In March, the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau approved the sale of powdered alcohol, or Palcohol, as it’s known. This is a concern in any season, but with proms and graduations around the corner, it’s important for parents to understand and discuss the dangers of this product with their children. Here are five things you should know about this product:
1. Palcohol is a freeze-dried version of drinks like Cosmopolitans or plain vodka. They come in 4- by 6-inch packages that weigh an ounce and are equivalent to a shot. To make an average-sized drink, you simply add water or a mixer and shake. They may sound innocent — the drinks’ creator said he “wanted a lighter way to pack a few drinks” for the outdoors — but the product is controversial.
2. A number of addiction experts are quite concerned. Dr. Harris Stratyner, PhD, vice president of Caron Treatment Center in New York, told WebMD that he fears Palcohol “will lead to increased alcohol and drug abuse, with serious implications and health consequences for the country’s youth.” Other experts have agreed, saying that it might attract young people trying to impress their peers. Dr. Stratyner pointed out there’s also the danger of snorting it or combining it with other drugs, such as cocaine, heroin, or marijuana, which can be especially dangerous.
3. Because of the Palcohol’s composition, it will be easier to sneak it into concerts and other venues where alcohol is banned, said Petros Levounis, MD, chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Rutgers Medical School, in a Medscape article. The packaging may also tempt people in recovery to relapse since it’s so easy to conceal.
4. Some experts believe that not enough is known about this product to consider it safe. In the same Medscape article, Dr. Levounis observed that Four Loco, a combination of alcohol and espresso, was proven dangerous since it allows people to continue drinking past the point where they may have simply fallen asleep. (Four Loko was reformulated after complaints.) Dr. Stratyner noted that after Palcohol was initially approved, that approval was rescinded.
5. Lawmakers are taking action. Although the product has been approved on a federal level, Palcohol is still subject to state regulations. According to WedMD, as of March five states had banned sales of Palcohol, and 28 had proposed legislation to ban or regulate it. Last month Senator Schumer (D-NY) proposed federal legislation to ban it.
Underage drinking is extremely dangerous and is linked to a greater risk of developing future alcohol problems. If you think your child may have an issue with alcohol, we can help. Learn more about our residential, age-specific assessment programs.