06 January 2014

Amsterdam pays alcoholics with beers

Classify this as "thinking out of the box" -
Alcoholics are being paid in beer to clean the streets of Amsterdam as part of a project partly funded by the Dutch government - the organisers think other countries should abandon "old-fashioned political correctness" and adopt the same approach...

"It's quite difficult to get these people off the alcohol completely. We have tried everything else. Now this is the only thing that works. We might not make them better, but we are giving them a better quality of life and it's better for the neighbourhood, they're giving something back to society."...

And all of the residents we spoke to said they were happy with the government supporting this unconventional approach.


  1. This is smarter than you think.

    Some years ago, recovering from very serious surgical complications, I was blessed to be placed on painkillers for the first time in my life (at least of sufficient dose to register). Wow! I was the best "me" I'd ever been. Kinder, gentler, yet not at all babbling or irrational. About the only thing I didn't do (though I feel confident I would likely have done fine) was drive, since that could actually hurt someone.

    At some point, although I cannot say that I became addicted, I was taking the pills not so much to end the pain (it had gradually diminished over the weeks), but to enjoy the mood enhancing benefits of the narcotic painkillers.

    At some point, I realized that I was finding myself "concerned" when my pills started running low. I didn't want to go on vacation without my pills, etc.--even though they were really not for pain anymore. (Yes, I realize that sounds an awful lot like addiction, but I didn't suffer any withdrawals worse than being bummed out at not having any more pills.)

    I finally put two-and-two together. I realized that the only stress that bothered me was the thought of running out of pills! I wouldn't have worried about anything on earth, I don't suppose, if I KNEW that there would ALWAYS be a sufficient amount of pills available for me.

    I never bought any drugs illegally, etc. All were through legitimate prescriptions (even though my doctor might have been a few weeks more long-suffering than another might have been). But I now had an insight into what drives addicts! I realized that, like me, an addict feels he or she so needs the drugs that once the high begins to wear off, there ENTIRE WORLD COMPRESSES INTO THE SINGLE FOCAL POINT OF GETTING MORE DRUGS. (Again, I may be flattering myself that I was not addicted--but there was certainly enough of the feeling there to understand addiction.)

    These addicts could likely function at a very high and productive level...if they didn't spend so much time and bandwidth on trying to get the next "fix." It robs them of being able to stay on the job, of being productive elsewhere--they are too focused on getting that next pill. They THINK that if they get the next pill, THEN they can be productive, but what likely happens is they are so relieved to get it, they just enjoy the high...then resort to trying to find the next fix.

    I would be willing to bet that if a drug addict KNEW (was guaranteed) that there would be sufficient drugs available for them after work, etc., it would change everything. EVERYTHING. Yes, you'll always have the ones who will drink or drug themselves into a helpless stupor, but most, I think, if they were confident that that part of their life was taken care of, could then take care of other parts of their life.

    I read of heroin addicts who, given free drugs, begin to make improvements. They now began to examine their lives, make changes, etc.--even to get off of drugs. They now had the time and bandwidth to actually think about such things.

    So maybe paying in beer is actually a way forward?

    1. A very interesting and insightful viewpoint. Thanks, anon.


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