The manager of a well-established controlled alcohol program in Ottawa says it's been a success — and a similar program in Thunder Bay is having a positive impact as well.

The non-profit organization Shepherds of Good Hope in the nation's capital opened its managed alcohol program 13 years ago, and it's made the community a better place, said Lindy Rosko, program manager of the managed alcohol program.

"I would say that the success rate has been phenomenal from a humanity standpoint, in seeing the change in people," she said.

"And also from a city standpoint, in that we've reduced the number of emergency services needed for multiple clients."

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Lindy Rosko, program manager of the managed alcohol program for the non-profit organization Shepherds of Good Hope in Ottawa. (Supplied)

Thunder Bay's Shelter House wants to expand its managed alcohol program and is trying to buy the former EMS building on Donald Street to do so.

Education helps

Rosko explained Ottawa’s program was set up after the Shepherds of Good Hope realized a lot of people accessing its recovery program weren't able to get into treatment programs because they were required to stop drinking alcohol. It was discovered these people weren't getting the help they needed to make that critical step.

She said doctors and nurses provide alcohol in measured doses every hour, as well as looking after the medical needs of clients.

"These are people that have tried different abstinence based programs, who've tried detoxing on their own, who have tried independant housing, and not been successful in any of those things — these are people that didn't find success until they came into the managed alcohol program," she said. 

Rosko said when the program was first being put together there were some concerns in Ottawa about the idea. But she said they put a lot of effort into education and now there is a lot of support in the community.