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EtG (Ethyl Glucuronide) ALCOHOL TESTING

Check.The Importance of Addressing Alcohol Use
Check.How EtG Tests Work
Check.Integrating EtG Testing into RSDT


The Importance of Addressing Alcohol Use

Alcohol use is one of the largest concerns for American youth, as it is the most widely used drug. According to the 2012 Monitoring the Future Study, 42% of all high school seniors, 28% of 10th graders and 11% of 8th graders used alcohol within the past 30 days.

Annual use rates are even higher: 64% of 12th graders, 49% of 10th graders, and almost 24% of 8th graders used alcohol within the last year. These high numbers cannot be ignored. Random student drug testing can contribute to the drug education prevention efforts of schools addressing alcohol use.


How EtG Tests Work

Tests for illegal drugs usually do not include testing for the presence of alcohol although for students under the age of 21, alcohol is an "illegal drug." A separate test is required because unlike illegal drugs, alcohol only stays in the body for a few hours after use. Ethyl glucuronide (EtG) is a metabolite of alcohol that remains present in the body for up to 6 days after alcohol consumption.

EtG tests are urine tests which determine whether alcohol was previously consumed. EtG tests do not measure the amount of alcohol that was ingested and do not determine the timeframe in which it was consumed. Any alcohol use by anyone under 21 years old is illegal and can be both dangerous and harmful to that youth's health. Determining higher cut-off levels for EtG reduces the likelihood of students testing positive for alcohol consumption due to innocent exposure from products like mouthwash which contain small amounts of alcohol.

Cut-off levels range between 100ng/ml and 1,000ng/ml. The more alcohol a person consumes, the longer alcohol metabolites are present in the body.


Integrating EtG Testing into RSDT

EtG testing can be an integrative piece to RSDT programs. More schools are adding EtG tests to their programs. Although routine drug tests do not test for alcohol, adding EtG testing helps to deter students who may have been more inclined to use alcohol because it was not previously included in the test panel. EtG testing gives students one more good reason to stand up to peer pressure by choosing not to use alcohol and illegal drugs.

The Medical Review Officer (MRO) continues to play the same key role in verifying positive EtG test results. Schools using EtG tests often rotate EtG testing so they do not do it on all samples.

Schools can also use breath tests for alcohol at specific school events such as dances and athletic events, when there is higher use of alcohol by students. Conducting random breath tests at such events can act as a strong deterrent for students not to use alcohol before they attend.