Drug Testing: The Answer to Our Budget Problems?

Published: 2021-09-14 21:00:07
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Drug Testing: The Answer to Our Budget Problems?

Drug Testing: The Answer to Our Budget Problems?
We as a nation have no problem drug testing for employment, drug testing our athletes, or drug testing people on probation. Does the same rationale for drug testing extend to and justify drug testing for assistance? Most Americans support new laws proposed in 36 states requiring drug testing of recipients of cash assistance from the major welfare program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). This paper will examine the current Florida law and the 1999 Michigan law requiring drug tests for receipt of financial assistance and social services. The reasoning behind these laws includes the premise that taxpayers should not pay for people's drug addictions. By requiring drug tests, supporters claim, the states could save hundreds if not thousands of dollars in assistance given to recipients who would use the assistance, at least in part, to continue the drug habits.
The United States is in the middle of economic hardship and the national deficit is at an all time high. In order to balance the budget, programs might have to take cuts and taxes may have to be raised. Is drug testing the poor the answer to our budget problem? This paper will prove three things: that there is no research showing that welfare recipients use drugs more than non-recipients; that drug testing will cost the states more money than it saves; and finally that mandatory drug testing a violation of our Fourth Amendment right.
From 2009-2010 nearly two hundred and thirty three thousand Florida residents applied for cash assistance. During his 2010 campaign for governor, republican Rick Scott promised to keep drug abusers off the Florida welfare rolls, claiming that studies show people on welfare are higher users of illegal drugs than people not on welfare (Wickham, 2011). Can this claim be supported or does it just demonize the poor and reaffirm the stereotype that drug users go on welfare to support their drug habits? The Justice Department estimates that 6 percent of Americans twelve years and older use illegal drugs; out of this 6 percent how many Americans are collecting taxpayer-funded money to support their use?
In 1996 the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism using data collected in the 1992 National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiologic Survey conducted a study. Respondents over the age of 18 were randomly selected from 42,862 U.S. households to participate in face-to-face interviews. The study compared rates of drug and alcohol use between different race, gender, and age groups. Results of this study showed that between 3.8 and 9.8 percent of social service program recipients reported some sort of drug use. These rates do not differ much from the 5.1 percent of drug use reported from people not receiving aid (Grant & Dawson, 1996). A more current 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 8.9 percent of the general population illegally uses some kind of drug (Hiaasen, 2011). Yet another study found that 70 percent of illegal drug users between the ages of 18-49 are employed full time (Cohen, 2011). These studies show that while the U.S. population as a whole could benefit from substance abuse prevention and treatment services, but contrary to common characterizations, there is no evidence to support the stereotype that more welfare recipients use drugs than the average citizen not receiving aid.

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