How many families have tried this?

What is there to say? What feeds the interest in creating these programs?

IT IS only 11am, but already Cora, a friendly, attractive woman in a colourful top and tight trousers, has downed two half-litres of beer and is thinking about her third glass. A chronic alcoholic who lost her home and contact with her family, and was roaming the streets, she proudly tells how her intake of alcohol has been reduced, and her dependency on spirits to get through the day has also gone down.

The Maliebaan centre, in the large town of Amersfoort, east of Amsterdam, opened last October. The first centre of its kind in Europe, it is based on a unique concept regarding the care and rehabilitation of alcoholics.

Far from aiming to dry out its residents – those with no work, no home and no desire to stop drinking – the clinic takes the view that they will never stop consuming alcohol. Instead it aims to help them to end dangerous binge-drinking and to control their intake of alcohol, with noticeable improvements to their health and wellbeing as a result.

Cora and the 19 other clients – 15 men and four women in their mid-20s to late 50s – are allowed to order up to five litres of beer daily, with an hour between each half litre, which costs 40 cent per serving (this is the wholesale price to the centre, which gets through 4,500 half-litre cans per month).

The bar opens at 7.30am and closes at 9.30pm, and the only criterion for being served is that the drinker must be able to get up themselves from their chair, walk to the counter and be able to hold their half-litre glass steady.