A Canadian scheme that tries to stabilise alcoholics by giving them measured quantities of wine is to be examined in Scotland.
As soon as an hour, residents of the Managed Alcohol Venture in downtown Ottawa line up for what is known as “the pour”.
They take their mugs, emblazoned with the names of ice hockey groups and native cafes, to get a glass of white wine.
The wine is made in plastic barrels by residents up the highway on the Oaks undertaking the place longer-term purchasers dwell.
Earlier than the pour – which takes place between 07:30 and 21:30 – there’s a fast evaluation by the nurse on responsibility. If they’re intoxicated, they don’t get their measure.
Based mostly on the Canadian expertise, a pilot undertaking is being arrange in Glasgow.
In Ottawa a bunch of individuals dwell in shared rooms the place they’re studying to stabilise their lifelong addictions to alcohol.
The setting is semi-clinical, however one notable distinction is that the hand sanitiser on the wall has been changed with sunscreen as a result of the residents have been consuming it for its alcohol content material.
Brian McMahon is cooking spaghetti on the undertaking for folks he has solely simply met lately met, however considers to be his associates.
He used to run a bakery and took delight within the recognition of his home made apple pies. However whereas he labored, he drank closely.
The 46-year-old comes from a household of alcoholics and has been consuming since he was eight.
His consuming obtained so dangerous that his physique would go into seizures with out alcohol. He misplaced his job and ended up homeless.
“I began passing out within the snow and on the streets,” he instructed BBC Scotland’s The Nine. “I began getting put in ambulances and hospitalised.”
Brian says that after one alcoholic seizure he ran out of the hospital because the doorways opened at 7am, desperately looking for a drink.
Whereas attempting to find alcohol he discovered one other homeless man buried underneath the snow of a freezing Canadian winter. “Simply his boots have been displaying,” he says.
Brian dragged him throughout the snow to the hospital he had simply run away from. He doesn’t know if the person survived however for Brian it was a wake-up name.
After 14 months on the managed alcohol programme, Brian is speaking about his hopes of getting again to work and coming off alcohol altogether.
Abstinence is a possible impact of the undertaking, however not essentially its general intention.
The intention is to stabilise folks’s habit, cease them from consuming paint thinner and hand sanitiser, cease them passing out on the streets, and provides them some dignity, says Dr Jeff Turnbull.
He and nurse Wendy Muckle arrange the Managed Alcohol Venture (MAP) after 4 folks died on the streets of Ottawa in a brief house of time and a widely known homeless “character” referred to as Eugene had all of his toes amputated after passing out drunk in a doorway. Eugene launched himself from hospital and ran out within the snow in his bandaged stubs to get his subsequent drink.
Ms Muckle explains that Dr Turnbull chased Eugene down the road with a vial of antibiotics in a determined bid to maintain him alive.
That, they are saying, was once they realised they wanted to do one thing totally different.
The concept was to cease alcoholics fascinated about the place they may get their subsequent drink by offering it for them.
To start with the undertaking had little finances and assets however 19 years later they’ve native and central authorities funding and two residential centres in Ottawa for chronically alcoholic homeless folks.
There are actually 14 MAPs throughout Canada and plans to construct extra.
It’s a hurt discount mannequin which, when some folks first heard about it, led to demise threats for Dr Turnbull.
Curiously, he says, a few of their largest critics have change into their strongest advocates.
The native police chief formally opened the Oaks undertaking after seeing the advantages for his personal officers who not need to spend hours and hours taking drunk folks to hospital or police cells.
As a substitute they take them on to the specialist workforce at MAP.
In response to accusations that persons are simply being parked on alcohol, she responds by asking if diabetics are being parked on insulin. Her level is that alcoholism is a illness, which for some can’t be cured.
She says it’s about offering folks with some high quality of life and a group.
Why do it in Scotland?
Karyn McCluskey is well-known for her management of Scotland’s Violence Discount Unit, which cracked down on Glasgow’s knife crime charges, and now runs Group Justice Scotland.
She additionally volunteers with homeless charity the Simon Group and has seen first hand folks dying on the streets of Glasgow due to alcohol.
Ms McCluskey visited the undertaking in Canada to see the way it may work in Scotland and was impressed. When she returned, she checked out seven males who would match the profile in Glasgow – homeless, hooked on alcohol and who had had a number of failed remedy makes an attempt.
She discovered that within the earlier three years these seven males had been recorded for 1,630 crimes. One had been taken to Glasgow Royal Infirmary 427 occasions. They have been costing providers a whole bunch of 1000’s of kilos.
Ms McCluskey admits the pilot scheme could have its critics however says no-one has provide you with an alternate apart from letting folks drain public assets after which die on the streets.
“The proof is that they may drink much less and that their well being is best and so they use a lot much less public assets,” she mentioned.
For the Glasgow pilot undertaking there’s already a constructing and a steering group in place, made up of well being and justice consultants together with Ms McCluskey.
However there are going to be critics.
Prof Jonathan Chick is medical director at Citadel Craig Hospital within the Scottish Borders, which treats folks affected by alcohol and drug addictions.
He says Canada has particular issues with folks consuming non-beverage alcohol – which Scotland doesn’t.
Prof Chick mentioned he wouldn’t assist the introduction of a MAP in Scotland, and would like to see higher funding in conventional abstinence programmes.
- For those who’re involved about habit, BBC Action Line has assist and assist.