GET CLEAN OR LOSE YOUR BENEFITS
Drug addicts face consequences unless they seek help
The government’s latest 10-year drugs strategy will force people claiming incapacity benefit because they are hooked on drugs to see a specialist counsellor.
They will be offered support but not forced to enter treatment or prove they have quit using substances. But, in a classic carrot-and-stick, if they fail to turn up to a session they will lose two weeks’ benefits. A second no-show means losing four weeks’ benefits. If a third appointment is missed, there will be no payments for six months.
The policy will apply only to new incapacity-benefit claimants – currently 4,000 register each year. The existing 50,000 addicts who receive the handouts, woth up to Â£81.35 a week, will not be targeted.
Conversely, there is a fear that the policy risks increasing burglaries and other acquisitive crimes, as addicts stripped of benefits seek to pay for their drugs. After all, these are the very ones not attending treatment sessions.
CHILDREN OF ADDICTS
The strategy promises help for children of addicts. 250,000-350,000 youngsters are liviing in homes where their parents use drugs – the figure is over 1million for parents abusing alcohol.
Ministers promise support to grandparents willing to take over the children’s care.
There will also be more drug education in schools, with harder messages about the conseuqnces of using heroin, cocaine and cannabis… Addiction Today repeats its oft-told and oft-ignored message: education at worst accelerates children’s use of drugs, at best can be prevention. So we should be talking prevention not education, to avoid detrimental confusion.However, there is a ray of hope in a very practical move: Ofsted will be told to rate schools on how effective these lessons are.
ASSETS FROM DRUG DEALERS
“Assets confiscated from drug dealers should be ploughed back into the local area,” said Local Government Association chairman Sir Simon Milton.
And these assets should increase: not only can police confiscate assets without going to court but also there will be more ‘rat on a rat’ campaigns to report drug dealers.
Classification of cannabis has been omitted from the strategy.