Alcoholism and the Role of ETG Biomarker in Alcohol Test
Aside from illicit drugs, alcohol is one of the most abused substances globally. Alcoholism is medically defined as a disorder characterized by the excessive consumption of and dependence on alcoholic beverages, leading to physical and psychological harm and impaired social and vocational functioning. Its signs and symptoms include the following:
- Drinking by yourself or in secret
- Craving alcohol
- Not being able to control the amount you drink
- Blackouts (not remembering events or conversations)
- Becoming irritable when you can’ t get a drink at your regular time
- Having legal problems or an inability to sustain a relationship or a job
- Withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety, when you stop drinking
- Needing more alcohol to feel its effects
- Liver disease
If you or someone you know is experiencing all or any of these symptoms, it’s always a good idea to consult a doctor so that proper treatment will be given. On the other hand, most alcoholics are said to deny they have such problem and are likely to refuse in seeking medical help. What’s even more alarming is that statistics have shown an increasing number of adolescents engaging in alcohol use.
According to the National Health Statistics report, sixteen percent of adolescents aged 12–17 years had their first alcoholic drink before age 13. Among those adolescents who had an alcoholic drink, 37% did so before age 13. Six percent of adolescents aged 12–17 years had at least one drink of alcohol on 40 or more days in their lifetime.
If you’re a parent, it’s natural to feel worried about what your children are up to when they are out of the house. Some parents rely on alcohol home test kits to detect recent use of alcohol among family members. While this tool is helpful, it’s also important to know that alcohol gets easily eliminated from the person’s body and may not tell the long-term alcohol consumption of the donor.
Recently, many testing laboratories are implementing the use of ETG alcohol test to effective reveal the presence of ethyl glucuronide (ETC) in the urine. Ethyl glucuronide (ETG) is a direct biomarker of ethanol (alcohol) and may be detected up to 80 hours, following consumption.
ETG as Ethanol Biomarker
Alcohol biomarkers are physiological indicators of alcohol exposure or ingestion and may reflect the presence of an alcohol use disorder. Ethyl glucuronide (ETG) is known as one of the primary direct biomarkers of ethanol, alongside ETS. They are termed “direct” biomarker because they are analytes of alcohol metabolism. Although most alcohol that is consumed is metabolized by oxidative processes in the liver, a very small amount is broken down nonoxidatively, thereby creating analytes that can be measured for a longer period than when alcohol itself remains in the body and could be measured in the breath, blood, or urine.
When it comes to cut-off levels in ETG testing, SAMHSA reported that establishing a reliable cutoff with high positive predictive value requires research in the population and discussion of the various contexts in which the test might be applied. This is because the cutoff value selected to distinguish specimens as positive or negative should consider the base rate of problem drinking in the population being evaluated, the individual’s likely exposure to products containing non-beverage alcohol, and the consequences for the individual and society of the individual’s being erroneously labeled.
This Article is written by Lena Butler, contributor of Health & Drug Testing Information Center.