Through a Canadian community services organization, alcoholics are learning how to make beer and wine, an effort to stop them from guzzling products containing alcohol that are not safe for human consumption.
The Vancouver Sun and The National Post report that The Portland Hotel Society runs “The Drinkers’ Lounge” at the Drug Users Resource Centre in Vancouver, where members pay about $10 for a beer or wine-making kit. A brewmaster walks them through the fermentation process, and in a month, they get to take home the alcohol they make while also donating a portion of it to an alcohol exchange in which members can swap alcoholic substances like hand sanitizer, rubbing alcohol, or mouthwash for safe beverages.
Mark Townsend, Executive Director of the Portland Hotel Society, told the CBC that bringing members together gives them both a “sense of pride” and a sense of community that they may be lacking. Members also reportedly attend meetings in order to be part of the Drinkers’ Lounge.
The Portland Hotel Society also went viral last week because it maintains a crack pipe vending machine at the Drug Users Resource Centre that is designed to halt the spread of disease by improving access to safer drug paraphernalia.
Both efforts are reminiscent of a 2009 British trial that gave daily heroin injections to heroin addicts to reduce street crime levels, and more recently, an Amsterdam initiative in which homeless alcoholics are given beer in exchange for cleaning up the city’s parks, giving their lives structure and reducing the number of incidents in public spaces. For alcoholics, these programs conducted in controlled settings are supposed to be first steps to pursuing healthier lifestyles.