Alcohol and tobacco related disorders are the two leading and most expensive causes of illness in central Europe. In addition to self reports and questionnaires, biomarkers are of relevance in diagnosis and therapy of alcohol use disorders.Traditional biomarkers such as gamma glutamyl transpeptidase or mean corpuscualr volume are indirect biomarkers and are subject to influence of age, gender and non alcohol related diseases, among others.Direct ethanol metabolites such as ethyl glucuronide (EtG), ethyl sulphate (EtS) and phosphatidylethanol (PEth) are direct metabolites of ethanol, that are positive after intake of ethyl alcohol. They represent useful diagnostic tools for identifying alcohol use even more accurately than traditional biomarkers. Each of these drinking indicators remains positive in serum and urine for a characteristic time spectrum after the cessation of ethanol intake-EtG and EtS in urine up to 7 days, EtG in hair for months after ethanol has left the body. Applications include clinical routine use, emergency room settings, proof of abstinence in alcohol rehabilitation programs, driving under influence offenders, workplace testing, assessment of alcohol intake in the context of liver transplantation and fetal alcohol syndrome.