Wow, if this gets the nod of approval I’m thinking they better be expecting long line ups and most likely more trouble than the whole idea is worth.
It started with the offering of free needles and the provision of “safe houses” when some Vancouver residents took it upon themselves to see that drug addicts were kept safe while indulging in their bad habits. The latest initiative though, in my opinion, is taking things too far.
Rob Morgan, a First Nations man from a reserve near Terrace, BC, is hoping to kick it up a notch. According to Morgan, when you wake up after getting drunk on hand sanitizer (or the like) it feels as though your kidneys are bulging out of your body. The more you ingest it, you will see a sparkling light at the edge of your eyes, which apparently is the first step towards blindness. Hmmm... Solution? Don’t drink the stuff!
Morgan’s solution? For those who can’t afford the liquor store and insist on quick fixes like rubbing alcohol and lysol – a free lounge of course – stocked with vodka, sherry and high test beer and open to all accepted and deemed to have a problem. Really?
Morgan, along with about 40 other members of the “Eastside Illicit Drinkers Group for Education” see this as the next step in Vancouver’s harm reduction movement, similar to a supervised injection site. At present Morgan says addicts are turning over their welfare cheques to illicit booze brokers, adding he sees “dealers” carrying large vats of hand sanitizer stolen from hospitals. He also knows a number of peers who have died from alcohol poisoning, freezing to death outside, or “getting shanked” in an argument stemming from the fast and powerful buzz that comes from drinking illicit booze. “I myself, am one of the ones that suffers,” he says. “Each one of us wakes up with those demons staring at us in our face, and that’s why we drink it.”
These people DO have problems. But do you think providing them with free liquor in a lounge setting is the solution? Given that comfort and luxury how will they EVER become sober and productive? Or are we the taxpayers to support this type of behaviour for as long as they choose? The government has already kicked in $52,000 for a research grant to study the benefits of alcohol maintenance programs in BC and the Eastside drinkers group estimates if they can get $350 a month per drinker they can make this program fly. If this goes ahead, what’s next? Free brothels perhaps? Government funded gambler getaways? There are problems that need addressing but free alcohol is not the answer.