I am very fearful about how this economic downturn is going to effect the treatment of addiction. By and large, the general public still see addiction as a self inflicted condition. Even in the best of economic times this was an easy area to cut expense.
In the recent past there has been a terrible “smoke and mirrors” effort by the government by saying that they were spending more and more on addiction treatment, whilst in reality, half of the in patient beds available to the State have been laying empty.
In this new economic environment I can see the whole area of mental health being generally neglected but this specific sub area, addictive illness is particularly vulnerable.
The biggest problem is that, up until now, the Government has focused attention on normal people who drink too much, or take drugs recreationally, but there has been nothing done to explain the difference between excessive use and those who have a medical illness of addiction. Until this distinction is clearly drawn, this group remain extremely vulnerable.