People are always looking for new ways to consume alcohol, whether it’s by trying out the latest cocktail, checking out the newest bar venue, or experimenting with new types of alcoholic beverages, like Palcohol.
What is Palcohol?
Palcohol is the brand name of a powdered alcohol product that was created by Mark Phillips. The powdered, freeze-dried alcohol comes in several different versions, including rum, vodka, lemon drop, cosmopolitan, and powderita.1
According to Palcohol’s official website and FAQ, Palcohol is manufactured in single packages and one powder packet is designed to be mixed with six ounces water before it is consumed. The powder and water mixture create an average-sized mixed drink. Each powder packet weighs one ounce, is about 80 calories, and is equivalent to about one shot of alcohol.2
Four different product labels for powdered alcohol products were approved by the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau in March 2015 and the FDA reported the non-alcoholic ingredients complied with federal regulations. However, the product has since been under attack by state legislators and those who believe it’s a dangerous idea. It is illegal in many states and is associated with several different dangers and risk factors.3
Why Drink Palcohol Instead of Liquid Alcohol?
Phillips created Palcohol so he could have a lighter, more convenient way to carry and enjoy an alcoholic beverage while he was out hiking, camping, and backpacking. The powdered alcohol may also be appealing for people who want to easily pack and use alcohol while traveling. In short, the novelty of Palcohol simply revolves around its convenience and ease of use.
Dangers of Palcohol
Although many people think Palcohol is a great and revolutionary idea, there are also many people who are concerned about its potential for abuse and the harm it may cause. Here are the primary concerns regarding the dangers of Palcohol:
- Powdered alcohol may be used to spike food or drinks. Although the manufacturer of Palcohol claims a person would notice if their food was spiked with Palcohol, it may still be used to spike the food or drinks of unsuspecting sober or already intoxicated people at parties or social events. This could lead to unintentional overdoses, sexual harassment, or even death.
- Powdered alcohol may increase the risk of alcohol poisoning or overdose. Another common concern about Palcohol is that people may add large quantities of it to their alcoholic beverages to enhance the effects. As a result, they may be more likely to suffer from alcohol poisoning or overdose.
- People may snort or swallow the powdered alcohol. Just like any other drug, people will inevitably find ways to misuse Palcohol, especially teens, college students, and young adults, as this population is notorious for experimenting with drugs and alcohol. Snorting or swallowing powdered alcohol may have unintended effects and could also increase the user’s risk of alcohol-induced blackouts, alcohol poisoning, or overdose.
- Powdered alcohol is easy to sneak into venues. Many public venues do not permit alcohol consumption, but Palcohol would be all too easy to sneak into a venue and mix with a bottle of water without it ever being detected. Not only would authorities have a difficult time monitoring alcohol use in powder form, but underage drinkers could also get away with alcohol use much more easily.
- Powdered alcohol is appealing for underage drinkers and young adults. Palcohol is easy to conceal, transport, and use without being detected. It’s also significantly cheaper than buying liquid alcoholic beverages or hard liquor. These qualities make Palcohol significantly appealing to young or underage drinkers who are looking for a buzz, which could lead to higher rates of alcohol abuse and alcohol use disorder (alcoholism) in young people.
- Powdered alcohol may be significantly tempting for people in recovery. Palcohol would be much easier for residents of a detox center, rehab, or sober living program to conceal and use without detection. The fact that it’s cheap and convenient to transport could also increase their risk for relapse and make it very difficult to stay sober.
- There are still many unknown factors and effects of powdered alcohol. Since powdered alcohol is a relatively new product, experts still aren’t sure what type of long-term effects it may have. Many unknown factors leave lingering questions and consuming powdered alcohol with drugs like heroin, prescription painkillers, or other sedatives could have life-threatening consequences.
The Debate About Palcohol: Is Powdered Alcohol Safe?
Like any new drug, many people are still unsure if powdered alcohol is safe for human consumption and regular use. Supporters of Palcohol argue that, just like traditional liquid alcohol, powdered alcohol comes with the risks of overconsumption and polydrug use. Despite the risks, some people argue that using the substance safely is the responsibility of the consumer and no one else.
On the other hand, many state lawmakers oppose the powdered form of alcohol. According to Men’s Health, New York Senator Chuck Schumer called it “Kool-Aid for underage drinking” and asked the FDA to stop production.4
Health experts are also hesitant to endorse powdered alcohol as being safer than liquid alcohol, despite the claims of Palcohol manufacturer, Lipsmark. Because the physical effects of the product are still largely unknown, some health experts say they want to know more about the associated health risks before lawmakers permit state or country-wide sales and distribution of powdered alcohol.
Is Palcohol Legal?
Looking for Palcohol in Texas? No matter how hard you look, you won’t find it in Texas stores just yet. However, there is also no statewide ban on powdered alcohol in Texas. As of March 2017, Texas legislators are pushing to regulate the sale of powdered alcohol in Texas. Authors of one of the debated House bills say the bill is meant to protect youth by regulating the sale of powdered alcohol like other alcoholic beverages in Texas.5
As of May 2017, the National Conference of State Legislatures reports 35 different states have banned powdered alcohol.3 The sale of Palcohol is currently illegal in the following states:
- The District of Columbia
- Maryland* (temporary two-year statutory ban)
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
In Colorado, Delaware, and New Mexico, powdered alcohol is regulated under the existing alcohol laws.
Alcohol Abuse: Dangerous in Any Form
Despite the ongoing debate about the use of powdered alcohol in the U.S., the truth remains: alcohol abuse is dangerous in any form. Long-term abuse of alcohol can lead to physical tolerance, dependence, and addiction.
If you or a loved one is suffering from alcohol addiction or alcohol use disorder (AUD), the caring addiction treatment professionals at Briarwood Detox Center can help you begin your new life in recovery with a medication-assisted alcohol detox program. Although alcohol detox is notoriously uncomfortable and dangerous, our medically-assisted alcohol detox program ensures the comfort and safety of all clients.
Once you’re enrolled in an alcohol detox program, you’ll also have the chance to participate in individual and group therapy to begin chipping away at the underlying behavioral, social, and psychological causes of your alcohol addiction.