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Powdered Alcohol Could Pose Serious Threat if Allowed to Hit Store Shelves

Milford Prevention Council

There’s growing concern among poison control and addiction experts about the possibility that powdered alcohol could hit the shelves in the next few weeks.  It’s essentially freeze-dried alcohol that comes in a pouch equivalent to a shot of hard liquor, and can be re-constituted when added to water. 

   The company that makes it plans to release four varieties of Palcohol, which have been approved by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.  Upstate New York Poison Center Director Michelle Caliva says there’s just too much potential for intentional misuse…let alone unintentional poisoning.

"We're very concerned just about the accessibility of it.  In this package and in this powdered form, it makes it highly dangerous, highly accessible, and I think we're setting ourselves up for a whole lot of problems."

Philip Rose agrees.  He's Program Coordinator for Underage Drinking Prevention at the Prevention Network.


"You could take a packet of this to school, put it in some water and drink it.   It's not like you're carrying a six pack of beer into school.  It's very easy to hide and easy to use, and I think that's the big concern, as well as hiding it from parents.   It's pretty powerful stuff, and the danger is you could overuse this pretty quickly.” 


What might make Palcohol so appealing to young people are the same reasons why people like Caliva with the poison center are so worried. 

"I just did several lectures over the last couple of days to health care providers, we've been talking about it.  They, too express the same concern and discomfort with it.  They think they will end up seeing a lot of poisonings  in their emergency departments because of it."

Caliva says there’s an especially high risk of poisoning among small children who might get a hold of a packet and ingest its contents.  Rose with the Prevention Network says it's still too soon to know if powdered alcohol will be the next drug trend.  

"This is the newest thing on the block, and so there's always a fascination with it.  We don't know if it's going to have any staying power.  We don't know if it's something that's going to catch on, or if people are really going to use it.  Not enough research has been done yet to even find out what the long term impact of these particular substances are on individuals."

Philip Rose with the Prevention Network says the alcohol industry spends $6 billion a year on advertising. He says that's what they're up against as they battle a sophisticated industry that knows its audience very well.

Senator Chuck Schumer says the Food and Drug Administration has ignored his calls to investigate the dangers of powdered alcohol.  So, he has proposed legislation that would ban the production, sale, distribution, and possession of the product.  

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at