Free Booze for Alcoholics? SF Pilot Program Comes Under Fire.

A little known pilot program that provides alcoholic beverages to people with alcohol addiction in San Francisco came to the attention of some media outlets last week, putting the city in the crosshairs of conservative critics once again.

The Managed Alcohol Program (MAP) was established by San Francisco’s Department of Public Health in 2020, and has since expanded. Recipients of the program receive housing support, meals, and “nurse-administered alcohol – usually in the form of beer or vodka – dosed to keep clients at a ‘safe level of intoxication,’ and enrichment activities,” according to KQED

Proponents of the program characterize it as harm reduction, and say there’s plenty of data to show its efficacy. According to the health department, the program has saved $1.7 million over six months in reduced hospital stays and emergency calls.

Harm reduction programs for drug addiction have already divided the San Francisco community. Mayor London Breed has blamed the strategy for surging open-air drug use and overdoses in the city. Until now, many people were unaware that San Francisco was pursuing a similar strategy for alcohol dependence.