Drug and alcohol testing is becoming mandatory actions at almost all workplaces to ensure a safe working environment. Even the smallest incident of alcohol or drug abuse can lead to legal actions on a company or workplace that might end it up into penalties, increased health and safety risks on the workers along with other legal implications. And no workplace would think of risking the safety of their environment. Hence, as a part of their duty for caring for their employees, workplaces today conduct pre-employment alcohol and drug testing as well as post-employment regular testing programs.
When is alcohol testing essential?
There can be legal as well as medical reasons where the officials demand alcohol testing. When a police authority finds anyone guilty of drink-and-drive actions, he/she may demand alcohol testing. Also, when a medical professional suspects that medical complications are a consequence of heavy drinking, he/she may demand alcohol testing. Other situations that may demand alcohol testing are:
- A life insurance company can demand alcohol testing prior to issuing insurance.
- An employer can ask for pre-employment alcohol testing for ensuring a safe working environment.
- People who are being granted custody of children are checked for alcohol consumption to ensure a child’s safety.
- People who are on probation for the crimes resulting from alcohol abuse need to get tested before they are released.
How long can alcohol remain in the circulation?
A standard alcohol drink can be metabolized in the body within an hour. The half-life of alcohol is proved to be 4-5 hours. And hence, it takes a longer time for all the alcohol you consume to vanish from the system. Again, alcohol can show up in the confirmative tests even after 10 hours to 90 days of its consumption. This variation depends on the type of test, age, amount of alcohol consumed, genetics, gender, and body mass.
- Blood Test: Alcohol tests conducted by blood examinations might show positive results even after 12 hours of alcohol consumption.
- Urine Test: Ethyl glucuronide test conducted on urine can show positive results after 3-5 days of alcohol consumption. However, traditional urine testing can give positive results after up to 12 hours of alcohol consumption.
- Hair Test: Testing alcohol in hair follicles can show the presence of alcohol even after 90 days of alcohol consumption.
Does alcohol consumption interfere with drug tests?
Standard drug testing protocols do not show any effect of alcohol on drug testing. These tests are highly specific for suspected drug consumptions. But there are programmed/ customized tests where the screening teams also consider alcohol along with drug testing. These are performed if the authority puts forward a special demand for drug and alcohol testing.
Types of alcohol testing protocols
Basically, three tests are done for testing alcohol:
The breath test is the simplest and fastest alcohol testing method. It is performed using breathalyzers, the apparatus designed to detect alcohol in the breath. Workplaces and police officials prefer these tests to rapidly test the employees or suspects for alcohol abuse. Under this test, the person to be tested has to blow air through the mouth in the breathalyzer, and the results are out in less than a minute’s time.
Blood tests are more reliable alcohol testing methods as the environment may sometimes affect the results of breath tests. But here, the consent of the person being tested is required. The blood is drawn from the veins and then given to the laboratories for testing it for alcohol traces. Unlike the rapid breath test, blood test takes 24 hours or more to deliver the reports. Blood tests are also recommended at workplaces. Mostly, the pre-employment alcohol testing is done through a blood test.
The traditional urine test is not as accurate as of the blood and breath test for alcohol testing. But the Ethyl glucuronide test under urine test is adapted for better accuracy. This test determines if the person has consumed alcohol recently as it can test positive after 2 hours of alcohol consumption. But this test is not recommended for the workplace.
Other methods of alcohol testing are saliva and hair testing methods. But these are not used in workplaces or any legal actions. They are used for medical and forensic purposes.
Thus, this is a complete guide to alcohol testing. If you wish to get your employees or suspects tested for alcohol abuse, you can visit us at 247 onsite drug & alcohol testing services.