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Types of Alcohol Testing
Different types of Alcohol Testing

Types of Alcohol Testing

by John Horton, Multimedia Specialist

    Sometimes in this fast-paced world, it's hard to slow down. It seems we don't take enough time for ourselves and simply relax as much as our body needs. Sure, we can steal a minute here, barrow a minute there, but the only thing that adds up is stress. We stress out about work, financial matters, even traffic on the way home can add more tension to what is already there. Stress and tension can cloud your mind, faltering your judgments. That's why it's easy to turn to something that will "take off the edge" to help loosen up. Unfortunately, there are people who can't say no, stop, or quit when it comes to alcohol. They either don't realize when a good time to drink is and when it's not a good time to drink or the line between making an honest mistake and careless actions get blurred. No matter what the reason, it's bound to be a problem if not brought to their attention and corrected immediately. That's why it may be a good idea to implement some sort of alcohol testing policy within the workplace. No matter what type of testing you decide, know that it's a fairly high initial investment.

    A blood alcohol test can be really expensive! If you break it down on a test-by-test basis, the cost of paying a skilled person to take the blood from the suspect, the cost in shipping the specimen to a lab, paying a lab to analyze it, and then having to wait for the results to come back. Yes, it's very accurate, but the cost may not be worth it compared to other methods and is usually ruled out when it comes to budgets.

    Perhaps the most commonly heard way to test for alcohol is with a Breathalyzer. This is a non-intrusive way that indirectly measures Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) by measuring the amount of alcohol on one's breath. Police Officers usually use this method to test drivers if they suspect Alcohol is involved. However, a Breathalyzer machine can cost you up to thousands of dollars. That's just for the testing equipment, if you add in the cost of properly training personnel, plus the cost of issuing every Officer with the devices can be financially draining. But on the bright side, proper maintenance costs are relatively small since it only needs to be re-calibrated from time to time. Minor repairs may be needed once in a great while.

    Another form of alcohol testing is done with Urine. With just a small sample, this test can measure the amount of ethyl glucuronide (EtG- a direct metabolic product of ethanol), but not the BAC. Because it is the least costly of all alcohol testing and can be used along with drug testing, it's often used in the work environment. It is pretty reliable because it requires a lab to test it.

    Finally, there is the Hair Alcohol Test. Similar to the Urine alcohol test; it measures the amount of EtG in a hair sample. This particular one is mostly used to test for alcoholism because it has the ability to check for alcohol consumption over a long period of time. However, there are a few drawbacks, for example, this test requires a lab confirmation because it can't give immediate results, thus making it more costly than the other alcohol tests due to shipping, analyzing the sample, and time it takes to send back the results. PLUS for obvious reasons, this type of alcohol testing won't work if the person shaves off their hair off before testing.

    Basically, there are four types of alcohol testing available: Urine, Blood, Saliva, & Hair. Some could argue that technically there are five types, but that's only if you want to say Saliva and Breath testing are two separate tests. Yes, there are Saliva-only tests out there, for example, the Rapid Detect SDS (which can also test for the commonly used drugs). However, if you need a Saliva-only test, we could recommend the QED Alcohol Test to reliably be used in place of blood, urine, or breath testing methods (which require expensive equipment and operator training). Using a preset chemical reactive process that requires no user intervention, a color bar rises to the level of alcohol present in the system in much the same way as a mercury thermometer. But if you are looking strictly for a Breath Alcohol Test, you should check out the AlcoCheck 02 Breath Alcohol Test. This test can be used once and then disposed of, minimizing contamination associated with repeated use of non-disposable units. All of these fine products mentioned are very budget friendly and sold in a quantity of 25 from our website at www.rapiddetect.com or you can call to speak with one of our friendly knowledgeable sales consultants at (800) 404-0020 weekdays from 8am to 4pm CST about all of our Alcohol Testing products we have to offer at Rapid Detect, INC.