Monday, 23 August 2010

Benefit cuts to those refusing to engage with alcohol or drug treatments.

Would proposals to cut benefits to those addicted to alcohol or drugs, and refuse to enter into treatment have the desired effect of encouraging them to 'kick' the habit? Or, would a cut in benefits lead users to commit crime to further fund habits, thereby increasing conviction rates and prison numbers?

People can not be forced into quitting an addiction, they have to want to do it for themselves and not because the government or a judge say they should. Personal determination is the key to their strength.
For anyone not ready to make the change, I doubt that the threat of loosing benefits has an impact. Some addicts, may have either committed a crime or thought about committing a crime in order to fund their habit and supplement their primary income.
By removing benefits, addicts will surely be forced to find ever more activities to fund habits. I wonder what is more cost effective, paying benefits to an individual, drug treatment services for those that want to change or paying for extra police time, as well as courts and prison costs.


  1. What types of benefits are due to be cut? Will housing benefits be affected? I would have thought that reducing benefits will actually increase the numbers of homeless. If you are an addict (who is not ready to accept any form of help) and are given the choice of either securing a hit or paying your rent, there is a high probability that the former will be the chosen option with eviction/homelessness being an unfortunate outcome. Further, if you become homeless the chances of an addict wanting to kick their habit will potentially be significantly reduced. The 'one size fits all' approach very rarely works and in this case may only exacerbate the problem.

  2. re above comment; One size certainly doesn't fit all, but that cuts both ways. I have seen a client get DLA and blow their month's money all in one day. Who hasn't? If you remove the money, the addict will find it through the other channels they are already using-slavery to drugs is like that.

  3. No one person is the same as another but if we are going to encourage people to quit substances as a method of handling difficult emotions and isolation then we must look at how to offer alternatives. In my experience the hardest thing for those trying to get themselves sorted is that if they leave their old way of life they find themselves looking at four walls with no friends. This is often because they have burnt so many bridges in the past. (And then we say Oh you're doing really well lets start your Hep C treatment!)
    Getting people established in a little flat all on their own just isn't what most people need, they need community and a trusting relationships with others this takes time and it won't just happen by pushing people into a corner by cutting benefits. If benefits need to be cut then we need to get creative about how we facilitate social inclusion.