Blood Alcohol testing – which method is best for my clients?

Webinar recording from 26th January 2022

Watch the video below:

In this webinar, Andrew Priestley (Legal Sector Marketing Manager) and Ashley Hodgkinson (Sample Collections Manager) discuss the four different types of blood alcohol testing offered at AlphaBiolabs, along with the benefits & limitations of each testing method.

AlphaBiolabs offers a comprehensive suite of alcohol and drug testing services for the legal sector. Find out more about our legal testing services here.

FAQs from this webinar

Can diabetes or disease of the pancreas impact on CDT results?

Potentially, it could have a slight impact on CDT results, therefore we would recommend that if your client has either of these conditions, you conduct a PEth test instead.

Will the PEth test be offered as a standard test or do we have to request this ? And what are the costs?

The PEth test is ordered as our other blood tests are ordered, either as an individual test or in our comprehensive alcohol analysis package with head hair testing. The cost of an individual PEth test is currently £95.

Can PEth be used instead of CDT and LFT ?

Yes, but we would recommend that where possible, you conduct all 4 tests together so that you have the full picture of a client’s history of consumption.

If all 4 tests are conducted not long after a person has given birth, would different results be shown across the 4 tests?

No, we would not expect to see this and we would advise you to wait for 2 months from after the birth before testing to ensure that results are accurate. The only exception here would be PEth testing which can be taken at any time during pregnancy and following birth.

Can PEth differentiate between abstinence and low consumption?

The lowest level we would report on a PEth test would be categorised as ‘Abstinence or a very low alcohol consumption’. If you would like to prove ongoing abstinence, you may want to consider PEth testing alongside another solution such as SCRAM or SmartMobile.

Can PEth be elevated if there is an episode of ‘binge’ drinking for a couple of days before the test ?

Yes, the test will show an average of alcohol consumption over the 4 week period, therefore any intake of alcohol by your client during the testing timeframe will contribute to the results.

How invasive are the sample collections?

We do take veinous blood samples so a needle is inserted into the the arm around the inside of the elbow. The insertion of the needle is often described by medical professionals as a “sharp scratch”. Our experienced phlebotomists are highly skilled in making the process as comfortable as possible for the donor.

When a client denies any alcohol use, would you advise using both hair and blood testing?

The difference between hair and blood testing would be the timeframe as both tests are looking for chronic and excessive consumption. Therefore we would recommend conducting a PEth test in this scenario to identify recent consumption.

How accurate is the 4 week window?

It can vary from person to person as factors such as metabolism, age etc. can cause variations. We can’t specifically detail all the relevant factors of a specific donor as we are not medical professionals, however we are in line with the recommendations of the scientific literature.

If your client is a binge drinker rather than a chronic drinker would you recommend PEth?

Yes, PEth would be the better option if you are wanting to look at patterns of consumption rather than testing for chronic and excessive consumption

Will you be doing a similar webinar about hair strand testing?

We will be running further webinars which will include head hair testing.

Given what PEth can show, what would be the benefit of having the other tests as well? What else could they show that PEth would not?

We would recommend that where possible, you conduct all 4 tests together so that you have the full picture of a clients history of consumption.

Will you be doing a course on SCRAM and Smart Mobile?

There are recently recorded webinars on SCRAM and SmartMobile available from the webinar library.

Are there any instances when individuals may have naturally higher levels for any of the tests available?

There are normal ranges for the LFTs, MCV and CDT. Should the result fall outside of the range we will make a comment on the Statement Of Witness (SOW). For LFTs, some conditions and medications can affect the AST and ALT levels, so the GGT is a more specific indicator for chronic alcohol usage than the other two enzymes. This would also be noted in the SOW.

Please can you send the 4 blood test table to attendees

The table is viewable on the webinar recording. A copy of the slides is also available as a PDF by e-mailing marketing@alphabiolabs.com

If a result came back saying abstinent or low and the client was saying they had only had one glass of wine, would you be able to confirm if that was likely to be correct?

We do ask about a donor’s alcohol consumption at the time of collection. If a query such as this was submitted, we would be able to advise if the stated drinking pattern was in line with the analytical results.

Do you offer sample collection at weekends or outside of 9-5 working hours?

Yes we are able to offer out of hour collections over weekends and outside of usual working hours

A recent client has had a PEth test and he said that a finger prick test was taken. Will this be less reliable than a intravenous test?

No, finger prick testing and testing intravenous sample are equally reliable.

If someone did not drink for 2 weeks and then drank excessively in weeks 3 & 4 , will the PEth test or any other test results show the average consumption over 4 weeks as opposed to the alcohol consumed in the last week or 24 hours?

The test will show an average of alcohol consumption over the 4 week period, therefore any intake of alcohol by your client during the testing timeframe will contribute to the results.

What can cause the blood to haemolyse in a collected sample?

Blood can haemolyse for a number of reasons but it mainly happens when a sample collection was prolonged or difficult to take.

What if somebody does not have photo and/or adequate ID – does that prevent testing taking place?

We are able to collect a sample if no ID is available as we would still have a photograph of the donor at the time of the appointment. However if the donor refused to allow us to take a photograph then we would need to discuss this with the IP and resolve this ensuring we still have a chain of custody.

Do you offer testing of nail clippings and if not why not?

Yes, we offer testing of both toenail and fingernail samples. Toenails provides a 12 month overview and there is a 6 month overview available for fingernails.

Will the slides be provided post course?

All the slides are viewable on the webinar recording. A copy of the slides is also available as a PDF by e-mailing marketing@alphabiolabs.com