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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 does alcohol remain in blood?

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.

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Resolved Question:

How long after use, can alcohol be detected in the blood?

Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Drug Testing
Expert:  Family Physician replied 5 years ago.
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.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Would your answer be the same regardless of the health of the liver, i.e. cirrohsis, hepatitis, etc?
Expert:  Family Physician replied 5 years ago.
The metabolism of alcohol would be expected to be slower in someone with severe liver disease. The actual rate would depend on the severity of the liver disease.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
How about the EtG testing?
Expert:  Family Physician replied 5 years ago.
Liver disease seems to have less effect on EtG detection period
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15318121
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

So the EtG identification would still be something less than 80 hours?

One more question resulting from blood work please. There is a liver enzyme test which can show high numbers with recent alcohol use, I believe it is called GGT. Is there a given time frame that can be applied to this test or is this test the EtG identification marker you referenced earlier?

Expert:  Family Physician replied 5 years ago.
In MOST cases, the EtG is negative before 80 hours. HOWEVER, there is no way to know for sure. The higher the dose of alcohol, the more likely that an EtG would be positive.

GGT is a liver enzyme that tends to be elevated by alcohol use, however it is not specific - other things including infections can potentially elevate this test.
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