Skip to main content

Assessment of alcohol consumption among hepatitis C-positive people receiving opioid maintenance treatment using direct ethanol metabolites and self-report: a pilot study

Buy Article:

$51.00 plus tax (Refund Policy)



This study was conducted to identify the alcohol consumption among hepatitis C-positive people receiving opioid maintenance therapy using self-report and biomarkers. A total of 49 people (28 male, 21 female) were hepatitis C virus (HCV) positive and were included. The alcohol use disorder identification test (AUDIT) and self-reported ethanol intake in the last 28 days were assessed. In addition to gamma-glutamyl-transferase (GGT) and mean corpuscular volume (MCV), ethyl glucuronide (EtG) and ethyl sulphate (EtS) were determined in serum and urine (UEtG, UEtS, SEtG) using liquid chromatography/tandem mass-spectroscopy (LC/MS-MS) with deuterated internal standards. Abstinence from alcohol was reported for the last 28 days by 13 participants and for the last 7 days by 22. AUDIT was > 8 in 27 cases. The maximum values were 34.8 mg/l for UEtG, 5.3 mg/l for UEtS and 0.15 for SEtG. Among the 19 UEtG positives, 8 had not reported any ethanol intake in the 7 days prior to the study. Six participants reported intake of up to 320 g of ethanol in the last 7 days, but were negative for SEtG, UEtG and UEtS. Self-reported ethanol intake in the last 28 days correlated with AUDIT score (r = 0.733, P < 0.001), with the direct ethanol metabolites and MCV. In this population, abstinence and episodic heavy drinking are more common than in the general population. Episodic heavy drinking is a significant cause of acute risk in this population. Results from biomarker testing could indicate cases of under- as well as over-reporting of alcohol consumption. Further research on the diagnostic accuracy of direct ethanol metabolites, including the use of phosphatidylethanol (PEth), in this setting is needed.

Keywords: ethyl glucuronide; ethyl sulphate; hepatitis C; opioid dependence; opioid maintenance treatment

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Psychiatric University Clinics, Switzerland, 2: Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Australia, 3: Department of Legal Medicine, University of Freiburg, Germany,

Publication date: September 1, 2008

Access Key

Free Content
Free content
New Content
New content
Open Access Content
Open access content
Subscribed Content
Subscribed content
Free Trial Content
Free trial content
Cookie Policy
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more