Do Drug Tests Test for Alcohol? Everything to Know for Rehab Centers

Do Drug Tests Test for Alcohol

Did you know that almost 15 million people have an alcohol use disorder (AUD)? This includes ages 12 and older. Unfortunately, just under half a million adolescents from ages 12 to 17 have developed AUD.

Shockingly, this is almost 2% of the entire population in this age group. Rehab centers encompass around 7% of people with AUD.

You might be wondering, do drug tests test for alcohol? The answer is yes – alcohol testing can be completed through drug tests.

Keep reading on to learn more about determining the right alcohol tests for your rehab clinic.

Alcohol Urine Tests

A drug and urine test kit can determine a variety of factors. Oftentimes, rehab clinics utilize an alcohol urine test for determining sobriety.

When an alcohol urine test kit is administered, it tests for the compound ethyl glucuronide. What is ethyl glucuronide (EtG)? It is part of ethanol that causes intoxication when you drink alcohol.

There are multiple ways for an EtG alcohol test; however, an alcohol test for urine is one of the most common. These tests are largely used in rehab centers, DUI programs, liver transplant patients, military, and probationary programs.

You might have noticed that the general workplace was not mentioned in this list. An EtG test for alcohol use is usually not recommended for this setting. Why?

Typically, it doesn’t calculate for someone who comes to work already impaired. For that reason, an alcohol EtG test is ideal for rehab or probationary facilities.

Positive Results

You can categorize a positive result from an alcohol test for EtG into three different parts. The stages are determined by how much EtG returns on the results.

  • High Positive: >1,000 ng/mL
  • Low Positive: approximately 500 to 1,000 ng/mL
  • Lower Positive: approximately 100 to 500 ng/mL

You may not be familiar with the amount of EtG that breaks down in the body following drinking. To achieve greater than 1,000 ng/mL from EtG strips, the person either had heavy drinking the day prior or light drinking the day of the test.

A low positive means there was either heavy drinking a few days prior or light drinking during the past day. Finally, the lowest positive of 100 to 500 ng/mL indicates heavy drinking during the past few days or light drinking during the past day and a half.

One thing that is important to note is environmental exposures have the potential for a positive result. In fact, you might be surprised at how many things have alcohol in them.

Basic products that have alcohol include aftershave, cosmetics, cleaning products, and antiperspirants. These have the potential to increase your positive results.


How accurate are alcohol urine test strips or EtG test strips? One study looked at urine samples in a group of over 120 adults to test for alcohol use.

The lowest cut-off they had was 100 ng/mL. At the end of their 16-week testing, the EtG alcohol test was able to determine more than 75% of light drinking over the course of two days.

Surprisingly, that number remained above 60% accuracy after five days. It was around the 80% mark for detecting heavy drinking between one and five days prior to the test.

All of those numbers dropped slightly when the cut-off was changed to 200 ng/mL or 500 ng/mL. However, there were fewer false positives with the higher threshold.

The researchers suggested that the 100 ng/mL threshold was useful during a couple of situations. It could fairly accurately detect light drinking during the past two days and heavy drinking during the past five days.

Alcohol and Drug Test

What is the difference between testing strips for alcohol use and an alcohol drug test?

Typically, a test strip is used to detect one specific substance. In this case, you can purchase an EtG test strip. You use the test strip in the urine sample, and then observe the results.

Many of these strips are fairly sensitive and detect alcohol use during the past three days. When you remove the test strip from the packaging, make sure it doesn’t come into contact with anything else.

Then, you will dip it into the urine sample for up to fifteen seconds. There should be a line on the strip that indicates where to stop.

Finally, you will lay it out on a non-absorbent surface and wait for approximately five minutes. After that time, you will start to see the results. A positive result shows a band on the control mark.

A negative result will show two lines on the alcohol test strip. If the test is inconclusive, there will not be a mark on the control line.

Alcohol testing strips are designed to detect drinking within two hours and up to three days. This makes an alcohol strip test ideal for long-term and short-term use of alcohol.

Drug Test

On the contrary, a drug test incorporates more testing than alcohol strips. Urine tests are the go-to method for many industries. They encompass anywhere from single test strips to a 18 panel drug test.

In general, a urine drug test is used for substance abuse. This can range from illicit drug use to AUD. A normal urine cup will have strips that test for a variety of substances and compounds. Some common ones are:

How are these tests administered? Normally, someone is given the urine cup sample and instructed to fill it to at least 45 millimeters. Anything less could result in inaccurate or inconclusive testing.

Do Drug Tests Test for Alcohol

Best Type of Test

With so many tests on the market, you might have plenty of questions. What is the best home alcohol test? Or, how do you find an alcohol drink test kit?

12 Panel Now has a variety of urine testing kits to address these questions. Many of these are simple to use and handle. This makes them ideal for a home alcohol test.

Some of the more common ones are the combined 14-panel drug test alcohol and the 16-panel drug test alcohol. Both of these are available

Often, a bulk test is helpful when you are doing repeated testing for multiple patients or employees.

A 14-panel and 16-panel drug test are similar. To start with, the 14-panel drug test with alcohol detects 14 substances, including EtG and Fentanyl. The cut-off for EtG in this urine cup is 500 ng/mL and gives results in just ten minutes.

Another common comparative is a 12-panel drug test for EtG which tests for fewer substances, but includes EtG. Why would you want to increase to a 16-panel test?

A 16-panel drug and alcohol test includes testing for Fentanyl, EtG, and Kratom. Both Fentanyl and Kratom are more popular substances that are abused. Additionally, it is not uncommon to see multi-substance abuse for patients receiving rehab for AUD.

Being prepared through multiple drug testing gives you a better chance at addressing the patient’s needs.

Do Drug Tests Test for Alcohol?

Hopefully, it is becoming more obvious why drug tests are helpful for alcohol testing. Some people wonder if it is more accurate than blood or breathalyzer tests. Drink test strips for alcohol are actually more accurate in detecting alcohol right after use and for several days afterward.

While a breathalyzer is necessary for police officers and first responders – if you have the option, a urine test is more accurate.

Alcohol drink test strips cannot determine how many drinks someone has had. While a higher number yields more consumption, it can’t dictate the amount. There are some factors that go into the number that pops up on a home alcohol test.

How much someone drinks and when they last drank are the two biggest determinants. Additionally, people process alcohol at different speeds.

Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Drug and alcohol abuse is becoming more prevalent in our younger generations. Between the ages of 15 and 24, 50% of deaths are from overdoses. These overdoses are due to alcohol or drugs.

Substance abuse also leads to an increased risk of assault, rape, abuse, mental health issues, and suicide.

Some warning signs for this population are declining performance in school, different friend groups, poor behavior skills, and changes in eating or sleeping behaviors.

If someone has AUD or significant drug abuse, you can start noticing physical symptoms. This could be things such as bloodshot eyes, withdrawal symptoms, and coughing.

An ethanol urine test easily detects if an adolescent or teenager has been drinking. If you suspect drug use as well, then look into a full-panel urine drug test. These quick and easy tests are important to reduce rates of deaths and abuse for teenagers.

Not only does this create addictions into adulthood, but it leads to poor mental health and a higher risk of developing depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts.

Where to Buy an EtG Test

If you need alcohol tests for your rehab center, then check out urine test strips and cups. These tests can isolate the compound EtG for accurate tests to see if someone has consumed alcohol during the past few days.

Do drug tests test for alcohol? The resounding answer is – yes. And sometimes they are highly beneficial to patients who abuse drugs and alcohol.