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Kate

Kate Dolan

Year of Award: 2014 Award State: New South Wales Social Welfare > Drugs, Alcohol And Substances
Social Welfare > Homelessness
To investigate Managed Alcohol Programs for the homeless - USA, Canada, UK, Spain
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Conclusions and Recommendations

Homeless people have high rates of chronic illness, long hospital stays, increased mortality and contact with the police. These people who are homeless and drink heavily are stuck and unable to move out of their predicament. They need a comprehensive intervention to address mental health issues, alcohol and drug dependency issues, primary health care and their homelessness. Managed Alcohol Programs (MAP) are a novel service for homeless with severe and intractable alcohol dependence. MAP clients receive a regulated amount of alcohol at set times. MAPs operate in the UK and Canada and have led to reduced alcohol consumption, binge drinking, convulsions, visits to emergency departments and encounters with police.

Managed Alcohol Programs tend to be located in a light industrial area near a main train station, which are areas that most of the target population would frequent. Managed Alcohol Programs work well when there is a high level of co-ordination between services such as the police, health and housing.

Many clients are chronically ill and are dying from alcoholism. MAP improves their quality of life and while some take a break from drinking, few quit. MAP lessens the blow of alcohol on this group. If a resident goes into hospital, they continued to be maintained on alcohol otherwise they will leave hospital without completing their treatment.

MAPs provide an opportunity for people who are struggling with out of control alcohol addiction to stabilise through regulated and supervised administration of alcohol. This approach has proven effective for both those wanting short-term intervention and those wanting a future which includes access to stable alcohol management. As a low barrier program, the MAP aims to include individuals who are at greatest risk of harm from excessive alcohol consumption. According to staff, the MAP transforms many clients with dramatic changes in appearance, outlook on life and behaviour.

The main recommendation of this report is that there is sufficient evidence that a Managed Alcohol Program should be trialled in Sydney.

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