A small 'treatment tax' should be added to the cost of alcohol in shops to fund a new generation of rehabilitation centres and stem the tide of Britain's addiction problems, a new report from the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) has said.
The Ambitious for Recovery report highlights how effective addiction treatment has become the preserve of the wealthy and that many addicts are left behind.
The CSJ says that in England alone 300,000 people are addicted to opiates and/or crack, 1.6 million are dependent on alcohol and one in seven children under the age of one live with a substance-abusing parent.
Researchers say residential treatment – the most effective form of abstinence-based support – has been continually cut by councils and called for this to be reversed.
To do this, the CSJ recommends a 'treatment tax' be added to off-licence alcohol sales to fund rehab for people with alcohol and drug addictions. Under the scheme, a levy of a penny per unit would be added by the end of the next Parliament to fund recovery services to the tune of £1.1billion over the five years.
The report also includes bold measures to tackle dramatic rises in the use of 'legal highs' – the study says hospital admissions are soaring and forecasts that deaths linked to 'legal highs' could be higher than those related to heroin in just two years.
The CSJ, which has heavily influenced many of the Coalition’s social policy programmes, says many 'legal highs' are sold in 'head shops' and recommends a policy to give police more powers to close them down.
The study also says that once more rehab centres are created, the Government should look at reducing welfare payments for claimants who continually refuse to address their addiction.
The report is part of the CSJ's Breakthrough Britain 2015 series - which is expected to influence the manifestos of Britain's mainstream parties in the run-up to next year's election.