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Through providing small doses of alcohol to clients regularly, managed alcohol programs reduce the risks associated with heavy drinking and non-beverage alcohol consumption without requiring abstinence.

In this episode of the Addiction Practice Pod, Dr. Marcus Greatheart and David Ball talk with public health researcher and executive director of the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users, Brittany Graham, about the purpose of managed alcohol programs and how they fit into the continuum of care for alcohol use disorder. We also hear from harm reduction advocate and peer leader, George Sedore, about what led him to join a managed alcohol program and how this has impacted his life.

Learning Objectives

  1. Summarize the goals and objectives of a managed alcohol program (MAP).
  2. Describe the types of MAPs in operation and identify when they may be appropriate.
  3. Identify how patients can move within the alcohol use continuum of care, including MAPs.
  4. Discuss the benefits of MAPs beyond alcohol consumption, including social determinants of health.


In this episode, you’ll hear:

  • 3:31 – Brittany Graham – Executive Director, Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users
  • 18:29 – George Sedore – Member-Organizer, Eastside Illicit Drinker’s Group for Education


Here’s what listeners can take away from this episode:

  1. Managed alcohol programs aim to reduce the risk of harms associated with heavy drinking without requiring individuals to stop or reduce their drinking. Some programs are also paired with shelters or housing programs, to provide a safer and more inclusive alternative to abstinence-based housing.
  2. Some of the goals of a managed alcohol program are to support wellness, avoid withdrawal, reduce/eliminate non-beverage alcohol consumption, and promote safer use through harm reduction education. Other important impacts include improving access to food, accommodation, and primary care. Another benefit of managed alcohol programs is that they bring people together, and provide community for individuals looking to reduce the harms associated with their alcohol use.
  3. As a health care provider, it is important to listen to your client’s goals around their alcohol use. For your clients who are not interested in reducing or stopping their drinking, understand that this could be for a multitude of reasons. Having a conversation about managed alcohol programs can support your client’s wellness and show them that you respect their goals.
  4. Managed alcohol programs function as a key point of access to other health and social services, and treatment, for alcohol use disorder. Individuals on a managed alcohol plan can be supported by clinicians to move along the alcohol use continuum of care as their goals and drinking behaviours change.

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Additional resources