Managed Alcohol Programs (MAPs): Promising new research

We are pleased to announce the publication of two open access articles on the effectiveness of a Canadian MAP in Harm Reduction Journal. We have also released a cost benefit analysis and supporting infographic (see links below).

Newly published research out of the University of Victoria’s Centre for Addictions Research of BC (CARBC) suggests that providing regulated doses of alcohol in a supportive housing environment can improve the lives of people with severe and reoccurring alcohol problems and homelessness while reducing social, police and health service costs.

The research team, led by Drs. Bernie Pauly and Tim Stockwell, has just published two papers in the peer-reviewed Harm Reduction Journal and released a report outlining a cost-benefit analysis of a Managed Alcohol Program (MAP) in Ontario.

Kwae Kii Win Centre, part of Shelter House in Thunder Bay, provides supportive housing, food, and alcohol to formerly homeless people with severe and reoccurring alcohol related problems. Prior to entering the program, clients had not responded to abstinence-based approaches, had multiple police contacts and emergency room attendances, and often consumed non-beverage alcohol (such as mouthwash and rubbing alcohol) while living on the streets.

The CARBC researchers found that, compared to those with severe and reoccurring alcohol problems not in a MAP, MAP residents had 43% fewer police contacts, 70% fewer detox admissions, 47% fewer hospital admissions, and spent 33% less time in custody over the study period. Importantly, they also reported less frequent use of non-beverage alcohol, fewer alcohol-related harms (such as withdrawal seizures) and had improved scores on liver function tests.

Compared to life on the streets, participants described the MAP as a safe place characterized by respect, trust and a non-judgemental approach. They reported a sense of belonging and of having a secure home, a base from which they could also reconnect with family members and access other health and social services.

Remarkably, the program appears to save money too. Accounting for the significant reductions in frequency of health, social and legal service use by participants, the researchers estimated a cost savings of approximately $1.09 to $1.21 for every dollar spent.

These pilot study results are part of a larger national research program that the team is currently conducting across Canada involving six MAPs and 374 participants.

“The findings from this pilot study are very encouraging,” says Pauly, “but we need to look at how they compare with the findings from the national study to inform future best practice.”

The research is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (including funding from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research) and Shelter House.

See the Thunder Bay MAP infographic here

For more information, visit CARBC’s MAP project website


Paper 1: Do managed alcohol programs change patterns of alcohol consumption and reduce related harm? A pilot study” available here

Paper 2: “Finding safety: a pilot study of managed alcohol program participants’ perceptions of housing and quality of life” available here

Report: “A cost-benefit analysis of a Canadian Managed Alcohol Program: A report prepared by the Centre for Addictions Research of British Columbia for the Kwae Kii Win Centre Managed Alcohol Program” available here

Media contacts:

Dr. Bernie Pauly (UVic Centre for Addictions Research/Nursing) at 250-472-5915 (office) 250-857-2851 (cell) or

Gary Mack (Shelter House) at 807-623-8264 or

Dr. Tim Stockwell (UVic’s Centre for Addictions Research) at 250-472-5445 (office) or 250-415-7376 (cell) or

Suzanne Ahearne (University Communications + Marketing) at 250-721-6139 or

Inside a MAP in Thunder Bay infographic