Trajectories of Alcohol Use and Related Harms for Managed Alcohol Program Participants Over 12 Months Compared With Local Controls: A Quasi-Experimental Study
Investigate changes in alcohol use and related harm using the first multisite, controlled, longitudinal study of Managed Alcohol Programs (MAPs). MAPs provide regular doses of alcohol, accommodation, social supports and healthcare to unstably housed people with alcohol dependence.
A multisite, quasi-experimental, longitudinal study was conducted in day centers, shelters and residential programs for unstably housed people. There were 59 MAP participants from six Canadian cities and 116 local controls. Self-reported alcohol consumption and harms were assessed at 0-2, 6 and 12 months. Liver function test results were accessed for MAP participants.
Both groups had similar reductions in mean alcoholic beverages per day (MAP: -8.11; controls: -8.54 controls, P < 0.001) and days of alcohol use per month (MAP: -2.51 days, P < 0.05; control: -4.81 days, P = 0.0001) over 6–-12 months. Both reduced non-beverage alcohol consumption. MAP participants reported significantly fewer harms at both 0-2 and 6 months than controls. MAP participants had similar total consumption to controls, but spread out over more days (25.41 versus 19.64 days per month, P = 0.001). After leaving a MAP, participants’ liver status deteriorated, with increases in both aspartate transaminase and bilirubin levels. MAP sites with effective policies on outside alcohol use consumed less and had fewer harms.
MAP participants consumed less hazardously than controls, especially with effective management of non-MAP alcohol use. Reductions in alcohol use and harms occurred for both groups, although MAP participants reported fewer harms at 0-6 months. Departing an MAP was associated with deterioration in liver status. Although providing stable housing, MAPs did not worsen health or increase alcohol use.