Alcoholics taught to brew beer to ‘stop them drinking mouthwash’

20th February, 2014 by Lauren Eads

A drug centre in Canada has taken to teaching alcoholics how to brew their own beer to stop them from turning to “rubbish” alternatives such as hand sanitizer and mouthwash.

BeerThe Drug Users Resource Centre in Vancouver is a not for profit organisation which helps the homeless and those with substance abuse issues, previously hit the headlines for installing Canada’s first crack pipe vending machine.

Now it has launched what is believed to be north America’s first program teaching alcoholics how to brew their own beer and wine, according to a report in Vancouver’s National Post.  

Mark Townsend, director of the Portland Hotel Society which operated the publicly funded centre, told the paper the idea was to keep Vancouver’s homeless alcoholics from turning to “rubbish” sources of alcohol like hand sanitizer or mouthwash, which he said was better than drinking rubbing alcohol.

Launched six months ago, the alcohol co-op supplies members with five litres of home-brewed beer or wine each month – the equivalent of 14 regular-sized cans.

To qualify, members must pay a $10 monthly fee, mix and bottle the batches themselves, and be members of the centre’s Drinker’s Lounge – a support group for about 90 alcoholics.

Townsend said the increased availability of the co-op’s beer has decreased violence in the area fuelled by alcohol while some of its members suggested the scheme had also reduced the urge to steal alcohol and provided a healthier alternative to other sources of alcohol.

One member, Kevin, told the National Post that drinking home-made beer was better than “drinking rub [rubbing alcohol] or some bottle I found in a bin somewhere.”

The regular brewing sessions, which use pre-hopped beer kits, have seen members brew Dutch lager and honey lager, and also Chardonnay wine.

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