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Drug Testing in Pain Management

I have a question for anyone that might have some input. Ive been in pain management for six years. Drug tested once a month and always passed. Two months ago I had alcohol show up. My doctor was not happy. I understand completely. However, I'm not a 'drinker'.....I have an occasional beer, like ONE and only every now and then. I remember the drink I had that made it come up on my test results and it was a beer at dinner with friends. It was only one beer but that was around 8 PM on a Sunday night and my drug test was at 9AM the next morning so I guess it was still lingering in my system. I am curious though if the standard drug tests I am doing each month includes this 'ETG' test for alcohol or is it just normal testing? I have read about the ETG being very expensive and giving a lot of false/positives. Does anyone have an idea? Thanks!



  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 13,584

    Drug testing normally does not include the tests required to determine alcohol presence.  That has to be ordered and can easily be added to your normal testing.

    Most of the time, testing for a combination of opioids and alcohol is done by employers when they are selecting potential candidates.

    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences 
  • Hi Ron...Thanks. I was just curious about this because as long as I have been in pain management I have never had alcohol show up and then a couple of months ago, suddenly it showed up once on a test. I know that I had a beer the night before my test, I didn't deny that to my doctor. And he is right....drinking heavily on these medications is a bad idea. But a beer at dinner I knew wouldn't hurt anything. But it showed up once and I just didn't know why it would then but never any other time. Thanks for your input.

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  • Jd, the main problem is, that like yourself just might have 1-2 beers on occasion, there are those that drink a 12 pack a day. Unfortunately it’s the occasional drinker that gets sucked up in the system.


    Veritas-Health Forum Moderator

  • Jerome001Jerome001 Cocoa Beach, FloridaPosts: 377

    The annual agreement I sign with my PM doctor states that I will not consume alcohol. Each time I have my pain pump refilled I have a urinalysis that includes testing for alcohol. I don't know how sensitive the tests are but from what I've read on the internet, alcohol remains in your urine for about 80 hours. It does seem rather onerous that this is an issue for a social drinker but as DavidG stated it seems there is no differentiation or testing for the amount of alcohol, merely the presence.

  • My PM tests for it as well.  It is included in the Pain contract that it is not safe to consume  alcohol while taking narcotic meds so I agree to abstain from alcohol use completely.  Not really a challenge for me as alcohol causes migraine for me.  I wasn't sure if all PM's expected that or not.


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  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 6,473

    My PM does not always urine test me but did yesterday when I had my pump refilled. But he will always ask me first if I have had any alcohol. It's not the amount but the presence.

    Veritas-Health Forum Moderator
    Please read my  Medical History
  • JD,

    Many PM doctors are now testing for alcohol in light of the overdoses and deaths from poly pharmaceutical/alcohol combinations.

    In many contracts it explicitly states not to consume alcohol with opiates/benzos. 

    It doesn't matter how often you are consuming alcohol, it matters that you are while taking pain meds.

  • I miss a good old cold beer or a class of wine but quit drinking  the day I started pain medication. Why I guess two reasons it states so on the pain medication bottle, effects on the respiratory system and family deaths. I think the respiratory part would be a serious enough reason don't you for doctors not wanting us to use it. 
    I lost a brother who mixed alcohol and methadone. His doctor said if it was not for the beer he drank he would of been fine because he had the right amount of methadone in his system.

  • Jerome001Jerome001 Cocoa Beach, FloridaPosts: 377

    After seeing my PMP for my pain pump refill a couple of days ago I thought it important to revisit this topic. My PMP noted that urinalyses are very sensitive tests and can detect a minute amount of alcohol. He asked if I'd taken any OTC meds before that visit and urinalysis and I had taken Nyquil for a cold and and Zzzquil to help me sleep. My PMP said there is alcohol in those OTC meds and to be careful about using OTC meds and make sure I read the ingredients to avoid any alcohol intake. As I said, he said the urinalyses are very sensitive and can identify alcohol from one week prior to the urinalysis. The PMP suggested using Advil PM or similar OTC or benadryl to help me sleep. I am so glad I have a good relationship with my PMP and he knows that I don't drink. I thought it important to mention considering the ingredients in the OTC meds that we take and how it can affect our pain management. Jerome

  • Jerome, just a FYI, most OTC sleep aids such as Advil PM, Tylenol PM, NyQuil etc..etc... all have Benadryl usually 25mg per tablet. Advise your MD about sleeping issues as there are better prescriptions for sleep. People have a tendency to get used to taking Benadryl which has a tendency to dehydrate you, so please drink plenty of water if your going to go that route....David  


    Veritas-Health Forum Moderator

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