driving under the influence, a law enforcement officer will demand a blood or breath alcohol test to assess the driver’s level of intoxication. The legal alcohol cutoff limit is capped at 0.08% BAC for drivers 21 years or older in most states and countries. Drivers under 21 are not permitted to operate a vehicle with any amount of alcohol in their system. Commercial drivers, airline pilots and professionals in hazardous industries have lower alcohol allowances as well. The legal drinking limit does not necessitate safe driving; rather, it determines liability for prosecution.

What effect does alcohol have on the human body?

Alcohol functions as a nervous system depressant. When alcohol is consumed, it is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream via stomach and small intestine. While relaxation may be achieved by drinking small amounts, larger alcohol doses can produce adverse physiological effects:

  • Slurred Speech
  • Difficulty Walking and Maintaining Balance
  • Impaired Judgment
  • Slow Reaction Time
  • Blackouts and Loss of Memory
  • Alcohol Poisoning
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (in fetuses of pregnant women)

If large amounts of alcohol are consumed within a short timeframe, coma or death may ensue as a result of alcohol poisoning. Alcohol usually negatively interacts with certain medications leading to irreversible liver damage.

Why does drinking alcohol affect some people more than others?

Reactions to alcohol consumption vary based on many factors:

  • Age and Overall Health Condition
  • Gender and Size
  • Food and Water Intake
  • Prescription Drug Use
  • Tolerance Level
  • Tendency for Addiction

If I stop drinking, does my blood alcohol concentration keep going up?

Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels may continue rising up to 2 hours after the last drink you consumed.

Does drinking alcohol affect sperm count?

Yes. Alcohol consumption is associated with an increased number of defective sperm. It is important to restrict alcohol consumption when trying to conceive to avoid imparting children with preventable mental or physiological disorders.

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