Common Misperceptions about Alcohol Metabolites: Ethyl Glucuronide and Ethyl Sulfate
Ethyl glucuronide and ethyl sulfate (EtG and EtS) are minor metabolites of ethanol (alcohol) that can be used to help identify recent ethanol exposure, even after ethanol is no longer measurable. Discussions on the interpretation of EtG and EtS urine test results frequently arise in programs utilizing these tests. Concerns have mostly centered around windows of detection and the sources of the ethanol metabolites when monitoring abstinence (i.e. non-beverage versus beverage).
Although EtG and EtS testing has been widely marketed as an “80 hour test”, current studies suggest that this may not apply to all amounts of alcohol exposure.
See below for some points that may be of assistance:
- Light drinking (defined as approximately 2 standard drinks), will likely be detected the following morning after consumption and possibly 24 hours after drinking.
- Moderate drinking (defined as approximately 4-5 standard drinks) may be detected up to 48 hours after drinking.
- Neither metabolite is easily detected much after 48 hours, regardless of the dose of alcohol, with the exception of a “heavy” amount of ethanol consumed.
- Heavy drinking (defined as in excess of 6-7 drinks) may be detected up to 80 hours.
- As with all testing, the concentration of the urine specimen, as defined by the creatinine, will influence the amount of drug that is detected in urine.
*References available upon request.