Post by Bill Chappell, The Two-Way at NPR (2/22/2014)
Call it a new twist on the old "teach a man to fish" adage. A group in Vancouver, British Columbia, is teaching inveterate alcoholics to brew their own beer and make their own wine, in an attempt to keep them from drinking unsafe liquids to get an alcoholic high.
The project is the work of the Portland Hotel Society, which works to help people who suffer from mental illness and addictions in downtown Vancouver. News of the beer and wine project is spreading weeks after the publicly funded group's Drug Users Resource Center unveiled a coin-operated machine that dispenses crack pipes for 25 cents.
The Portland Hotel Society's leaders say they want to provide safe alternatives to people who might otherwise be forced into risky and unsafe behavior — everything from shoplifting booze to drinking any substance they can find that contains alcohol.
"Obviously, we'd rather they didn't drink," the society's executive director, Mark Townsend, tells the Vancouver Sun. "But if they do, we'd rather they didn't drink hand sanitizer."