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Drug and Alcohol Findings. (2017) Promoting recovery through employment. London: Drug and Alcohol Findings. Drug and Alcohol Findings Hot Topic (July 2017)

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Almost wherever you look among the UK’s national drug policies in England, Scotland and Wales (and perhaps only peripherally in Northern Ireland), employment is seen as both an asset to rehabilitation and recovery from dependent drug use, and a social obligation for drug users who can work and contribute to society. In contrast, employment is more likely to feature in alcohol strategies as a benefit of leisure industries. 

Setting the stage for a discussion of employment interventions, this hot topic first examines the prominence of unemployment in the population of problem substance users, and the many barriers to work. It also raises questions about: how realistic competitive employment is for people whose lifestyles have revolved around obtaining drugs (rather than honing their CVs) and perhaps gaining a criminal record in the process; at what point in a person’s journey the goal of employment should be on the table; and if employment is predominantly a ‘means to an end’ of achieving recovery and reintegration, whether it would be more fruitful to look beyond the binary outcomes of ‘being in work’ or ‘not being in work’?

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