Alcohol is the starting point of every great story. It helps bring people closer, gives them the chance to come closer, and celebrate life. But often, it can get difficult to know when to stop and lead to overindulgence in alcohol which impacts various aspects of your life. Now more and more employers and even courts are conducting alcohol tests to detect the level of alcohol abuse.      

Do you have to undergo an alcohol test recently, or are you merely curious about it? Well, keep reading to find out everything about alcohol testing.  

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What are the different types of alcohol tests?

When you think about alcohol testing, do you get the image of a breathalyzer used to detect alcohol levels? While it might be the most common method of testing alcohol abuse, it is certainly not the only way of testing. There are numerous other tests, each to check the level of alcohol in your body at the moment. The results are usually in small numbers, called Blood Alcohol Concentration or BAC. The higher the BAC is, the more alcohol is present in your body. This number can go up within 15 minutes of drinking any alcoholic beverage.  

Here are a few common types of alcohol tests:

1.       Urine test:

As the name suggests, a small sample of urine is collected in this type of test. It measures the level of EtG or ethyl glucuronide, which is a direct metabolic product of ethanol. The urine test is a reliable method used often in work environments. It can detect alcohol in urine for around 3-5 days. The government can also conduct a specific urine test called the DOT drug test to make the transportation industry free of alcohol.

2.       Breath test:

The most commonly used alcohol test used by traffic authorities to check the alcohol level in one’s system is the breath test. They use an electronic device called a breathalyzer to indirectly check the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) by determining the amount of alcohol present in your breath. Whenever you drink, the alcohol goes into your small intestine and stomach. Your blood absorbs it and carries it throughout the body, including the lungs, and you exhale it while breathing. This test can detect alcohol for up to 24 hours after consumption.        

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3.       Blood test:  

A blood test is another common method of testing alcohol levels in your body. To conduct this test, a doctor or professional will use a needle to take blood from the arm and then conduct a test on it to determine the alcohol level. Alcohol can show up in the blood test results for only 12 hours.

4.       Hair test:

Much like urine, your hair can also tell a lot of drug usage through the amount of EtG present in your hair sample. It is used majorly to identify alcohol abuse because it can check alcohol consumption for the most extended period. Your hair samples can test positive for alcohol for 90 days.  

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Which factors determine the detecting time?

People often say that you are safe if you have only one drink per hour because your liver can easily process it, but one shouldn’t adhere to it. There are plenty of factors that can determine the BAC level and the detecting time. Here are a few of them:

1.       Genetics:

Genetics plays a significant role in the way your liver handles alcohol. Family history can not only determine how fast your body processes and excretes alcohol, but it can also have an impact on the development of alcohol use disorder.

2.       Body fat:

The higher your body fat, the more alcohol you can retain. If you have more body fat, you can test positive for alcohol use for a longer time.

3.       Age:

With increasing age, your liver works slowly, and it may take more time to excrete alcohol. If you’re taking medications to affect liver function, it may even further slow down the process. For an older person, the same drink may boost the BAC faster than in any young person.

4.       Sex:

In the case of women, BAC goes up much more quickly than men. Besides that, they tend to have more body fat and lesser body water because alcohol can linger for longer in their system.     

5.       Ethnicity:

While it may sound absurd, your ethnicity can also affect the way your body metabolizes alcohol. As per studies, people of East Asian descent can have trouble metabolizing alcohol because they don’t produce a key enzyme that helps the liver metabolize alcohol. Instead, it can lead to the build-up of a toxic byproduct of alcohol which causes nausea, dizziness, and even headaches.

6.       Food consumption:

From your stomach, around 20% of ethanol present in liquor gets absorbed by the blood, and the rest can go into the small intestine. If alcohol stays for a long time in your stomach, it will take a long time to absorb and slow down the intoxication process. You must eat before and during drinking to help slow the absorption but may extend the detection period.   

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Final Thoughts

Whether you are undergoing an alcohol test for medical reasons or assigned by the court or your employer, it can be a daunting experience. But, having the proper knowledge about the alcohol testing procedure can help make it easier for you. While there might be plenty of rumors surrounding these tests, you must keep the above things in mind when appearing for an alcohol test.