A homeless shelter for alcoholics in Ottawa is practicing an unusual treatment for problem drinkers. On the hour over a daily period of 12 hours they give each alcoholic a generous glass of wine. This amounts to 72 ounces or about three bottles of wine a day.
The rationale for this unique treatment (run by medical personnel) is that it takes the worst alchoholics off the streets, their lives calm down, and daily police pickups, ambulance rides and emergency room visits are replaced with harm reduction and far better care. “The alternative”said one caregiver “ ”is drinking themselves to death”.
By giving them five ounces of wine an hour, the recipients no longer resort to drinking such harmful substances as paint thinner, mouth wash or aftershave. Once the drinking is stabilized, they then start to work on other aspects of their lives.
It also emerges that only one out of 55 gives up drinking on their own.
The people the Ottawa Centre deals with are those who have been on the streets drinking to unconsciousness for an average of 35 years.
A medical group in Montreal would like to see the “wet” program in Ottawa established in our city. Montreal has between 3,000 and 5,000 homeless people with each one costing the taxpayers $55,000 for healh care etc.
However, not everyone agrees with the Ottawa program. Cyril Morgan, director of the Welcome Hall Mission, says he’s “not convinced it’s the way to go.”
“It doesn’t wean them off, it pacifies them for the time they’re in the program. Once you take them out of that environment, then what?”
Would you like to see the Ottawa “wet” program in Montreal?
Should they give wine to alcoholics?
What do you think?
Research on the program has shown that health and hygiene improved and some participants even stopped drinking entirely. (I’m from Missouri on that one.)
It is estimated that 20 per cent of alcoholics require some kind of intervention to stop drinking. The Ottawa “wet” program targets four per cent of that group.