DrugTesting for Welfare Recipients
Drugtesting is carried out as a job requirement in many companies. Theuse of substances is associated with the performance and work qualityof the employees, especially if the job requires highly attentivepersonnel or involves operating heavy machinery. Besides, drug usecan affect a worker’s concentration and judgment. However, the sloweconomic recovery has left a significant number of Americansunemployed (Alvarez). The welfare programs were started back in 1935to help the needy in the society before they could get back on theirfeet (Amundson, Zajicek and Kerr 443). These programs are necessaryas a safety net, but they are only supposed to be temporary. Today,government assistance has become accepted by the society thus, morepeople than ever are dependent on the government aid. However, somestates have enacted laws to restrict the drug addicts from receivingsocial assistance (The Associated Press). The issue is marred bycontroversy as some arguments are based on the workers’ point ofview while others revolve around the recipients’ perspective.Nonetheless, if drug tests are necessary for a job application, thesame approach should be used for the individuals seeking socialassistance to ensure that the taxpayers’ money is not wasted andreduce substance abuse among welfare beneficiaries.
In1988, the government enacted Drug-Free Workplace Act, which promptedthe federal employees to undergo compulsory drug testing. Personnelin the police force, customs, prison service, and transport industryrequired mandatory checks for illegal substances (Amundson, Zajicekand Kerr 443). The analysis tests for commonly used drugs such ascocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, ecstasy, opium, and marijuana. Someof these drugs such as heroine are used as depressants to decreaseone’s alertness by slowing down the activities in the brain.Stimulants such as methamphetamine, opium, and ecstasy boost thebrain activity by increasing the body’s state of excitement(Amundson, Zajicek and Kerr 452). Hallucinogens such as marijuanaalter the perception of reality to the extent of creatinghallucinations. Alcohol is also commonly used and widely accepted inthe society, but it poses challenges when determining the use ofother illegal drugs (Metsch and Pollack 70). Therefore, 84 percent ofthe companies conduct tests for these substances before hiring.Additionally, they require their employees to undergo follow-upexaminations to prove their compliance with the company drugsregulations.
Similarly,the idea for drug testing in the welfare programs dates back to the1980s (Amundson, Zajicek and Kerr 447). Several states have lawsrequiring the recipients to undergo analysis for illegal substancessuch as Arizona, Tennessee, Missouri, Georgia, Florida,Oklahoma, Michigan, Arkansas, Kansas, Mississippi, NorthCarolina, Utah, and Alabama. After implementing the drug tests, otherrequirements came up to eliminate the eligibility of the convicteddrug felons (Amundson, Zajicek and Kerr 456). For example, New Jerseyand North Carolina proposed measures that would require thebeneficiaries to perform community services to be eligible forgovernment assistance. Furthermore, it has prompted the usequestionnaires to determine if the applicants are involved in otherillegal activities.
Theseefforts are commendable because it is reasonable to ensure that therecipients are not drug addicts. On the other hand, the workforce isslowly shrinking as some people give up looking for jobs and viewsocial assistance as the only way to survive. Hence, embracing thedrug testing idea will ensure that those receiving government aid donot misuse the taxpayer’s money (Amundson, Zajicek and Kerr 447).Hence, the risk of losing the benefits can deter the beneficiariesfrom using drugs. Besides, the tests will be the first step inhelping those recipients deal with the drug problems. Government aidis meant to help those people who cannot afford necessities, anddrugs do not fit in that category. If the government continues toallow the addicts to collect welfare money, it will only go to showthat they condone such immoral behavior (The Associated Press).
Accordingto the Associate Press, the idea of drug testing promoted by theconservatives has received growing support. The taxpayers have optedto help, but they are working hard to earn some of the money thatthey are giving away (The Associated Press). Therefore, they need tosee that the welfare recipients are making efforts to look for workand that they do not abuse any substances (Amundson, Zajicek and Kerr445). Moreover, the programs are a social contract between thetaxpayers and the people in need. The drug tests would only serve tomake sure that the beneficiaries maintain responsible behavior toensure that the temporary government assistance facilitates theirreturn to the workforce (The Associated Press).
Thenagain, mandatory drug testing for the welfare recipients is fair. Thetaxpayers funding the social security programs undergo drug tests toconform to the employment standards. The employers require drug testsbecause they need the workers to be accountable for their actions.Thus, if an employee does not pass the test they can lose their jobor the salary altogether. Consequently, the people receiving the helpshould also be held to the same criteria. As such, they should notview the exercise as discriminatory because they are receivingsupport from those people who have undergone through the sameexercise. Otherwise, if the assistance is given to people usingdrugs, then such recipients will not be willing to go back to work.Instead, they will view government aid as a way to fund theirsubstance abuse habits (The Associated Press).
Accordingto Metsch and Pollack, drug use among welfare beneficiaries is notcommon as the policymakers and advocates assume (66). Therefore,eliminating the recipients using drugs and alcohol would only reducea small portion of the population receiving state assistance.However, substance abuse raises concern because the aid offered mightnot be helping family members, especially the children, depending onit. Conversely, it is evident that the welfare recipients aresusceptible to emotional problems due to the challenges theyencounter such as unemployment and lack of enough resources to carefor themselves and their families (Metsch and Pollack 71).Consequently, it is possible to find such individuals turning todrugs to cope with their problems or escape from reality even for ashort period (Metsch and Pollack 69).
Nonetheless,some critics claim that drug testing for recipients is misguided andunfair. Such arguments indicate that the tests are unnecessary sinceunemployment is just a temporary status (Alvarez). They claim thattesting measures are based on false assumptions that the welfarebeneficiaries are lazy drug users who depend on government hand outto engage in their illicit behaviors instead of using the money toimprove their living situation. They explain that the assumptionsmisunderstand the purpose of the insurance programs (Alvarez). Theseservices assist the people who have lost their jobs involuntarily.Besides, the economic problems in the world are the main reason theseindividuals have not found new jobs. Some people also argue thattesting the welfare recipients is unconstitutional because itviolates the individual’s rights (Alvarez). Hence, they worry thatconducting drug tests only makes the poor and unemployed peoplesuffer even more. Moreover, it is expensive to implement suchprocedures. On the other hand, the beneficiaries think that they arebeing discriminated against due to their current situation (Amundson,Zajicek and Kerr 445). Therefore, they believe that the society andthe policymakers are using unfair assumption and judgments to condoneillegal drug testing (Amundson, Zajicek and Kerr 453). However, ifthe working Americans are expected to give part of their hard-earnedmoney to the needy, it is only reasonable to expect the welfarerecipients to uphold certain standards.
Inconclusion, people have to pass through drug checks and backgroundtests to prove that they are eligible for a particular job.Therefore, the examinations are used as a way to evaluate if theapplicant is best suited for the job because substance abuse affectsone’s ability to carry out assigned activities. The same processshould be applied for those seeking help from the government. Thereis a need to show that the taxpayers’ money is spent in the rightway thus, giving the drug tests is the first step in the rightdirection. Besides, performing drug tests promotes equal rightsbecause if the taxpayers go through the same process so should thosereceiving their money. However, some people argue that suchprocedures assume that the poor and unemployed engage in suspiciousactivities, which is discriminatory. Even so, statistics show thatthe welfare recipients have severe financial deficits, which cancontribute to emotional problems. Hence, subjecting these individualsto same standards to the working Americans is reasonable and fair.When such laws are enacted, the drug addicts do not bother toundertake the tests because the results will invalidate theirapplication. Thus, it shows that the checks can serve as a deterrentto those who use the money to purchase controlled substances.Consequently, the taxpayers’ hard-earned money should not be put inpockets of those people who have a habit of using illicit drugs orengaging in criminal activities.
Alvarez,Lizette. "No Savings Found for Welfare Drug Tests." TheNew York Times,17 April 2012. Web. 29 Oct. 2016.
Amundson,Kalynn, Anna Zajicek, and Brinck Kerr. “A social metamorphosis:Constructing drug addicts from the poor.” SocialSpectrum,Vol. 35, no. 5, 2015, pp.442-464.
Metsch,Lisa R. and Harold A Pollack. “Welfare Reform and Substance Abuse.”TheMilbank Quarterly,vol. 83, no. 1, 2005, pp. 65-99.
Owens,Christine L. “Say No to Testing the Unemployed.” U.S.News & WorldReport,15 Dec. 2011. Web. 29 Oct. 2016.
TheAssociated Press. "Growing Support for Drug Testing of WelfareRecipients." TheNew York Times,25 Feb. 2012. Web. 29 Oct. 2016.