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Is Powdered Alcohol Dangerous? What is it?

Many items we consume come in powder form. Some of which are coffee, tea, and juice mix. Just add water. But is it something that can be useful for a cocktail?

Despite its recently gaining popularity, powdered alcohol has been around for decades. Fortunately, powdered alcohol hasn’t gained much traction for consumers. Powdered alcohol is banned, and for a good reason.

The Alcohol Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau approved “Palcohol” at this time, and controversy surrounding the topic erupted nationwide. Plans to mass produce were immediately put on hold as half the United States outright banned all powdered-alcohol sales. Initially, the Palcohol approval was revoked in April 2014 and re-initiated in 2015.

What Is Powdered Alcohol?

Powdered alcohol is precisely what you would think it is – it is alcohol that has been absorbed by a sugar derivative in powder form. When Palcohol was initially approved, the website began describing alternative uses for the product. Some of which included snorting it, which will get someone drunk instantly because the alcohol is absorbed quickly into your nose. It was such statements that caused the controversy surrounding the product.

Public health professionals and state government officials raised concerns about the powdered substance and stated that the convenience factor could intentionally or unintentionally result in stronger than standard drinks and harmful binging. In addition, the different flavors and the ease that powdered alcohol can be concealed and transported would have an appeal to underage drinkers.

In the United States every year, nearly 5,000 people under the age of 21 die due to alcohol-related incidents, such as homicide, suicide, and injuries. 

Each package contains powder and weighs close to an ounce. Along with the alcohol, it includes natural flavorings and sucralose, which is an artificial sweetener. The individual adds water or a mixer to the package and shakes it to create an average-sized mixed drink. One pack translates to a shot of alcohol.

Concerns of Powdered Alcohol

The primary concern mentioned above is it could trigger abuse by young individuals in our society. Scott Krakower, assistant unit chief of psychiatry at Zucker Hillside Hospital, suggests, “I think it’s going to appeal to adolescents and will potentially be harmful.”

The simple to carry product can also tempt those in recovery from alcoholism since the package is easy to hide. He also fears that people will snort it, which can be dangerous due to choking hazards. On top of that, some may combine the depressant with other drugs, such as opiates or benzodiazepines.

Assorted Alcohol in different glasses

Krakower goes on to say, “We worry about the sale of powdered alcohol will lead to increased alcohol and drug abuse, with serious implications and health consequences for the country’s youth.”

Is Powdered Alcohol Dangerous?

Substances that are sold in powdered form are often more potently concentrated, and they carry a more significant risk of overuse and overdose than liquid drinks. It is easier to consume higher doses of alcohol in this format as opposed to binge drinking shots. While that is not the case for each person, younger kids that struggle with drinking hard alcohol can be enticed by its easy to consume nature.

Powdered alcohol is more dangerous in the sense that it can be smuggled into public venues or parties, which increases the potential for drinks to be spiked, or those to display public intoxication that leads to fights or mayhem.

In addition to its discreet packaging, individuals may be less likely to try and conceal the product. It’s possible for someone to be careless with home storage, and small children could find it easily, open the package, and consume the product, not knowing what it is.

Powdered-alcohol users may also experiment with snorting, injecting, or other forms of ingestion that are amply more dangerous than drinking. Users can also mix powdered alcohol with illegal powdered drugs like cocaine. Using cocaine with alcohol can cause someone to drink more alcohol since the stimulant weakens the effects.

Currently, the dangers are hypothetical and plans to commit to Palcohol entirely are still fighting backlash. Since powdered alcohol is not widely distributed, no death or addiction statistics are available.

Alcohol is Dangerous

In its natural liquid form, alcohol remains one of the most deadly substances available on this planet. Alcohol should be illegal, but it is readily available to anyone who can prove they’re over 21 years of age.  Almost 27 percent of American adults binge drink, and over 15 million adults and 623,000 teenagers have some level of an alcohol use disorder.

Eighty-eight thousand people die each year as a result of alcohol, and the country spends $249 billion on average as a result of alcohol misuse. While there is no evidence at our disposal to prove powdered alcohol is more dangerous than liquid, it wouldn’t be wise to assume otherwise.

Sources

Phillip, A. (2015, August 15). Yes, powdered alcohol is real. It's already banned in New York and at least 20 other states. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2015/08/15/yes-powdered-alcohol-is-real-its-already-banned-in-new-york-and-at-least-20-states/?utm_term=.5524bdf3e53d

Stephenson, S., & JH Bloomberg School of Public Health. (2016, February 24). Powdered Alcohol. Retrieved from http://www.camy.org/resources/fact-sheets/powdered-alcohol/index.html

Doheny, K. (2015, March 13). Powdered Alcohol: Risky for Teens and People in Recovery? Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/news/20150313/powdered-alcohol-faq#1

Sucralose (Splenda): Good or Bad? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/sucralose-good-or-bad

WebMD. Doheny, K., Palcohol: Risky for Teens and People in Recovery? from https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/news/20150313/powdered-alcohol-faq#1

Rettner, R. (2015, March 16). Powdered Alcohol Is Now Legal – But Is It Safe? Retrieved from https://www.livescience.com/50144-powdered-alcohol-concerns-palcohol.html

Gossop, M., Manning, V., & Ridge, G. (2006). Concurrent use of alcohol and cocaine: Differences in patterns of use and problems among users of crack cocaine and cocaine powder. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16455796

Alcohol Facts and Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcohol-facts-and-statistics

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