Benefits of Using a Urine Test for Alcohol
By |Categories: Testing Education|Last Updated: June 6, 2024|

Can Alcohol Be Detected in Urine?

While we may have a vision of a person blowing into a breathalyzer when they’re questioned about their alcohol intake, that method is actually not the most reliable. It’s important to consider the factors involved in detecting alcohol and whether we want a view of the last few hours or a longer time frame. There are also settings that make it easier or impossible to take an alcohol screening, depending on the test. A blood draw, for example, requires a sterile environment and trained healthcare professional to administer.

When you want to monitor someone’s alcohol use, there are a few different options. There are many reasons for keeping track of a person’s use of alcohol, such as court cases and for your job. A pee test for alcohol is one of the most common ways to check for substances, but there are other ways such as the breathalyzer or a blood draw. Depending on your needs, you can find the right testing supplies online. Companies such as Preferred Med Supply offer a urine test for alcohol along with other testing methods.

How is Alcohol Detected?

Common detection methods for alcoholWhen a person consumes alcohol, the drink intoxicates them as is metabolizes into different substances in the body. For many people, intoxication occurs because the alcohol is ingested much faster than it is digested, and ethyl alcohol’s half-life of four or five hours means it takes that much time before the alcohol is eliminated from the bloodstream. The EtG test for alcohol studies the amount of metabolized alcohol in the body, called ethyl glucuronide. The presence of EtG tells us that alcohol has been consumed, and the amount in the body tells us how long ago.

There are various factors that influence how long alcohol stays in the blood stream, such as:

  • The weight of the person, as people with less body fat will have a faster rate of ingestion and thus become intoxicated faster.
  • If a person has eaten, as food helps absorb the alcohol and increases the amount of time it takes before a person becomes intoxicated.
  • Stronger drinks will cause a higher blood alcohol content (BAC) and will take more time to fully process.
  • Gender has some influence simply because men tend to be larger than women.

What Methods Are There To Drug Test Alcohol Use?

Different methods are able to detect EtG at different time frames. A breathalyzer can detect the presence of alcohol consumed within the past few hours, but if you want to check on alcohol use within the past week it would be a better idea to choose a urine test for alcohol. Aside from the standard breathalyzer, there are numerous ways to determine if a person has consumed alcohol recently:

  • Blood draw
  • Hair follicle test
  • Urine test for alcohol
  • Saliva swab

A saliva test can be done, which uses a sponge to collect spit to test. A blood test is available but is considered intrusive, requires a sterile environment and a medical professional or a lab to perform. A hair follicle analysis can also test for use within a longer period of time than the other methods.

One test, the urine test for alcohol, can easily be conducted at-home or in an office. It’s favored by programs such as court-ordered probation programs or schools because it’s easy to perform, inexpensive, and tests for alcohol in urine within a moderately long time frame. It’s often used to confirm adherence to a sobriety program and is easy to administer. You can buy a urine test for alcohol kit yourself that has an EtG drip stick and checks for a variety of substances in addition to alcohol.

How Long Can Alcohol Be Detected in Urine?

Common Detection Timelines for methods of testing alcoholThe short-term effects of intoxication may only last a few hours, but alcohol stays in the body for days after you have a drink. The most popular method of testing, the breathalyzer, can detect alcohol use within the past twenty-four hours. A pee test for alcohol can show if a person has had a drink within the last twenty-four to eighty hours. Other methods timeframes are as follows:

  • Blood tests can spot alcohol use within the past twelve hours.
  • A breathalyzer can detect if a person has had a drink in the past 24 hours.
  • Saliva swabs are able to pick up alcohol that was consumed one to five days prior.
  • Hair follicle tests check for alcohol use for up to three months.

Can Alcohol Screenings Be Manipulated?

It is possible to tamper with the results of an alcohol screening, depending on the type of test and the last time a person drank. One way to lower the presence of EtG is just by eating. Reducing the EtG in the bloodstream by filling your stomach can possibly lower the alcohol levels enough so they won’t be detected. For a more manipulative example, a saliva alcohol screen can be altered with a toothbrush and toothpaste.

If the participant chooses to drink the night before a test, they can brush and rinse their teeth the night before, the morning after and right before a test. This helps break down and alcohol left in the saliva and remove it from the mouth before swabbing. The swab itself takes ten minutes, with the participant keeping a sponge in their cheek pocket until it is saturated with saliva. The participant can thus reduce the amount of saliva they allow onto the sponge to prevent an accurate reading.

While it might seem like a good idea to alter with your alcohol screening test, such as by adding a bit of water to a urine test, this strategy is easily detected and will invalidate a test and require another appointment. These methods are not a good way to ensure you will pass an alcohol screening. The only way to pass the test is by abstaining from alcohol for the required time before taking the test.

Importance of Testing for Alcohol in Urine

When you want to see if a person has recently consumed alcohol, you want to select a method that fits your needs and budget. The alcohol urine test is inexpensive, easy to use, and outperforms other testing methods:

  • Provides accurate results for up to eighty hours after drinking, as opposed to the one day window seen in other tests
  • Easy to use and read in any setting, simply dip the strip into urine or pee into the cup
  • Able to check for a variety of substances on top of alcohol such as THC and MDMA
  • Hard to manipulate and will be invalidated if tampered with

Providing quality medical equipment, Preferred Med Supply has a wide selection of drug testing supplies including the urine test for alcohol available as alcohol test strips or full panel collection cups.

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