Many people have heard of blood, urine, and breath tests for detecting alcohol consumption. However, did you know that your hair can reveal how long you've been an alcoholic and whether or not you've been able to stay sober? If the answer is no, you're at the right place. This article explains how hair alcohol testing works and everything in between. Keep reading to find out more!
What's A Hair Alcohol Test?
A hair alcohol test is used to assess whether or not an individual has indulged in alcohol over a particular period. This is among the most accurate and trusted methods for testing alcohol consumption. The hair alcohol test evaluates the Ethyl Glucuronide (EtG) and Fatty Acid Ethyl Esters (FAEE) in one's hair.
EtG and FAEE are direct markers of alcohol consumption. These markers are produced when an individual has taken alcohol or has increased their alcohol consumption intake. Once you’ve indulged in alcohol, diffusion and sweat can cause these markers to absorb into the hair, thus contaminating it. Notably, each centimeter of your hair gets contaminated, and there are no chances to dissect the length. For example, if you indulge in alcohol for several months and increase the intake in the last month of the period, your entire length of hair gets contaminated.
The EtG marker is dependable when determining one's alcohol consumption pattern. The testing for this marker is reliable in showing how much alcohol one has consumed.
On the other hand, FAEE testing determines long-term alcohol consumption habits. While hair alcohol testing is reliable, it's advisable to use it with another alcohol test, such as a blood test, for more accuracy, especially when determining long-term alcohol consumption habits.
Where Is Hair Alcohol Test Done?
The hair alcohol test is done in reputable laboratories, such as Lextox, that produce legitimate results. Such laboratories have the tools and personnel to examine and give accurate results thoroughly. While the test is reliable, sometimes it can be inaccurate. For this reason, you should only depend on a laboratory that can ensure the results provided are as accurate as possible.
How Is Hair Tested For Alcohol?
Alcohol can't be tested directly from the hair. Therefore, EtG, an alcohol metabolite, is tested on hair as an alcohol consumption marker.
During the test, a concentration level that surpasses or is equal to 30 pg/mg of EtG in hair reveals that an individual has indulged in excess alcohol. Concentration levels lower or equal to 5 pg/mg EtG can determine that a patient is sober.
How Accurate Is This Test?
A hair test for alcohol is among the most accurate tests. Nevertheless, some factors affect its accuracy. Therefore, this test requires a combination of a blood test to prevent inaccurate conclusions. Treatments like gels, straightening creams, hair sprays, perming, and bleaching can all affect the results. Therefore, an individual needs to provide the list of hair treatments they've used to avoid incorrect results.
Which Hair Is Used For The Test?
You can use any hair in your body to test alcohol consumption. Hair from your head, chest, arms, and pubic area can all be used. Nevertheless, the level of accuracy depends on the type of hair used. While chest and arm hair can show excessive alcohol consumption, it affects the period. On the other hand, it isn't advisable to use pubic hair to test ethanol since urine is always high in ethanol; hence the test can produce inaccurate results.
What's The Objective Of The Alcohol Hair Test?
The hair alcohol test can determine two things, alcohol abuse and abstinence. You can acquire different results depending on the hair used. For instance, head hair can reveal alcohol abuse, social drinking, and abstinence. Chest hair can show alcohol abuse and abstinence, while pubic hair can only show abstinence. Among these hairs, the head hair is most preferred.
How Much Hair Is Required?
A hair alcohol test will require about 200 strands of hair. In most cases, the hair should be three to six centimeters. However, the length might vary depending on the period to be tested. You must keep in mind that every three centimeters cover three months period.
How Long Does It Take To Get The Results?
Your waiting period may vary, depending on the laboratory and the volume of work they get. Nevertheless, in most cases, the results are provided within five to seven working days.
It is possible to tell if someone has been drinking regularly or sober for a specific time by testing their hair. The test is highly accurate, although it may still give inaccurate findings if the patient has treated their hair. This is why it's necessary to combine this with a blood alcohol test for definitive results.