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Alcohol
Drug Testing
by Erowid
SUMMARY #
U.S. DRUG TESTING SUMMARY
Alcohol
Tested for in Standard Drug Tests?
Sometimes
Tested for in Extended Drug Tests?
Sometimes
Possible to Test for?
YES
Detection Period in Urine
6-24 hrs (standard)
Detection Period in Urine
24 - 72 hrs (EtG)


TEST TYPES #
Urine Testing
While Alcohol is not part of the standard "SAMHSA-5" drug test, it is not uncommon to test for in some situations. It is less common in pre-employment tests, but is relatively common for parole testing or random on-the-job testing, especially for safety sensitive jobs.

Ethyl Glucuronide (EtG) Testing
Standard alcohol urine testing detects alcohol use for Urine testing for 6-24 hours. Ethyl glucuronide (EtG), a direct metabolite of alcohol, offers an extended window for detecting consumption. Published studies differ on detection period, stating ranges as long as five days, but research suggests 24 hours is a more practical detection period (Wojcik and Hawthorne, 2007). This test requires expensive equipment to perform and is less widely used.

In September, 2006, the Department of Health and Human Services reported a study questioning the reliability of this method. The study reports: "At issue is whether exposure to alcohol or to the vapors of alcohol in many commercial products, such as personal care items, over-the-counter medications, cleaning products, desserts, wine vinegar, and the like or combinations of these products may cause elevation in EtG or EtS that could appear to be a return to drinking." SAMHSA released an advisory shortly thereafter stating that courts would likely question the admissability of EtG forensic evidence as a consequence of this study. (thanks, C!)

Hair Testing
Alcohol hair testing tests for alcohol metabolites (fatty acid ethyl esters: ethyl myristate, ethyl palmitate, ethyl oleate and ethyl stearate). Alcohol use is detectable in hair for up to 90 days depending on the length of hair. Hair testing generally does not detect use from the most recent 2-4 weeks as hair takes that long to emerge from the scalp.

CAUTION & DISCLAIMER #
Erowid's drug testing information is a summary of data gathered from site visitors, journal articles, websites, and other resources. Detection periods depend on amount and frequency of use, metabolic rate, body mass, age, overall health, drug tolerance, and urine pH of each individual. Many substances that are not tested for in basic or extended urinalysis tests CAN be tested for by a laboratory willing to go to the trouble, although that is uncommon.