A new approach to providing assistance to alcoholics is being scrutinized by many. The unconventional approach establishes residences for "hopeless alcoholics" who have tried rehab and failed and have no other place to go. The living spaces are called wet houses, and they are being opened in Washington, Minnesota, and other areas of the country as a last ditch effort to help alcoholics.
Those who are advocating for the establishment of wet houses say that they provide a safe, modest place for homeless alcoholics to live. Residents of wet houses will find few amenities in their living situation; a small room, clean showers, and access to limited on-site medical treatment. However, those living in wet houses are allowed to drink. Many of these individuals have been alcoholics for a very long time, some have sought treatment in the past and failed, and none have any other place to live. These homeless alcoholics are provided a warm place to stay, off the streets.
Some proponents of wet housing argue that it saves states millions of dollars. The homeless alcoholics are able to live in a safe facility where they can receive food and medical care. This housing brings them in off the streets, where they would face violence and crime, and where any medical help would need to be through an emergency room at a hospital.
Those opposed to the idea of wet houses argue that we should never give up on alcoholics. Wet houses do not offer any kind of treatment or rehabilitation, and they essentially end the person's hope at ever recovering. Neighbors worry that wet houses pose a danger to the community.
It is a sad fact that alcoholism can rob a person of their relationships, their livelihood, and their life. These individuals who have been so affected by alcoholism have the option of either fighting again to get sober and get their life back together, or to, in essence, give up and retire to a wet house. It is unfortunate, but many of these residents have given up hope at recovery and are happy to be in a place where they can just drink.
We should never give up hope on even the most discouraged alcoholic. If there is any desire for them to get sober, our society should continue to offer programs that give them hope of recovery.