Until recently, Swiss case law placed the responsibility for drug addiction on the drug user.
Drug addicts only qualified for disability welfare if their addiction was connected with an illness or accident.
A recent ruling on a case by the Federal Tribunal, Switzerland’s highest court, changes this.
The case involved a man in Zurich dependent on opioids and benzodiazepines, a type of drug sometimes used to alleviate the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Unable to work, the man argued he was entitled to disability welfare.
After having his case rejected by a court in Zurich, on appeal, the Federal Tribunal decided that the semi-skilled car mechanic was not responsible for his inability to work. Instead, drug addiction was the cause.
Going forward, drug addiction in Switzerland will be treated like an illness when determining eligibility for disability welfare payments.
People with drug dependencies who have been diagnosed and evaluated by a medical specialist will now qualify for disability welfare payments if they undergo treatment. Those who refuse treatment will lose their entitlement.
Federal Tribunal ruling (in German)