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Is an EtG Hair Test Accurate for Proof of Abstinence?

EtG hair test

Excessive alcohol consumption costs the United States billions of dollars every year. 72% of the total costs due to excessive drinking resulted from losses in workplace productivity.

Excessive drinking can be discovered through alcohol testing forms, such as EtG testing. Whether you need an EtG hair test for employment reasons, or as evidence of alcohol abstinence in court, this guide is for you.

Keep reading to learn about EtG testing, from accuracy to detection periods.

What Is an EtG Hair Test?

An alcohol hair test, otherwise known as an EtG hair test, can detect alcohol consumption from the past few months. Blood tests and urine tests can detect alcohol use, but only short-term use.

An alcohol hair test will provide a longer window into a person’s consumption behaviors. The results will show whether someone has infrequently used alcohol or if someone abuses alcohol.

Despite longer detection periods and high accuracy rates, there are some limits to alcohol hair tests. 

Hair Test Accuracy

EtG testing kits are accurate but users can experience false negatives and false positives.

Every person is different so there’s no guarantee that alcohol leaves EtG traces in the hair. This means a negative test is not always proof of abstinence.

On the other end of the spectrum, excess EtG levels aren’t always the result of alcohol. Viewing a positive test as proof of consumption without an additional blood or urine test is not recommended.

Alcohol doesn’t leave hair quickly, hence the longer detection periods. Alcohol gets broken down and absorbed into the hair, making alcohol use evident for months at a time.

This test will look for ethyl glucuronide in hair. Ethyl glucuronide (EtG) is a sign of alcohol consumption or increased blood alcohol levels.

There are some problems with the EtG hair test process. Bleaching, perming, and dyeing hair can interfere with the results of an EtG tests.

At-home alcohol screening tests require you to follow specific instructions to ensure accurate results.

In general, these tests are considered very accurate. To determine if there may be a problem with the test results, the tester could ask about hair care treatment and practices.

EtG Hair Testing vs. Blood or Urine Testing

Blood and urine tests have shorter detection periods compared to EtG hair tests. A hair alcohol test can detect use for longer and determine the level of consumption.

Blood and urine tests can only detect alcohol in the system for a few hours or a few days. When combined with a hair test, blood and urine EtG testing can determine whether a person has been drinking less often.

A hair test for alcohol abstinence is easy to complete. A hair sample is necessary and often taken from the head. If someone has inadequate hair on their head, samples might be taken from the following areas:

  • Chest
  • Armpit
  • Groin

The area where the hair is taken from isn’t usually noticeable because only a small amount is necessary.

How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your Hair?

A drug court may use a hair test to get a complete overview of your alcohol usage. Generally, alcohol can stay in your hair for up to six months, but the timeframe depends on a few factors.

If you drink alcohol and get a test done the next day, it likely won’t show up in the results. It takes at least a week after drinking alcohol for it to show up in a test. If you drink often, you’ll likely always have alcohol-absorbing strands of hair.

Because there is a blind spot that masks alcohol consumed up to a week before the hair collection, blood tests are used to establish a pattern of alcohol use.

Alcohol can be detected for several months, but there are cases where alcohol can be detected in the hair for years. Most people cut their hair before years go by, so it’s common for hair tests to show alcohol use between 3-6 months.

Producing a Positive Result

A common question about these tests is how much alcohol it takes to cause a positive result. Everyone metabolizes alcohol differently, but it generally doesn’t take much to show up on an EtG test.

Hair tests can show low EtG levels that indicate someone drinks socially or recreationally. Having one or two drinks per week may lead to this type of result.

A high concentration of alcohol consumption in one night can easily produce a positive test result as well.

A high EtG concentration level indicates that someone habitually drinks and could have an alcohol addiction.

This type of alcohol hair testing collects hair follicles to determine the levels of EtG in the hair. The higher the levels in the results, the more alcohol has been consumed.

Alcohol Hair Testing Results

A hair alcohol test should be used as evidence of abstinence and can be helpful in social service and family court matters. Employers can use these tests to avoid problems that occur from drinking on the job.

These reporting guidelines can indicate alcohol use levels based on the results:

  • Lower than 5pg/mg: Abstinence
  • Between 7-30pg/mg: Mild alcohol use
  • Higher than 30pg/mg: Chronic excessive alcohol use

To get a more accurate picture of someone’s alcohol use, perform blood and urine tests in combination with EtG hair tests.

If this test is being used for court purposes, consider having an expert witness in the room who can explain the results.

Get Results You Can Trust With ReliaLabTest

An EtG hair test can act as proof of abstinence from alcohol, but it works best in combination with a blood or urine test.

EtG hair tests are unique because they can determine EtG levels and have longer detection periods than other forms of alcohol and drug testing. ReliaLabTest offers timely alcohol tests for clear evidence of alcohol consumption.

We are nationally recognized and affiliated with the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry (DATIA) and Substance Abuse Program Administrators Association (SAPAA).

Our test technicians are trained and certified to provide you with accurate results.  Order a test today to get started.

Order a Test

Whether you are an individual looking to get a drug test done today or an employer looking to get a pre-employment drug test done today, ordering a test online is easier than ever! Just submit your order online, receive your test authorization by email, go to your local clinic to be tested, and receive your test results in 24 to 48 hours.

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