Hair Alcohol Test Facts and FAQ

Hair Alcohol Test Facts and FAQ


Hair drug tests are less invasive, cheat-proof, and have a longer detection period. It is well-known that hair drug tests can accurately trace any illicit and prescription drugs using just 1.5 inches of your hair sample. But you might be wondering - Can a Hair test detect alcohol? 

The Answer is YES. The Hair drug test can detect alcohol by examining the Etg (Ethyl Glucuronide) and FAEE (Fatty Acid Ethyl Esters) makers in your hair that can indicate your alcohol consumption. This blog will guide you through the facts about hair alcohol drug tests and FAQ around it.

Book your Hair alcohol drug test at any lab near you (within 5 miles radius) at USHealthTesting. Just enter your zip code, choose the nearest lab, and the drug test of choice.

Table of Contents:

What is a Hair Alcohol Drug Test?

Hair alcohol drug test is used to indicate the presence of alcohol in your system. It is also called the Etg Hair follicle drug test. It helps to detect ethanol consumption that can go back as far as 90 days. It is similar to the standard 5 panel hair drug test for screening employees ( except the fact that the 5 panel test look for major abusive drugs only and not alcohol).

Ethanol is one of the essential ingredients in every alcoholic beverage. One can quickly identify a person’s alcohol consumption by the levels of ethanol traces in blood, breath, and urine. Other samples like urine or blood cannot trace the ethanol for a long time. Ethanol gets broken down by the liver, so it is hard to trace the drug by direct ethanol testing. Testing centers will use fully grown hair to test for illicit drugs. For home-based testing, you can use high quality EtG Urine drug testing kits to identify the drug traces.

Book your Hair alcohol drug test at any lab near you (within 5 miles radius) at USHealthTestingUSHealthTesting offers lab testing nationwide in 3000+ locations. Choose your drug test at the nearest lab through USHealthTesting. Just enter your zip code, choose the nearest lab, and the drug test of choice. Your results will be sent directly to your or your organization. If the results are positive, an MRO (Medical Review Officer) will review your results. USHealthTesting adheres to a strict chain of custody protocol.

How Does the Hair Alcohol Drug Test Work?

The tester will collect the markers from your hair. Markers in your hair will help identify the consumption of alcohol for up to 90 days or more. To be precise, these markers are metabolites that can be produced only when the person consumes alcohol. The two primary metabolites of alcohol are EtPa and EtG.

EtPa (Ethyl Palmitate) is a direct and specific alcohol metabolite your body produces if you consume alcohol. The EtPa metabolites stay in your body for a long period if you drink alcohol excessively. They are stable in hair, and you cannot find any reduction in their concentrations by the effect of hair care and cosmetics. 

EtG ( Ethyl Glucuronide) is a special metabolite of alcohol produced alongside the EtPa once you consume alcohol. It can indicate the consumption of excessive drinking for three months (90 days). Unlike EtPa, the metabolites may get washed out with frequent washing of hair, coloring, hair bleaching, and intense shampooing, leading to false-negative results.

What Will the Results Indicate?

During the EtG test, the tester will collect 3 to 6 cm of proximal hair segment. If the level of EtG is less than or equal to 5 mg/pg, then the person is considered not in contact with alcohol. If the level is greater than 5 to 29 mg/pg, it is deemed repeated alcohol usage. If the level is above 30 mg/pg, the person excessively uses alcohol before the specimen collection. EtPa collection differs from EtG sample collection. If the levels of EtPa are less than or equal to 120 mg/pg, it is considered normal, whereas above 350 mg/pg is regarded as excessive consumption.

Note: If the proposed sample is less than 3 cm, the results should be interpreted with caution. Because the results cannot be identified clearly with samples below 3 cm hair sample. The World Health Organization (W.H.O) has indicated the regular usage as “Intake of 60g of pure ethanol per day for several months.”

Can the Hair Alcohol Drug Test identify how much Alcohol a Person had Consumed Monthly?

No. That might not be possible. The hair alcohol drug test can identify the alcohol traces through the markers and interpret the results based on the cut-off levels - i.e., 60 grams of alcohol each day for a prolonged period. The amount of alcohol consumed cannot be tracked as the metabolization of alcohol may differ from one person to another, and it isn't easy to find the exact intake of the drug in a month. 

Know your exact and accurate hair alcohol drug test results at your nearest lab location at USHealthTestingJust enter your zip code, choose the nearest lab, and the drug test of choice.

How Far Back the Test Can Go?

That depends on the length of the hair and its growth. The tester would collect hair samples between the size of 3 to 6 cm from the crown region of your head. Hair grows at the rate of 10 to 12mm per month, and hence, the tester will prioritize the strands of length 6 cm or more. Longer hairs exhibit a drug intake history, so that the tester will prioritize lengthy hair during the hair alcohol test. 

What Kind of Hair is Tested?

The tester will collect hair from the crown region of your head. But it may vary based on certain circumstances. Head hair is the most preferred sample as it can offer the most accurate picture of excessive alcohol usage. If you do not have hair in your head, the tester will go for hair from the arm or chest. Pubic hair is not recommended for hair alcohol drug tests. Urine contains high amounts of ethanol, and pubic hair might result in false positives if tested. Head, Arm, and chest hair is the chronological order of collection of hair for your hair alcohol drug test. It may vary based on your testing lab.

How Much Hair does the Hair Alcohol Drug Test Require?

The tester might require 200 to 250 strands of your hair for your hair alcohol drug test. The hair strand may be of length 3 cm to 6 cm based on the period your tester requires you to test for. For instance, 3 cm hair will cover three months of drug usage. 

Can the Tester Recognize the Pattern of Abuse?

That might not be possible. Hair alcohol drug test is determined to identify the abuse of alcohol. But they do not identify the pattern of usage. The hairs collected would be based on the three-month or six-month use, and the tester would not collect hair month by month for a periodical analysis. So, there are fewer chances that the tester can identify the pattern of abuse.

What if I Have No Hair on My Head?

The tester will require the hair strand from your head region, especially from the crown region of your head. If you do not have any hair on your head, the tester will prefer hair from either your arm or your chest. If there is no hair, the tester will go for an alternative test like a fingernail or blood test. 

The tester will need a hair sample of length 3 cm to the minimum. If the candidate’s hair is less than 3 cm, the tester will go for hair regions with a hair length of 3 to 6 cm. 

The tester will not prefer collecting pubic hair as there are greater chances of getting false positives because of ethanol in the urine. 

What is the Detection Period for Hair Alcohol Drug Testing?

Hair alcohol drug testing can detect the consumption of alcohol before 3 to 6 months. The detection window may vary based on the length of the hair the tester collects. If your tester collects hair of length 3 cm, the detection window would be for three months.

What are the Situations Considered for the Hair Alcohol Drug Testing?

Certain situations would require hair alcohol drug testing to determine whether the individual had consumed excessive alcohol or dealt with alcohol addiction. Some of the prominent situations that require hair alcohol drug testing are

– CPS involved Child custody cases

– Alcohol offences during the period of probation.

– Safety sensitive employment sector.

– Suspicion-based alcohol testing in corporate employment.

– Proof of Responsibility

– Screening people in clinical trials

– Alcohol treatment program

– Testing the person's suitability for surgery.

Can you Tamper with your Hair Alcohol Drug Test?

There is no way that you can tamper with your hair alcohol drug test. If you are tested for EtPa, it is very difficult to tamper with as the concentration of the drug may not vary or get reduced if you use hair cosmetics or any other hair products. There are chances that the levels of EtG might drop, but you cannot eliminate the drug markers permanently from your hair. 

A range of treatment measures might affect your hair alcohol drug testing results. They include sprays, hair bleaching, straightening, and perming. You will have to provide the range of treatments that you have undergone to the tester before your hair drug test. 

Can You Disagree with Your Results if Both the Tests are Carried Out?

Yes. If there arises a false-positive drug test result, the individual can disagree with the test results. The tester will look for the absolute value of the concentration of the marker to confirm the results.

Can I Test for both Etg and EtPa Simultaneously without Having to Work for Two Different Entities?

EtPa test from one company and EtG test from another company might create confusion in aligning the results, thereby compromising the accuracy. Furthermore, it is more time-consuming. Some testing centers might conduct Etg and EtPa tests simultaneously for achieving accuracy in the results. This will also reduce the inconvenience and hassles of having to use two companies.

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