Atos Appendix-Alcohol & Substance Misuse

Please sign & forward the petition to investigate Atos PIP assessments.

Right let’s get this ball rolling. I am going to put these up in alphabetical order, so bare with me. In addition to the Atos documents, I’m going to try and give a few words of advice on what to look out for at an assessment that includes that condition, along with contact details for some relevant support groups & charities.

In my experience, and this is anecdotal (although any assessor would be familiar with the practice), when I started and saw my first claimant with alcohol problems, I completed the assessment, and before writing my report, sought the advice of my clinical support lead (CSL). He went through each descriptor with me and basically advised me to score As (i.e. zero points in each descriptor), as although the person admitted to drinking a large amount each day, he was functional, and able to get to assessment on time. Although his clothes were well worn, he was basically clean, and I was told if he had no physical issues, was able to get out and about adequately to buy alcohol, there was no reason to score him.

I dealt with further cases on my own judgement, and it was very rare that alcohol or substance misuse was the only condition. When someone’s “only” issue was alcohol, it felt like, and was regularly commented on by staff, that the claimant had been “palmed” off to “try for PIP” as the DWP didn’t want or know how to proceed with the individual.

Support organisations & charities that may offer help;

Advice for families of drug users-NHS ( Adaction-( ) Addiction and dependency-Mind, the mental health charity ( Drug Use – Young Minds (

Most importantly, if you are struggling, having thoughts of suicide or hurting yourself, find someone to talk to or contact the Samaritans ( Telephone 116 113 (UK or ROI)

As with all claimant’s I recommend you take an advocate with you to any & all assessments, appeals and tribunal. This can be anyone, ideally, if you have a social or support worker, take them, but even a family member can be useful to take notes, ask questions and ensure you are not put under undue pressure. I did assessments with the claimant, plus 2 or 3 people to support them. Don’t forget, you are entitled to record the assessment but Atos will make this very difficult, due to the need for the use of a device which is immediately able to make 2 identical copies on cassette or CD. The assessor (at the time I resigned), could also refuse to conduct an assessment if it was to be recorded. Bearing in mind, on my first day on the job, I said I’d be happy if the whole of every consultation was recorded. You’d think Atos would want to have some really good reason why an assessor wouldn’t want to be recorded no?

Before I publish the link, consider the references at the back. The hyperlinks that are there, take you to pages that don’t exist, and if I had written out my reference list on an essay at university like this (no dates, volume numbers etc,), my mark would have reflected what could only be described as shoddy work.

Whilst I appreciate that many drugs are illegal (not some of the most deadly (& taxable)), and I would not advocate use of anything, about which you are not informed, but open your eyes, & use your critical thinking abilities before you take any of their supporting documents as gospel. Professor David Nutt ( was the government’s “Chief Drug Adviser”, until he claimed in a paper ( that alcohol and tobacco (taxable) were more harmful than many illegal drugs, including LSD, ecstasy and cannabis. Nutt had criticised politicians for “distorting” and “devaluing” the research evidence in the debate over illicit drugs. Subsequently, Nutt and a number of his colleagues who had subsequently resigned from the ACMD founded the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs (

Atos appendix to training for alcohol & substance misuseh

Hope some of this is useful and again, any questions or comments, please use the contact page.

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