Globally, domestic abuse, industrial accidents and car crashes are often caused by alcohol abuse. Because unlike cocaine, heroin and most other opiates, alcohol is a legal substance and can be purchased by any over the legal age. Thus, it is widely consumed by most of the population. When a drinker is intoxicated, it means that their Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level has reached 0.8% or higher and puts both their own health and safety and others at risk.
Some organisations with zero alcohol policies carry out their own testing to prevent industrial accidents and other negative effects of alcohol abuse in the workplace environment. There are different methods and equipment for screening and detecting BAC in a person, with different accuracy and reliability levels. The most commonly used are the breathalyser and saliva tests for their simple and less intrusive methods. Blood and urine tests are also common especially in healthcare facilities, as well as hair testing which is relatively new.
This method tests for saliva in the person’s saliva. It is often applied by companies using a saliva alcohol test strips for quick, low-cost and non-intrusive testing and results. But its effectiveness is limited to just 24 hours after the last consumption.
Law enforcement agencies mostly use a breath testing handheld device called breathalyser to check for alcohol level and signs of intoxication in drivers. The breathalyser can be a single use breathalyser or a digital breathalyser- both providing instant results.
Blood Alcohol Testing
The individual’s blood sample is taken and tested in the lab to detect the degree of a person’s intoxication. This method is direct, invasive and the most expensive method of testing for alcohol. It is also very reliable but it cannot tell when the person got drunk or the intensity of addiction.
Urine testing checks for alcohol in the urine and is regarded as the most convenient method. But it can only detect alcohol content in urine only a few hours after consumption. Depending on the quantity of alcohol consumed, the result could still be evident in the urine after two full days. New urine tests also look out for signs of glucuronide which is a result of alcohol in the body and can be present in the body four days after alcohol consumption.
A more effective urine testing is the ETG 80 hour urine alcohol screen, which was released in 2015. ETG is a specific breakdown product of ethanol, and so is a more accurate test for ethanol (alcohol) use.
It does not just detect alcohol levels, but also use, much faster and at a relatively low cost. A simple dip will reveal alcohol metabolite for up to 72 hours after the last time alcohol was consumed- with a possible window of detection of 80 hours.
Although hair testing is not entirely new in medical tests, it is only being recently applied to check for alcohol contents in a person. The hair has the capacity to keep a historical record of how a person has used alcohol, the amount consumed and the pattern of consumption. Hair testing can detect alcohol use over a period of many months, rather than just a couple of days or hours, and so is very useful in testing and helping people with addiction problems.