"But we can't abandon anyone to long periods on benefits without help to overcome problems.
"So that's why we are going to look at the arrangements for alcoholics on benefits, just as we did for problem drug users, so that people get the help they need to get sober, to get their life back and get back to work."
Mr Purnell has previously said that the plans to cut drug addicts' benefits would give them the chance to "turn their lives around".
Shadow work and pensions secretary Theresa May said this latest review was "another smokescreen" to "deflect from Labour's failure to get to grips with our welfare system".
She added: "Under James Purnell the system has gone into meltdown with more than 100,000 people claiming benefits because they are drug addicts or alcoholics. That's more than doubled from 48,700 since 1997.
"The government has had more than a decade to sort this problem out so this is too little, too late.
"The devil is always in the detail with Labour. Mr Purnell has failed to say when this will happen, how much it will cost and who it will exactly help."
Liberal Democrat work and pensions spokesman Steve Webb said the plans were "no more than typical New Labour posturing".
He added: "Threatening to deprive people of their basic benefits unless they recover from alcoholism is fundamentally inhumane.
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