Everyone has his or her story -- a story of how alcohol negatively impacted his or her life or harmed someone they love. A story of the high school party that got out of control and ended with the entire school mourning the death of a classmate. A story of a family torn apart due to the destructive influence of excessive drinking. But, what is to be done?
Organizations across the state have created programs designed to support youth in making good decisions, and they do ... until the next big party happens. Or until they find themselves in a situation where they unknowingly are being exposed to risks.
And, recently, a new product has been introduced that could pose a potentially fatal risk to even the most responsible teen: powdered alcohol.
Powdered alcohol is an underage drinker's dream. It is a convenient, lightweight packet that is easy to conceal and it comes in kid friendly flavors such as "lemon drop." Currently, the Texas Legislature is deciding whether it will make a move to regulate it versus ban the product from store shelves altogether.
Consider this, if available, these small packets could allow high school students to carry a 30-pack in their make-up bag or a six-pack in their pocket. It will allow for high consumption in a short amount of time. It would be easy to misuse or over-consume because it has many applications: It can be sprinkled into water bottles, added to food, added to the beverage of an unsuspecting person or even snorted. And, multiple packets can be put into a small glass of liquid increasing the alcohol content from one alcoholic beverage to many without increasing the amount of liquid a person is drinking -- making it very easy to get very drunk, very fast.
These small packets would make it easy to bypass bag checks and scanners, and to bring alcohol into places where it is prohibited such as high school football games, classrooms, airplanes, hospitals and vehicles.
In addition to the cost of lives, underage and excessive drinking costs Texans $19 billion a year, an average of $695 per person, and puts the lives of thousands of Texans at risk every day -- which is why the newest threat to our teens should be banned without a debate. The reasons for banning should be obvious.
Texans have learned this lesson before with alcoholic energy drinks (e.g. SPARKS and Four Loko) that first were regulated and hit the shelves in 2005. In 2010 after the tragic and needless deaths of several teens, moves finally were made to pull it from the shelves, no longer to allow its sale.
Like alcoholic energy drinks, powdered alcohol can lead to extreme misuse and overconsumption at a toxic level. We do not need to repeat past mistakes.
As a state that values public safety, responsible spending, and our young people, we have to rally around a common-sense approach to powdered alcohol. A ban will ensure that this threat to our safety, and our teens, stays out of Texas. Let's act now to prevent another public health crisis.