Recommended alcohol testing for best practice

The combined profile of blood tests and hair tests should be selected for all new cases where there is no reliable previous testing history.

Alcohol Profile:

  • Blood tests for: LFT, CDT, GGT-CDTr and MCV
  • Hair tests for: EtG and FAEE
  • Urine test for: EtG*

*A urine test for EtG is also included where it is necessary to establish complete abstinence from drinking.

The Alcohol Profile, together with a detailed history taken from the client, provides the best starting point to differentiate social drinkers from excessive alcohol users. This profile can be selected to cover the previous 3 or 6 months history and extended to 9 months in some circumstances. Importantly it also provides sufficient information to make a recommendation as to whether further testing is required, and if so provide a guide for the profile required and when this testing needs to be carried out.

Where this profile identifies potential issues or where on-going monitoring for alcohol use is required, then best practice is to carry out at least two further tests at 4 to 6 and 8 to12 weeks or on a rolling 6 weekly basis for as long as required as follows:

  • 1st Alcohol profile
  • 2nd Blood only Alcohol profile at 4 to 6 weeks
  • 3rd Full Alcohol profile at 8 to 12 weeks

FTS have demonstrated that following this alcohol-testing profile is the most reliable way to differentiate excessive from acceptable drinking and a case can then be resolved in a short and controlled time scale. This saves costs and ensures decisions are taken on the most reliable and clear evidence available.

Using only blood tests or hair tests individually cannot usually be relied upon or provide the detailed information required for clear and unambiguous interpretation and meaningful recommendations.

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