ETG Alcohol Testing in the Workplace
Several studies have shown that employees with drugs and alcohol problems are likely to have higher incidence of absenteeism, are less productive, have higher medical costs, and have more incidents and injuries. During the late 1980s, the U.S. Supreme Court approved employer drug and alcohol testing for applicants and employees under special circumstances. This was followed other federal legislation including the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 to maintain a drug-free workplace.
Testing regulations are now highly mandatory in various industries. And the latest to widely gain popularity in the recent years is the ETG alcohol testing for its ability to detect consumption of alcohol in urine even after ethanol (alcohol) has been completely eliminated in the body.
Although Ethyl glucuronide (EtG) was described as early as the 1950′s, the clinical use of the test as an alcohol marker began in 2001 when Dr. Friedrich Wurst, in Switzerland, and Dr. Gregory Skipper, in the USA reported a study of alcoholics in a psychiatric facility in Germany. Their findings demonstrated that ETG was a more sensitive and reliable indicator of both drinking and abstinence than was urine alcohol. Dr. Skipper recognized that urine EtG would be a valuable test in monitoring professionals.
To date, a number of organizations and companies have started to introduce ETG alcohol test as part of their drug and alcohol screening policy. But how exactly do employees and employers benefit from this kind of alcohol test? Is ETG urine alcohol testing an effective tool in ensuring an alcohol-free work environment? Here are some of the key benefits of workplace ETG alcohol testing:
- ETG alcohol test can detect recent usage of alcohol more accurately compared with conventional testing.
- ETG test is ideal for zero tolerance and abstinence situations.
- Strong indicator of alcohol ingestion within the previous 3 to 4 days.
- Helps identify relapse to drinking.
- ETG may be run on urine specimens in conjunction with other drug testing panels.
- Helps in evaluating interventions for alcohol problems.
Limitations of ETG Testing
Essentially, ETG urine alcohol test can offer a handful of advantages when administered properly. On the other hand, it is also important to note that this test has some limitations as well, such as; it cannot detect the amount of alcohol consumed by an individual. Likewise, this test doesn’t bother to find out why and how the ETG has been produced or the identity of the real substance which has been metabolized to produce ETG. If the test detects ETG, it will simply label person who took the test as an inebriate.
In accordance with current guidance from SAMHSA, alcohol biomarker results should be interpreted in the context of other clinical and behavioral information available relating to the individual who has tested positive for an ETG screen.
This Article is written by Lena Butler, contributor of Health & Drug Testing Information Center.