Due in part to it’s widespread use, and in part to its nature, Alcohol causes the most harm, and cost, to society of any drug. And in terms of harm to the abuser, in various analysis, is right there in the top 5- with heroin, crack cocaine, methamphetamine, and tobacco.
An article in the press today out of Vancouver Canada, of a program- Managed Alcohol Program (MAP), which is based on a 15 year old program in Ontario Canada.
The Vancouver program gives 12 daily doses- 1 drink per hour, to 8 chronic alcoholics. These are not the people you find sitting on the barstools at closing time- these are people who will drink listerine, hand sanitizer, or rubbing alcohol to get their buzz on.
This simple program is saving lives- and taxpayer’s money. the story can be found here: http://www.timescolonist.com/health/Chronic+alcoholics+given+free+booze+Vancouver/6171903/story.html
There is also a program in Seattle WA to house chronic alcoholics, and allow them to drink. And despite the high costs- it has proven to save the taxpayer money, while at the same time improving the lives of the alcoholics. San Francisco was also looking at Seattle’s program- as SF spends 13.5 million dollars a year dealing with chronic alcoholics. And while Seattle faced similar costs- a study of the program found it saved over 4 million dollars per year.
Drugs, and drug abuse, will always be with us. The rational, and the compassionate choice, is to accept that which we can not change- and find away to both help those with the problem, and more often then not- help ourselves- by decreasing the impact on others, knwoing we are helping those we all too often write off, and more often then not, save a great deal of money in the process.
article here: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/10/03/MNMU1FL996.DTL
and study published in the Journal of the American Medical Society here: http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/301/13/1349.abstract