Biomarkers for Alcohol Measurement

Measures for Alcohol Among AIAN Communities

Biomarkers for Alcohol Measurement


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PRISM researchers are leading the world in the use of alcohol biomarkers to assess alcohol use. Funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, our team focuses on using alcohol biomarkers like ethyl glucuronide (EtG), a urine test that can detect drinking for 2-5 days. EtG allows us to accurately and feasibly conduct contingency management interventions for alcohol use disorders. Having conducted thousands of EtG tests, our group has published about best practices use of EtG in research and clinical settings. PRISM faculty are also conducting research on the biomarker phosphatidylethonal (PEth), which can detect use for up to 28 days, as well as Bluetooth enabled breathalyzers. We are using all these biomarkers to improve assessment of alcohol outcomes and personalize treatments for individuals with alcohol use disorders.


Project Lead
Michael McDonell, Ph.D.




McDonell MG, Leickly E, McPherson S, Skalisky J, Srebnik S, Angelo F, Vilardaga R, Nepom JR, Roll JM, Ries RK. A randomized controlled trial of ethyl glucuronide-based contingency management for outpatients with co-occurring alcohol use disorders and serious mental illness. Am J Psychiatry. 2017; 174 (4): 370-377. PMCID: PMC5378651.


McDonell MG, Leickly E, McPherson S, Skalisky J, Hirchak K, Oluwoye O, Srebnik D, Roll JM, Richard RK. Pretreatment ethyl glucuronide levels predict response to a contingency management intervention for alcohol use disorders with serious mental illness. Am J Addict. 2017; 26(7):673-675. PMCID: PMC5610611.


Leickly E, Skalisky J, McPherson S, Orr MF, McDonell MG. High agreement between benchtop and point-of-care dipcard tests for ethyl glucuronide. Ther Drug Monit. 2017; 39(4):461-462. PMCID: PMC5513150.


McDonell MG, Skalisky J, Leickly E, McPherson S, Battalio S, Nepom JR, Srebnik D, Roll J, Ries RK. Using ethyl glucuronide in urine to detect light and heavy drinking in alcohol dependent outpatients. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2015;157;184-187. PMCID: PMC4663163.


Leickly E, McDonell MG, Vilardaga R, Angelo FA, Lowe JA, McPherson S, Srebnik D, Roll J, Ries RK. High levels of agreement between clinic-based ethyl glucuronide (EtG) immunoassays and laboratory-based mass spectrometry. Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2015;41:246-250. PMCID: PMC4461360.


Lowe JM, McDonell MG, Leickly E, Angelo FA, Vilardaga R, McPherson S, Srebnik D, Roll J, Ries RK. Determining ethyl glucuronide cutoffs when detecting self-reported alcohol use in addiction treatment patients. Alcohol Clinical Exp Res. 2015; 39:905-910. PMCID: PMC4400217.



McDonell MG, Howell DN, McPherson S, Cameron JM, Srebnik D, Roll JM, Ries RK. Voucher-based reinforcement for alcohol abstinence using the ethyl-glucuronide alcohol biomarker. J Appl Behav Anal. 2012;45:161-165. PMID: PMC3297337.



McDonell MG, Srebnik S, Angelo F, Sugar AM, Howell D, Rainey C, Roll J, Short R, Ries R. Evaluation of ethyl glucuronide immunoassay urinalysis in five alcohol dependent outpatients. Am J Addict. 2011;20:482-484. PMID: 21838851.


Re-Centering Measures for Alcohol Misuse Among American Indian and Alaska Native Communities

The 50-item self-report survey the Drinker Inventory of Consequences (DrInC) and its’ shorter 15-item, companion, the Short Inventory of Problems (SIP) assess five domains related to drinking consequences: (1) physical, (2) intrapersonal, (3) social responsibility, (4) interpersonal and (5) impulse control. Along with our Tribal partners, we are culturally adapting the existing measures. A Community Advisory Board (CAB) has been convened with AI/AN leaders and content experts to assess the existing DrInC/SIP measure(s) for item content validity and to make recommendations for additional items to capture culturally relevant negative consequences associated with alcohol misuse. The adapted measure will then be available online for AI/AN adults to complete.

Project Lead
Katherine Hirchak, Ph.D.