AlphaBiolabs offers a wide variety of alcohol tests, but which is the best? The choice depends on the required timescale of alcohol assessment.
The comprehensive range includes instant breath tests, blood analysis and 3- or 6-month hair analyses. Around-the-clock, continuous results are also available using an innovative alcohol monitoring bracelet called SCRAM CAM®.
Breath alcohol tests
Breathalyser testing is ideal to check for current alcohol consumption and can be used to prove sobriety as and when needed. The portable devices are favoured for point-of-care testing, such as during roadside drink-driving checks and by social workers when evaluating child protection issues. The devices show the level of alcohol in the breath at the time the test was taken.
Blood alcohol testing
Blood alcohol testing can determine whether an individual may have drunk to excess over the course of the last 4 weeks. AlphaBiolabs undertakes four blood alcohol tests, which measure biomarkers.
- Liver function test (LFT)
LFT measures the effects of alcohol on various liver enzymes in the blood. Abnormal results can indicate a problem with the liver.
- Carbohydrate deficient transferrin (CDT)
An individual who drinks too much alcohol increases certain types of transferrin that are carbohydrate-deficient. When CDT levels increase, it can be measured in the bloodstream and is therefore a biomarker of alcohol abuse.
- Mean corpuscular volume (MCV)
An elevated MCV marker is an indicator of ingested alcohol. This is because heavy drinking damages the bone marrow where the red blood cells are produced. The effect is that the red blood cells do not develop properly and become abnormally large. As a result, the MCV index becomes higher than normal, which persists as long as drinking continues.
- Phosphatidylethanol (PEth)
PEth is a direct marker of ethanol and is therefore the most accurate and most popular of the blood tests to determine alcohol abuse. It is formed on the surface of red blood cells when alcohol reacts with phosphatidylcholine. This means that it can only be detected when alcohol has been consumed.
Hair alcohol testing
By analysing two metabolites of alcohol in head hair (ethyl glucuronide [EtG] and fatty acid ethyl esters [FAEEs]), a longer history of alcohol consumption can be achieved. 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 for EtG to give up to a 12-month overview. AlphaBiolabs follows the consensus on hair alcohol testing for chronic excessive alcohol consumption published by the Society of Hair Testing (SoHT).
Nail alcohol testing
Nail alcohol testing 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 become incorporated into the keratin that makes up nails. AlphaBiolabs can analyse toe nails as well as finger nails. This type of test is useful if the sample donor has little, or no, hair.
SCRAM Continuous Alcohol Monitoring® (SCRAM CAM®) provides an easy way to show the frequency and pattern of alcohol consumption. 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.