In the primary challenge of its sort in Scotland, a challenge in Glasgow goals to stabilise alcoholics by giving them alcohol.
It is 10:00 and Peter is getting his first “pour” of the day – an agreed measure of lager deemed enough to curb his cravings to binge.
Peter is 60 and has been a persistent alcoholic since he was an adolescent.
He is one among 10 males on the Managed Alcohol Programme (MAP) in Glasgow, which is predicated on a mannequin utilized in Canada I visited three years in the past.
It is for probably the most chaotic homeless alcoholics who’ve already tried and failed conventional abstinence programmes.
Every hour or two hours the residents are given a measure of wine or beer to maintain enough alcohol of their bloodstream to forestall a seizure however not sufficient to get them drunk.
In addition they get a home, stability and a few construction, the possibility to have interaction with psychological well being providers and develop their pursuits.
The proposal was controversial with some but it surely has now been up and operating for 12 months.
For the previous few months now we have had unique entry to the pilot.
‘I feel I used to be an alcoholic once I was 16’
The first time we go in with the digital camera in October 2022 one resident appears slightly inebriated, lurching from wall to wall.
There’s been an argument between one man who has been shopping for additional alcohol and one other who’s attempting his greatest to scale back his consumption.
Peter admits he has had lots to drink. His greatest pal has simply died from an alcohol-related sickness. He would not wish to die the identical manner however for in the present day, he’s drowning his ache.
He says: “I think I was an alcoholic when I was 16, because I used to drink two bottles of wine, two bottles of Buckfast every night with my mum.” She purchased it for him, he says.
When we return two weeks later, Peter is doing higher.
He has been to the dentist for the primary time in many years, began consuming meals, and getting in contact together with his household after years of silence and disgrace.
Every Monday he has a music lesson. His voice – deep and hoarse – tells a narrative in itself.
I ask him the place he could be if he wasn’t right here.
“I’d be dead,” he says. “Because I just kept doing it – buying drink. This has helped me a lot, this place.”
Now, eight months after he entered the home, Peter is speaking about getting a flat of his personal and a canine.
‘My physique is not going to take far more’
Paul is making lunch for himself and the opposite residents. Pork chops, mashed potatoes and greens. Eating scorching meals collectively is likely one of the advantages of the programme.
The 51-year-old says he has an urge for food for the primary time in many years.
He spent a lot of his childhood in hospital due to a critical pores and skin situation.
Paul says he already had an issue with alcohol by the point he was an adolescent. When he was referred to the MAP he says he was consuming round 30 items – equal to almost a bottle of vodka – a day.
“I was seeing the police every day because I was doing my drinking on the street,” he says. “I was getting lifted by the police every Friday or Saturday.
“I would like to start out slowing down. My physique is not going to take far more. This place has opened my eyes to that.”
After lunch he receives his ‘pour’ – a can of lager in his room. He sips it while sketching Glasgow’s iconic statue of the Duke of Wellington with a traffic cone on his head.
“I’m a wee bit happier, consider it or not, however the factor is once you come out of drunkenness after 20 or 30 years then your regrets come again as nicely,” he says. “You realise what a multitude you’ve gotten fabricated from your life. And then the guilt is available in.”
Paul says he feels much more positive about his future.
But just the next day staff say his drinking and behaviour spirals out of control and he is asked to leave the project.
Bumps alongside the way in which
For some the MAP will not work. Paul and another man have already been told to leave the project and a third has left through mutual agreement.
Manager Peter McLachlan says the first year has been a “studying curve” with “bumps” alongside the way in which.
“For some guys this may not be the proper place, it may not be the proper therapy, they may not be prepared for it at this explicit time,” he says.
But those still in the service have significantly cut their drinking, Mr McLachlan says. They have started to look after themselves, started going to the dentist, optician, and GP, and significantly reduced their run-ins with police and paramedics.
Not every applicant is accepted. Blood tests, liver scans and psychological assessments are done to see if the men are physically strong enough.
The financial argument
The project is funded by the homeless charity the Simon Community with support from the Scottish government.
Not everybody supported the thought or methodology.
The men choose and buy their own alcohol and pay for it with their benefits.
Traditionally alcohol rehabilitation has focused on detox but views have changed since the MAP opened and there is already interest from other areas in Scotland, England and other European countries.
Karyn McCluskey, the head of Community Justice Scotland, was behind piloting the Canadian model here.
She analysed the cost to emergency services of these men street-drinking before they entered the project and believes the cost of not having the MAP would run into “hundreds of thousands” of kilos.
“One of the boys that I checked out had been taken to Glasgow Royal Infirmary by ambulance over 400 occasions in a interval of two and a bit years,” she tells the BBC.
“That is extortionate. I imply critical quantities of cash. Probably hundreds of thousands.”
She says some folks could have a “visceral response” to the MAP but that telling these men to stop has not worked.
She says: “The tears of their kids and households would have made them cease however they cannot so now we have to attempt to give them much less.”