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Amsterdam work program for alcoholics pays participants in beer

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Amsterdam has hundreds of interesting museums covering almost any topic you can think of, and of course there's the Anne Frank House where the young Jewish girl wrote her now famous diary while hiding from the Nazis. But even with all its history, art and culture Amsterdam is probably the best known as the home of a world famous red light district.

Amsterdam is a tolerant city. Coffee shops selling joints are all over the place and smoking weed is common place and legal. And if you're a drinker you'll have no problem finding booze, because the cafes and bars open first thing in the morning and stay open until the wee hours of the next morning.

Amsterdam is so tolerant that it is now taking a unique approach to alcoholism. If you are an alcoholic you get a job and are paid with beer. The goal of the "beer-for-work" street cleaning program is to get alcoholics out of the parks, by putting them to work and paying them with a less dangerous liquor substitute, in a controlled environment.

Now, early each morning Amsterdam's alcoholic workers are given two cans of beer to start the day, and another two at lunch. Then, if the day goes smoothly, each gets a final two as a reward for a productive day. In addition to the beer each member of the cleaning team also receives half a packet of rolling tobacco, free lunch and about $13.55.

Although there are some who disapprove of the "beer-for-work program", it seems to be working.

Source: The December 4, 2013, New York Times article "Amsterdam Has a Deal for Alcoholics: Work Paid in Beer"

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