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26.6.5 The decision whether or not to drink alcohol or consume illicit drugs is/was always the client's own


The decision to drink alcohol is generally the client's own. However in some cases, where alcohol consumption has resulted in a disease state diagnosable as an addiction, the decision to drink may not be the client's own. As highlighted above, if for example a member witnesses a traumatic event and they turn to alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism, depending on the evidence and medical opinion on the case, it may be determined that the claimant had no control over their resulting escalated use and addiction. In this instance the addiction may be accepted as a disease, provided there is a material or significant contribution of service. Further an addiction to alcohol/drug may arise say due to a psychological condition, for example PTSD. Again this depends on the medical evidence as to whether the drug/alcohol use was actually of the claimant's own choice or not. If the consumption of alcohol or drugs is the claimant's own choice then it is not as a result of service.

If the accepted medical condition (or a service related incident) makes it impossible for the claimant to exercise free will in the use or abstinence of alcohol, then there can be considered to be a reasonable connection from the claimant's service and/or primarily accepted condition to the condition(s).

Generally though, the decision to drink alcohol to excess i.e. regularly to the point of inebriation where it is the claimant's own free will, can be said to invoke the exclusion under S14(3) i.e. 'serious and wilful misconduct'.