Presence of metabolite excreted in urine can help measure alcohol consumption

Alcohol is still the leading cause of damaging behavior during holiday celebrations throughout the United States, with people having to deal with the increased pressure and stress. Reports say that even non-alcoholics over-imbibe at these events and experience profound repercussions such as improper conduct, road accidents and health issues.

A recent study by the University of Valencia, Spain, claimed that alcohol consumption of a given population can be measured by the presence of a stable metabolite in wastewater.

The study, published in February 2016, has been able to determine the upsurge in drinking during local festivities in Valencia, based on the presence of a stable metabolite, ethyl sulphate, excreted in urine. According to the scientists, ethyl sulphate can be detected in the urine for several days after large amounts of alcohol have been consumed.

The technique devised by the researchers measures the levels of metabolic by-product that reaches the wastewater treatment plant. Interestingly, the average consumption was found to leap 400 percent – up to six times normal levels on the final night – during the city’s annual festivities, known as Fallas.

Las Fallas is a five-day festival in Spain, with an array of activities, including traditional dress, parades, professional-level fireworks and street parties. Like any other festival, heavy drinking is an important part of fun, apart from its share of food and amazing games.

It was found that during Fallas in Valencia, beer ranks first, accounting for 50 percent of all alcohol consumed in this period, followed by spirits (28 percent) and wine (20 percent).

As a result, these days become one of the most dangerous times of the year for alcohol-related accidents and death – with rise in alcohol intake four times than normal drinking levels.

Holiday and alcohol

A number of studies have shown that binge drinking and drunk driving increase during holidays in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that a significant number of people get injured or killed each day between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day in drunk driving accidents, a rate two to three times higher than the rest of the year. New Year is believed to be the most dangerous time of the year, when violations of the state laws are expected to reach 55 percent.

Studies have shown that there is a steep rise in cases of drunk driving accidents, suicide, domestic violence during the holiday period.

Ways to keep holiday drinking safe

According to the researcher Yolanda Picó, the new technique to measure alcohol level will prove to be a boon for healthcare providers as it will help them monitor and predict drinking levels at a particular event or during festive periods. It will also give a much more detailed account of alcohol consumption. Following certain simple tips can help people consume alcohol in moderation throughout the holiday season:

  • Resisting the urge: When someone feels the urge to drink, he or she needs to focus on the bad things that alcohol does, including hangovers, headaches and general feeling of malaise.
  • Offering nonalcoholic beverages: It’s time to rethink refreshments, by putting nonalcoholic drinks in a prominent, easily accessible place.
  • Taking proper care: One must take care of health issues prior to these events, through enough sleep, eating regularly, exercising and relaxing.

Way forward

It’s no secret that intake of alcohol escalates during holidays, but by remembering to drink in moderation and encouraging the loved ones to do the same, one can ensure that the holiday season is relaxing, enjoyable and peaceful.

During holidays, one can take to meditation, gym, or other ways to ward off negative emotions. Holidays are full of so many temptations that possible triggers could lead to relapse. Thus, one should also take an appointment with the therapist.

However, these strategies may not be enough for everyone to manage alcohol addiction. The Alcohol Addiction Helpline focuses on those battling alcohol dependence. Our representatives are committed to helping you or a loved one toward a sustained recovery and better life. For questions and admissions, call us right away at 866-281-3014.