Is Alcohol Detected in a Drug Test?


If you work for almost any employer, you may be randomly asked to submit to a drug test. This is a reasonable expectation, as employers want to know that their workers are drug free, working at their full potential and not inhibited on the job from making good decisions. Yet, alcohol is the most common and legal drug out there. Many employees worry that a fun weekend or a glass of wine with dinner will cost them their jobs. Whether your employer can detect alcohol will depend on the type of test given.

Hair Follicle Test

This drug test uses strands of hair to detect past or current drug use. Drug residues pass through the blood stream and lodge in the hair shaft, where it stays until the hair grows out and is cut away. Alcohol can be detected in these tests two to four weeks after consumption, as this is how long it generally takes hair to grow.

Urine Test

The standard urine test is the most cost efficient and most common form of drug testing. It can detect alcohol anywhere from six to twenty-four hours after consumption. After that, your urine should turn up clear.

Ethyl Glucuronide Testing

This test can detect alcohol up to five days after consumption. However, the effectiveness of this method has been disputed because exposure to alcohol containing substances like personal care products, vinegar and cleaning solvents can result in elevated levels of EtG.

Blood Testing

Alcohol can be specifically tested for in the blood if this is what the tester is looking for. Through this method, one can find out the amount of alcohol consumed. This is the most accurate test for alcohol consumption. However, it is not generally used in a work environment as standard drug testing. It may be used in the case of someone being on parole for alcohol abuse, custody battles or other matters in which alcohol use may be suspected and in which use would result in unfavorable consequences.

Beating the Test

The most effective way to prevent being caught drinking at an inappropriate time or in high amounts is to avoid drinking. Generally, alcohol is metabolized quickly and exits the system in a relatively short amount of time. That said, drinking more than two drinks in a sitting is dangerous for you and others who may come in contact with you. If you have multiple drinks before going to work, for example, your judgment may be impaired when making important decisions. If you are operating tools or machinery, your hindered coordination could result in serious injury. It is also important to drink in moderation while children are in your care.

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