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Drug and alcohol misusers who refuse to seek treatment may lose sickness benefits under new proposal by the government

Alcohol and drug misusers receiving sickness benefits may lose their privilege if they do not seek treatment.

A proposal that has been suggested by Prime Minister David Cameron is currently under review by Dame Carol Black, Royal College of Physicians’ former president and one of UK’s well-known medical experts.

Under the proposal, sickness benefits may be denied for substance abusers who do not undergo treatment. However, support as well as treatment will not be denied unto them.

The proposal was first mentioned by Cameron in February. Last July, ministers announced that the proposal is under review and evidence may be required for submission by September 11th.

90,000 substance misusers are currently receiving sickness benefit. If the proposal is approved, a significant number of them may be affected. As part of her review, Black said she will be consulting addicts as well as their employers to determine if there is correlation between getting sickness benefits and receiving treatment.

The proposal, however, has been criticised by several groups.

Commons Health Select Committee Conservative chair Sarah Wollaston told the BBC last July 29 that the proposal is not acceptable from the ethical point of view.

A spokesperson from the Liberal Democrats said substance misusers should be treated with compassion. The spokesperson said:

"It is entirely right we make sure people suffering alcohol, drug or weight-related problems get effective help and support. But Tories need to realise: not everyone is a scrounger.” 

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