Drug Testing of Welfare Recipients – Yes

Drug testing for welfare recipients is an issue that has been raised in the past and recently has arisen for new discussion.

This writer believes welfare recipients should be tested for substance use.

There are serious concerns over fraud and abuse within the welfare and Social Security system.  As a former Social Worker having worked in the field of Substance Abuse Treatment, I saw clients who abused yet used food stamps and welfare funding to pay for such things as their rent and other items.  If their money had not been spent on Crack Cocaine or Marijuana, how much of the welfare funding would actually be needed by these people?  For the taxpayers, they have a right to have this concern addressed.

The application of this testing should be regular and often and for everyone regardless of any disability or situation that declared them eligible for services.  Substances such as THC, the active ingredient in Marijuana, stay active and detectable in the system for a maximum of 30 days.  Therefore random testing should be bi-weekly.  While Marijuana is considered a “minor” drug, it is still (for now) illegal and should be considered as it is considered to be a “gateway” drug introducing people to considering the use of other substances.

If a client tests positive, they would have one chance to clean up on their own.  If it is a Marijuana issue, test them again in 35 days (other drugs could be tested for anytime).  If they come up as clean, then note it in the record and carry on with a standard testing schedule.  If they come up as positive, they should be offered treatment for their use. 

They would have two choices at this point.  First (and best) would be to take the treatment.  The second choice is they deny treatment upon which they would no longer be eligible for receiving assistance and be removed from it.

Assuming treatment is accepted—during their treatment period and for 1 month after, they would be able to continue on Public Assistance.  If they test positive again, they would be declared ineligible for services and immediately taken off of Public Assistance.

Funding for the treatment is a whole different discussion, and due to my poor money management skills, your writer will defer that to a later period of consideration.

This plan would help reduce the rolls of Welfare recipients by weeding out those people who are merely using their economic status as an excuse for continuing the use (and abuse) of illegal substances.