How Do Alcohol Monitoring Bracelets Work?
Over the past decades, excessive alcohol consumption is one of the top causes of traffic fatalities in United States. Incidentally, about a third of these drunk drivers are repeat alcohol offenders. Since these alcoholic offenders have higher risk of involvement in traffic accidents, the US government is putting its substantial efforts in offender monitoring. Thus, they decided to push through with the implementation of using alcohol monitoring bracelets believing this will eventually reduce alcohol-related incidents in the future.
What is an Alcohol Monitoring Bracelet?
An alcohol monitoring bracelet, also known as ankle monitoring bracelet or house arrest bracelet, is a non-invasive and passive method of screening episodes of alcohol consumption. It qualitatively measures alcohol content through sweat collection system. In short, it only determines whether the individual consumed alcohol whether in small, moderate or heavy amounts.
Dynamics of Alcohol Monitoring Bracelets
The process behind alcohol monitoring bracelets is the same as the theory governing other alcohol monitoring devices. In scientific explanation, alcohol when ingested diffuses throughout the water inside our body and eventually attains equilibrium. Then, it travels through the blood and excreted via breath, urine or perspiration. Thus, the amount of alcohol consumption is relative to the amount of alcohol content in perspiration.
In simple terms, as the alcohol monitoring bracelet is attach at extended periods of time and continues to collect sweat samples, it readily analyzes the samples through its electrochemical sensor system. This will estimate the concentration of alcohol present in the body and indicates the alcohol use if there is any. Thus, higher alcohol consumption increases the chance of detection from alcohol use.
Reliability of Alcohol Monitoring Bracelets
All transdermal alcohol monitoring tests may apply the same principle in alcohol content detection with significant differences in time delay in absorption, peak period and excretion. However, various factors such as rate of diffusion, blood alcohol level, amount of eccrine sweating and blood flow in the skin greatly affect the result of alcohol monitoring bracelets. Aside from that, only a percentage of ingested alcohol passes through the skin. Most of the alcohol content undergoes liver metabolism or excretion through breathing and urine. Thus, regarding it as a determinant for precise levels of alcohol in the body is impossible. Instead, it is a valid way of gauging alcohol consumption of an individual.
Another limitation of alcohol monitoring bracelets is that it is non-specific to beverage alcohol. This only means that it does not exclude irrelevant alcohol and may respond to other alcohol forms besides ethanol such as methyl, isopropyl or acetaldehydes. Thus, its reliability becomes more questionable.
In truth, alcohol monitoring bracelets still has its flaws just like any other newly developed measuring devices. Since it is still fresh, it requires further research for improvement. Despite its limitations, it is still quite useful. Provided it will serve its purpose in monitoring alcohol consumption, it is a good alcohol screening method especially for alcohol repeat offenders. Since alcohol monitoring bracelets continuously collects sweat and strapped to the body 24/7, it would be difficult for alcoholics to avoid detection for non-compliance of abstinence.
This Article is written by Lena Butler, contributor of Health & Drug Testing Information Center.