What Is Alcohol EtG Testing?
We have all heard of the random drug test. Whether it is at Mississippi State or for a job, these are widely known and used for many different reasons. However, the same can’t be said for alcohol tests. If you’re reading this, you might be asking yourself, “What other tests for alcohol do they have, other than a breathalyzer?” Well, Vertava Health Mississippi is here to tell you about the different forms of alcohol testing that exist, which one is the most accurate, and how to get treatment for alcohol addiction. But first, let’s look at blood alcohol levels.
What Is BAC?
BAC stands for blood alcohol content. Also called blood alcohol level, BAC measures how much alcohol is in your bloodstream at a given time. If a person’s blood supply contains one part of alcohol for every 1,000 parts of blood, this means that their BAC is 0.10%. If someone has a BAC of 0.08%, they are legally intoxicated or drunk. Your blood alcohol content can be measured using a bac calculator.
Factors That Affect BAC
There are several factors that affect one’s BAC. Some of these factors include:
- Weight and body size/stature: People with a smaller stature get drunk quicker than people with a larger frame. Alcohol enters most tissues in the body, except for bones and adipose tissue (fat). Because of this, alcohol isn’t as concentrated in those who are bigger. Someone who is 135 pounds will get drunk quicker than someone who is 200 pounds.
- Number of standard drinks consumed: An example of a standard drink would be one 5 ounce (oz.) glass of wine, which contains 12% alcohol, or a 12 oz. beer containing 4.5-6% alcohol.
- Whether the person is male or female: Women and men process alcohol differently, and alcohol is more concentrated in women’s bodies, which raises the BAC.
- The amount of time within which the drinks are consumed: If several drinks are consumed in a short period of time, a person would get drunk much quicker.
- Whether or not they have eaten: If food is in one’s stomach, the absorption of alcohol is slowed. When someone drinks on an empty stomach, they are more likely to become drunk quicker.
- Percentage of alcohol in a drink: The higher the percentage of ethanol (the alcohol in alcoholic beverages) in a drink, the more likely someone is to get drunk quicker. Most hard liquor has 40% alcohol content.
BAC is what law enforcement typically tests to see if someone has been drinking and driving. There are certain ways of drinking that can raise someone’s BAC.
Binge drinking is drinking in such a way that your BAC reaches 0.08% or higher. This is also drinking more than the recommended average amount of standard drinks within two hours. Binge drinking would be having five or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women in that time frame. This is the most common form of excessive drinking as about 24% of people within the United States age 12 or older (66 million) reported binge drinking in a 2019 survey. One of the dangers of binge drinking is a higher risk of unintentional injuries and accidents. Unfortunately, there are some people who binge drink and decide to get behind the wheel of a car. If law enforcement pulls them over, they will more than likely be asked to take an alcohol test.
Types of Alcohol Tests
There are a number of different types of alcohol tests. These tests are meant to detect some form of alcohol throughout the body. We will go over three of them: breathalyzer tests, blood alcohol tests, and EtG tests.
The most common alcohol test, a breathalyzer is one of the most convenient forms of testing for alcohol content in a person. Also known as a breath alcohol test, this test will measure how much alcohol is in a person’s breath. When alcohol is ingested, it goes into the stomach and small intestine before being absorbed into the bloodstream. Alcohol is then carried to the brain, lungs, and throughout the body by the oxygenated blood. About 90% of the alcohol will be broken down by the liver, while the rest will be removed through the breath and through urine. The BAC can be measured within minutes but reaches its peak an hour after drinking. The breathalyzer, while a convenient test, isn’t as accurate as other tests. Compared to other tests, such as a blood test, studies have shown that there is a 50% margin of error. Breathalyzers continue to be the common alcohol test due to the convenience, but a more accurate alcohol test is the blood alcohol test.
Blood Alcohol Testing
A blood alcohol test will measure the amount of alcohol in a person’s blood. The main ingredient in alcohol is ethanol, and when an alcoholic beverage is consumed, the ethanol is absorbed within the bloodstream. The ethanol is then processed by the liver, which takes about one hour per one drink. These tests are used to determine:
- If a person is intoxicated (drunk): Intoxication happens when someone drinks faster than their liver can process alcohol.
- If someone has been drinking in a treatment program
- If someone has been drinking and driving
- If someone has alcohol poisoning
During a blood alcohol test, a health care professional will take a blood sample from your arm. While getting your blood drawn won’t take too long, getting the results of blood alcohol testing can take up to several weeks. While this form of testing is more accurate than a breathalyzer test, it is much less convenient.
The final test requires a little bit of explanation. This is a urine test, but it is testing for something called ethyl glucuronide or EtG. EtG is a byproduct of ethanol and a compound (chemical) made in the liver called glucuronide. This compound attaches itself to toxins within the body and allows those toxins to be pushed out through the urine. Even when drinking a small amount, EtG can be detected (found) within the urine. An EtG test is the most accurate test as EtG can be detected within someone’s urine for about two days or 48 hours. If the drinking is heavier, it can be detected for up to three days or 72 hours. While this is the most accurate form of testing, there are still certain drawbacks to it. EtG is unable to find out how much alcohol someone has been drinking, but higher levels tend to indicate higher alcohol consumption. However, there are different factors that can influence this. For example, if there has been a significant lapse in time since using alcohol last, the EtG levels are going to be much lower. There is also a maximum limit as to how much EtG can be measured. EtG tests were designed to find any type of drinking, not heavy drinking, so drinking above the limit that the EtG can detect won’t raise those levels. This is something called the “ceiling effect.”
Alcohol Use Disorder
Showing an interest in these tests doesn’t mean you have alcohol use disorder (AUD). There are several criteria that need to be met before someone is considered to be suffering from AUD. In the past year, have you:
- Spent a lot of time drinking? Or being sick or getting over other aftereffects?
- Had times you ended up drinking more than you meant to?
- Kept drinking even though it caused trouble with your family and friends?
- Given up on activities that were important to you to drink more?
- Continued drinking even though it was making you feel depressed/anxious?
- Had to drink much more than you once did in order to get the same effect?
- Realized that your typical number of drinks had less of an effect than they did before?
- Wanted to drink so badly that you couldn’t think of anything else?
If you answered “yes” to two to three questions, you may have mild AUD; four to five questions would be moderate AUD; and over six of the questions would be severe AUD. AUD can be a difficult addiction to deal with, but Vertava Health Mississippi offers alcohol addiction treatment to help.
Alcohol Addiction Treatment
Alcohol use disorder is one of the most common addictions. In fact, nearly 15 million people age 12 and older struggled with AUD in the U.S. in 2019. You are not alone. Our treatment programs are tailored to fit the individual needs of the patient. One of the first parts of most treatment plans is our alcohol detox treatment program.
Alcohol Detox is the process of getting rid of the alcohol in your body. This process can be dangerous as stopping the use of a substance one is dependent on tends to lead to withdrawal symptoms. There will be some unpleasant symptoms during this time, and these can include:
- Nightmares (bad dreams)
Another symptom of alcohol withdrawal is called delirium tremens (DTs). This often occurs within a week of the last drink and can be difficult to handle. Patients have reported having hallucinations (seeing things or hearing voices that aren’t actually there), delirium (sudden severe confusion), and even seizures in extreme cases. DTs are considered a medical emergency and require immediate treatment. Withdrawal symptoms can be difficult to handle, but Vertava Health Mississippi is here to help you get through them. We offer a medically supervised detox, which means there will be 24/7 care for you while you are going through this. We will not only guide patients through the irritating symptoms of withdrawal but also give patients moral support and just someone to talk to if needed. We have seen that detox can affect patients mentally and emotionally, not just physically. This is why we provide support so patients can begin to process the mental and emotional toll. Following detox, most patients will begin residential or outpatient treatment.
This form of treatment lets patients focus solely on their recovery. Also called inpatient treatment, residential treatment is a plan where the patient would stay at the treatment facility 24/7. One of the greatest benefits of this form of treatment is how much care and attention the patient can receive. There is continuous emotional and mental support, as well as a community to help build each other up. There are two forms of residential treatment: short-term and long-term. Short-term residential treatment lasts from a few weeks to a month and is very intensive due to this short time frame. The intensive nature of this program allows patients to still receive proper care and healing. Long-term residential treatment can be as short as 60 days and as long as a year, depending on the needs of the individual. This form of treatment is optimal for patients with a very severe addiction and physical dependence and is also more focused on integrating patients back into society. Long-term residential treatment focuses on helping people build a meaningful life while learning different coping skills that will be taken on their journey.
This form of treatment works best for people who may have other duties in their lives to fulfill. Outpatient treatment is a plan where patients will attend the facility but go home after their sessions. This is great for people who still need to provide for themselves/their families or who may be in school. Vertava Health Mississippi offers an intensive outpatient program (IOP). Our IOP sessions are all in the evening, and they are Monday through Friday from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. IOP requirements are nine hours a week, so patients will not need to attend every session. Some of the services in IOP include:
- Individual therapy
- Dialectical behavior therapy
- Psychiatric services
- Medical services
A good amount of treatment and work will be done through therapy. There are several different forms of therapy, and each one is meant to better the patient while teaching the patient self-acceptance. Therapy can also teach accountability for actions as well as address the underlying issues of the addiction. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a form of therapy that is all about change and acceptance. It’s actually in the name of the therapy: dialectical. This word means a synthesis (blend) of two opposing components, which are acceptance and change. DBT is a therapy that has been proven to work very well and employs certain skills that patients can take with them on a lifelong journey. These skills are based on change and acceptance:
- Emotional regulation: Changing the emotions you want to change and learning how to not be as vulnerable to other negative emotions
- Interpersonal skills: Learning how to say “no” while still maintaining self-respect
- Mindfulness: Learning how to accept the moment for what it is
- Distress tolerance: Learning how to accept stressful circumstances without trying to change them
These skills help improve motivation and show the patients how capable they are of achieving their goals. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most well-known forms of therapy in the world. Often called the gold standard of therapy, CBT focuses more on change. However, it aims to change thoughts and behaviors. This is done using several different strategies, such as:
- Learning how to develop more self-confidence
- Gaining a better understanding of the motivations of other people
- Using problem-solving techniques to cope with stress
- Learning how to calm and relax one’s body
- Getting ready for problematic interactions by role-playing
- Facing one’s fears instead of avoiding them
CBT is known for having activities outside the therapy session. This is commonly called “homework” and can range from reading to practicing a coping skill the person has learned. Recovery is a journey, and CBT asks for patients to use what they’ve learned so they won’t feel lost when they hit a roadblock. Family and friends are affected by addiction as well. Discussing it with them is probably one of the most difficult interactions a person will face, and we understand why you wouldn’t want to do it alone. No matter the feelings, family therapy is here to help you all talk about them. This can be one of the first stages in rebuilding a bridge that seemed to be burned by addiction. Because this is an honest look at how addiction affected the patient’s family, it can get a little uncomfortable. During these sessions, it is important to remember: this is not meant to be hostile. This will hopefully help you and your family gain understanding among each other and can change the relationship for the better.
Vertava Health – Mississippi Will Empower You
Our mission at Vertava Health Mississippi is to empower our patients so they can live out their best futures. Located in Southaven, Mississippi, and just outside of Memphis, Tennessee, our treatment facility has the services and extras you need to aid you on your road to recovery. We know how strong you are, and we want to help you realize it. Call (888) 956-6369 to start your journey today.
How long can alcohol be detected in an EtG test? Alcohol can be detected for up to 48 hours in an EtG test on average. If the drinking was heavier, then it may be detectable for up to 72 hours. Will one drink show up in an EtG test? Yes, but it can depend on a couple of factors like how much alcohol was in the drink. EtG is short for ethyl glucuronide and is a byproduct of ethanol (the alcohol in a drink) and a compound (chemical) made in the liver called glucuronide. Because this is a byproduct of ethanol, even the smallest amount of it can be detected in urine. Can you pass an alcohol urine test in 48 hours? This depends on how much alcohol was consumed. If someone was engaging in heavy drinking, then the EtG could be detectable for 72 hours. However, if it wasn’t heavy drinking, then the sensitivity of the test would be much lower at 48 hours. So, if one was not engaging in heavy drinking, then they could possibly pass a urine test in 48 hours. How long can EtG and EtS be detected in urine? Both EtG and EtS (ethyl sulfate) are detectable in urine for two to three days, depending on how much a person had been drinking.