Drinking Their Way to Sobriety

By Bryan Le 02/20/12

A new program in Vancouver serves booze to acute alcoholics while gradually preparing them for detox.

The road to recovery? Photo via

The Vancouver-based Managed Alcohol Program serves wine, beer and vodka to the alcoholics it treats, once an hour from 9 am-11 pm. The idea that keeping alcoholics buzzed could help them might sound outrageous, but the new program is geared towards a unique class of acute alcoholics—and participants in the $350-a-month program are weaning their bodies off of heavy alcohol dependency while keeping severe withdrawal at bay. Most of the participants were previously abusing non-beverage alcohols like hand sanitizer, hairspray, Listerine and, especially, rubbing alcohol. "Our worst clients are drinking two or three or four of these [bottles] a day, so we're talking about 120 drinks a day," says program head Dr. Ron Joe. Through regulated, gradually reduced doses of alcohol, he hopes to get his patients to a point where they can safely start to detox. Program participants have had a measure of success so far, staying out of trouble and cutting their daily intake by roughly half, from 30 drinks to 12 a day.

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Bryan Le grew up in the 90's, so the Internet is practically his third parent. This combined with a love for journalism led him to The Fix. When he isn't fulfilling his duties as Editorial Coordinator, he's obsessing over fancy keyboards he can't justify buying. Find Bryan on LinkedIn or Twitter