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How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your System for a Drug Test?

by | Dec 23, 2023 | Uncategorized

When you think of a drug test, illegal drugs may be the first thing that comes to mind. In some cases, a drug test may be used to see if alcohol is in the body. The length of time alcohol stays in your system involves several factors and is not always an easy question to answer. Although most people process alcohol out of the body at the same rate, certain factors determine how long you feel its effects. If you are curious about the length of time alcohol will show up on a drug test, learning more about these factors will help keep you figure out your personal likelihood for alcohol to remain in the bloodstream.

Drug Tests That Detect Alcohol

There are several different types of drug tests that have varying sensitivity. The most common way to test for alcohol is through the use of a breathalyzer, but alcohol levels can also be tested using blood, urine, and hair follicles.

  • Breath test: A quick way to analyze the amount of alcohol in a person’s system is to use a breathalyzer. A breath test can detect the blood alcohol concentration level on the go without requiring a blood draw. This type of test is frequently used for traffic stops or personal monitoring use. Since the amount of alcohol in the air that is exhaled from the lungs is proportionate to the current levels in the blood, a breath test gives a relatively accurate idea of the BAC.
  • Blood test: The true BAC can only be determined using a blood test. Since alcohol is eliminated quickly from the system, a blood test will only show results for around 12 hours after the last beverage is consumed.
  • Urine test: Like other drugs, traces of alcohol also show up in urine tests. There are a few urine analysis options that render different results. The traditional urine test can detect alcohol for between 10 and 12 hours but does not require a blood draw, so it is a preferred collection method for employers. A more sensitive test checks for ethyl glucuronide levels and can show positive results for up to five days.
  • Hair follicle test: Testing hair follicles show evidence of alcohol use for up to 90 days.
  • PEth test: This is a blood test that measures an alcohol metabolite. This can tell if someone has abused alcohol and goes back approximately three to four weeks.

Alcohol Metabolism in the Body

After it is consumed, alcohol reaches the bloodstream through the digestive tract, with the majority absorbed in the small intestine. Once it is in the bloodstream, it travels throughout the body and is processed by the liver. Typically, one ounce per hour is the maximum processing rate in the liver until it is entirely expelled through bodily fluids such as sweat, urine, feces, or in heavy consumption situations, vomit.
There are several factors that lead to differences in the way individuals are affected by alcohol consumption. Some of these factors cannot be changed, but you should be aware of the effects before you decide to drink if you are worried about your BAC or the potential for a drug test for alcohol.

  • Age: Alcohol remains in the liver of older individuals longer during processing, potentially causing damage.
  • Size: Individuals with a higher body fat percentage end up with a higher BAC due to the poor tissue absorption of fat.
  • Sex: Hormones and body water percentage differences between biological males and females affect processing rates.
  • Food consumption: Food and beverages dilute alcohol and slow down the absorption into the bloodstream.
  • Medication: Medication that keeps alcohol in the small intestine longer increases absorption into the bloodstream.

Drug Tests For Alcohol at ARCpoint Labs of Fort Myers

Drug tests aren’t only used for illegal drug use. Many companies and agencies use drug testing to check for compliance and potential liability issues. To learn more about drug tests for alcohol or find out what other services are offered, contact ARCpoint Labs of Fort Myers for more information.

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