Does giving money to people with substance use disorder ‘enable’ them? It’s complicated.

Alex Woodruff is a health science specialist at VA Boston Healthcare System and the Partnered Evidence-based Policy Resource Center. He tweets at @aewoodru

Our lexicon is full of phrases that justify cutting-off financial support to people who use drugs. Phrases like “they’ll just go spend it on drugs” and “enabling” are a mainstay in the public conversation about addiction. But the evidence surrounding substance use and spending tells a more complex story. Financially disenfranchising people who use drugs can drive high risk behaviors, hinder access to necessities, and perpetuate a cycle of poverty that can be an anchor for people with addiction. 

In this Boston Globe article, I address the historical mindset that financially supporting people who use drugs will enable their drug use and challenge the multitude of ways that this “tough love” approach is integrated into the way we treat people with addiction. Most importantly I discuss the hurt this causes for families, communities, and people with addiction that are searching for a way to help. 

Check out the full article here.

Alex Woodruff’s research is supported by Arnold Ventures

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