Proposed British Alcohol Tax To Help Fund Treatment Programs

By John Lavitt 09/19/14

The Centre for Social Justice has proposed a two-pence tax on alcohol in order to pay for addiction treatment.

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The BBC recently reported on a think tank’s recommendation that a new alcohol tax be installed to help fund abstinence-based treatment programs to address the growing problem of alcohol abuse.

The Centre for Social Justice proposed a ring-fenced "treatment tax" that would raise the cost of alcohol bought in shops by 2p per unit by 2024. The think tank estimated the new tax would raise £155m a year from 2015, and will increase to about £520m a year from 2024. The CSJ explained how, “Our report lays out a program for whoever next enters government, to tackle addiction and reduce its costs to society.”

The tax is one of a number of measures recommended by the think tank to tackle the problem of alcoholism and addiction in England. The CSJ made similar proposals in 2007, when the current Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith was in charge of the group, but that particular effort failed. Given the financial drain caused by the rising costs of addiction and alcoholism, the new CSJ director, Christian Guy, hopes these latest recommendations will receive a better response.

"At the moment we do very little for alcoholics, and for drug addicts we just dump them on methadone," Guy Christian Guy told BBC Breakfast. "The chance to get clean in this country is the preserve of the wealthy. For the poor, for the people relying on a public system, there's very little choice to get clean."

Although the British Department of Health believes the current public health budget is enough to address the problem at hand, the CSJ strongly disagrees. They want the government to fund treatment centers for 58,000 addicts per year by 2024. With 300,000 people in England addicted to opiates and crack, 1.6 million dependent on alcohol, and one in seven children under the age of one living with a substance-abusing parent, the group believes the problem is spiraling out of control.

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Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.