Does Alcohol Show Up on a Drug Test?

Does Alcohol Show Up on a Drug Test?


Yes, alcohol can show up on a drug test. Employers or testing agencies often utilize the EtG (Ethyl Glucuronide) test to identify alcohol consumption in a candidate's system.

Standard drug tests such as the 5-panel or 10-panel drug tests typically do not screen for alcohol. However, some employers, probation authorities, and addiction treatment programs may specifically include alcohol testing as part of their testing regimen. 

Learn more about the alcohol drug test, how long it stays in the system, and more. 

Table of Contents

How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your System?

Alcohol can stay in your system for 24 hours to 90 days, depending on the type of test administered. An EtG drug test can detect alcohol in urine for up to 80 hours, in breath for around 24 hours, in saliva for 24 to 48 hours, and in hair for as long as 90 days. 

The duration alcohol stays in your system is influenced by various factors such as body mass, liver function, and the amount of alcohol consumed. It is essential to understand that alcohol metabolism happens at a steady rate. 

Meaning, If you consume more alcohol than your liver can metabolize within a given hour, the excess will circulate in your bloodstream, affecting your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)

How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your Urine?

Alcohol can be detected in urine for 12 to 80 hours after the last drink, especially when using an EtG (Ethyl Glucuronide) urine test. The EtG test can detect ethanol, a reliable indicator of recent alcohol intake due to its extended detection window. 

However,  the detection period can vary from person to person, influenced by factors such as age, metabolic rate, and the amount and concentration of alcohol consumed.

If you are worrying about your upcoming EtG urinalysis, test yourself with high-quality EtG drug testing kits.

Some tests also look for another metabolite, ethyl sulfate (EtS), making these tests highly reliable and the preferred choice for courts and rehab programs.

How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your Saliva?

Alcohol may stay in saliva between 24 and 48 hours post-consumption. The concentration of alcohol in saliva correlates closely with Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC), making this test a trustworthy option for assessing recent alcohol use. 

How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your Hair?

A hair test, specifically an EtG hair drug test, provides an extensive detection window capable of identifying alcohol consumption for up to 90 days. This makes it a comprehensive and reliable method for long-term monitoring despite requiring a more significant investment and processing time.

What Happens to Alcohol in the Body?

Once you consume an alcoholic beverage, it begins its journey in the stomach and the small intestine. From the small intestine, alcohol moves swiftly into your bloodstream, where it starts to affect many systems in the body, notably the brain and the heart.

Nearly 90% - 95% of alcohol undergoes metabolism in the liver, where the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase plays a crucial role in breaking it down into less harmful components.

Your liver, with the help of alcohol dehydrogenase, starts metabolizing alcohol into less harmful substances like acetaldehyde, which is then further metabolized into acetate and eventually water and carbon dioxide for easy elimination from the body.

Subsequently, these metabolites are expelled from your body through various routes, including your kidneys, skin, lungs, and urine. 

How long does it take for the Alcohol to kick in?

The onset of alcohol's effects can vary, generally taking between 10 to 30 minutes to become noticeable. 

It is important to note that the type of alcoholic beverage consumed can also affect how quickly you feel its impact. Beverages with higher alcohol content may produce quicker and more potent effects. Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach can accelerate its absorption, leading to faster intoxication, say within 2 to 3 minutes.

This timeframe can be influenced by multiple factors, such as 

  1. Consumption period
  2. Frequency 
  3. Age
  4. Metabolism
  5. Health conditions
  6. Medications

When can your alcohol consumption become a problem?

While regulations can differ among jurisdictions, the legal threshold for Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) in most areas is 0.08%. This percentage is generally accepted as the point at which an individual is considered legally intoxicated. 

It can take approximately six hours for your BAC to decline from 0.08% to zero. Importantly, any detectable BAC above 0.00% is considered illegal for individuals under 21 under the "zero tolerance" laws prevalent in many places.

Things you should know about BAC

  • Rate of BAC Decline: The human body metabolizes alcohol at a constant rate, roughly 0.015% BAC per hour. This rate can be influenced by various factors such as liver health, age, and metabolic rate.
  • Field Sobriety Tests: Apart from BAC, law enforcement may also use field sobriety tests to gauge intoxication. However, BAC remains the most scientifically reliable measure.
  • Underage Drinking Laws: For those under 21, even a BAC of 0.01% can lead to severe legal consequences, reflecting the strict "zero tolerance" policies.
  • Impairment Levels: It's crucial to understand that even low levels of BAC, such as 0.02%-0.05%, can impair cognitive functions, though they may be below the legal limit.

Does DOT conduct an Alcohol/ EtG Drug Test?

The Department of Transportation (DOT) does conduct alcohol tests but generally does not use EtG (Ethyl Glucuronide) tests for their standard procedures. The DOT alcohol tests usually involve breathalyzer tests to measure Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) and may include urine tests for other substances. 

These tests are conducted to ensure the safety of the traveling public and workers who operate commercial motor vehicles. EtG tests are more commonly used in non-DOT settings where long-term alcohol consumption needs to be examined, such as in addiction treatment programs or legal cases.

False Positives in Alcohol Testing

False positives in alcohol testing are instances where the test incorrectly indicates the presence of alcohol in a candidate’s system. While alcohol tests, particularly EtG tests, are generally reliable but not foolproof. Various factors can lead to a false positive result, complicating matters for individuals undergoing tests for employment, legal reasons, or addiction treatment.

Some common causes include

  • Medications 
  • Mouthwash and Dental Products
  • Certain Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and even some ripe fruits can contain small amounts of alcohol
  • Personal Care Products
  • Household Products

When preparing for an EtG drug test, you should avoid certain products that could lead to a false positive result. Here's a list of items to steer clear of.

Products to Avoid Before an EtG Drug Test

Personal Care Products

  • Hand Sanitizers: Many contain a high alcohol content.

  • Alcohol-based Mouthwash: Opt for alcohol-free variants instead.

  • Body Sprays and Perfumes: Some may contain alcohol as a solvent.

Food and Beverages

  • Alcohol-infused Foods: Such as beer-battered fish or desserts with liquor.

  • Fermented Foods: Like sauerkraut, kimchi, and certain yogurts.

  • Non-Alcoholic Beers and Wines: These can still contain trace amounts of alcohol.

Over-the-Counter Medications

  • Cough Syrups: Many contain ethyl alcohol.

  • Cold and Flu Medications: Some may have alcohol or ingredients that can trigger a false positive.

Household Products

  • Cleaning Supplies: Products like window cleaners often contain isopropyl alcohol.

  • Cooking Extracts: Vanilla and other extracts may contain alcohol.


  • Tinctures and Herbal Remedies: Some may use alcohol as a solvent.


Workplaces do not conduct alcohol tests only on suspicion over employees. For employees in specific sectors like transportation and other high-risk industries like construction, the workplace should be more aware of alcohol consumption by the employees. 

With the above information, we can conclude that alcohol does surface in a drug test, and it is vital to be clean if you are serving in a workplace.


Do Employers Test for Alcohol?

Yes, many employers and companies test for alcohol, particularly in industries where safety is a prime concern.

Does Wine Show Up on a Drug Test?

Yes, wine, like any other alcoholic beverage, will show up in a drug test.

Can You Drink the Night Before the Drug Test?

It's not advisable to drink alcohol the night before a drug test, especially an EtG test, as it can detect alcohol for up to 80 hours.

How to Pass an EtG Test in 24 Hours?

There is no guaranteed method to pass an EtG test in 24 hours. The only surefire way to test negative is to abstain from alcohol consumption.

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