SCRAM Continuous Alcohol Monitoring® FAQs

Gail Evans, Alphabiolabs

By Gail Evans, Technical Trainer at AlphaBiolabs
Last reviewed: 05/10/2023

SCRAM Continuous Alcohol Monitoring® (SCRAM CAM®) is an innovative way of continuously monitoring an individual’s alcohol consumption over a defined period.

Commonly referred to as an alcohol monitoring tag or bracelet, this type of alcohol monitoring device is non-invasive and can be discreetly worn around the ankle, detecting traces of alcohol in sweat.

The bracelet can also be used in conjunction with other forms of legally instructed alcohol testing, to support an individual’s recovery from alcohol misuse.

In this article, we look at some of the most asked questions asked about the SCRAM Continuous Alcohol Monitoring® device, including how the bracelet can detect alcohol in sweat, how long participants can wear the bracelet for, and whether you can get a false positive test result while wearing the SCRAM CAM.

How does SCRAM Continuous Alcohol Monitoring® (SCRAM CAM®) measure alcohol in sweat?

About 1% of everything we consume is unconsciously expelled through our skin in the form of perspiration.

The SCRAM CAM® bracelet is a type of alcohol monitoring tag that uses transdermal analysis to sample and test the perspiration that is always on the skin (known as insensible perspiration).

Firstly, a pump inside the bracelet takes in the sample. Then a fuel cell, just like the kind used in breath test devices, reacts with ethanol to measure for the presence of alcohol. The bracelet takes a sample of insensible perspiration once every 30 minutes in order to measure for alcohol consumption.

How much does SCRAM CAM® cost and who pays for it?

SCRAM CAM® is now legal aid funded, which means that funding shouldn’t be an issue when court orders are obtained.

AlphaBiolabs has simplified its pricing into an easy one tiered structure so there are no hidden costs or extras to pay once you have obtained a quotation from us.

Our contract is always with our ‘Instructing Party’: this is the person who completes and signs our referral form and is liable for the invoice. Our customer service team can offer verbal or formal quotations via the telephone or email.

Get a quote for SCRAM CAM® Alcohol Testing

Who would benefit from SCRAM CAM®?

SCRAM CAM® is used to support treatment and to enhance supervision for:

  • Domestic violence offenders when alcohol is considered to be a contributing factor in their offence.
  • Family Court: to assess the level of a parent’s alcohol problem or as evidence for the court regarding acceptable drinking behaviours. Often continuous alcohol monitoring is required as a condition of custody or visitation.
  • Drug Court offenders, who often turn to alcohol once they are being actively tested for drugs.
  • Individuals with alcohol-dependency issues.

Does AlphaBiolabs fit the SCRAM CAM® bracelet?

Yes, an AlphaBiolabs trained sample collector will travel to a location of your choice to fit the SCRAM CAM® bracelet to the ankle of your client.

What anti-tamper technology does the SCRAM CAM® bracelet have?

The SCRAM CAM® ankle monitor includes a number of features designed to maintain testing accuracy, prevent tampering, and ensure the samples are being collected from the right person (the person wearing it).

Temperature sensors and an infrared sensor measure the reflective quality of the skin to ensure the bracelet is in place and that nothing has been placed between the skin and the bracelet in an attempt to obstruct the alcohol testing.

Other strap and battery sensors confirm the bracelet is in place and on the proper subject. The bracelet also continuously conducts diagnostic tests to ensure the unit is functioning properly.

How long do participants wear the SCRAM CAM® bracelet?

The SCRAM CAM® can be worn for as long as is required. We will take instruction from our customer and fit the bracelet for however long best meets your needs.

How much does a person have to drink to register a positive test result on SCRAM CAM®?

The standard for confirming an alcohol consumption event using a breathalyser is a minimum 0.02 blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

With SCRAM CAM, alcohol consumption is measured according to transdermal alcohol concentration (TAC), with a minimum TAC of 0.020 registering as a positive result.

How can someone test negative on a urine or breath test just hours after having a confirmed drinking event on SCRAM CAM®?

A person can drink alcohol and show a negative result just hours later using breath, blood or urine tests because these are ‘narrow-window’ forms of testing.

As such, they are accurate and reliable for determining the level of intoxication for on-the-spot alcohol testing, such as in the case of a roadside sobriety test. Some specific types of urine tests can see residual indicators of alcohol several hours after a standard urine test would be negative for alcohol. However, this is possible only after very high-level drinking events and would not provide a consistent level of accuracy demanded in court.

The reason behind this is that the body metabolises alcohol very quickly, and once the process is complete, there are virtually no trace elements left in the body to facilitate detection.

While drugs leave residual indicators in the body that are fairly easy to test for hours, days or even weeks later, alcohol does not. As such, long-term monitoring programmes that test for alcohol consumption either randomly or even 1–2 times a day are very easy to circumvent.

How often is data uploaded to SCRAM CAM®?

The test results are reported according to how often the Instructing Party requires a report.

If the wireless base station is installed at the client’s home, the readings from the bracelet will automatically upload every time the client is near the base station.

Alternatively, the data stored in the bracelet can be downloaded at least once every 14 days, whether by visiting an AlphaBiolabs’ Walk-in Centre, visiting the IP’s office, or by sending an agent to the client’s address.

How does the SCRAM CAM® bracelet know if someone is tampering with the system?

Sensors monitor the ambient temperature around the bracelet, verifying that the subject has not removed the bracelet or tried to do something to modify the body temperature and prevent sweating.

An infrared sensor measures the reflective quality of the skin to ensure the bracelet is in place and that nothing has been placed between it and the skin in an attempt to obstruct alcohol testing. Strap and battery sensors ensure the bracelet is in place and on the proper subject. The bracelet also continuously conducts diagnostic tests to confirm the unit is functioning properly.

Can putting something between the bracelet and the leg block readings?

During the installation process, the infrared (IR) sensor takes a baseline reading by sending an IR beam to the skin and measuring the reflective quality of what bounces back.

If anything is placed between the bracelet and the skin, or if there is any alteration to the baseline IR sensor, SCRAM CAM® will generate an obstruction alert.

Will putting your ankle/leg in water or ice to keep your skin from sweating prevent the bracelet from detecting alcohol?

No, putting your ankle/leg in water or ice would not prevent the SCRAM CAM® bracelet from detecting alcohol.

Not only will the temperature sensor register an alert, this tactic does not prevent the bracelet from taking transdermal readings. In addition, submerging the bracelet in water is prohibited and would be classed as a tamper event. This would damage the bracelet and will be subject to a charge.

What happens if a drink or a product containing alcohol is accidently spilled on the bracelet?

SCRAM CAM® could get an alert for alcohol spilled on the bracelet. However, the system is designed to distinguish between exposure to alcohol around the bracelet and consumed alcohol that metabolises through the skin.

Spilling a drink or a product containing alcohol (such as hairspray or perfume) creates a rapid spike much faster than the body would ever consume alcohol; it also evaporates and burns off much faster than the body can metabolise alcohol. Our confirmation process includes an analysis that ensures that any confirmed event is consumed alcohol.

Can hairspray or being in a hair salon cause false positives?

Just like exposure to any other product with alcohol, it is definitely possible that the SCRAM CAM® bracelet would issue an alcohol alert if exposed to hairspray.

The system is designed to distinguish between environmental exposure to alcohol and actual consumed alcohol that has metabolised in the body. Our data experts have tested exposure to hairspray and hundreds of other alcohol-containing products to ensure the bracelet does not mimic a drinking event or create a false confirmed positive.

Can kissing or having sex with someone who is drinking cause a false positive?

No, kissing or having sex with someone who is drinking alcohol will not cause a false positive on the SCRAM CAM® device.

The presence of substantial alcohol on or around the bracelet might cause an alcohol alert, but the system is designed to distinguish between alcohol consumed and metabolised by the person wearing the bracelet and exposure to something around the bracelet that contains alcohol.

Can non-alcoholic beer or medicine create a false positive? What about mouthwash?

These types of products have no impact on the results of urine, blood or transdermal tests unless used in such large quantities that they actually cause intoxication.

As with any product that contains alcohol, if an individual consumes enough of one of these products they may become intoxicated.

When used as directed, medicines or mouthwash may create false positives with breath testing when proper test protocols are not followed. However, when proper protocols are followed, these products do not create false positives.

How long can SCRAM CAM® be worn?

Clients can wear the SCRAM CAM® for an unlimited number of days, depending on what best serves the needs of your client. Our most popular timeframe covered is 30–60 days as we believe this gives a very good indication of a pattern of drinking. However, we can tailor the time period to your requirements.

How disruptive is SCRAM CAM® to day-to-day life?

The beauty of the SCRAM CAM® bracelet is that it causes very minimal disruption to an individual’s day-to-day life. They are still able to shower, go to work, attend the gym, and spend time with friends and family as normal.

Can a SCRAM CAM® bracelet detect drugs?

No, the SCRAM CAM bracelet cannot be used to detect drug use.

However, AlphaBiolabs offers many other options for legally instructed drug tests using a variety of samples including urine, oral fluid (saliva), nail clippings and hair (head and body hair).

Are there any side effects from using a SCRAM CAM® bracelet?

It is extremely unlikely that the wearer will experience any side effects while wearing a SCRAM CAM bracelet.

However, in rare cases, some users may experience side effects when they first begin wearing the bracelet, including irritation or redness, bruising and/or sores.

If you experience any of these side effects while wearing SCRAM CAM, you should contact us immediately for further assistance, and seek medical advice if needed.

Does the SCRAM CAM® alcohol monitor have GPS?

No, the SCRAM CAM ankle monitor does not have GPS.

Can the SCRAM CAM® bracelet be worn during exercise?

Yes, the SCRAM CAM can be worn during exercise.

Exercising will have no impact on the functionality of the bracelet. However, the wearer may want to wear a sweat band, or a sock rolled down underneath the bracelet, to prevent it from moving around on the ankle bone during strenuous exercise.

It’s also important not to place anything in between the bracelet and the skin.

What does it mean when the SCRAM CAM® bracelet vibrates?

The SCRAM CAM bracelet takes readings automatically every 30 minutes and will vibrate while doing so.

This is accompanied by a light buzzing sound; however, it is very discreet.

How reliable is the SCRAM CAM® bracelet?

The SCRAM CAM ankle monitor is extremely accurate and reliable, using advanced transdermal technology to detect traces of ethanol (the intoxicating agent in alcoholic drinks) in sweat.

The device acts as a highly effective deterrent for participants struggling with alcohol misuse, encouraging participant compliance and accountability.

Around 99.4% of all SCRAM CAM wearers remain completely sober and compliant while wearing the device.

Can you go through airport security while wearing a SCRAM CAM® bracelet?

Yes, you can go through airport security while wearing a SCRAM CAM ankle monitor.

When passing through security, the wearer should notify an agent that they are wearing an electronic monitoring device that cannot be removed.

The agent may choose to swab the bracelet and test it; however, they should be permitted to pass through airport security without any issues.

Can the SCRAM CAM® be worn during an MRI, x-ray, or CT scan?

The SCRAM CAM cannot be worn during an MRI or CT scan (also known as a CAT scan). However, it can be worn for an x-ray.

If the wearer is required to attend an appointment for an MRI or CT scan, the device will need to be removed prior to the appointment.

Can you shower while wearing the SCRAM CAM®?

Yes, you can shower while wearing the SCRAM CAM alcohol monitor.

Although the unit cannot be submerged in water (e.g. swimming pools, baths, hot tubs), it is important to thoroughly clean the area around the bracelet regularly, with mild soap and water.

If the area around the device is not properly cleaned, this could result in skin irritation.

Get a quote for the SCRAM CAM® ankle monitor
Gail Evans, AlphaBiolabs

Gail Evans

Technical Trainer at AlphaBiolabs

A professionally-trained forensic scientist, Gail joined AlphaBiolabs in 2012 and holds the role of Technical Trainer.

Her day-to-day responsibilities include delivering in-depth training sessions both internally and externally, covering DNA, drug, and alcohol testing.

Before joining the company, Gail was a practicing forensic scientist with 25 years’ experience working for the Forensic Science Service, attending scenes of crime, and analysing physical and biological material with potential evidential value.

Gail also holds qualifications in chemistry and is a Lead Auditor for the ISO 9001 standard, the international standard for quality management.

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