Blood Tests to Detect Alcohol Abuse: Three Types
20 October, 2023
Alcohol abuse is a serious issue that affects millions of people worldwide. Fortunately, there are blood tests to detect alcohol abuse. These provide valuable information for treatment and intervention. There are several kinds of this testing. Some examples are carbohydrate-deficient transferrin (CDT), phosphatidyl ethanol (PEth), and liver function tests (LFT). These three types are the most commonly used because they can accurately determine alcohol levels. However, there are differences between them.
Excessive alcohol consumption can have detrimental effects on both physical and mental health. Moreover, it affects relationships and overall well-being. It is important to identify and address the problem as early as possible. Blood testing has become an effective tool in diagnosing and monitoring this. It provides objective evidence of alcohol consumption and its impact on the body. In this article, people can explore three types of blood tests that professionals and individuals alike commonly use.
Blood Tests to Detect Alcohol Abuse: CDT
CDT is a blood test to detect alcohol abuse. It is a direct biomarker that measures the percentage of transferrin that lacks glycosylation due to heavy alcohol consumption. Elevated CDT levels indicate chronic alcohol consumption. This provides valuable information on long-term heavy drinking. It is especially useful in monitoring the effects of alcohol.
A CDT test is one of the most reliable blood testing types. It can be an indicator of chronic alcohol drinking. It is more specific than other indirect biomarkers like aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT). This is because factors other than alcohol can influence them. The amount of alcohol consumed on a specific day does not affect CDT testing. However, it is important to note that false positives can occur in individuals with certain medical conditions.
To conduct the test, technicians take a sample from the arm of a person. Afterwards, they send it to a medical facility or laboratory for analysis of the CDT levels. By detecting elevated levels of CDT, medical professionals can identify patients who may be at risk for alcohol-related health issues. Consequently, they can provide appropriate intervention and support.
Blood tests have many advantages over other testing methods. They are as follows:
- Accuracy – They are highly accurate in detecting alcohol consumption as they directly measure the level of alcohol biomarkers in the blood.
- Quantitative results – A test indicates the concentration of alcohol in the blood, allowing for a more precise assessment of alcohol consumption.
- Objective measurement – This eliminates subjectivity and bias that may be present in self-reported drinking habits.
- Wide detection window – It can detect recent and chronic consumption. It provides information about drinking patterns over a longer period.
- Medical supervision – Blood tests are typically conducted in a medical facility or laboratory.
Blood Tests to Detect Alcohol Abuse: PEth
Many people have been using PEth, a direct alcohol biomarker, in blood tests to detect alcohol abuse. PEth is unique and is formed in the presence of alcohol, specifically ethanol. It is incorporated into red blood cell membranes. This makes it an accurate indicator of recent consumption. Blood tests measuring PEth can detect alcohol use up to several weeks after drinking. Moreover, they provide a longer detection window compared to other biomarkers like Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC).
Additionally, PEth blood tests are highly specific to alcohol consumption and can differentiate it from other factors that may affect indirect biomarkers, such as certain medications or alternative alcohol sources like hand sanitisers. This specificity enhances the reliability and accuracy of the results, making PEth a valuable tool for identifying excessive alcohol consumption in people.
People undergo testing in a lab or facility. Thus, healthcare providers can interpret the results and provide appropriate counselling or intervention if necessary. The convenience of using blood samples for PEth testing also allows for monitoring consumption over time. This can assist in the assessment of treatment outcomes or help track their progress in reducing their alcohol intake.
A high level of accuracy is certain with the use of blood tests. With their ability to differentiate alcohol consumption from other factors that may affect indirect biomarkers, they offer a specific and reliable approach to identifying alcohol abuse. This accuracy makes them a valuable tool for professionals.
In addition, what makes blood testing accurate is the fact that it can provide exact concentrations of alcohol in the blood at any given time. This allows for a more precise definition of abuse than other methods. With this data, doctors can easily identify patterns and behaviours that indicate potential problems with alcohol use.
Blood Tests to Detect Alcohol Abuse: LFT
Blood tests to detect alcohol abuse are crucial. In particular, LFTs can assess the liver damage that heavy drinking causes. LFTs measure various enzymes and proteins in the blood that indicate liver function. Elevated levels of liver enzymes like alkaline phosphatase can suggest liver damage due to chronic alcohol consumption.
LFT is beneficial because it can detect alcohol abuse even if the person has recently stopped drinking. The process is done with a needle and collecting a sample of blood. When technicians detect abnormally high levels of enzymes, it usually indicates that the person has been consuming large amounts of alcohol for an extended period.
Despite the reliability of the test, it can sometimes yield false positives. This is especially true in people who have consumed foods that contain alcohol. To minimise this risk, doctors may use a combination of tests, like LFT, BAC, and urine tests, to gather a comprehensive understanding of drinking habits and the effects of alcohol on health. In cases of suspected alcohol abuse, seeking medical advice and undergoing appropriate tests can provide vital information for diagnosis and treatment.
How it Works
Blood tests work by measuring alcohol biomarkers in the blood. Some other biomarkers include ethyl glucuronide (EtG) and ethyl sulphate (EtS). They can indicate recent alcohol consumption within the previous few days. Thus, they are reliable for screening.
To conduct a blood test, a healthcare provider will draw a sample of blood from a vein, typically in the arm. However, may only require drops of blood from finger sticks. The results may take several weeks for more comprehensive testing. Although they are accurate, they are not common for routine screening due to the invasive nature of drawing blood samples.
Blood tests to detect alcohol abuse offer many advantages. They provide reliable and objective information about the drinking habits of a person. Moreover, they help healthcare providers assess alcohol-related risks and guide appropriate interventions. The three most common blood testing types, CDT, PEth, and LFT, are particularly helpful because they measure different biomarkers that can indicate a range of drinking behaviours. Plus, these tests are accurate.
Alcohol abuse can lead to alcohol use disorders. With blood testing, abuse can be detected even if the person has recently stopped drinking. It involves using a needle to collect a specimen. Blood tests also allow for monitoring consumption over time. However, they can sometimes give inaccurate results. Therefore, doctors may use a combination of tests to gather a comprehensive understanding. Nevertheless, the tests offer a more precise definition of abuse than others and are reliable when used properly.