Should Drug Testing be a Requirement for Welfare Benefits?

Drug testing welfare recipients is a hotly debated topic from both sides of the issue. In fact, this question has been gaining significant ground in the form of legislation in a number of states to force people who apply for or are currently on welfare to submit to drug testing. If drugs are found in their system, their benefits will be taken away and other penalties may apply. However, many argue that this could hurt children and others who legitimately need the assistance.

The primary argument of those who support drug testing of welfare recipients is that government funds are being misused and spent on drugs or alcohol, insinuating openly that low-income and jobless people are more likely to use drugs or drink. From Rachel Bloom’s article in The Huffington Post discussing a bill on the issue in Virginia;

“There are other problems with the bill as well, perhaps most concerning that they target poor people for unconstitutional privacy violations without any proof that it’s necessary. As the ACLU’s Jason Williamson told USA Today, the proposed laws inaccurately suggest that people on welfare use drugs more than others.” (1)

What the bill in question – and dozens of others like it – fail to take into consideration is that even if a welfare recipient is using drugs or alcohol, taking away or denying their benefits could hurt their entire family. Many have argued that children certainly shouldn’t suffer as a result of their parents choices, but the counter-argument has been that the money will only be misapplied anyway;

“Driving the measures is a perception that people on public assistance are misusing the funds and that cutting off their benefits would save money for tight state budgets — even as statistics have largely proved both notions untrue.” (2)

Still other people have argued that it’s not about picking on any one particular group or punishing anyone. Instead, they state that it’s about applying a fair standard to the way government money is used, citing the fact that many federal, state and local government workers are required to submit to a drug test as part of their employment.

Indeed, many companies around the nation test their workers for drugs both upon hire and regularly throughout their employment. Employers often justify this by stating that workers who use drugs and alcohol have more missed days, are less productive and ultimately are a safety liability. But as is the case with people who are on welfare, there’s no real evidence to suggest that these ideas are accurate.

And even though most state governments considering such legislation indicate that passing drug testing for welfare laws will save taxpayers money, the cost of implementing and managing such programs are generally cost-prohibitive. Furthermore, the idea that any state would save money by targeting and withholding benefits from the poor is an uncomfortable notion for many to consider.

The fact of the matter is that if you have a drug problem, you need to get help right now. Our powerful inpatient drug treatment program can have you back on your feet in as little as 30 days. After all, if you’re not clean and sober, none of these other issues matter anyway. Call us today and start living the life you deserve tomorrow.

(1) Bloom, Rachel Drug-Testing Welfare Recipients: A Trend With No Traction 03/ 8/2012 The Huffington Post
(2) Neary, Ben Plans to drug test welfare recipients get momentum 02/24/2012 Associated Press

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