GPs will soon be handing out vouchers to drug addicts who are trying to kick their habits as part of a new scheme to tackle substance abuse among over-16s.
Under the plans, around 36,000 addicts in England will be given up to £150 a year for accessing treatment and health programmes, and staying clean.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), which announced the move, said it will be cost-effective in the long run, insisting addicts will only be given vouchers, and not cash or prizes.
NICE estimates the cost of implementing the guidelines in England to be £13.4m, with up to a further £5m a year needed for the voucher scheme.
But it believes savings to the NHS will run at £4.1m a year, and savings to society in general will be worth £37.2m a year.
Steve Pilling, co-director of the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health, who worked on the guidance, said vouchers and incentives could bring about “really substantial” improvements which will benefit not only drug users, but also their families and the wider community.
The guidance, which will be sent to all health workers involved in substance misuse, is part of an initiative to reduce the number of “problem” drug users in the UK.
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