Alcohol Test Info: Why Test For Alcohol?


Why Are U.S. Companies Testing For Alcohol?

Why test for alcohol? What alcohol info can an alcohol test show? According to alcohol abuse statistics, there is more substantial evidence that conditions such as fetal alcohol syndrome are preventable.

Alcohol abuse statistics also show that increasing pressure is being exerted on drunk driving legislators by organizations such as MADD.

More confirmation exists that most, if not all, alcohol-related highway fatalities can be prevented.

Furthermore, alcohol abuse statistics and alcohol info reveal that junior high, high school, and college administrators are cracking down harder on student alcohol abuse.

And finally, there are increasing efforts to reduce preventable alcohol-related accidents, sexual harassment, crime, and injuries in the workplace.

All of these alcohol abuse statistics, facts, and information cannot be ignored. Indeed, this aforementioned information quite logically points to some of the key reasons why employers in U.S. companies and organizations see the need to test for alcohol.


Problems With Alcohol in the Workplace

The alcohol related problems in the workplace simply cannot be ignored and need to be addressed.

Due to all of these influences, moreover, alcohol tests and alcohol testing will certainly become even more important and implemented in our society.

Indeed, alcohol testing in the workplace via various alcohol tests may become as common as annual employee evaluations and will more likely than not become part of the drug and alcohol testing movement that is becoming an essential part of the policies and procedures that guide several companies, organizations, and institutions throughout the U.S.

From a different perspective, why can't problem drinkers look at an alcohol test as a signal that identifies the alcoholism or alcohol abuse problems in their lives?

In other words, when alcohol abusers or alcoholics receive a breath alcohol test or a urine alcohol test at work or a field sobriety test on the highway, why can't they consider such an "alcoholism test" or an "alcohol abuse test" as a wake-up call that tells them to address their alcohol problems before they get totally out of control?

Testing For Alcohol: Five Different Kinds of Alcohol Tests

Relevant alcohol info and statistics reveal that for employers, alcohol abuse and alcoholism problems account for approximately 67% of total number of substance abuse complaints.

In the United States, alcohol abuse or alcoholism is associated with half the automobile fatalities and almost half of all industrial accidents.

Consequently, there is a growing demand for more effective alcohol testing, screening, and detection methods in the American workplace.

Indeed, more and more companies are employing alcohol screening tests and random alcohol tests as part of their workplace drug and alcohol testing program or alcohol testing policy.

Testing For Alcohol. When considering implementing an alcohol testing program, employers do not have too many valid options.

In fact, there are basically five different types of alcohol tests:

  • Urine alcohol tests

  • Blood alcohol tests

  • Breath alcohol tests

  • Saliva alcohol tests

  • Hair alcohol tests

Interestingly, hair alcohol testing is relatively recent. Indeed, until 2008, hair tests could not detect alcohol and were therefore used only for testing for drugs other than alcohol.

Now that hair tests can accurately and reliably identify an individual's blood alcohol level, however, it would appear that hair test will become more widely used in American companies and will be a key component of the drug and alcohol testing programs that will be implemented in the future.

Testing For Alcohol: Urine Alcohol Testing

Urine Alcohol Tests have the following characteristics:

  • They are the least expensive of the alcohol testing methods.

  • They can be used at home, for instance, by parents, though lab verification is required for accurate results.

  • They are considered an intrusive method of alcohol testing.

  • They can be affected by abstaining from drinking for a period of time before the test.

  • They detect alcohol ingestion mainly within the past week, or longer with regular drinking.

  • They are often temperature tested to assure sample integrity.

  • They indicate the presence of alcohol in a person's system, but it takes up to 2 hours for the alcohol to show up in the person's urine.

Urine Alcohol Testing Pros and Cons

The following represents some of the key positives and negatives regarding urine alcohol testing.

Urine Alcohol Testing Pros

  • They have a high assurance of reliable results.

  • They are relatively inexpensive.

  • They provide the most flexibility in testing different drugs, including alcohol and nicotine.

  • They are the most likely of all drug-testing methods to withstand legal challenge.

Urine Alcohol Testing Cons

  • The specimen can be adulterated, substituted, or diluted.

  • They have a limited window of detection (typically 1 to 5 days).

  • They are considered as invasive or embarrassing form of alcohol testing.

  • They present a biological hazard when the specimens are handled and shipped to the lab.

  • They indicate the presence of alcohol in a person's system, but it takes up to 2 hours for the alcohol to show up in urine.

  • A positive urine test does not necessarily mean the person was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the test. Rather, it detects and measures the use of alcohol within the previous day or so and with some special testing methods, such as EtG urine alcohol tests, up to 80 hours.

Testing For Alcohol: Blood Alcohol Testing

The blood alcohol testing research literature reveals that a blood alcohol test measures the amount of alcohol that is in the blood at the time a blood sample is taken.

As a result, a blood alcohol test does not reveal how long an individual has been drinking and it does not necessarily show whether or not the person has a drinking problem.

Due to the fact that quite a few medicines can alter the blood alcohol test results, people who are undergoing an alcohol blood test need to inform the lab, doctor, or person administrating the test about all the prescription and nonprescription medications they are taking.

In addition, if a person is currently taking a blood-thinning medicine or has clotting or bleeding problems, he or she needs to inform the agency or individual administering the blood alcohol test before a blood sample is taken or before the blood alcohol testing procedure is started.

Blood Alcohol Tests (also called blood tests for alcohol and alcohol blood tests) have the following characteristics:

  • Blood alcohol testing is one of the most accurate methods for testing a person's blood alcohol content (BAC).

  • Blood alcohol tests are one of the most expensive methods for testing a person's blood alcohol content.

  • Blood alcohol testing is the most intrusive method currently in use for testing blood alcohol content.

  • Due mainly to their high cost and to their intrusiveness, blood alcohol tests are typically the least common method when testing for alcohol.

Testing For Alcohol: Saliva Alcohol Tests

A saliva alcohol test detects the presence of alcohol in the saliva, and are a relatively good approximation of blood alcohol content (BAC).

Due to the fact that the concentration of alcohol in saliva is very likely to be similar to the blood alcohol content that is in the blood, saliva is a preferred method of testing for alcohol when compared with blood alcohol testing.

Saliva Tests have the following characteristics:

  • They are slightly more expensive than urine testing, but less than hair or blood testing

  • They are a relatively non-intrusive method of drug testing

  • They are becoming more common compared to the other methods of testing

  • They are easy to administer but require lab processing for accuracy

  • They detect use primarily within the past day or so

  • They can detect more recent drug use than other testing methods

  • They have no nationally accepted cutoff concentrations or standards for detection. This makes the results more dependent on the specific product employed and could make results less-reliable and/or acceptable for legal considerations

  • They are more reliable for the detection of methamphetamine and opiates and less reliable for THC or cannabinoids

Saliva Alcohol Tests Pros

The following list represents the positive aspects of saliva drug tests:

  • They provide samples that are acquired under direct observation.

  • They present a minimal risk of tampering.

  • They spare patients the discomfort of repeated vein punctures.

  • They are non-invasive.

  • They present no risk of infection, thrombosis, or anemia.

  • They present lower total testing costs since no special staff training is required for collection.

  • They provide for samples that can be collected easily in almost any environment.

  • They can detect alcohol use.

  • They reflect recent drug use.

Saliva Alcohol Tests Cons

The following list represents the negative aspects of saliva drug tests:

  • They present some detection limitation since drugs and drug metabolites do not remain in the saliva as long as they do in the urine.

  • They are less efficient than other testing methods in detecting marijuana use.

  • They provide a relatively short window of detection, approximately 10 to 24 hours.


Testing For Alcohol: Breath Alcohol Testing

While a breath alcohol test can be administered a number of ways, breathalyzer tests are the most common form of breath alcohol testing and have the following characteristics:

  • They do not directly measure blood alcohol concentration or content (BAC).

  • They estimate blood alcohol concentration or content indirectly by measuring the amount of alcohol in one's breath.

  • They not only detect the ethyl alcohol found in alcohol beverages, but also in other substances that have a similar molecular structure.

  • They can result in false BAC readings caused from cell phones, police radios, electrical interference, moisture, dirt, and tobacco smoke.

  • They can result in false BAC readings from substances or compounds found in gasoline, paint removers, cleaning fluids, celluloid, and lacquers.

  • They can lead to false BAC results from blood, vomit, or alcohol present in the person's mouth.

  • They can result in false BAC readings due to a person's breathing rate caused by vigorous exercise, hyperventilation, or a person holding one's breath.

  • They can result in false BAC readings if law enforcement personnel fail to use the breathalyzers properly or fail to properly maintain and re-calibrate the units when necessary.

Testing For Alcohol: Hair Alcohol Tests

The Hair Alcohol Test. As the hair grows, it absorbs special markers called ethyl glucuronide (EtG) and fatty acid ethyl esters (FAEEs). The EtG and FAEE markers remain in the hair indefinitely as long as a person doesn't shave or cut his or her hair.

Due to the fact that the FAEE and EtG markers are only produced when there is alcohol in the bloodstream, the more markers that exist, the more alcohol the individual has consumed.

Extensive research studies on EtG and FAEE testing have helped researchers establish a reliable base line for FAEEs and EtGs regarding the drinking patterns of different groups of people such as heavy drinkers, social drinkers, and non-drinkers.

Since the concentration of blood to the body hair fails to elicit reliable results, only scalp hair leads to an accurate alcohol assessment.

Although bleach, hair dye, perms, and other hair processes cannot alter the results of the test, it should be pointed out that the test will not work if the person has extremely short hair (less than ½ inch) of if the person shaves his or her head.

One of the notable positives of hair alcohol tests is that they are non-invasive and can provide an accurate history of alcohol consumption that goes back in time many months, if not years.

It can be noted that hair tests were not used for alcohol testing until 2008. Up until this time, they were used mainly for drug testing. Now that hair tests have become a valid way to identify both drugs and alcohol, however, they will probably become more common as an increasing number of organizations, companies, and institutions upgrade and implement their drug and alcohol testing policies and procedures.

Hair Alcohol Tests have the following characteristics:

  • Hair alcohol testing is currently many times more costly than urine tests.

  • They are a relatively non-intrusive method of alcohol testing.

  • Due to the fact that hair alcohol tests could not detect alcohol until 2008, up until this date hair tests were used almost exclusively for the detection of drugs other than alcohol.

  • Hair alcohol tests detect alcohol use over a longer period of time than any other type of alcohol testing protocol (for instance, hair tests for alcohol can provide accurate test results regarding alcohol use going back months or even years).

  • They require a sample of hair approximately the diameter of a pencil and about 1.5 inches long.

  • Hair tests can accurately detect alcohol, drugs, and combinations of both.

  • No adulterants have been found that can beat hair tests for alcohol. Plus, the risk is minimized due to the fact that every collection is directly and easily observed.

  • They provide accurate results for non-drinkers, social drinkers, and heavy drinkers.

  • Hair alcohol testing reduces the need for recurring random alcohol testing.

Alcohol Hair Tests Pros

  • Hair alcohol tests have a relatively long window of detection (for example, hair tests for alcohol can provide accurate test results pertaining to alcohol use going back months or even years).

  • They offer greater stability (that is, they do not deteriorate).

  • Hair alcohol testing provides accurate results for non-drinkers, social drinkers, and heavy drinkers.

  • Hair alcohol tests are a non-intrusive form of alcohol testing.

  • They provide convenient shipping and storage, since they do not require refrigeration.

  • Hair alcohol tests offer a collection procedure that is not invasive or embarrassing.

  • They are almost impossible to adulterate.

  • Hair tests detect the combined use of alcohol and other drugs.

Alcohol Hair Tests Cons

  • Hair tests for alcohol are relatively expensive.

  • They are so recent that many, if not the vast majority of U.S. employers are unaware of their existence.

  • Hair alcohol tests will not work on hair that is less than 1/2" to 1" long.

  • They will not work if the person shaves his or her head.

  • Hair tests for alcohol will not work on body hair and therefore only work with scalp hair.

  • No matter how long the hair is, hair alcohol tests cannot be performed on a single hair.

Alcoholism Videos

We have included some alcoholism videosso that you can see and hear directly from various people about their struggles with this disease.

If you, a family member, or one of your friends has a "drinking problem," seeing what others have gone through and how they attained successful recovery is much more "real" and meaningful than any alcohol info you can read about on a website on in a book.

Furthermore, watching these videos may help you empathize with and understand what others with a drinking problem are experiencing.

When you watch these videos, you will better understand why so many American companies and organizations are testing for alcohol abuse and alcoholism via alcohol tests.

So make sure you take the time to look at these excellent videos. Who knows, you may learn some alcohol info that you can apply to your life!

Drug and Alcohol Testing in the Workplace

Alcohol abuse statistics and the alcoholism research literature on alcohol testing reveals that many U.S. employers are developing and implementing workplace alcohol testing programs. Why are they doing this? Why would employers initiate workplace alcohol testing and test for alcohol?

American companies are initiating alcohol testing policies to increase employee safety; to substantially reduce their worker compensation premiums; to improve work performance; to reduce alcohol-related fatalities, accidents, and injuries; and to make progress in establishing an alcohol-free workplace.

In sum, from a pragmatic and common sense perspective, alcohol testing in the workplace will not only continue but will probably increase and become even more sophisticated in the near future. Don't be surprised, moreover, if new and more powerful alcohol tests or a series of alcohol tests are developed by researchers that will foil employee attempts to sabotage or mask the alcohol test results.

And finally, since alcohol testing is actually a subset of drug and alcohol testing, it also makes sense to project that alcohol testing AND drug testing will increase in the American workplace in the foreseeable future.

Please click here for additional information about workplace alcohol testing.

Conclusion: Alcohol Test Info: Why Test For Alcohol?

Why do organizations, institutions, and companies test for alcohol? What alcohol info can alcohol testing reveal? Why will testing for alcohol surely increase in scope and in sophistication in our society?

According to alcohol abuse statistics, there are a number of reasons why U.S. corporations and companies test for alcohol, including the following: greater pressure being exerted on drunk driving legislators by organizations such as MADD and more and more evidence demonstrating that most, if not all, alcohol-related highway fatalities can be prevented.

Problems With Alcohol Additional reasons for the increase in alcohol testing in our society in general and workplace alcohol testing in particular also include increasing proof that conditions like fetal alcohol syndrome are preventable and the fact that college, high school, and junior high school administrators are ramping up their efforts at eliminating or significantly reducing student alcohol abuse.

And finally, alcohol testing will probably continue to increase in our society due to the intensified efforts to reduce preventable alcohol-related injuries and accidents in the U.S. workplace.

Indeed, based on relevant alcohol abuse statistics and facts, many companies, institutions, and organizations are implementing random alcohol testing and alcohol screening tests as part of their workplace alcohol testing policy.

In short, testing for alcohol and alcohol tests are becoming less and less an option and more of a necessity in many, if not most, American workplaces, governmental agencies and organizations, and educational institutions.

In fact, workplace alcohol testing has become so widespread that it has become part of the basic alcohol information that is discussed in the news and by the media.

Since there are currently only five real options companies and organizations have when considering the type of alcohol test they will employ, it should not come as a shock if researchers develop an even more accurate, more sophisticated, and a more tamper-proof alcohol test or series of tests in the near future.

The five types of alcohol tests currently administered by U.S. employers are:

  • Breath alcohol tests

  • Urine alcohol tests

  • Saliva alcohol tests

  • Blood alcohol tests

  • Hair alcohol tests

Due to the fact that hair tests have recently become valid measures of alcohol content, it seems reasonable to assume that hair tests will become even more widely used by various institutions, organizations, and companies in their drug and alcohol testing policies and procedures.

It needs to be emphasized that an alcohol test cannot necessarily determine whether an individual is an alcohol abuser or an alcoholic. Consequently, an alcohol test is more accurately viewed as an "alcohol abuse test" rather than as an "alcoholism test."

Let us use an example to illustrate this point. If a person drinks just once per year and gets drunk on his or her birthday, for instance, it is highly unlikely that this person is an alcoholic.


By definition, however, this person has engaged in abusive drinking and can therefore be labeled as an alcohol abuser.

If this person happens to receive a DUI based on a breath alcohol test such as a breathalyzer test that was administered by the police, however, even if this person has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that is significantly higher than the legal limit for intoxication, this does not necessarily mean that this individual is an alcoholic. It does mean, however, that this person has been engaging in alcohol abuse.

As a final thought, it would appear that most problem drinkers who have to take an alcohol test probably view these tests in a negative way.

Why can't these individuals, however, turn this thinking around and look at an alcohol test as a signal that identifies the alcohol abuse or alcoholism problems in their lives?

Stated differently, when problem drinkers receive a field sobriety test on the highway or a breath alcohol test or a urine alcohol test at work, why can't they perceive such an "alcohol abuse test" or "alcoholism test" as a wake-up call that tells them to get the needed alcohol treatment before their drinking problems get totally out of control?