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Waste of the Day: San Francisco Is Treating Alcoholism with Free Beer

June 07, 2024

Topline: San Francisco spends $5 million each year on its “Managed Alcohol Program,” which provides free beer and vodka to homeless addicts, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Key facts: The small program started in 2020 to help those in isolation suffering from alcohol withdrawal. Now it operates 20 beds in a former hotel, where nurses provide limited amounts of alcohol so homeless residents can fuel their addiction without risking alcohol poisoning.

It made headlines this May after Adam Nathan, chair of the Salvation Army San Francisco Metro Advisory Board, posted on X about watching homeless drunks line up for free beer. Nathan said people “can just walk in and grab a beer,” but the city health department told the San Francisco Chronicle that the program is more controlled than that.

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Waste of the Day 6.7.24

Supporters say the program saves money by keeping homeless alcoholics off the streets and decreasing their reliance on emergency services. The goal is to keep people out of the hospital but not necessarily to get them sober.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the program is part of the city’s larger use of “harm reduction.” Other programs give drug addicts clean needles and overdose-reversal drugs instead of promoting abstinence.

Even Mayor London Breed recently came out against harm reduction.

The program has some beds “earmarked to serve the Latinx/Indigenous Mayan community.” The city’s public health system says “Latinx individuals experience worse alcohol related health complications and mortality, face greater criminalization, and have limited access to treatment.”

Program participants are also allowed to use marijuana, according to Fox News, although it’s not provided by the city.

Critical quote: “As a Democrat, I’m all for directing more government funds to programs that achieve their objectives and provide public benefits … But this isn’t working,” Nathan said on X. “The whole system is incentivized to make money off those people rather than help them get healthy … We are living in the upside down.”

Summary: Alcohol can get expensive, but most privately-owned bars probably wish they had as much cash on hand as San Francisco’s free alcohol program.

The #WasteOfTheDay is brought to you by the forensic auditors at OpenTheBooks.com

This article was originally published by RealClearInvestigations and made available via RealClearWire.
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