powdered alcohol shot

Powdered Alcohol Concerns Colleges

With powdered alcohol now legal in the United States, college campuses may have a difficult time restraining students from obtaining the drug.

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau officially approved the product, called Palcohol, to be allowed for consumption. Created by the Lipsmark company, Palcohol has created a tremendous amount of controversy as states debate the safety of the product.

According to Fox News, one package of Palcohol is equivalent to one ounce. When added with five ounces of water, a standard drink is created. Varieties of powdered vodka, rum, cosmopolitans, mojitos, ‘powderitas,’ and lemon drops are available for purchase. Each packet contains 55 percent alcohol by weight and 10 percent alcohol by volume when added to water.

Palcohol, which will be available for purchase starting summer 2015, has already been banned in states such as South Carolina, Louisiana, and Vermont, and has faced obstructive legislation in states such as Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Massachusetts.

As stated in a USA Today article published on March 17, the product, created by Mark Phillips, was invented after Phillips and his friends’ desired alcohol following long hiking trips. Since traditional bottles were too heavy to carry uphill, Phillips sought a new, more convenient method of transporting alcohol. Therefore, he designed the powdered alcohol which does not weigh him down. 

Nonetheless, it is only a matter of time before the product is introduced to college campuses, and many ramifications are feared. As underage drinking is already a primary concern of many colleges, powdered alcohol threatens the safety of students nationwide.

Whereas bottled alcohol can be easily identified, powdered alcohol can go unnoticed and may leave little to no trace. Therefore, students can walk around campus with alcohol, virtually unnoticed

Suanne Schaad, the University’s Substance Awareness Coordinator, noted that there is no necessary “need” for the product and it simply opens the door for abuse. “Of course, it will make it easier for people to ‘sneak’ around with it.  Detection of its use will make it harder for any law enforcement to identify as well,” said Schaad. 

“And who is to say that people won’t mix it with other alcohol or add more powder than recommended as a standard drink.  Will people be adding it to jungle juices and punches too for that extra alcohol kick? Only time will tell the potential ramifications of this new product,” continued Schaad.

Schaad noted that if the product is used as recommended, it may not pose a serious problem. However, she added that she wonders how many people will truly follow the recommended amounts.

The product is designed to be mixed with water to create an alcoholic beverage; however, some detractors fear that bold students will mix the powder with an already alcoholic beverage, thus making the drink more potent. Additionally, it is feared that predators may sprinkle the substance into open drinks, unbeknownst to a potential victim. 

Freshman software engineering major Claudia Ondecker said that she fears Palcohol may be very dangerous if brought onto the Monmouth University campus, as there are many factors that may be used against other students. “I definitely think that it will affect college students’ drinking habits because it is obviously much more convenient and easier to hide than the normal bottled alcohol,” she said. “But I can see where the problem is in that if the wrong kind of person has it, they can get someone more drunk than they intend to be by slipping it in their drink, and that’s pretty scary to me.” 

With underage drinking already a major problem for many colleges across the nation, Schaad believes that a new, more covert form of transporting and consuming alcohol will only magnify the dangers of drinking.

Despite the obvious concerns regarding the products misuse, some students believe the product may not be entirely bad. Freshman criminal justice student Jeremy Colon said he believes that while the product will make it simpler for students to obtain and consume alcohol, it will follow one of two courses if it is introduced on campus.

“Maybe such easy access to alcohol will bore kids since it no longer has that ‘keep your hands out of the cookie jar’ effect,” said Colon. “Then again, maybe such easy access will lead to the product being abused and kids will start using this powder at inappropriate times such as class or events.”

Colon also noted that Palcohol may be used as a predatory strategy, as the un-noticeability of the product provides people with opportunities to drug unsuspecting party-goers.

Schaad urged readers to remember the statewide Good Samaritan Policy and Law, which states that if anyone ingests alcohol or other drugs to a dangerous level and is in need of medical attention, a bystander can call for help and neither party will face legal troubles.

Additionally, there is free and confidential alcohol and other drug counseling at the Office of Substance Awareness in the Health Center at (732) 263-5804.

PHOTO TAKEN from wggb.com