A waste of human (and recovery) capital

hire-me-21From a UK foundation looking for opportunities to improve addiction services in London:

. . . there is one crucial area in which people in treatment are possibly being failed, and that is employment. While we found that almost every participant wanted to work either in the future or right now, most people in treatment for heroin and/ or crack cocaine use are unemployed (65% to over 80% depending on the measure of unemployment used), and for people pursuing some types of treatment, we may have the highest rate of unemployment in Europe.

The consequences of this are several. The economic cost of people who are able to work and in most cases extremely keen to do so is significant. There is the social cost of unemployment and the waste of human capital. There is also the personal cost to the individual, the lack of fulfilment and other harms often associated with long-term unemployment.

Most importantly, it seems likely that the demotivating effect of unemployment harms recovery, meaning people re-presenting more frequently to drug and alcohol services due to lapse or relapse – there was strong support among the London Drug and Alcohol Network’s research participants for the idea that employment can help to sustain recovery. One of the key elements of the Drug Strategy is ‘recovery capital’ – simply put, friends, homes and jobs, and we may be failing to facilitate a crucial component of this.