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Can Alcohol in a Drug Urine Test for Employment Get Detected?

04 May, 2022

One of the effective strategies that companies implement to secure workplace safety is to conduct alcohol and drug testing. Substance impairment is a long-standing safety issue, especially in high-risk jobs. Likewise, the misuse of drugs and alcohol has resulted in serious injuries, disabilities, property damage, and productivity and compensation losses. Therefore, conducting alcohol and drug tests is crucial to staving off workplace accidents. They are common procedures that can help minimise safety hazards. Typically, alcohol and drug testing are performed separately. A workplace tester like BACtrack from Breathalysers New Zealand is an efficient tool to check alcohol impairment. However, some companies include alcohol in a drug urine test to perform one procedure.

What Happens in an Alcohol and Drug Test

Can alcohol in a drug urine test get detected? Yes, you can detect alcohol usage through urine tests. Detecting workplace alcohol consumption can be crucial because consumption can result in impairments. Approximately twenty per cent of alcohol rapidly passes to different body parts through the bloodstream. Within minutes, the body feels noticeable effects of impairment. Particularly, alcohol intoxication causes blurry vision, impaired hearing, slurred speech, and poor coordination. These decreased abilities can affect work performance and increase safety risks. An alcohol test analyses the biological samples to detect the presence of ethanol, the main substance in alcoholic beverages. An alcohol breath test is the standard method to detect alcohol presence. However, some instances may require using other procedures such as urine, blood, saliva, or hair testing.

A drug test looks for several drug types, including illicit substances and the misuse of prescription drugs. Workplaces commonly use urine sample tests to determine drug use. Most employers prefer to use a drug urine test because it is less invasive than a blood sample test. Additionally, blood sampling also requires a laboratory examination to process the samples, making it time-consuming. Employers can choose how many or what kinds of substances to test for. For instance, they can test for the common drugs only or include alcohol in a drug urine test for employment. The common substances are:

  • Amphetamines
  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana 
  • Opiates
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)

Additional categories can include:

  • Ethanol (alcohol)
  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Hydrocodone
  • MDMA
  • Methadone
  • Methaqualone

alcohol-in-a-drug-urine-tests

Alcohol in a Drug Urine Test for Employment

Alcohol is a volatile substance that travels through the bloodstream and reaches different body organs like the lungs, brain, liver, and heart. Then, they exit the system through breath, sweat, or urine. The workplace breathalysers from Breathalysers New Zealand can detect alcohol for 12 to 24 hours after consumption. Additionally, most substances stay in the body for a certain period until they are completely metabolised. In particular, urine tests can detect alcohol for 24 to 48 hours, depending on the consumed amount. Likewise, alcohol in a drug urine test can get detected for up to 90 hours through advanced procedures like EtG tests. Moreover, companies conduct alcohol and drug testing as a part of a health and safety procedure through a workplace policy. Workplaces conduct alcohol and drug tests for the following reasons:

  • Pre-employment – To determine if a prospective employee has harmful substance behaviour that may endanger workplace safety.
  • Post-incident – Test to determine if impairing substances led to an accident. The time element is crucial for this test. 
  • Random – Unannounced tests to identify current intoxication among employees. It helps deter substance use, resulting in lesser accidents.
  • Reasonable Suspicion – An employee showing obvious signs of impairment is subject to an alcohol and drug test. For example, the person has bloodshot eyes and alcohol breath odour.

Benefits of Employment Testing

The use of alcohol and illicit drugs can affect work performance significantly. It can result in low output, frequent absences, and poor decision making. Additionally, substance use is a top factor in workplace accidents. Without a comprehensive policy, accidents and low productivity will affect the organisation. Thus, employment testing is vital to keep the working environment hazard-free. Moreover, detecting alcohol in a drug urine test is one way to determine if an employee has alcohol use disorder. Through a workplace program, the employer may offer rehabilitation assistance. Furthermore, consistent workplace testing promotes healthier practices and lessens the likelihood of injuries. It also reduces costs, improves attendance, decreases turnover rates, and enhances work quality. 

alcohol-in-a-drug-urine-tests-

Alcohol Breath vs Drug Urine Test Procedures

Companies can implement workplace testing through on-site test services. Laboratories provide a mobile location to collect samples. For instance, testing centres examine alcohol in a drug urine test by giving each employee a container to collect the sample. A professional monitors the sample collection to ensure it is not tampered with. Then, the testing centre examines the samples in a mobile laboratory to get accurate results. Additionally, the more substances being tested in a drug urine test, the higher the cost. It may also take more time to get the results back. Therefore, many employers prefer to use urine tests for drug detection only. An alcohol breath test through a breathalyser is more efficient for alcohol screening alone. 

A breathalyser is a portable device that estimates the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) through a breath sample. Professional alcohol testers from Breathalysers New Zealand use powerful fuel cell sensors to measure the precise BAC or intoxication level. A fuel cell breathalyser is considered the standard for accurate alcohol breath tests. In particular, fuel cell sensors are highly sensitive to ethanol and do not react with other substances in the breath. Thus, they are less likely to produce false positives. Likewise, they maintain consistent BAC readings despite back-to-back testing. Therefore, a fuel cell breathalyser like the BACtrack S80 Pro Gen2 is ideal for high volume uses. With the efficiency of breathalysers, employers can exclude alcohol in a drug urine test.

Choosing BACtrack Breathalysers for Employment

The BACtrack breathalysers make workplace alcohol testing more cost-effective. Employers can conduct frequent alcohol monitoring to protect the workplace from alcohol-related risks. Thus, there is no need to call a testing facility to check for alcohol in a drug urine test to detect impairments. The BACtrack breathalysers can process the sample breath and deliver the BAC results in 10 to 15 seconds. Therefore, you can quickly determine impaired employees and pull them out before they cause accidents. Breathalysers NZ has various pro-grade devices suitable for employment use. You may choose the breathalyser type based on your company’s particular needs: 

  • Mobile Gen2 – The breathalyser has Bluetooth connectivity to deliver the BAC results directly to a smartphone. It is an excellent device as a remote monitoring tool for offsite employees.
  • S80 Pro Gen2 – The breathalyser has enhanced linear response to detecting a complete range of alcohol concentrations in the breath. The S80 Pro Gen2 can accurately measure trace concentrations of alcohol right through to 0.400 %BAC.
  • Alcovisor Mercury – A touchscreen breathalyser with screening and testing modes. The screening mode passively checks for alcohol presence in the breath, while the testing mode will measure the exact BAC level. 
  • Alcovisor Alcotorch – A professional tool designed for fast detection through passive screening. It is suitable in public venues like concerts or airports.
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