The alcohol level in the body can be measured in myriad ways – multiple urine tests, using breath analyzers, trendy alcohol-monitoring bracelets and tattoo-based sensors. As the number of alcohol-related fatalities and consumption levels are rising, researchers are constantly working to develop accurate monitoring devices to monitor individuals with heavy drinking habit or enrolled in addiction facilities or in alcohol addiction recovery programs.
To come up with a tool that could be used for routine monitoring of alcohol levels in human body, engineers from the Jacobs School of Engineering at the University of California (UC), San Diego, have developed a low-power, injectable microchip that could be inserted under the skin at a clinic without surgery.
Long-term, personalized medical monitoring
Once inside the skin, the chip interacts with the interstitial fluid (ISF) or tissue fluid to detect blood alcohol levels (BAC) and communicate them to an external device. As per the engineers, the chip measures roughly 1 cubic millimeter in size and contains three sensors to measure alcohol levels, background signals and pH levels in the fluid that surrounds the body cells. To get more accurate reading of BAC, the other two signals are canceled out.
In addition to its small size that makes it possible to be inserted without an invasive surgery, the chip operates on ultra-low power by transmitting data through backscattering technique that uses radio frequency signals from a nearby device, such as a smartwatch, which are then reflected back by the chip with modifications to the device. Additionally, the chip takes just three seconds for reading the data and sending them. According to the engineers, the device needs power of just 970 nanowatts to function that helps not only preserve battery life, but also avoid generating too much heat inside the body that can be harmful.
Lead researcher Drew Hall calls this a “proof-of-concept platform technology.” His team is hopeful of creating other chips to monitor other substances of abuse. He emphasized on the advantage of injectable sensors and said that they offer more accurate reading as they are closer to the blood vessels and can be worn discreetly without inciting the stigma usually attached with other monitoring devices.
Choose life over addiction
In 2016, an estimated 7.3 million Americans (aged 12 to 20) consumed alcohol in the past month with 4.5 million reporting binge drinking and 1.1 million who reported heavy alcohol use. Drinking in excess on a single occasion or over a lifetime can cause major health problems and even be life-threatening.
Sovereign Health is a leading substance abuse treatment facility that offers evidence-based care for addiction disorder treatment in a safe, compassionate and trigger-free environment. Depending on the severity of symptoms and a patient’s pre-assessment, intensive outpatient program for alcohol may include supervised detox followed by therapy or counseling sessions by trained medical health professionals. To learn more about our holistic residential and outpatient programs for drug abuse or to locate our best alcohol treatment centers, call our 24/7 helpline and speak to an admissions counselor. For quick assistance, you can chat now.