The length in which alcohol remains in your system varies from person to person. It primarily depends on your age, size, sex, medications, and the volume you consumed. Generally speaking, it takes the body one to two hours to eliminate a single drink from the system. On average, a 12-ounce drink will raise a 150-pound adult’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) between 0.02% to 0.03%. However, the body can only remove 0.016% of alcohol per hour. The more alcohol consumed, the higher your BAC becomes, making it harder for your body to process the drinks.

Alcohol itself can remain detectable for as little as a few hours up to 3 months depending on the alcohol test conducted. Six available drug screenings can determine an individual’s BAC:

Breath Testing

A common form of drug testing for BAC is through a breathalyzer, which requires an individual to breathe into the device. The amount of alcohol in the air exhaled from the lungs is proportionate to the BAC level. Breathalyzers are often utilized during traffic stops or for personal use. This device can detect an individual’s BAC up to 24 hours after consumption.

Urine Testing

Urine tests are common when applying for jobs or other formal positions. This test requires the individual to urinate in a cup, which will then detect the BAC in the body. Waste within the bloodstream and body is converted into urine, which is then excreted. While different urine tests are available, the typical test can detect an individual’s BAC as much as 10 to 12 hours after consumption.

Blood Testing

The most accurate analysis to perform when testing alcohol abuse is a blood test. When consuming alcohol, it enters the stomach, and then our body absorbs it into the bloodstream. This test requires the individual to have blood drawn. Unfortunately, because of how fast the body can eliminate alcohol, a blood test can only detect an individual’s BAC up to 12 hours after consumption.

PEth Blood Testing

PEth blood tests are another form of blood testing which measures the level of phosphatidylethanol in the bloodstream. Phosphatidylethanol is a direct alcohol biomarker that is found after consumption. A PEth test can indicate if alcohol abuse has occurred 3 to 4 weeks after consumption.

Saliva Testing

Saliva testing requires receiving an individual’s saliva and testing it using a color-changing strip. Because salivary glands produce a watery substance to moisten the mouth, it is possible to detect alcohol within it. Saliva tests can detect an individual’s BAC between 2 hours and 5 days after consumption.

Hair Follicle Testing

Hair follicle testing can determine long-term alcohol abuse. It requires an individual’s hair sample, which is tested for Ethyl Glucuronide (EtG) and Fatty Acid Ethyl Esters (FAEE). EtG is a metabolite that we absorb into our hair via sweat, which can detect if an individual has consumed alcohol in the past 2 to 3 months.

False Positives

Etg is a less reliable source of alcohol testing because it can produce a false positive from mere exposure to basic household products such as mouth wash, cooking extracts, cleaning products, cosmetics, and hair dye.

Breath and saliva tests can also produce a false positive if an individual has used alcohol-based mouthwash or cough medications.

When taking alcohol tests, always indicate usage of medications or items which may produce a false positive.

If you require drug testing for yourself or a business, contact Soteria Screening Laboratories at (202)679-6670 or at info@soteriascreening.com. Soteria firmly believes that substance abuse is a serious issue, causing loss of production, accidents, and other related problems in a business. Soteria testing and compliance programs can help reduce liability and accidents. Give Soteria Screening Laboratories a call today and discover ways you can employ proper substance screening.

Skip to content