21st April 2011
So all over the news today is a story being leaked by the Conservative and Liberal Coalition regarding how Addiction and Obesity are putting an unnecessary strain on our dole and the social welfare. http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/Politics/Incapacity-Benefit-More-Than-80000-Claim-For-Obesity-And-Addiction-Govt-Figures-Show/Article/201104315976375?lpos=Politics_First_UK_News_Article_Teaser_Region_2&lid=ARTICLE_15976375_Incapacity_Benefit%3A_More_Than_80%2C000_Claim_For_Obesity_And_Addiction%2C_Govt_Figures_Show
The Government’s suggestion is that we generate more jobs for these people, to move them off the dole. The opposition’s point of view is that this is ridiculous with the current Government’s spending cuts thus rendering more and more people jobless. They even say that currently there are 5 people all chasing the same job.
This of course, is all nonsense.
The figures reveal that most of the addicts and alcoholics on incapacity benefit have been there for over 10 years. This leaves me in little doubt that these people are unemployable until they’ve addressed more than just their addiction problems.
These people will require a level of rehabilitation that combats not just their substance misuse, but also their education, motivation, attitudes towards responsibility, integrity and reasonableness.
And I say this from my own experiences, though not entirely the same, similar in many senses.
Let me explain…
When I became drug and alcohol free in 2001, aged 29, I had never had a legal job. I had been one of those homeless statistics that doesn’t get mentioned because I always found a sofa to crash on or some empty building to squat, or a field to camp my vehicle in. I hadn’t participated in society for 11 years since the age of 18 when I’d dropped out just like Timothy Leary had suggested 20 years previously, after having tuned in and turned on.
When I first made an effort to get clean and sober, stopping using and drinking was only one of the problems. In fact, it was one of the easier problems to overcome.
The real problems were as I assimilated back into society.
I didn’t know how to talk, where to look, how to be comfortable in a conversation, how I was to go about getting and then keeping a job, and a whole host of other difficulties re-assimilating back into a society that I had rejected and left 11 or so years before. I even struggled to understand the suggested frequency that I should bath and shave my face – and let’s not mention changing my clothes. I had lived as a dirty, crusty, punk / raver/ raver type for so long, that everything had to be re-learnt – at least it needed to be re-learnt if I was to succeed in my future, playing a part in society and participating in my own destiny.
So that’s where the need for personal responsibility and integrity comes in.
I needed to move away from the selfish, self-centred person my addiction had led me to grow into, and start taking personal responsibility for my actions to myself and to others.
Perhaps more challenging was figuring out how to communicate politely and respectfully without insulting them or humiliating myself. This is an ongoing challenge and one that I can still struggle with – a great example will be this very piece I’m writing now. So convinced I am of my convictions that I’m probably insulting and upsetting a fair sized part of the audience reading this.
But bear with me…
Getting a job wasn’t particularly difficult once I knew what I wanted to do, but figuring out a) what I wanted to do b) what I could do and c) what people were prepared to let me do was the tricky part.
The actual challenge didn’t actually lie in my re-integration back into society.
The actual challenge came from my required physic change.
I needed to a total brain wash and re-programming. NLP – Neuro Linguistic Programming is very good at this, though I was largely self-taught through trial and error of behaviours shifts.
And it is this re-integration back into society and expecting the long term unemployed to learn and build any self respect that will propel them into employment long enough for them to gain a trade that is where the idea is doomed.
With coaching these people back into society, any effort to rehabilitate them is doomed.
Sadly, the first stage towards getting these addicted populations off the welfare state and into self-empowerment and personal financial responsibility must start with giving them a reason “why”. Until they understand why they should need to take care of themselves they will continue to carry the attitude that Society owes them a living.
This fact is very sad indeed.