Governments could slash costs and crime rates if they had better policies for helping drug and alcohol addicts, a new report claims.
Government policies aimed at helping recovering drug and alcohol addicts are neglecting them after the detox process, a new report has found.
It says this leaves addicts in a vicious cycle of relapse and puts unnecessary strain on the public purse.
The survey, examining the experiences of almost 600 recovering and recovered addicts and touted as the first of its kind in Australia, says all levels of government need to stop focusing on the policing of drug use and distribution, and invest more in recovery services.
That would slash health care, child care and criminal justice system costs racked up by addicts, while drastically cutting crime rates and creating more valuable contributors to society, the Life in Recovery report says.
The survey, by the South Pacific Private and Turning Point treatment centres, suggests addicts in recovery are 75 per cent less likely to drive while under the influence, 50 per cent less likely to get arrested and 40 per cent less likely to perpetrate or be a victim of family violence.
They're also 40 per cent more likely to volunteer in a community group, and tend to make more significant contributions to the community than the average person, according to the report's author, Associate Professor David Best.
Government funding is provided for detox services but virtually no money is spent on the difficult recovery process that follows, despite relapse rates of between 50 and 70 per cent in the first year of recovery, he said.
The focus needs to switch to funding support groups and programs that help addicts get back on their feet, like finding jobs and accommodation, he said.
"None of the treatment services are sufficiently well-funded but the complete neglect of after care and recovery services is both inconsistent with the evidence and counter-productive, because it just puts people into this spiral of relapse," Prof Best said.