ACT to crack down on unemployed drug addicts receiving benefits

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ACT says it will be difficult for drug addicts who are unemployed and on benefits sending them to rehab, but a former drug addict says there aren’t enough rehabilitation facilities.

Addiction counselor Grant Foster knows addiction first-hand.

“Started with alcohol as a youngster progressed into cannabis and eventually morphed into morphine and narcotics,” Foster said.

Eventually he got help, off benefits and in the job where he has spent the last 20 years helping others.

“The advantage helped me in the beginning, at that time you could stay on it even if you had cleaned up for a short time until you stabilized.

ACT wants to force the few thousand job seekers with substance abuse disorders into drug rehab.

“They should be under an obligation to seek treatment if they receive money from the government and receive a grant,” said ACT social development spokeswoman Karen Chhour.

For those who do not comply, there is the threat of penalties.

“These are people and we cannot forget them because they are a small number that they deserve better,” Chhour said.

“There are always consequences in life and we cannot continue to live without consequences.”

The government says the number of people on benefit with addiction problems is falling and the ACT policy is not needed.

“We already have a sanctions regime which means that if people do not fulfill their work obligations, that is available to a frontline worker within Work and Income,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

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