The article by Schoenbach and Mitchell (2013) discusses various factors that are against drug tests on welfare applicants and recipients. The authors state that compulsory drug tests, according to Senate Bill 594, inserts excessive financial problems on stressed families and to the country. The drug test on welfare recipients is normally founded on the ill-advised theory stating that the drug test process allows the state to save money since various claimants will not receive benefits.
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Conversely, few studies are showing that drug use or abuse is common among welfare applicants. Most studies have reported that a higher percentage of welfare recipients or applicants are not drug abusers, which indicates that the government is likely to compensate most welfare recipients and applicants for the everyday expenditure of drug test processes. They estimated the cost that the government may incur for drug test only to be about $2.3 million.
The authors also state that the practices of a drug test on welfare applicants probably infringe the US Fourth Amendment since it performs unacceptable seizure and search (Schoenbach and Mitchell, 2013). They affirm that it is unconstitutional and against human rights detailed in the constitution. However, the article supports the point that the government can only enforce drug tests for applicants who have been recognized as drug users or abusers.
Another argument provided in the article is that a drug test is unproductive in identifying and solving the challenges of drug abuse. A drug test is a significant barrier for drug abusers and addicts and may increase poverty and crime among the victims. However, the article states that most research findings have not found that blanket testing is an effective method for identifying substance abuse, but it only brings some limitations as they solve the issue.
The article states that drug test allows the denial of assistance to all people who fail the test and often brings about severe consequences on children. Health problems and food insecurity that most children undergo are partly caused by welfare sanctions. There are inadequate TANF benefits in most states, mostly lower than 40 percent of the poverty line. Therefore, children often undergo severe conditions (such as education and health problems) as a result of the welfare sanctions imposed on their caregivers (Schoenbach and Mitchell, 2013).
Most families cannot provide the required basic needs for their children without such welfare benefits. The article also claims that various research outcomes are showing that poverty, mostly extreme poverty, has long-term and harmful consequences on the psychological, emotional, and physical growth of children.
The authors also assert that welfare sanctions can slow down the treatment process by putting off substance users and abusers from confessing that they are substance abusers and looking for treatment. Moreover, treatment and recovery from substance abuse and addiction are not one-time processes, but most victims need a mixture of treatment sessions.
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The article provides critical arguments that I support since it mentions the negative impact that drug test on welfare recipients has on stressed families, country’s economy, and ineffectiveness in solving drug abuse and addiction. Taxpayer money is ineffectively used by practicing extensive and random substance test. As also supported by Schoenbach and Mitchell (2013), drug test should only be assigned to some instances where the agencies have a precise explanation to believe that welfare applicant or recipient is a drug user, or in a case in which the applicant or recipient has admitted the use or abuse of any substance and agreed to engage in the treatment process.
Most states have found out that it is not cost-effective to carry out extensive or random substance test processes, mostly when safety measures are applied to avoid false results. Moreover, it is costly to identify actual instances of drug abuse since most states have reported being costly for taxpayers and provided minimal help in fighting substance abuse.
Moreover, I support the article’s argument that chemical substance tests that use urine samples have various inadequacies when analyzing and identifying drug abuse issues. This method does not check drug abuse but instead checks just the precise chemicals in which the process is intended to examine. Regardless of immense alcohol abuse, it is not tested using this process. Chemical drug test processes detect mostly the substances that remain in urine for a longer period, such as marijuana. There is a possibility of “false positives” (Schoenbach & Mitchell, 2013) since the process cannot differentiate between the abuse of illegal drugs and the legal use of prescribed medicine.
Moreover, as few drug abusers and users are detected in this process, although most applicants pass through the process, the expense of identifying a substance abuser is significantly higher than the cost used for an individual test. It is also important to support the verity that if substance users who have been detected are denied the welfare benefits and not assigned treatment services and financial support, those parents can encounter significant challenges as they care for their children. As a result, instead of the proposal helping the victims and their families, the outcome is the increased costs in the well-being of the children.
Drug test on welfare applicants has experienced various objections on the constitutional basis in most states. The article by Schoenbach and Mitchell (2013) and other studies have reported that blanket testing is costly and provides ineffective use of taxpayer money. According to various research findings, most welfare beneficiaries and applicants are not users or abusers of illegal drugs. Instead of using taxpayer money on drug tests, the government should allocate the money to treatment programs and labor force growth that can support the welfare applicants and recipients to be self-reliant. Therefore, I support the article based on the argument that covers the ineffectiveness, higher costs, unconstitutional grounds, and negative impact on stressed families and children.
Schoenbach, S., & Mitchell, T. (2013). Mandatory Drug Testing of Work First Applicants and Recipients would be Costly, Likely Illegal, and Ineffective at Identifying and Treating Drug Abuse. NCJustice BRIEF, 1: 1-5.