Do drug users use less alcohol than non-drug users?

Authors: Paul, R., Kingston, R., Tsanaclis, L., Berry, A.J. and Guwy, A.J.

Journal: Forensic Science International

Volume: 176

Pages: 82-86

Publisher: Elsevier

ISSN: 1872-6283

Two groups were selected from the remainder of hair samples that had been tested for drugs at TrichoTech for medico-legal cases: samples that tested negative (drug-negative group; N = 42, age 33.4 ± 7.2 years) and samples that tested positive for drugs (drug-positive group; N = 57, age 32.5 ± 8.8 years).

A rapid, simple method to detect the ethanol metabolite, ethyl glucuronide (EtG) in hair has been developed. The hair samples were sectioned, and then submitted to overnight sonication in water. Samples then underwent SPE using anion exchange cartridges, followed by derivatisation with N,O-bis[trimethylsilyl]trifluoroacetamide (BSTFA), before confirmation by GC–MS/MS. The assay produced excellent linearity and sensitivity over the calibration range 0.02–1.0 ng/mg, assuming a 10 mg hair sample.

The mean age of the two groups was not statistically different (p = 0.575, Student t-test), indicating a homogeneous group. Twelve of the 57 (21.0%) hair samples of the drug-positive group tested positive for EtG, and 17 of the 42 (40.5%) hair samples of the drug-negative group tested positive for EtG. The mean concentration of EtG in the drug-positive group was 0.011 ng/mg compared to 0.107 ng/mg in the drug-negative group. When the full results of this study were subjected to statistical analysis it was shown that EtG levels in the drug-negative group were statistically higher than those found in the drug-positive group (p < 0.05). This preliminary finding may be of use in the study of addiction and adds valuable data to previous studies regarding the use of EtG as a valuable marker for alcohol levels in hair.

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