Since decades, simple urine tests and alcohol breathalyzers were used to detect if one has consumed alcohol recently but no method was able to answer if one has taken alcohol last week!
This is because, alcohol dissipates itself from the system in a matter of hours, and no one gets to know if you had that kickin’ drink at the party last weekend! But now, to the utter despair of those all-time boozers, the brainy chaps-in-the-labs have come up with a new protocol, which is being tagged as “gold standard of alcohol testing” for this can tell if someone has taken alcohol in the near past! This latest method works on the concept of Alcohol Biomarkers.
Alcohol biomarkers are the physiological compounds that are produced when alcohol is metabolized the by the body. They are used as an indication of consumption of alcohol. Researchers have reported two types of biomarkers - Indirect and Direct. Indirect biomarkers are the traditional alcohol biomarkers, which suggest heavy alcohol consumption by detecting the toxic effects that alcohol may have had on various organs or body chemistry. Direct biomarkers are the biomarkers that are produced as a byproduct of the alcohol metabolism. One such direct biomarker is EtG i.e. Ethyl Glucuronide which forms the basis of this latest alcohol detection method which is also known as The EtG alcohol test. This test serves as a measure to trace out those individuals who are legally prohibited from consuming alcohol, either by the law or by their employer.
The Alcohol EtG Urine Test is a biomarker test that detects the presence of ethyl glucuronide in the urine samples. Actually, alcohol, when metabolized by the liver, forms ethyl glucuronic acid i.e. when someone consumes alcohol, in the liver, a compound called glucuronic acid reacts with it and forms Ethyl glucuronide as a metabolite. Alcohol dissipates within few hours but EtG particles remain in the system for as long as 80 hours, so a Friday night party can get you in trouble even on Monday morning! In some cases, this test can also detect EtG markers even after 5 days of consuming alcohol. This amazing sensitivity makes this method most suitable to be applied in a diverse array of situations to find illegal, long-term alcohol consumption. No wonder, since its instauration, this test has gained wide popularity & acceptance all across the globe. Nowadays, this test is also conducted widely in the corporate world to screen for alcohol consumption and use of illicit drugs by their prospective employees.
Although this test has been proved to be able to detect alcohol usage for as long as 80 hours still, it has got some booby traps! This test “cannot distinguish in between the beer and the Purell” says the director of federal Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT). It doesn’t bother to find out why and how the EtG has been produced or the identity of the real substance which has been metabolized to produce EtG. If it detects EtG, it will simply label you as an inebriate! So, it may get you in trouble for no fault of yours! Moreover, there are no known cutoff levels determined for EtG that can distinguish between the incidental exposure and the intentional consumption of alcohol. Therefore, the federal agency has reported that – “as the test is so sensitive, it can also falsely read positive for alcohol consumption even if the test taker has taken a medication containing alcohol!”
Still, if the medication profile of a person is known, this test can greatly facilitate alcohol detection in those individuals who are legally prohibited from consuming alcohol, either by the law or by their employer!