San Fran Program Provides Free Alcohol to Homeless Alcoholics

The city of San Francisco is facing pushback over its harm-reduction efforts, which include providing alcohol to homeless alcoholics.

The city set up its “managed alcohol program” in 2020 as a way to care for homeless people suffering from severe alcohol addiction. Under the treatment program, homeless alcoholics are given shots of vodka or glasses of beer.

According to the city’s Public Health Department, since the program began, it has treated 55 homeless alcoholics. The 20-bed treatment program is located in a former Tenderloin district hotel and costs the city roughly $5 million each year.

Nurses in the treatment center dispense doses of beer and vodka at appointed times during the day based on the care plan of each participant.

While offering alcohol to alcoholics may sound counterproductive, experts suggest that doing so will help keep the homeless out of hospitals, jails, or even the morgue.

The treatment program is not aimed at recovery or sobriety. Instead, experts say that it seeks to improve the overall health of homeless alcoholics while reducing hospital stays and encounters with the police.

However, after the chairman of the San Francisco Salvation Army advisory board criticized the program on social media, the program came under renewed scrutiny.

In a thread posted on X earlier this month, advisory board chairman Adam Nathan, the CEO of Blaze AI, questioned the cost of the program and suggested that it did nothing to solve the problem of addiction among the homeless. He said the city’s efforts at “harm reduction” amounted to providing a “safe supply” of drugs and alcohol to addicts.

Other groups that promote recovery through abstinence have also criticized San Francisco officials for wasting public funds on programs that provide clean needles and foil to meth and fentanyl users, arguing that taxpayer money would be better spent on recovery.

Earlier this year, even San Francisco Mayor London Breed criticized the city’s harm reduction efforts, saying the programs did not reduce harm but made things “far worse.”