Community managed alcohol programs in Canada: Overview of key dimensions and implementation
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Introduction and Aims: People with severe alcohol dependence and unstable housing are vulnerable to multiple harms related to drinking and homelessness. Managed Alcohol Programs (MAP) aim to reduce harms of severe alcohol use without expecting cessation of use. There is promising evidence that MAPs reduce acute and social harms associated with alcohol dependence. The aim of this paper is to describe MAPs in Canada including key dimensions and implementation issues. Design and Methods: Thirteen Canadian MAPs were identified through the Canadian Managed Alcohol Program Study. Nine key informant interviews were conducted and analysed alongside program documents and reports to create individual case reports. Inductive content analysis and cross case comparisons were employed to identify six key dimensions of MAPs. Results: Community based MAPs have a common goal of preserving dignity and reducing harms of drinking while increasing access to housing, health and social services. MAPs are offered as both residential and day programs with differences in six key dimensions including program goals and eligibility, food and accomodation, alcohol dispensing and administration, funding and money management, primary care services and clinical monitoring, and social and cultural connections. Discussion and Conclusions: MAPs consist of four pillars with the alcohol intervention provided alongside housing interventions, primary care services, social and cultural interventions. Availability of permanent housing and re-establishing social and cultural connections are central to recovery and healing goals of MAPs. Additional research regarding Indigenous and gendered approaches to program development as well as outcomes related to chronic harms and differences in alcohol management are needed.
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