The Pour Update : Treating Alcoholics with Wine – The Fifth Estate
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The Pour Update : Treating Alcoholics with Wine – The Fifth Estate


[ ♪♪ ] [ ♪♪ ]>>Mark: I’m heading
out with this group of homeless alcoholics,
armed with a chainsaw, on a mission to cut
down a Christmas tree. What could possibly go wrong?>>How many trees?>>Mark: These are
familiar faces to me. They’re staff and residents of an alcohol treatment
centre in Ottawa. These alcoholics have been
called the worst of the worst. Inveterate drinkers who
have failed that all traditional attempts to sober up, but
on this day, as they search for the perfect
Christmas tree to take back to their shelter,
the possibilities seem as endless as the
rolling countryside. [ ♪♪ ] [ ♪♪ ]>>Mark: I came here
one year ago to meet them. It’s called The Oaks. A residence for people in the Managed Alcohol Program,
or MAP. It seems so unconventional,
treating alcoholics with alcohol. So is this how
you start every day?>>Yep.>>Mark: First thing,
shortly after 7:30, you’re here for that drink?>>Yeah.>>Mark: From 7:30 AM
to 9:30 PM, every hour, residents here
line up for a drink. It’s known as ‘The Pour’. Each drink is measured
to the ounce like medicine to treat their addiction,
not cure it. So you see the alcohol
here like a medical dose? That’s the way you look at it?>>Yeah.
That’s how it is. Because for them,
for some of them, when they get up in the morning,
if they don’t get it, they will start shaking.>>Mark: This is all about
harm reduction and cost savings. This program keeps them out
of hospital emergency rooms or the police drunk tank. Dr Jeff Turnbull,
co-founder of the program, says this keeps
them safe, if not sober.>>This is not good for anybody. And we see the
consequences of that. They’re drinking
less than they were, um… But what do you do
when somebody doesn’t, can’t, or won’t stop drinking? Do you then abandon them? And we don’t do that in
palliative care when somebody’s failed their chemotherapy. We don’t say,
we can’t do anything further. We say, no, we can
still care for you.>>Look at that beautiful thing. Here. You go like that. Spank it like it’s hot.>>Mark: The MAP
program is based on the ‘Peter Principle’. And this is Peter. And this is what he looked
like when I met him last year. Beaten up, panhandling downtown, by his own brother,
fighting over five bucks.>>I’ll go really slow
taking of the bandage, okay? Seems like you
have a rough time, Peter, when you go downtown, eh?>>Well, yeah, I come
back with something new.>>Yeah.>>Mark: A year ago,
he was always the first in line for The Pour. A year later, he still is. But Peter lets me know
he’s a changed man.>>Bob: Are you
staying out of trouble?>>Define “trouble”.>>Bob: Well, how about
getting…beaten up and having to go to the hospital?>>I haven’t been downtown,
like around Rideau Street for months now. I’ve been staying up here
and I don’t pan handle anymore. I retired.>>Bob: But are
you feeling better?>>I’m feeling all right, yeah. I’m getting my teeth cleaned. They may be white but
they’ll still look like shit.>>Mark: But you’re
getting them cleaned?>>Yeah, I have,
what do you call it? This Monday, I have,
these things appointment. And then on Friday coming up, I’ll have my eyes
looked at by a doctor and see if I get glasses or not.>>Mark: You’re getting
all fixed up.>>Yeah, pretty much, yeah.>>Mark: It’s like a
new and improved Peter.>>Yeah.
I even have a PS2 in my bedroom.>>Mark: Oh, wow.>>And he gets five regular.>>Mark: It’s hard
to believe in change. Especially in a place where
time is measured in ounces and routine is the key
to keeping people alive. People like Jimmy. I can’t forget the first
time we met last year.>>I wrote a song about my
life, and rather than say it, or try to tell you
what my life was like, I wouldn’t mind
singing it to you.>>Mark: Please.
>>We’re buddies, right?>>Mark: Right.>>You’re not going to think
I’m crazy because I want to sing a song to you?>>Mark: Not at all, Jimmy. All right, I’ll try
my best to sing the song. ♪ When I was a young man,
I picked up my first beer ♪ ♪ Little did I know
that it would lead me here ♪ ♪ Full of fear and sadness,
it took away my wife ♪ ♪ Hungry, lonely, tired ♪ ♪ It almost took my life ♪ ♪ Well, I couldn’t
stand to live that way ♪ ♪ So I got on my knees
and I found the big book ♪ ♪ And I got what I need ♪ ♪ Oh, the big book,
oh, the big book ♪ ♪ Oh, the book
book save my life ♪ ♪ Yeah, the big book
saved my life ♪ ♪ And when they
open up that door ♪ ♪ And I am free to leave ♪ ♪ I’ll change my ways so
I can be the man I wanna be ♪ ♪ Oh, the big book,
oh, the big book ♪ ♪ Oh, the big book
saved my life ♪>>You got it, buddy. So, yeah, that’s uh… That’s the story of my life.>>Mark: On this visit,
I spy Jimmy across the room. He’s making paper
flowers as Christmas gifts.>>Great to see ya.
What do you got here?>>Oh, I made
these out of paper.>>Mark: Jimmy’s wisdom
is hard-earned after years on the streets
and years in this program.>>So I really watch it now. You know,
I’m finally getting it, that I don’t need to get
completely loaded anymore. I don’t need that. I know what I’m doing
every morning I wake up. I have no guilty conscious,
and I’m not in jail, and I didn’t hurt
anybody with my words. Or physically punch
somebody drunk, or get into a fight. None of that happens anymore. It’s great, you know? ‘Cause I had some
pretty rough times out there.>>Mark: I bet. And you’re safe here.>>I’m safe here, yeah.>>Mark: So what’s
the future hold for him? Well, true to form,
Jimmy’s story is like his song. A song he’s writing, but
doesn’t know where it will end. You got any new songs?>>Well, actually,
I started one.>>Mark: Did you really?>>I’ve got the title
of it, but I don’t have the rest of the words. So if somebody
wants to finish it, I’ll give them the title,
and they can finish the song.>>Mark: What’s the title?>>It goes… ♪ I went downtown to pour myself
a glass of cold, clear water ♪ ♪ Cold, clear water ♪ ♪ Water ♪ [ Laughter ]>>I said that to two guys down
at the beer store and they were waiting for the beer store to
open one Sunday morning and I sang them that song
while we’re waiting for the beer store to open. And then I seen them a few
weeks later and they come up to me and they go, ♪ I went downtown
to pour myself… ♪>>And they said, “I can’t
get it out of my head. “It’s such a catchy
little tune, right?” I just don’t know
how to finish it, yet.>>Mark: Coming up,
stories of hope that may help Jimmy
finish his song. [ ♪♪ ]>>There’s always
more to our stories. You can keep up with the
Fifth Estate by subscribing to our weekly newsletter. We’ll tell you what
we’re working on and share updates
on past stories. Sign up on our
website at cbc.ca/fifth. [ ♪♪ ] Okay, come on!>>Mark: You won’t find
many eminent physicians, a recipient of the
Order Of Canada, to boot, who invites homeless
alcoholics to his house every Christmas for a party. But Dr Jeff Turnbull does.>>So have we
got enough to drink? One…four– yeah.>>Mark: Why do you
bring them out here? I know you do this every year. Why is it important for you?>>They… Well, it’s important for them
because they get to get outside. You know, many of
these people grew up in environments like this. And coming back
grounds them again. So, they just love this. And the more
we can do this, the better. I like bringing them here
because it’s just very rewarding for me to see them
having a great time.>>Mark: Dr Turnbull
is the Medical Director overseeing Ottawa’s
Managed Alcohol Program, which he helped
develop 16 years ago.>>Our challenge
is to support them, move them progressively out of
that environment of chronic addiction,
help them when they fail, not judge them, and promote
abstinence as much as we can. [ ♪♪ ]>>Hello, Jerry.>>Hello, Gia.>>Mark: Abstinence may
seem like an unrealistic expectation here. With one drink every hour,
many of the residents in this program down the equivalent
of about three bottles of wine a day, every day.>>7 ounces.>>Mark: But the theory is,
if they can control their addiction, then
it’s possible some can wean themselves off
the hourly pour. Corinne was one of
those success stories when I met her here last year,
trying hard to stay sober.>>It’s been eight months. Not drinking the
wine every hour.>>Mark: What difference
has this place made in your life?>>I have my family back. I’ve got mom and dad. You know, and I treasure that. I owe the Shepherds my life. I do, for giving it back to me. [ ♪♪ ]>>Mark: But when I came back,
who did I see standing in line for the hourly drink?>>How are ya?>>Mark: I’m great.
How are you doing?>>Great, great.
Well, it could be better. But…great. I’m still here.
Still kicking.>>Mark: When I
was here a year ago and I talked to you, I thought, “Here’s somebody who I could
actually see leaving the Oaks.” But now I’m not so sure.>>Nope. That’s the thing with addiction. You never know…
what’s gonna set you off, what’s gonna keep you okay. God forbid– my parents. They’re going to flip out.
[ Laughter ]>>Mark: Why will they flip out?>>Because, like, I’m 52 but
they still think I’m, like, 12. [ Laughter ]>>It’s hard. You know, it’s hard. It’s just– I just feel
like I let ’em down again. You know?>>Mark: But what
comforts Corinne, is after living
here for seven years, no one judges her
as she struggles.>>I can breathe here. I can be myself. You know, like, nobody’s… hated me for
some indiscretion or maybe something stupid I said,
or a dumb behaviour I did or whatever, like,
there’s nobody attacking me.>>Mark: Hope can be
elusive at times in a home for chronic alcoholics. But it is indeed alive. If you weren’t here,
where do you think you’d be?>>Probably in jail or dead.>>Mark: Last year, I met Elija,
who was painting scenes from his home in Pond Inlet. I asked him why he signed
his paintings with a number. What’s this?>>This is E5-1983. Back in the days before 1969,
we were registered with numbers. So to the government
my name was not Elija. To the government,
my name was E5-1983.>>Okay, Elija, you ready to
take Eric to his appointment?>>Yes.
>>Okay, so he’s going to the dentist and
this is the address. And there’s his card.>>Mark: Elija has cut down on
The Pour and he’s been able to take a job as a
Paid Peer Worker at The Oaks, accompanying residents
to downtown Ottawa for appointments.>>You’ll be safe with Elija.>>Okay, thanks, guys.>>Thank you.>>Mark: By having a job,
what difference does that make for you in the
way you feel about yourself?>>It makes me feel like I’m
more helpful and feel better about myself, too.>>Mark: Are you learning that
you’ve got a lot of good sides?>>Yes.
A lot of good sides.>>Mark: Did you
know that before?>>Not really, no. I had to dig deep.>>Mark: While the residents
have plenty to learn about themselves, they also
have plenty to teach. If you listen to them. Last year, Jimmy
made a plea to others to learn from his mistakes. We turned that heartfelt plea
into an online video and shared it on social media. Yeah, well, I wanted
to share your story. I wanted you to see this.>>I spent
seven years on the street.>>I’ve never seen this. [ ♪♪ ]>>I feel 100%
better than I did.>>Mark: You know what? Jimmy, this has been seen by
two and a half million people have watched this.>>Wow.
Really, eh? That many people, eh?>>Mark: That many people. And you told me you
wanted to make a difference.>>Yes.>>Mark: You told me
that, and I think you made a difference, Jimmy.
>>Good, I’m glad.>>Mark: I think you’ve
made a big difference.>>I’m glad. Two and a half million, eh? Well, isn’t that something else.>>Mark: Two and a half
million people watched you.>>I hope some people
got something from it.>>Mark: I’m sure they did.>>Yeah.>>Mark: Stories like Jimmy’s
have inspired Dr Turnbull, too. So much so, that he’s
stepping down as Chief Of Staff at Ottawa Hospital to devote
more time to the homeless. Especially those struggling
with opioid addiction.>>We’ve learned a lot from
the Managed Alcohol Program. And we’ve learned about the
principles of harm reduction and combining that to appropriate
treatment facilities. I’ll continue to do this work
and it’ll continue to expand, but I’m gonna devote
myself almost exclusively to the homeless now.>>Mark: Shouldn’t you be
thinking about retirement?>>That’s never
been in my lexicon. I don’t…I enjoy this too much. [ ♪♪ ]>>Mark: Just a few
closing notes on the Managed Alcohol Program. Ottawa is one of eight Canadian
cities with a MAP Program. The staff at The Oaks tell us
there’s a need to expand the program, not only
in Ottawa, but in other cities right across this country. Social researchers from as far
away as Australia have come to Ottawa to study the MAP Program
and see if it could be adapted to their home countries. And there was
a peer-reviewed study published in the Canadian
Medical Association Journal about the MAP Program. If you want to read that and
read more about the impact the program’s having
in Canada, go to our website…

About Gregory Ralls

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69 thoughts on “The Pour Update : Treating Alcoholics with Wine – The Fifth Estate

  1. so that's one glass of wine an hour for 14 hours. And that's a very large glass of wine. That's not a normal pour you'd get in a restaurant…. I understand one side of this equation. But on the other hand.. You would think you would want to wean them off of the alcohol. But basically they're just sitting around getting super hammered every day. If someone goes every hour from 7 a.m. till 9 at night.. And gets every glass they're allowed to get which I'm sure they do.. That's 14 huge glasses of wine a day. You'd be hammered. this would work in my mind if you are weaning them slowly off of the alcohol. Starting it a certain amount and then working your way down… until you end up at nothing. But I don't know. That's just my thought. I didn't finish watching it maybe that's what they're doing.

  2. i saw this in action my m8 was a alcoholic i kept his cider in my room and gave him a glass on a morning to stop him rattling. he is now sober and leading a productive life again. there is life after addiction for some of us.

  3. How do they keep track of who received the hourly pour? If their names are simply checked off, human error can still occur so this is the prefect environment to exploit RFID chipping.
    It's already being utilized in some Alzheimer/dementia facilities (in case patient gets lost) so this is an ideal segue to use the 'chip' to keep track of what the 'impaired' can't.

  4. Poor Jimmy, his song is already finished. He must have remembered it from childhood or something
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jj7qab6KC4

  5. What a great and sophisticated way of treating addiction. Too bad they can't give these people the exact same taste and serving nothing alcoholic at all. Now, that's a great experiment.

  6. I don't judge nobody anymore I used was 1 of the world's worse I'll admit but then I got an addiction to pain pills thanks to pushy doctors in america & I now know the feeling of addiction I always thought it was my punishment from God for judgeing others he gave me a taste of it & now I've learned the hard way .Only God has a rite to judge not us God Bless all addicts no matter what their addiction may be .These r good people helping these addicts just wish their where people in america with a heart like these people have .God Bless All & Peace to the world Amen.

  7. This works with heroin, but alcohol causes chronic organ damage when used long-term, unlike opiates. You're causing physical damage by prolonging their intake. The goal should be to quit completely. This is not treatment–wine is no safer than any other form of alcohol. It contains ethanol, which is a Group I carcinogen. Get them on a long-acting benzo & start the taper.

  8. I am hopelessly addicted to alcohol therefore I don't drink.

    The only thing that works when someone is addicted to this level is abstinence.

  9. As a former Drunkard in my youth this is really disappointing to watch, because there is Real freedom and deliverance from this bondage and the answer is not in this clinic or even in the AA program or their big book. The answer is found in the Saving power of the Lord Jesus Christ and his Holy Book The KJV. Repent and Come to the Lord in faith and humility Call out to him he will deliver you from the darkness of addiction he's the only way.All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out John6:37 KJV.
    Luke 4:18King James Version (KJV)
    18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.
    1 Corinthians 6:9-11King James Version (KJV)
    9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
    10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
    11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. Be blessed and thanks for reading.

  10. Wow that is so pathetic I can't believe it is even legal Keep them drunk and killing them selves slowly. Offer them a real treatment like naltrexone or don't even call yourself a doctor. So deluded you do nothing fool of a man.

  11. I'd like to shake that doctors hand, he took his rights with honor, protecting people of all kinds with no judgement…we need more and more doctors like him!

  12. I love this!!!!harm reduction and empathetic care…because social conditions such as homelessness, lack of food security, under and unemployment on the rise, has led to rise in substance abuse of all kinds and other health issues…so it's better to help people deal with their issues

  13. Too bad American can't be more compassionate like this. America is messed up when it comes to harm reduction programs. It simply would rather throw you in jail and have your money. At least it's that way in Oklahoma anyways. Sad but true.

  14. There is still too little compassion in the US for a place like this. But for so many homeless people this is a start to better health and self respect.

  15. I am a Alcoholic. 11 yrs sober , my daily alcohol blood level was .44 . I was having seizures. And I wanting to die . then I said no, I am sick am tired I want to get better. It's called being Sober …. It is a waste of taxpayer money .

  16. The lack of understanding within the medical community about mental health is a major contributor to so many of the problems we all encounter. My ex-partner was an alcoholic, it's heartbreaking the damage that is inflicted and so often they want it to end as badly as everyone else.

  17. People may scoff at this but as a recovering alcoholic , I know that this works. Either that or being raced to emergency from a seizure and given copious amounts of Valium to get through the delirium tremors. ( which most of these people could not afford , therefore taxpayers having to cough up).

  18. id like to see how the people are getting on.to see if theres ant change.because some look much better from the first episode.i wish we had something like this in uk

  19. is that bloke mentally disabled or just proper pissed? strange to think they had helped him. he seem to gone on about his teeth and ps2

  20. Wonderful, great documentary, Jimmy has the kindest saddest face I have ever seen he is so honest and his face say's it all, I love him.x

  21. This is such an amazing program!! God doesn't make junk. No one deserves to be thrown away because of an addiction. I have 6 years drug and alcohol free and that is a gift from God that I wouldn't have believed I could get 6 years ago. This world needs more people like you doctor. People that just want to mak a difference in someones life. Angels come in all forms!!!!!!!Thankyou for caring.

  22. I'm sorry but alcoholics are not ill and to use cancer as a comparison is offensive. Nobody decides to get cancer. Nobody with cancer can say "I've decided not to have cancer anymore".
    Nobody forced alcoholics to start drinking to excess and if they wish, just like smokers, they can make the decision to stop. Nobody said breaking an addiction is easy, but it is a choice. Stay addicted or get clean. Cancer sufferers don't have that choice.

  23. Alcohol addiction is the worst I am going through it now I have lost nearly everything I would sell my right hand for a drink when I go to long it's absolutely horrible and it happened really fast with me it's like I plan my life around it if I have to go somewhere I worry I don't have a drink

  24. What a great idea! Im gonna treat Fentynal addicts with Fentynal. The denial here is so crazy!
    The song he sings talks about the AA Big Book which talks about complete abstinence from any mind altering substance.

  25. While I understand the controversy, you can see the difference it makes for these people. Jimmy's story moved me, I had a drink problem at 18 years old. My health was not great, I have been legally disabled since I was 14 and until 18 I never had access to alcohol or cigarettes and I found that addiction was so easy to fall into, but not so easy to get out of. I succeeded in getting out of the drink, though I did it cold turkey and it was a living nightmare, but I know it doesn't work for everybody. I'm 22 now, and while my health is still deteriorating with the conditions I have and my mobility getting worse, I no longer have a problem with alcohol. I do drink, on the rare occassion, but not even once a month, on my best friends birthday and on my own I may have one or two drinks, but nothing that would trigger an addiction problem again. I'm doing better, without alcohol, it only ever adds to problems and is such a wicked demon to fight. Thankfully I never became homeless, I was highly functioning and paid my bills somehow, I am one lucky being to still be here and to have never had such a rough experience of becoming homeless due to addiction. I love The Oaks and what they do, it's a shame the UK (where I live) has not taken up the same idea, I feel it would benefit so many people and could trigger recovery in a significant portion of those ones. I wish all of The Oaks residents the best in their lives and their recovery from alcoholism, I wish them success and love in everything they do. I do hope Jimmy continues with his flower making, they were such lovely things, and even more beautiful gifts – something that holds such sentimental value and skill is a gift worth more than gold and jewels.

  26. I am glad these people are receiving help – HOWEVER please remember this is yet another avenue into government control of people's lives. If life is very comfortable and safe being an alcoholic then you have just created a powerful incentive to be one. What we really require is DISINCENTIVE to making such life choices. People working hard to live independently and support families are going to feel downcast to see such feckless people receive so much for free – and it is the taxes of those hard working people (already crippled by high house prices and high living costs and excessive debt) that are paying for that. So you demoralize the people doing the right thing and REWARD those doing the wrong thing. Can this be exactly as planned ? Yes, your government takes YOUR money that you spent time and energy working for and buys drinks for alcoholics daily. If this general trend is continued then it spells a very grim future for our society – rewarding irresponsibility and foolishness, and punishing good hard-working people. How are we then going to build and maintain houses, bridges, water supplies, sewerage systems and all that is necessary to sustain human civilization?

  27. Also, the host of this program did a great job. I'm sure this was not easy for him at times but he did it with poise.

  28. “Learning to listen is the essence of intelligent living.”
    ―     Sadhguru,   Inner Engineering: A Yogi's Guide to Joy

  29. It’s truly unnecessary for this interviewer to keep interjecting his opinions. It’s clear he hasn’t taken the time to truly educate himself on these issues.

  30. Australia needs one desperately n a legal heroin program too ) ASAP !!! plz help us Canada, we should stop looking to America to solve our problems bc they only make them worse … America's got cancer i n o that much !

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