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How is powdered alcohol abused?

Recently, for the first time in the history of the United States, powdered alcohol products have gotten the green light for sale. These alcoholic powders are intended to be used by mixing them in water. However, a real concern is raised about different types of alcohol abuse, and that alcohol may soon even be snorted. Because of this, many States are already moving to ban the manufacturing, importation, and sale of powdered alcohol.

In this article we review the history and manufacturing of powdered alcohol, and its potential for abuse. Continue reading and let us know what you think by leaving your questions and concerns in the comments section at the end of the page.

What is powdered alcohol?

Powdered alcohol is produced when alcohol is absorbed by a sugar derivative called dextrin, and is later put through an encapsulation process. The mechanism is simple, since certain sugar derivatives can be used to trap ethanol and create powder. When the powder is stored in well-sealed containers, it can stay in powdery state until it’s mixed with water or any other liquid. Dextrin, in particular, can hold up to 60% of it’s own weight in alcohol.

Powdered alcohol approval

Powdered alcohol made news when it started to be sold in Europe. The concerning fact is that it was generally marketed and geared specifically towards teenagers. Now that powdered alcohol is approved in the US, many are worried the target group are once again teens. It comes in flavors that would appeal to the underage population, plus the package is easily concealable, which doesn’t make this concern unjustifiable.

Powdered alcohol abuse risks

Concerned government officials and public health and safety experts have already pointed out that powdered alcohol products hold potential to be used in risky manners, with dangerous alcohol effects. Here are some examples:

1. The encapsulating process doesn’t prevent users from breaking the capsule and using the powder in ways this product was not intended to be consumed.

2. Powdered alcohol products can be snorted, combined with other products that contain alcohol, or given to someone who is not aware what they are ingesting. These facts also raised concerns for the law enforcement.

3. Consumers can combine several packages of powdered alcohol together, or mix the alcoholic powder with liquid alcohol or energy drinks. The potential for overuse is real, but scientists have no evidence how potent these created beverages would be or what are the side-effects and dangers of such combinations.

4. It can be easier for youth to obtain, use and abuse powdered alcohol than liquor or other alcoholic beverages. The risk is even bigger when the potential outcomes of powdered alcohol use are still not fully explored.

Snorting powdered alcohol

Can powdered alcohol products be snorted?  YES. Although manufacturers warn against alcohol abuse and the nasal snorting their products, we all know that in the reality if it can be done-it will be done. While labels claim that it’s “impractical and painful to snort” and that “snorting is not a smart or responsible way to use powdered alcohol”, risk of abuse for curious users is high.

Still, snorting powdered alcohol is not a smart idea! The alcohol from the powder can be quickly absorbed, but it can put people at the risk of  unwanted dangers. The good news is that manufacturers are thinking of ways to make powdered alcohol hard and painful to abuse.

Powdered alcohol abuse questions

It seems that powdered alcohol products might soon be joining alcoholic whipped cream, alcoholic water, and jello-shots packages at the supermarket racks. What is your opinion? We invite you to share your thoughts and questions in the comments section below. We try to reply to all legitimate enquiries with a personal and prompt response.

Reference Sources: NABCA Research: Powdered Alcohol: An Encapsulation
MASS.gov: The Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC) Issues Advisory On Powdered Alcohol 
SHUMER: Schumer Is Introducing Legislation in Senate to Make Production, Sale & Possession of Palcohol Illegal
University of Toronto: Powdered alcohol, microencapsulation and aseptic packaging: understanding food and drink today

Photo credit: NIDA

Leave a Reply

2 Responses to “How is powdered alcohol abused?
firststepsrecovery23
9:25 pm April 13th, 2015

Many people drink alcohol as they think it’s the best way to deal with stress or emotions. the above article is good

Christopher
9:52 am May 7th, 2018

This comment is on powdered alcohol. Since I might be the only adult male in my entire lineage to NOT use alcohol, the tremors (which are worsening in my hands and arms) just might be the result of the absence of alcohol in my system. During my teen years I occasionally drank alcohol at parties, but it made the room spin and also made me vomit… so I completely stopped its use when I decided to get married. Please understand that I am not experiencing “DTs”. I’m presently sixty six years old and have not been drunk in decades. It came as an intuitive flash to me that my ancestors may have used alcohol to numb themselves against incessant racial abuse, et cetera. When I recently read on-line that alcohol has relieved intention tremors in some people, I began to wonder about the things which I mentioned above in this message. Yesterday I ordered some herbal medicine(s) which claim to relieve tremors. If it does not work for me, then I might ask a medical doctor to prescribe powdered alcohol so that I will not have to suffer the embarrassment (for me) of using liquor stores. I will probably refuse any and all Big Pharma poisons patented for profit-making at the expense of “unavoidable” side-effects on people.