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San Francisco’s Booze for Drunks Program Draws Backlash

Posted on Monday, May 27, 2024
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by Andrew Shirley
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60 Comments
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San Francisco Democrats are pioneering a new trend in so-called “harm reduction” practices: giving alcoholics free alcohol.

Although the Golden City has been handing out free booze for years, the program was thrust into the spotlight in early May following a thread on X by Adam Nathan, a tech entrepreneur and chair of the advisory board for the San Francisco chapter of the Salvation Army.

“Did you know San Francisco spends $2 million a year on a ‘Managed Alcohol Program?’” Nathan asked in a post that has racked up nearly a million views. “It provides free alcohol to people struggling with chronic alcoholism who are mostly homeless.”

The story might sound like a headline from The Babylon Bee, but subsequent inquiries from several news outlets have revealed that the program, known as MAP for short, is exactly what Nathan describes.

According to documents from the San Francisco Department of Public Health and Behavioral Health Services, MAP provides “accommodation (temporary or permanent housing), medical supervision, and social supports alongside regularly administered doses of beverage alcohol to stabilize drinking patterns for people with severe alcohol addiction.” Alcoholics can enter the hotel and receive “doses” of beer and vodka administered by nurses to keep them at a “safe level of intoxication.”

The program is run out of a former hotel in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco, an area that has become notorious for high drug use, homelessness, and violent crime. It also actually costs about $5 million per year – all paid by California taxpayers. Even more shockingly, city government data shows MAP served just 55 people throughout its first four years of existence.

In other words, the city spent more than $363,000 per person who used the program – just to assist them in getting drunk “safely.”

MAP defenders assert that it improves the lives of alcoholics who use it, the vast majority of whom are homeless. In an interview with PBS subsidiary KQED, UC Berkley Professor Keanan Joyner argued that “the science is very clear at this point that harm reduction as a general strategy for treating alcohol and other drug use disorders is very effective. It’s a very positive thing.”

The San Francisco Department of Public Health has also alleged that the MAP program resulted in a reduction of usage of emergency services and fewer hospital visits, as well as saving taxpayers $1.7 million per year.

But at $5 million per year, the program costs nearly three times that supposed savings. Moreover, as critics have noted, it does nothing to set individuals with alcohol use disorders on the path to recovery. Instead, it merely feeds them “manageable” doses of the substance that has destroyed their lives.

KQED also notes that the goal of the MAP program “isn’t to reduce patients’ alcohol use or lead to abstinence but to increase their safety and overall quality of life.” According the San Francisco Department of Public Health’s own report, “Although clients used fewer emergency services while in the program, some who left the facility returned to relatively frequent utilization of these services.”

In other words, the program was at best a stopgap for homeless alcoholics, and at worst an enabler of their addictions.

MAP is just the latest grotesque outgrowth of the so-called “harm reduction” approach to addiction that has taken hold on the left in recent years. Advocates of harm reduction argue that the goal of addiction services shouldn’t actually be to break addiction and set people on a path to recovery, but rather to “reduce negative consequences” of alcohol and drug abuse.

The National Harm Reduction Coalition states on its website that it is a movement of “social justice built on a belief in, and respect for, the rights of people who use drugs.” The group’s “principles” section asserts that the goal of drug intervention should be to “minimize its harmful effects.”

Another increasingly common example of “harm reduction” popping up in cities throughout the country are so-called “supervised injection sites,” where the government provides a location and even needles for drug users to get high. Last year, the San Francisco city government again found itself in hot water after stories circulated about “harm reduction kits” being given to drug users containing everything necessary for ingesting drugs besides the actual drugs.

But if harm reduction advocates had it their way, the government would provide the drugs too, just like it is providing alcohol. That’s already the case in Canada, where publicly funded nonprofits are permitted to “provide drug users with a safe supply of drugs and with spaces in which people can supervise one another while using them.”

Yet, after years of harm reduction advocates running the show in San Francisco, addiction rates and homelessness have skyrocketed across the city. A February report found that almost half of all San Francisco drug users came from out of state to take advantage of the city’s programs. Additionally, a May report found that San Francisco’s homeless population jumped seven percent despite a crackdown on “street camping.”

While claiming to be “compassionate” and “caring,” California liberals have once again only succeeded in demonstrating why subsidizing misery only leads to more misery.

Andrew Shirley is a veteran speechwriter and AMAC Newsline columnist. His commentary can be found on X at @AA_Shirley.

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Michael Stevens
Michael Stevens
24 days ago

Just WOW. Who knew that San Francisco is MOVING down into another level of hell. What astounds me is that the taxpayers and corporations still vote for these clowns. If the city gets to the seventh level of hell, bulldoze it and start over!

Thinking
Thinking
23 days ago

That is not harm reduction. This is legally killing people with our tax money. They have heralded obese people as heroes. All in the name of doing no harm. Only the underlying reason is kill these people. Depopulation is the agenda of the UN agenda 21 and the WEF elites. They call it humane only nothing humane is going on when you enable alcoholics to stay an alcoholic till they die. The same with drug addicts, obese, senior citizens denied meds, children mutilation into trans and sterile world. The nep pandemic started it. The left and the dems jumped on it and called it no harm. Only the many extra deaths that have occurred since the pandemic is not talked about. People are still dying by the thousands from the COVID vaccine. Also that is kept quiet. Till one starts digging to find scientists that have proven that the vaccine long term effects still kills people.

Elizabeth Cheever
Elizabeth Cheever
23 days ago

This MAP BS continues to feed the problem of alcoholism and is a “managed method” of killing people! Welcome to Socialism, Marxism, and Communism! What is next…the gas chamber?

richard price
richard price
23 days ago

This program is not only incredibly stupid and wasteful, but does so much damage to alcoholics. But what more can you expect from bleeding heart liberals who live n a fantasy land

blanche
blanche
24 days ago

“Managed Alcohol Program”. Another euphemism for woke liberal spendthrift idea.

Michael J
Michael J
24 days ago

Why are there never a face/s associated with this insane logic? This is truly insanity.

Ron T
Ron T
23 days ago

What’s next? Sex for sex addicts? Children for pediphiles? Democrats will do anything for votes!

Linder
Linder
23 days ago

I miss the old San Francisco I grew up in. Such a beautiful city that is slowly being destroyed. MAGA.

John
John
23 days ago

If the Socialist Democrats want to buy them drinks let them pay for it out of their pocket! Stop wasting the taxpayers money on your stupid policies and ideas! Democrats are sorry dumb asses!

Irv C
Irv C
23 days ago

That’s a liberal for ya! Next they will tell bank robbers which bank to hit with NO repercussions, Heroin for addicts( actually the heroin programs reap good benefits) When will the allow pedophiles more rights than a child? These people are so screwed up it’s mind boggling.

Vonniequirk
Vonniequirk
23 days ago

STUPID is as STUPID does! The insanity of the left has gotten so far out of hand that it is practically impossible to reign it in!

Outraged
Outraged
23 days ago

how outrageous! They are literally helping these people die!

Tom
Tom
23 days ago

Do we have a brand or flavor choice? Maybe I can sign up and save whiskey funds.
Have they all the people lost it?

anna hubert
anna hubert
23 days ago

How about throwing in some free sex? Would that work?

Wayne
Wayne
23 days ago

Keeping democrat voters happy program.

Septimus Pretorius
Septimus Pretorius
23 days ago

Just another example of how to gain followers and a population dedicated to voting for “we know who”
Just throw I’ll gotten tax monies in the right direction to cultivate election results

Rebecca
Rebecca
23 days ago

Have to wonder if Nancy gets her booze there free.

Randall L. Beatty
Randall L. Beatty
23 days ago

That is one city everyone should avoid over run with drunks and people sleeping on the streets and all those people are on what ever they can get for free from the city what a joke one very violent city and people in office just give everything for free as long as tax payers pay for it people need to get rid of people in office and elect better.

Valerie
Valerie
23 days ago

I’ve been in recovery for almost thirty years. No amount of alcohol is enough when one is advanced in the disease. It’s better to spend the money on recovery in a safe, long term, probably locked down facility — more so no one can get it with contraband. People can recover. I saw someone in danger of dying, literally, when he was brought in by neighbors, and when he was able to “get with the program” he was so grateful to be alive, and feeling more like himself than he had in years. While about 60 at the time he had a new chance at life. If this program could cure 55 people, it would be much more worth it!

Bill Emerson
Bill Emerson
22 days ago

Whoever dreamed up this cockamamie idea was not the child of an alcoholic parent. You’re making is easy for people to avoid rehab and detox. You are facilitating people pickling their liver, giving them their “fix” when they want it. What is next? Giving young teens to child molesters? Giving free drugs to drug users? This is a nincompoop idea.

SAW
SAW
22 days ago

STUPID is, and always has been, as STUPID does!
This is Leftist GENOCIDE…
All hail the leftist!!!
Heil Hitler and now we, the USA, have Heil Newsome…

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
23 days ago

Do they do this for other addictions or just alcohol? If so, I’m going to San Francisco on vacation and claiming a sex addiction…. free booty for me! LAME CITY & STATE… what do you expect?

Moonpup
Moonpup
23 days ago

Perhaps they’ll start a program of a free handgun and one bullet for those who want to commit suicide. Interesting idea to have a “hotel” where you can check in and get free booze though, SMFH

Tina Hand
Tina Hand
14 days ago

Sounds much more like a ponzi scheme, Let’s not help the individuals get sober, I want to keep my cushy job and wages!! Scumbags all of them…just another reason why we left Commifornia 2 years ago and so thankful we did!!!

Dr.Sam Adams
Dr.Sam Adams
15 days ago

Alcoholics can enter the hotel and receive “doses” of beer and vodka administered by nurses to keep them at a “safe level of intoxication.” Alcoholics cannot have “any” form of Alcohol. If you look at this madness, it can be seen that they want to kill these people off. California cares, feel the love?

Barry N. Schmidt
Barry N. Schmidt
21 days ago

If such an idiotic program is meant to be be “kind” to the alcoholics, why not carry the “kindness” into the CA prisons by imposing an immediate death sentence on the murderers and others who have been sentenced to life in prison without parole? Or…..hand out an unlimited supply of Fentanyl to the drug addicts—–administered by licensed nurses, of course. After all, it’s only the taxpayers who are paying for it.
My wife and I moved from California five years ago due to the state’s having become a snake pit of endless stupid decisions by stupid politicians voted into office by stupid voters—-and there seems to be no end in sight.

Bob
Bob
22 days ago

You can bet Pelosi is a recipient.

Louise R
Louise R
22 days ago

What about the rights of the rest of us? What about our rights to some say over what happens to our tax money? The rights to our parks and sidewalks? The right to some safety when we’re outside in the city?

betty
betty
23 days ago

California liberals keep getting crazier and crazier. so glad i left the state.it was bad enough when i left but now well……

papaYEC
papaYEC
23 days ago

Trying to kill them off, IMO.

Rich Swimm
Rich Swimm
23 days ago

California has a “harm reduction” program for alcoholics while the vast majority of Americans support the legalization of marajuana. Next, it’s free cannabis and other drugs to “reduce harm” to addicts. You can’t make this stuff up.

John
John
23 days ago

Democrat Party Comrade’s love to create program’s extend the misery of people.
Wonder how much money the city/ county officials skimmed off for themselves.
Stupid is as stupid does! The definition of the Democrat party comrade voters.

Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
23 days ago

For Tourisim

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