A new Government scheme is being launched to offer support to drug users and alcoholics after it was revealed that addicts cost the taxpayer more than £10 billion a year.

Iain Duncan Smith announced the initiative, which will be run by the Jobcentre to help people with substance misuse issues tackle their addictions and find work. Jobcentre staff will be assigned cases and will work with addicts to help them get treatment, support and mental health counselling.

The work and pensions secretary said that the initiative aimed to identify people who are stuck on benefits because of their lifestyle. Once participants have a job, they will continue to receive support from the Jobcentre until they are able to leave the benefits system completely.

Mr Duncan Smith said: “Too often in the past, people with complex barriers such as addiction, indebtedness or homelessness were written off to a life on benefits. These problems are the root causes of poverty and if not tackled mean that the cycle of disadvantage will continue into the next generation.”

Addiction costs taxpayers £10.1 billion

He quoted a report by the Lankelly Chase Foundation which found the annual cost of supporting people with the most severe problems was £10.1 billion. There are 586,000 people in the UK who are categorised as having at least serious problem including alcoholism, drug addiction and homelessness.

As well as helping those with alcohol and drug problems, more support will be offered to those with mental health problems, debt issues and a history of offending.

Critics have claimed the scheme is just another strategy aimed at reducing the benefits bill.

If you’re concerned someone you know may be misusing drugs and alcohol, it is important to help them get the support they need. Encourage them to talk in confidence to their GP who may be able to refer them for specialist help on the NHS.

There are also a number of charities and voluntary organisations which offer support and advice.

Drug testing can help identify problems and allow you to monitor substance misuse in someone you know has a problem. AlphaBiolabs offers a wide range of drug testing services including legal tests for local authorities, law firms, courts and other official organisations.

We work with employers providing workplace tests to help maintain safety at work and to aid investigations into any incidents. And members of the public can use our home drug testing kits or peace of mind tests.