There’s a lot of conflicting answers to the question – how long does alcohol stay in your urine?
So, what is the truth?
How long does alcohol stay in your pee before it can’t be detected anymore?
How Do Urine Drug Tests Work?
The most commonly used alcohol urine test is the EtG test, although blood tests to check for alcohol use are used as well. EtG stands for Ethyl Glucuronide which is the metabolite that ethanol from alcohol turns into once it’s worked its way through your system.
The EtG test isn’t always 100% accurate but it is a good indicator of when, and how much, alcohol has been consumed, which makes it the best choice for circumstances where the concern is alcohol abstinence. It’s not used as a test for alcohol consumption at work because it’s not able to provide a reliable measurement of impairment.
The EtG can give a false positive reading on occasion due to a person’s use of hand sanitizers or mouthwash but this is not common. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Advisor suggests that EtG test results should be read as:
- High positive: 1,000ng/ml or more – possibly indicates heavy drinking within 48 hours or light drinking within 24 hours.
- Low positive: 500-1,000 ng/ml – light drinking within 24 hours or recent intense extraneous exposure within 24 hours.
- Very low positive: 100-500 ng/ml – may indicate previous heavy drinking within 1 to 3 days, previous light drinking within 12 to 36 hours or recent extraneous exposure.
How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your System?
As you can see, the answer to how long alcohol can be detected in urine is not easy to discover particularly when you consider that only 0.5 to 1.5% of alcohol is disposed of through your urine.
As a general guide, alcohol can stay in your system anywhere from 12 to 36 hours. However, some tests can detect traces of alcohol up to 80 hours after your last drink.
There are other factors involved to determine how long alcohol really does stay in your system. These include:
- Your age
- Your weight
- Your ethnicity
- How fast you’re drinking the alcohol
- If you’ve eaten before you began drinking alcohol or if you’re eating whiledrinking
- If any food eaten has a high fat content
All the factors above help to absorb the alcohol but it’s important to remember that your liver is the organ that metabolizes alcohol and it can only do that at a rate of 1 ounce per hour.
How Long Before an Alcohol Urine Test Should You Stop Drinking?
The short answer to this question is 12 to 36 hours. However, as we’ve mentioned, some tests can detect traces of alcohol up to 80 hours.
A more appropriate question may be “Why do you have to undertake an alcohol urine test?”
As previously mentioned, an alcohol urine test is not usually used in the workplace so often. Urine tests are used to determine when a person has last had an alcoholic drink, for example, if you’ve been ordered by the court to attend an alcohol rehabilitation program or if you are suspected of driving while under the influence.
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