Does Alcohol Show Up On a Drug Test?
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Does Alcohol Show Up On a Drug Test?

Does Alcohol Show Up On a Drug Test?


There are many different reasons why alcohol drug tests are administered. An employer might ask a worker to submit to an alcohol drug test if they suspect the person may be drinking on the job. A judge may order an individual to undergo random alcohol testing if that person has been charged with multiple DUI offenses. Or a rehab facility might make it mandatory for participants to be tested in order to remain in a treatment program.


Whatever the case may be, accurate and conclusive alcohol testing methods are essential to understanding if a person is struggling with alcoholism or using alcohol in a manner that could be harmful to them or others.


So, if you’ve ever wondered “Do drug tests test for alcohol?”, the answer (in a nutshell), is yes.


However, it is important to note that not every drug test can detect alcohol in the human body.


You must purchase a drug test that lists alcohol (or “ALCO”, as it is typically listed on test devices) in order to be certain that the device is capable of identifying alcohol in a person’s system.


If you do not see the term “ALCO” or “alcohol” on a drug test, that specific test likely won’t be able to provide you with the answers you are looking for.

How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your System?


The answer here, unfortunately, is not as clear-cut as many would like.


The general rule of thumb is that a person can fail a breathalyzer for up to 24 hours after consuming more than the legal limit.


But even for individuals who have engaged in excessive drinking before a drug test, there are several factors that can influence the results.


Some of the most common factors that can impact alcohol tests include:


  • Gender
  • How much a person has eaten before drinking
  • Body weight
  • Ethnicity
  • Combining alcohol with prescription drugs or marijuana
  • How fast the alcohol was consumed

Finally, alcohol in your system can be detected for far longer than 24 hours depending on the type of test that is used.

Types of Tests


There are four categories of drug tests that can be used to screen for alcohol. 

They are:


  • Urine Alcohol Tests

  • You can detect alcohol on a urine drug test for up to 48 hours, although this time frame may vary slightly, depending on the individual’s tolerance, how much they ate before drinking, and other factors. 


    Many employers who require employees to undergo a pre employment drug test for alcohol use urine tests, as they are the cheapest and often the most readily-available screen type.


    One concern with urine tests, however, is that there are a range of cheating methods that can be used to deceive them. 

  • Saliva Alcohol Tests

  • Alcohol can be detected in saliva for up to 80 hours after consumption. 


    Saliva drug tests are ideal for those who need to be able to screen someone immediately. They are quick and easy to complete. The test administrator simply places a cotton swab in the mouth of the test patient for 2-3 minutes, and then places that swab in a sealed, sterilized tube and sends it to a laboratory for testing.


    Another benefit associated with saliva tests is that they are much harder to deceive, since the test administrator is present for the entire duration of the sample collection process.

  • Hair Follicle Alcohol Tests

  • Hair follicle tests are the most dependable method of determining how much an individual has been drinking before drug testing. This is because hair follicle tests don’t just determine if alcohol is present in the body. They can also indicate the amount of alcohol that has been consumed.


    Alcohol remains in the hair follicle for up to 90 days after ingestion. The amount of alcohol present, and how it is distributed throughout the hair strand, can signify if a person is a social drinker or if they are abusing alcohol on a much more frequent basis.

  • Blood Alcohol Tests

  • Alcohol typically remains in the blood for up to 24 hours after consumption. For this reason, blood tests are best suited for situations where an individual is expected of being intoxicated recently. 


    For example: If a person was driving erratically and collided with another car, resulting in the death of the other driver, police officers might require that the driver at fault undergo a blood test to determine if alcohol was a factor in the crash.


    Blood tests are almost always irrefutable, since they are completed in a professional laboratory and they are virtually impossible to deceive.

    Choose Countrywide for Your Testing Needs

    At Countrywide Testing, we offer a wide selection of professional-grade alcohol screening devices. Plus, our government certified products and laboratory testing services are trusted by police departments, government agencies, and Fortune 500 companies across the country.


    If you’re looking for premium-quality alcohol testing devices you can depend on, we encourage you to browse our inventory today.