By Dr. Karen Latimer
A powdered alcohol, was approved by a federal agency yesterday. My initial thought was, wow, that's pretty cool. I pictured the astronauts enjoying a well-deserved post moon walk cocktail, a hiker sitting atop a cliff after a long climb mixing a little Palcohol powder into his water, and me, on the beach at sunset with some friends enjoying a little easy to carry happy hour. Oh wait. Shoot! Easy to carry ... alcohol ... kids ... the possibilities are endless.
Growing up, we hid alcohol in the bottom of our overstocked shoulder bags and even in hair spray bottles. Teens today hide it in water bottles and in zip lock bags stuffed in their bras – what security guard is going to risk looking there? Kids are creative when it comes to drug and alcohol use. They are going to have a field day with this one. Even I, out of practice in under 21 year old espionage, have some ideas the most savvy parent or security guard would likely miss. This could be a problem.
I am not alone in my concerns. The criticisms of Palcohol include not only the accessibility for children, but the potential for abuse and the increased ease of drink spiking. The manufacturers of the product address and refute these possibilities on their website and claim much of the opposition is being driven by big business alcohol. They argue, "There shouldn't be a double standard. One doesn't ban a product because of irresponsible behavior by a few. " Still, a few states have already banned the sale of Palcohol.
I'm sure the lawyers hired by Palcohol are making very good, sound arguments, ones my rational side would have to agree with. But, from the mom (often irrational) perspective, I see this product as just one more thing to worry about. With one teenager and two preteens in my house, I'm no stranger to worry. I'll just add this one to the list.
The take away for me, as a parent, shouldn't be Palcohol = danger. The take away should be underage drinking continues to pose a real threat. Instead of railing against an interesting, now legal, product, I will take the steps shown time and again to decrease the chance my children will engage in risky behavior.
Open communication about drugs and alcohol needs to start early.
Check in with children often about their social life and possible struggles. You don't have to be their best friend, but stay interested and involved.
Rules and boundaries should be fair, but they must be enforced.
Family dinners are a must.
Being vigilant about the warning signs of addiction is critical.
I don't think Palcohol will significantly increase the risk my children will participate in underage drinking. It will though, be added to the conversation immediately.
Do you think it comes in chardonnay flavor?