Scotland trials free alcohol for alcoholics

A plan to ‘stabilise’ alcoholics by giving them regular measures of alcohol is to be trialled in Scotland.

The new project will mimic an initiative in Canada, where alcoholics are given white wine.

A nurse dispenses the wine every hour, unless the recipient is already inebriated.


Brian McMahon, one of the alcoholics using the service, has been on a ‘managed alcohol programme’ for 14 months.

He says he hopes to one day get off alcohol altogether. But the project’s founders say abstinence is not the aim of the programme. Instead the project aims to stop alcoholics drinking paint thinner and hand sanitiser.

Professor Jonathan Chick, Medical Director at Castle Craig Hospital, which deals with people with alcohol and drug-abuse problems, was critical of the plan.

He said Canada has a problem with people drinking non-beverage alcohol, an issue that Scotland does not have, and called for greater investment in traditional abstinence programmes.


Karyn McCluskey, who runs Community Justice Scotland, hopes a pilot facility could help reduce drink-related deaths in Scotland.

She believes alcoholics will drink less, that their health will improve, and they will be less of a drain on public resources.