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When it comes to child protection, accurate alcohol testing is often relied upon to help decision making. Cases may involve one or both parents with alcohol addiction issues or abstinence may need proving. It is important to understand the level and pattern of alcohol misuse to help assess the risk to the child. The child may ultimately need moving to a place of safety. Alternatively, treatment for dependence issues can be initiated to hopefully reduce the impact on the family unit.

A social worker needs to be confident that any decisions made are backed by scientific evidence. AlphaBiolabs offers a wide variety of alcohol tests to choose from depending on the required timescale of alcohol assessment. The comprehensive range include blood analysis, 3- or 6-month hair analyses to show alcohol consumption over a period of time, nail alcohol testing and instant breath tests. Around-the-clock, continuous results are also available using an innovative alcohol monitoring bracelet called SCRAM Continuous Alcohol Monitoring® (SCRAM CAM®).

Blood alcohol testing

Blood analysis can determine whether an individual may have drunk to excess over the course of the last 4 weeks. AlphaBiolabs offers four blood alcohol tests: a liver function test (LFT), a carbohydrate deficient transferrin (CDT) test, a mean corpuscular volume (MCV) test and phosphatidylethanol (PEth) testing. LFT looks at the functionality of the liver, the same way a medical professional would. The CDT test gives a 4-week window of detection period and is a very good indicator if someone is drinking alcohol to chronic and excessive levels. An elevated MCV marker is an indicator of ingested alcohol. PEth is a direct marker of ethanol and is therefore the most accurate of the blood tests to determine alcohol abuse.

Hair alcohol testing

A longer history of alcohol consumption can be achieved by looking at two metabolites of alcohol in head hair: ethyl glucuronide (EtG) and fatty acid ethyl esters (FAEEs). The level of biomarker found in the hair can help determine if a person has been drinking chronically and excessively, and will show either a 3- or 6-month overview. Body hair can also be tested to give up to a 12-month overview, although this test only measures EtG. AlphaBiolabs follows the consensus on hair alcohol testing for chronic excessive alcohol consumption published by the Society of Hair Testing (SoHT).

Nail clippings

As social services will be aware, individuals can go to dramatic lengths to hide their alcohol consumption when their family is at risk. Alcohol metabolites in hair can be affected by excessive hair washing, bleaching, dyeing, and hair preparations such as gels and wax. Parents have also been known to shave their hair off. Consequently, AlphaBiolabs offers nail clipping analysis, which can provide up to a 6-month overview of alcohol consumption. When alcohol is consumed it circulates in the bloodstream and a proportion of it and its metabolites becomes incorporated into the keratin that makes up nails. AlphaBiolabs can analyse toe nails as well as finger nails.

Instant alcohol tests

Breathalysers are portable devices favoured by social workers for point-of-care testing when evaluating child protection issues. The devices show the level of alcohol in the breath at the time the test was taken. This method of testing is therefore ideal to check for current alcohol consumption and can be used to prove sobriety as and when needed.

Real-time results

SCRAM CAM® provides an easy way to show the frequency and pattern of alcohol consumption. Continuous monitoring has been proven to enforce participant sobriety, compliance and accountability. As such, SCRAM CAM® is popular among child-protection agencies as a tool to change behaviours in higher-risk alcohol-dependent parents. This alcohol testing bracelet is worn on the ankle and monitors alcohol consumption by testing for the presence of alcohol in perspiration every 30 minutes. It is the first device of its kind to detect the drinking of alcohol in real-time. Results are automatically gathered and uploaded without the need for an individual’s participation.

More information about social services alcohol testing

For expert advice or further information on legal alcohol testing, please call 0333 600 1300 or email us at info@alphabiolabs.com.