Pros and Cons of Drug Testing Welfare Recipients


Every year, many local, state, and national government programs offer low-income households the opportunity to make ends meet. These programs, which are combined to create a system of welfare, have a 3% abuse rate where recipients are using their benefits to obtain alcohol and illicit drugs instead of the food that they need. By drug testing all welfare recipients, the idea is that it would be easier to maintain compliance with program regulations. There are some pros and cons to drug testing welfare recipients – let’s take an in-depth look at the subject.

The Pros of Drug Testing Welfare Recipients

1. It could save taxpayers a lot of money in the long-term.
By removing drug abusers from the welfare programs, there is the potential of being able to save millions of dollars every year. This is because drug use while on the program is specifically against the agreements that are signed to receive the government benefits in the first place. What’s the good of having a policy of requiring abstaining from drugs if it isn’t enforced?

2. It could prevent illicit drug use in the poverty class.
Although drug abuse occurs in every social demographic, it is more likely for someone in the poverty class to be abusing drugs than someone in the wealthier classes. Those in the poverty class are more likely to be spending money on drugs to alleviate the symptoms of their lack of income. By requiring drug testing for welfare, it could stop people from getting on drugs in the first place.

3. It is a normal part of life.
Many people need to be drug tested in order to have gainful employment and a regular paycheck. If it is a normal part of life for the vast majority of a country’s population, then the system of testing is already in place to add welfare recipients into the regular testing cycle.

The Cons of Drug Testing Welfare Recipients

1. It could be considered discrimination.
Although there are many people who are drug tested in order to have a job, not everyone undergoes testing. By requiring everyone in the lower socioeconomic classes to undergo testing, it could be considered discrimination against the poor based on the assumption that they are a drug user just because they don’t make a lot of money.

2. Children receive most of the benefits of welfare.
Up to 80% of the people who are on welfare that can work are already working. Most of those who are not working or are unable to work are children. By requiring drug testing of parents who are on welfare and not receiving direct benefits, there could be a lot of children who won’t receive benefits that they may rightly deserve under the law.

3. It deprives people of the human experience.
By limiting what people can or cannot do just to receive a welfare benefit, some may see this as a limitation of the human experience. There is an attitude that the poverty class shouldn’t be able to purchase alcohol, cigarettes, or other vices that other income classes can do without any trouble.

By weighing the pros and cons of drug testing welfare recipients, each community can decide if it is the right course of action to take. Every drug test is going to have a specific cost associated with it. Do the costs of the drug tests outweigh the savings that a welfare program could receive? That’s the primary question which needs to be asked.