Homelessness and Harm Reduction

Commenting on Podymow et al. (Shelter-Based Managed Alcohol Administration to Chronically Homeless People Addicted to Alcohol), Hwang notes that the study, though not without limitations, provides " tantalizing demonstration of the feasibility and potential value of a pioneering harm-reduction program for this difficult-to-serve population." Furthermore, he writes, "the critical scientific question is whether a managed alcohol program for homeless people results in better outcomes than traditional abstinence-based programs. If so, which individuals are most likely to benefit from such an approach? Until we have data from controlled trials, these issues will remain unresolved. In the meantime, the staff and health care providers at managed alcohol programs such as the one described in this study must be applauded for their commitment to caring for some of the most marginalized members of our society."

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Canadian Medical Association Journal