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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Safe-Drinking Programs for the Homeless

Alcohol is the cheapest drug in the world, so then it makes sense that it would be used by more individuals than any other drug. Homeless alcoholics, bottom of the barrel drunks, will ingest just about anything with alcohol; from mouthwash right down to rubbing alcohol (isopropyl); if it has alcohol in it then it's fair game. While a number of people have suggested raising the price of alcohol to make it harder for alcoholics to get their drug, others believe that there should be centers where homeless alcoholics could go to get free booze. The idea being that if homeless people didn't have to pay for alcohol they would not drink dangerous products that contain traces of alcohol.

A Safe-drinking program is plan devised by researchers at the centre at the University of Victoria who believe that if countries continue to raise the price of alcohol we will see the homeless ingesting more and more harmful substances, anything from rubbing alcohol to antifreeze. "These are ghastly things, they're terrible things for their bodies," said lead researcher Tim Stockwell of the non-beverage alcohol. "If you're addicted and you're getting withdrawal symptoms ... people will get desperate and they'll do desperate things." People in the grips of addiction will do just about anything to get their "fix", if they can no longer afford their drug of choice they will use just about anything despite the apparent consequences.

Programs, like those for safe-drinking, would not be all that different than programs that have been set up for other groups of addicts. There are many people, I'm sure, that would have a problem with using tax-payers' money to purchase and distribute alcohol to alcoholics, but, programs like these have worked in the past to lower crime, hospital visits, and even deaths. The researchers state: "It's kind of saving money. I know people think this is crazy, spending taxpayers' money giving alcohol to this population, but we do it for methadone, for heroin addicts, why not for alcohol addicts?"

While most of the research regarding safe-drinking programs was done in Canada, researchers in the United States and even Australia have hopped on board with the idea. What are your thoughts on the subject of safe-drinking?

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