Addiction can destroy lives, families and communities. Salvation Army’s mission aims to serve and love those caught up in all manifestations of addictions, including addressing the ‘hidden harm’ wrought on successive generations where parents are bound up in addiction.
The Salvation Army has worked with women and men with problematic substance use since it was founded in the nineteenth century, yet the needs remain as pressing today. Both in our Employment and Homelessness work, as well as in our specialised addiction services, we witness first-hand the devastating effect drugs and alcohol dependency can have on individuals, as well as their families and friends.
Through our network of residential Lifehouses (hostels), corps based services, outreach programmes, drop-in centres, move-on accommodation and floating support, we work with members of our community who often face multiple forms of exclusion. The Salvation Army focuses on seeing the person rather than attributing labels, and this is central to our established drug and alcohol programmes. Specifically, The Salvation Army deploys our harm reduction approach, which has saved lives. This is augmented by ‘psycho-social’ programmes, which aim at identifying and addressing the issues the addict faces that are being masked by misusing substances.
We work publicly to dismantle the structural causes of addictive behaviour. This leads us to an intentional focus on working to address the impact of alcohol and drug misuse and reckless gambling.
The Salvation Army believes that its firm stance on the dangers of alcohol misuses allows its members to work effectively among those for whom alcohol is a problem.
The Salvation Army does not condemn people who drink alcohol. However, members of The Salvation Army voluntarily refrain from the use of alcohol, standing in solidarity with those who suffer from its harm.
Alcohol misuse transcends age and social groups. It is a population-wide problem that fundamentally requires a population-wide response. The misuse of alcohol is an issue successive Governments have attempted to tackle. A number of clients who use Salvation Army services have ongoing alcohol-related problems. The Salvation Army works closely with addiction referral services as well as providing specialist detox centres in the UK. This is complemented by rehabilitation and support programmes.
We lobby Government to provide adequate solutions to alcohol-related problems. We continue to campaign against high strength low-cost alcohol and for a Minimum Unit Price for such harmful products. The Salvation Army advocates a 50p minimum unit price for alcohol as an effective way of addressing alcohol harm. It is estimated that the annual costs to society of alcohol-related harm is £21 billion.
The Salvation Army have many years of experience of lobbying successive Governments on Gambling policy.
We were instrumental in helping lobby on the 2005 Gambling Act so that no ‘Super’ Casinos were built in the UK. However, in recent years the huge growth in internet gambling and in the spread of addictive slot machines to high street bookmakers have each contributed to fresh public concern about the social harm gambling can cause.
The Salvation Army’s message has been consistent, we desire more gambling industry funding for gambling research and treatment, action on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) as well as more effective licensing and planning powers for local authorities coupled with better controls for vulnerable individuals.