Addiction and Employment:
A Summary of the Government Review

Drugs on graph paper

The government department of work and pensions is conducting an independent review into the impact on employment outcomes of drug or alcohol addiction, and obesity. From this, I am going to highlight some pertinent information regarding drug and alcohol addiction for you.

Long-term conditions such as drug addiction and alcohol dependency can seriously affect people’s chances of taking up and remaining in rewarding employment. In England alone, research from 2008 and 2010 gave the following statistics and assuming these ratios have remained broadly constant since the research was conducted, this analysis suggests that:

  • 1 in 15 working-age benefit claimants is dependent on drugs such as heroin and crack cocaine. That means around 280,000 working-age benefit claimants are suffering from addiction.
  • 1 in 25 working-age benefit claimants is suffering from alcohol dependency, meaning 170,000 working-age benefit claimants suffer from alcohol addiction.

In addition to the impacts on individuals themselves, there are wider effects—some of them devastating.

  • Alcohol misuse is the third biggest risk factor for illness and death, with 22,481 premature deaths annually in England attributed to alcohol.6 It harms families and communities, and estimates suggest the annual cost to society of alcohol-related harm is £21 billion.
  • Dependent drug users are vulnerable to overdoses, blood-borne viruses and general poor health.
  • Further, research from 1996 to 2000 suggests there are between 200,000 and 300,000 children in England and Wales, where one or both parents have drug misuse problems.
  • More widely, harmful alcohol consumption has been estimated to cost around £3.5 billion per year to the NHS, £11 billion in crime and over £7 billion to the economy in lost productivity; and the societal costs of drug addiction are estimated to be £15.4 billion.

Currently, the study is aimed at gathering information, to enable the government to see how best to help these individuals and lessen these incredible personal and social costs. This will encompass the availability and cost effectiveness of treatments; the support provided by the existing benefit system, including incentives and barriers; and successes abroad to see what we can replicate here in the UK.

The end result should be well thought out recommendations for the government, hoping to generate net savings to the Exchequer over time and enhance the health, well-being and future life chances of individuals and families affected.

I hope that the government will implement some good new systems for helping everyone in these difficult situations and in the meantime we at Narconon UK will keep up our work on drug education and rehabilitation.

For more information on what we can do for you, please contact us on

00800 802 1375


1. Hay, G. and Bauld, L. (2008) Population estimates of problematic drug users in England who access DWP benefits: A feasibility study. London: Department for Work and Pensions (DWP Working Paper No. 46)

2. Hay, G. and Bauld, L. (2011) Population estimates of alcohol misusers who access DWP benefits. [online] Department for Work and Pensions (DWP Working Paper No 94).

3. Public Health England. (2014) From evidence into action: opportunities to protect and improve the nation’s health. [online] Public Health England (Publications gateway number 2014404).

4. Department of Health (England) and the devolved administrations (2007). Drug Misuse and Dependence: UK Guidelines on Clinical Management. London: Department of Health (England), the Scottish Government, Welsh Assembly Government and Northern Ireland Executive.

5. Department of Health. (2011). A summary of the health harms of drugs. [online]: Department of Health.

6. Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. (2011) Hidden Harm – full report. [online]: Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD inquiry report).

7. Public Health England (2013). Alcohol and drugs prevention, treatment and recovery: why invest? [online] Public Health England (Publications gateway number 2013-190).


Narconon UK

Welcome to Narconon United Kingdom At Narconon, we are dedicated to one thing: helping you overcome addiction for good. Part of what makes this possible is the Narconon environment. Every detail has been taken into account to give you the stability and comfort to help you free yourself from addiction and rebuild your life without drugs.