Canadian program providing daily doses of alcohol to heavy drinkers sparks envy
VANCOUVER – A radical treatment that provides daily doses of alcohol to people struggling with problem drinking in several Canadian cities is getting attention from other countries wanting to emulate its success.
Two mugs of beer at a tavern in Montpelier, Vt. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)
Bernie Pauly, a scientist at the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research at the University of Victoria, is heading to Scotland in two weeks to speak about a study showing multiple benefits of managed alcohol programs.
A variety of about 20 programs are offered in cities including Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton and Thunder Bay, Ont., with some providing shelter or housing to participants who get about a dozen drinks of wine or other alcohol daily, often through medical supervision.
Programs linked to housing offer people stability and safety from violence on the streets and are included in the ongoing study, Pauly said.
“We sometimes describe it as a made-in-Canada example as a response to those issues, and other countries are interested,” she said, adding Australia has begun a feasibility study to determine if it can implement a managed alcohol program.
“We’ve had calls from places in Africa that are interested in what we’re doing because worldwide alcohol use and related harms are responsible for some of the highest proportions of morbidity and mortality,” said Pauly, who is also an associate professor of nursing at the university.
She and other researchers at the institute have written four papers featured in this month’s special issue of the Drug and Alcohol Review as part of the Canadian Managed Alcohol Program Study.