Palcohol Is Nobody’s “Pal”

One important characteristic of alcohol is its sheer liquid volume. An individual could not walk into a concert with a bottle of vodka; a flask maybe, but not an enormous bottle. Further, given the volume, there are physical limits to how much a person can consume in any given time frame. Therefore, the level of intoxication may be restricted.

This is no longer the case. Recently, the The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau approved the sale of powdered alcohol. Palcohol will be available in six varieties, with each individual pouch of powder containing the equivalent of one shot of alcohol.

The manufacturers tout the benefits of this cutting edge product, claiming it will save consumers vast amounts of money, since a cocktail at a concert or sporting event could cost upwards of $20 with tax and tip. Additionally, a palcohol packet weighs about one ounce, making it highly convenient for those involved in activities such as hiking, camping and backpacking.

While the creators of palcohol focus on benefits, we in the behavioral health industry consider the liabilities. These include the very strong possibility that the product will be snorted to hasten intoxication, underage drinking (or snorting) will increase, and people of all ages will smuggle it into areas where alcohol is not allowed.

When asked about such concerns, the company stated: “Our concern is to promote the responsible and legal use of the product.”

This response might have proven marginally more credible if the makers of palcohol didn’t get “caught out” recently with certain advertising verbiage on their website.

On one page, they encouraged readers to “experiment” by sprinkling Palcohol “on almost any dish” for “an extra kick”.

“Some of our favorites are the Kamikaze in guacamole, rum on a BBQ sandwich, cosmo on a salad and vodka on eggs in the morning to start your day off right.”

“Remember, you have to add Palcohol AFTER a dish is cooked as the alcohol will burn off if you cook with it… and that defeats the whole purpose.”

Regarding snorting the product, the Palcohol website read “Yes, you can snort it. And you’ll get drunk almost instantly because the alcohol will be absorbed so quickly in your nose.” Now, to their minor credit, this statement was followed by: “Good idea? No. It will mess you up.” We all know those words are music to the ears of any person with an active addiction.

Seriously, how “responsible” is it to tell someone how they can get drunk faster, and then tell them not to do it?

The manufacturers of palcohol issued a retraction and immediately deleted the advertising message from the website, since it was never meant to be viewed.

Fortunately, The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau granted Palcohol “label approval” on April 8 only to withdraw it 13 days later. The government agency said that the “label approvals were issued in error and have since been surrendered.”

This is a rare example of government actually listening to hundreds of medical and consumer advocacy groups. These are people striving to make America a healthier and safer place for the millions of those already affected by alcoholism and the millions of girls, boys, and teens with a genetic predisposition for developing this disease.