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Family Physician
Family Physician, Board Certified MRO
Category: Drug Testing
Satisfied Customers: 12816
Experience:  Medical Review Officer - Physician Trained and certified in drug test interpretation
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How long is alcohol detectable in urine drug test?

Resolved Question:

How long can alcohol be detected in a urine test and a blood test sent to a lab?

Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Drug Testing
Expert:  Family Physician replied 5 years ago.
It depends on which specific tests are being done. The EtG test is the one that is most commonly used:

Alcohol is metabolized at the rate of approximately 1 drink (1 beer, 1 shot or 1 glass of wine) per hour. Even if you use a more conservative time of 1 1/2 hour per drink, the detection period for 2 drinks would be about 3 hours, 6 drinks in about 9 hours etc.

Another test; EtG identifies a biomarker for recent alcohol use (not the alcohol itself). While many sites suggest detection up to 80 hours, this long of a detection period is unlikely except with very heavy use.

A recent study looked at the sensitivity of commercially available EtG testing (again using the lowest sensitivity) and found that all specimens were negative within 26 hours.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17376784

I believe that there are several reasons for so many sites referencing the "80 hour" range including labs trying to convince those ordering the test that they are more effective than science might suggest, and those web sites that are promoting useless products that claim to "beat" drug tests can convince customers that their product actually helped them pass the test.

There are however other biomarkers used to detect recent alcohol use. This discussion give information on those markers and the approximate detection time.
kap.samhsa.gov/products/manuals/advisory/.../0609_biomarkers.pdf
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