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Managing Alcohol with Non-Judgmental Support

Boyle Street’s Managed Alcohol Program (MAP) began with a straightforward goal: enable participants to reduce and eliminate their non-beverage alcohol consumption by providing safe, consistent, and non-judgmental support.

What is non-beverage alcohol? It's ethyl alcohol in forms not intended for human consumption.

These forms include rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizers, hair spray, mouthwash, and more. Besides the harms caused by alcohol dependence, non-beverage alcohols contain many toxic chemicals which are extremely harmful to the human body.

But they are potent, relatively cheap, and widely accessible, making them an alternative source of alcohol for those with alcohol dependence. Consumption of non-beverage alcohol is heavily stigmatized, which creates additional barriers - such as shame or scorn - that hinder recovery and treatment.

Today. MAP has blossomed into something far more than a program - it’s now a community and a model that we all can learn from.

More than anything, MAP is successful because it is peer led and peer run. Its participants work alongside the staff to envision and operate the program, a philosophy that guided MAP from day one. When Lina Meadows, MAP’s supervisor, brought the initial group of participants together, she worked with them to create MAP’s code of conduct, goals, practices, data collection procedures, and more. Going forward, each participant was not only invested in their own success, but the success of the program as well.

MAP has been successful in its stated goal - to help participants manage their consumption of alcohol, and in particular to help them reduce and eliminate their consumption of non-beverage alcohol.

To accomplish this, MAP provides its participants with an allotment of wine, dispensed in measured amounts throughout each day. This wine is brewed and bottled by the participants themselves on-site. The brewing and dispersal of this wine is one of MAP’s core features..

Another core feature is the fact that MAP is in a physical, fit-for-purpose space. It is a point of connection that provides a peaceful gathering space for its participants. It also allows Boyle Street to more easily connect the participants to our other programs and services such as housing, identification, banking, physical and mental health, and so on.

These two features work together to enhance the true positive outcome of MAP: the stability it provides, which has a cascading effect throughout the lives of its participants.

First, by providing a consistent and safe supply of alcohol via its wine, MAP is incredibly freeing for its participants. Before MAP, someone might dedicate the majority of their time and energy to acquiring beverage or non-beverage alcohol. This is a huge energy and time sink that takes away from other portions of life, such as full-time work or spending time with family. Additionally, if someone does not know when or how they are getting their next drink, they may drink anything and everything on hand. Many participants of MAP drink less alcohol than before and even less as time passes.

This gives participants back energy and time, which they can now spend on getting stable housing, working full-time, reconnecting with family and community, and countless other things many of us take for granted that make us who we are as a person.

The cascade continues because these things help participants increase their sense of dignity and control over their lives, allowing them to truly look forward in life and feel a sense of self-improvement and growth. This growth and improvement is mirrored in MAP itself, which grows and improves alongside its participants.

Learn more about MAP here:


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