Managed-Alcohol Programs in Canada… A new take on MAT, but perhaps a good one

managed-alcohol-programIn a converted hotel in the west of the city of Ottawa, a quiet, orderly queue snakes around the reception area. The men and women are mostly middle-aged or older. Some of them use sticks, walkers or wheelchairs, their health fragile after a lifetime of booze. But it is their hands that stand out – scarred, bruised or swollen, their fingernails chipped or bitten to the quick. All clutch a cup, mug, glass or flask. Any receptacle will do.

At exactly half past the hour, what’s known as “the pour” begins. A measure of Californian white – 13% alcohol, made on the premises – is measured into a jug from a draft tap behind the counter. One at a time, the wine is dispensed to nearly 50 alcoholics. For the first pour at 7.30am, most residents get a kickstarter of 7oz – nearly 200ml, a larger-than-average sized glass of wine in Europe. For the rest of the day until 9.30pm, they are given 5oz – just over 140ml.

Elisa Pewheoalook is next in line, a white ceramic cup at the ready. He is from Pond Inlet, an Inuit town in Canada’s north, and has been drinking for 40 of his 53 years – a life blighted by alcohol.

“It’s not bad, the wine here,” he says. “Out on the streets I was drinking mouthwash, hairspray. It didn’t taste good, but all I wanted was the effect. I don’t drink that stuff anymore – it makes me feel sick to think of it. And I drink much less here.”

Read the whole article HERE!


When will we wake up here in the U.S?  I will admit that indeed, I have adopted a more, what would appear to be, radicalized view towards addiction in general lately.  This all comes down to the fact that the appropriation of funds in order to fight a period of time that has not yet ended (called the “War on Drugs” in 1971) is clearly not working.  It really has not ever proven successful if you think about it.  In fact, it’s been decades that our nation’s police force and DEA have been fighting this elusive “war.”  Harm reduction (or harm minimization) might just be the way to go.  Of course, the US has started doing it here and there, in some respects.  Many states have needle exchange programs now; hey, even methadone & Suboxone clinics are considered your more time-honored examples of harm reduction.


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