Professor Joe Jones
Welfare and Drug Testing
Two young mothers go to their local welfare office and apply for help; both are in need but one has a drug problem and the other doesn’t. If drug testing was mandatory the mother with a drug problem would be required to attend a drug treatment program as a condition of receiving any assistance. Should passing a drug test be a requirement to receive public assistance?
First, if welfare recipients were required to take a drug test prior to receiving benefits the number of people on welfare would be greatly impacted. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reported in 2007 that approximately 20 percent of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients reported having used an illicit drug at least once in the past year, and at least 5 percent admitted that they had a substance addiction (Vitter). That is 20 percent that would either be off welfare or be receiving the treatment they need to get clean and lead a more productive life. By requiring drug screening and drug treatment upon failure we are encouraging people to be self-sufficient and not encourage dependency. Providing treatment would provide welfare recipients the nesseccary tools needed to support themselves and their families.
Secondly in light of the economic crisis this country is facing should we not be better stewards of the taxpayers money. With potentially billions of taxpayer dollars being spent on illegal drug would it not be better to allocate this money to treatment. With the U.S. National Debt at $14 trillion, we cannot afford to carelessly waste taxpayer dollars by allowing welfare recipients to use the money to purchase drugs (U.S. National Debt). By requiring drug testing taxpayers would know that welfare dollars will be used to treat those who test positive and provide assistance during their treatment.
Thirdly, welfare workers have noted that welfare reforms to date...