Alcohol is widely abused substance besides drugs and causes large number of fatalities every year. Although alcohol consumption to some extent is permitted by law, its abuse can lead to alcohol related crimes and accidents. Alcohol testing needs to be performed at workplaces, schools, colleges, and on highways to ensure prevailing of safe environment and discipline. Random alcohol testing at workplaces can check alcohol abuse and increase productivity levels. There are various methods used for alcohol testing.
The urine test for alcohol is an easiest, convenient, reliable, and less expensive way to know whether a person has consumed alcohol. After consumption, the alcohol can show up in urine after 1.5-2 hrs. The urine test can effectively detect alcohol up to 48 hrs after consumption. However, testing methods like Ethyl Glucuronide (EtG) urine test can detect alcohol in urine for up to 80 hours after consumption. The urine testing for alcohol can show the presence of alcohol in body, but it does not indicate or necessarily mean that the person is alcohol addicted. Similarly, a positive result for urine test shows that person has taken alcohol several hours ago and does not mean that the person was under influence of alcohol at the time of test. Urine drug testing is also preferred method for self-testing or home testing.
Blood alcohol test is an accurate method that measures the blood alcohol content (BAC) in the blood. The alcohol gets quickly dissolved in the blood and reaches its maximum level about an hour after consumption. As blood alcohol testing measures alcohol content in blood at the time when sample was taken, it can not be established for what period the person has been drinking or whether the person is addicted. The blood alcohol test is often performed to determine whether the person has taken alcohol upto the legally permissible limit or is intoxicated. The blood alcohol testing is invasive and expensive method of testing.
The saliva alcohol test is done to determine the presence of alcohol in saliva of a person. The saliva alcohol testing method is preferred over blood alcohol testing, as alcohol level in saliva is almost always equal to the alcohol level in blood. It is also preferred as it is non-intrusive, less expensive, easy to perform, and provides quick results. This is a preferred method at organizations for employee testing as adulteration of specimens is not possible. However, saliva alcohol testing can effectively detect alcohol for 10-24 hours after consumption.
Breathalyzer test uses Breathalyzer tool to determine the blood alcohol content (BAC) by measuring the amount of alcohol in person’s breath. Breathalyzers are hand held devices which are commonly used by law enforcement as they are easy to handle, convenient, portable, and provides quick results. Breathalyzers are also used to prevent alcohol abuse and maintaining safe environment in workplaces, schools, colleges, on highways, and roads. Breathalyzers are effective tools to check drunken driving that can lead to hazardous situations.
Hair alcohol testing is being used widely in recent times as it is non-invasive, detect number of drugs, cost-effective, reasonably accurate, and provide history of alcohol consumption for several months. Hair alcohol testing is performed only in laboratories as it involves use of advanced scientific methods. The hair alcohol test uses Ethyl Glucuronide (EtG) and fatty acid ethyl esters (FAEE) as markers to detect the presence of alcohol. The EtG and FAEE are produced only when a person consumes alcohol and once deposited in hair they remain for indefinite period. Larger presence of these markers indicates alcohol consumption in large quantity. There are very less chances of adulteration in hair alcohol testing as samples are collected under supervision.
The alcohol tests can detect abuse of alcohol, but it can not be interpreted that the person is alcoholic. Alcohol abuse can have widespread effects on socio-economic fabric of society. Different methods of alcohol testing can control alcohol abuse and prevent harmful effects on children, youngsters, and society.
By Nathan Rodnay Graduation
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