Managed Alcohol Program Service (MAPS)

REACH partnered with the City of Edmonton and Homeward Trust Edmonton to conduct a research project to better understand the need and community support for managed alcohol programs that support people with severe alcohol-related addictions who are chronically homeless.

Nineteen community organizations and stakeholders participated on the alcohol management committee, which interviewed clients and surveyed 28 organizations that work with vulnerable people in Edmonton.

MAPS are a harm reduction tool that supports people with unstable housing and severe alcohol-related addiction.

Clients are provided with a safe, supervised space to consume managed doses of alcohol, away from the public, which they purchase themselves.

The conversation that led to the report, spearheaded by city councillor Scott McKeen came out of the City of Edmonton's Mental Health and Urban Isolation Initiative.

"What society has to recognize is that this is a health care issue, not a criminal justice issue," said Coun. McKeen.

While these services lead to better outcomes for the clients, they also benefit the community by leading to decreased social disorder due to public drinking, fewer emergency room visits and saves more than $1 million in taxpayer funds for every residential program that serves 20 clients.

"Managed alcohol programs are an important part of the spectrum of health and social services for people experiencing severe and chronic alcohol use disorders and unstable housing," said Dr. Elaine Hyshka, assistant professor at the University of Alberta's School of Public Health. "Evidence demonstrates that these programs can improve individual and community health and safety, and reduce the societal costs associated with alcohol use disorders and homelessness."