The most commonly abused drug, tested using hair.

About Alcohol

Alcohol is one of the most abused substances in the world. Although alcohol is a legal compound in many countries, it is consumed in much higher amounts in comparison to other drugs of abuse and by a much higher portion of the population. For clinical and forensic purposes, there is a demand to establish chronic excessive alcohol consumption. Minor ethanol metabolites (ethyl glucuronide “EtG” and/or fatty acid ethyl esters “FAEE”) are measured in hair as direct alcohol consumption markers, and the World Health Organization has established standards for the interpretation of the alcohol consumption levels. Most laboratories prefer to measure EtG, and that is what we test and report.

Measuring Alcohol in Hair

Psychemedics uses a triple quad mass spectrometry test to determine the level of ethyl glucuronide (EtG) present in hair. EtG is measured in pg/mg and we follow the guidelines determined by the World Health Organization in association with the Society of Hair Testing.


0-1.9 pg/mg
2.0 pg/mg
30+ pg/mg


Low to Moderate Consumption
Excessive Alcohol Consumption

The test will identify those consuming as few as 2-3 alcoholic drinks (on average) per week, resulting in a level reported in the “low to Moderate Consumption” category. To be considered in the category of “excessive alcohol consumption” and fall into the category of 30 pg/mg or greater, an average of at least 4-6 alcoholic drinks per day would have to be consumed over an average of 3 months.

*A 12 ounce beer, a 4 ounce glass of wine, and one – ounce of 80 proof distilled spirits (either straight or in a mixed drink) is the equivalent amount of one alcoholic drink.

Test Requirements and Specifics

Amount of Hair: Psychemedics requires 50 mg of head or body hair for the alcohol test.
Detection Period: Each 3.9cm (length) sample of head hair represents an approximate 3 month window.
Turnaround Time: Test results will be available within 10 – 14 business days.
Adulteration Effects: Cosmetic treatments may have minimal effects very similar to those observed with our routine 5 panel drug test, and will not affect results. Our wash criteria eliminates the risk of external contamination.

Download the Case Study paper here.