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Drug Screening in Government Assistance Programs

The United States Federal Government Should Initiate Drug Screening For Citizens Who Seek Government Assistance.


Negative Strategy # 1

As Pollack, Danziger, Jayakody & Seefeldt (2002) affirm, initiating involuntary dug screening for all citizens seeking government assistance is definitely costly. The purchase of modern drug screening equipment in numbers that will be able to screen all people who apply for welfare programs, especially with the large population of America, would certainly be an expensive exercise. In addition, like any other machine, the drug screen equipment will require regular servicing and maintenance, which require more resources at close intervals. It is equally undoubted that in order for the screening programs to be successful, medical professionals and technological professionals will need to take part. This implies that a competent staff that comprises of specialists in all relevant sectors of operation and in appropriate numbers will mandatorily be employed to make the program a success. Apparently, the cost of purchasing the drug screening equipment, maintaining them, and pay for all the involved expenses including the human resources is most likely to exceed the amount of money that the federal government would save on implementing drug screening policy to persons seeking government’s assistance (Pollack et al., 2002). Similar to Pollack et al. (2002), Carey (1998) emphasizes that the implementation of compulsory drug testing policies to citizens who seek for government’s assistance is unnecessary, unjustifiable, and the highest level of misappropriation of taxpayers’ money.The implementation of laws that support mandatory drug screening for people applying for government assistance is unnecessary and misappropriation of taxpayers’ money

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Therefore, it unnecessary and unjustifiable that the federal government engages in a more expensive program with intentions to save taxpayers’ money, as the implementation of the drug screening program will cost a lot more of the taxpayers’ money than the welfare programs as they currently are (before the implementation of the policy).

Fielding, Long, Imam, Tye & Ogawa (2002) further states that initiating drug screen for all citizens seeking government’s assistance is likely to have very little (negligible) or even no effect on the prevalence of drug abuse in the country. According to Fielding et al. (2002), a majority of people who are financially vulnerable in the United States are not drug addicts. The cost of drugs in the country is relatively expensive for many people belonging to poor population, especially with the high tax rates that the government has implemented on drugs over subsequent years. They also notes that it is much more reasonable for the Federal government to determine the prevalence drug use in the country by assessing people based in their ages rather than income, as a majority of drug users fall within the productive ages of between 16 and 40 years (Fielding et al., 2002). Hence, the implementation of drug screening policy, which only demands for mandatory drug testing among the economically vulnerable, is likely play an insignificant role in controlling drug use in the country.

Referring to Guthrie (1990), the implementation of the mandatory drug screening initiative for persons participating in welfare programs is unconstitutional and a violation of people rights to privacy and freedom to make personal choices. With the drug screening policy requiring that all people needing government assistance must be tested for all sorts of drugs including alcohol and tobacco before they can be eligible for the assistance, it is clear that the implementation of the policy will breach the law, especially with the fact that alcohol and tobacco are legal drugs in the United States. Provided one has attained the required age, he or she has the right use drugs that are legal for whichever reasons. Thus, it is unconstitutional and discriminative for the Federal government to deny law-abiding citizens the right to use legal drugs just because they are financially vulnerable and requires assistance from government-sponsored welfare programs.

Negative strategy # 1

Rather than implementing mandatory drug screening policy to all citizens who apply for welfare programs, the government should support awareness creation programs that will discourage all members of the society to desist from drug abuse (DiNardo, 1994). The government should support school-based programs that aim at educating students in all levels of education ranging from elementary, secondary, middle-level colleges, to universities on the dangers of drug use. The government should equally use the mainstream media to run campaigns that discourage drug use while at the same time limit the campaigns on the same media that promote drug use. The federal government should equally compel all drug manufacturers to include cautionary or warning messages on the packages of their products to educate consumers on the negative effects of the drugs they are using. Through the creation of consciousness on the need to shun drug use, it is clear that many people will develop an internal motivation to stop drug abuse rather than being compelled to stop using drugs because one is financially vulnerable.

As Pavetti, Olson, Nightingale, Duke & Isaacs (1997) points out, drug addiction is like a chronic disease and one hardly, whether willingly or unwillingly, stop the practice overnight. Stopping drug use is a gradual process, and drug addicts need to be taken through comprehensive behavior change programs that may take up to one or two years. Based on that, the Federal government should construct more rehabilitation facilities and equip them with the necessary human resources and machinery with which to support drug addicts to stop unproductive drug use; instead of implementing the dictatorial and illegal drug testing policy on applicants of government’s assistance. The access to the rehabilitation programs should equally be enhanced, particularly by making them affordable to all people including the economically vulnerable. Using the behavior change programs where professionals take drug addicts through gradual steps in on how to stop the addiction, it is evident that the government is bound to get better results on drug control than implementing the drug policy, which will require people to forcefully, stop drug abuse in order to be eligible for welfare programs (Pavetti et al., 1997).

An alternative strategy to implementing the drug screen policy on citizens needing government’s assistance is the formulation and then implementation of strict legislations that govern drug use in the country. As Hora, Schma & Rosenthal (1998) support, the use of the legal infrastructure where all people who violate drug laws are punished promptly by the court of law is likely to give better results in the fight against drug use. The legislations should provide a platform on which people who take illicit drugs, those who sell drugs to minors, and those who use drugs inappropriately are surely prosecuted and punished by huge fines and even imprisonment sentences. The federal government should improve surveillance on drug abusers and work with the judicial systems to ensure that all violators of drug laws are held accountable for their actions. Through that, people will shun from the illegal use of drugs, and that will help in controlling the prevalence of drug abuse in the society.


Pollack, H. A., Danziger, S., Jayakody, R., & Seefeldt, K. S. (2002). Drug testing welfare recipients—false positives, false negatives, unanticipated opportunities.Women’s Health Issues,12(1), 23-31.

Fielding, J. E., Long, A. M., Imam, I. J., Tye, G., & Ogawa, P. L. (2002). The drug court programs of Los Angeles County: the initial results.A Journal of the Substance Abuse Treatment,23(3), 217-224.

Guthrie, P. M. (1990). The Drug Test and Welfare: Taking of the Drug War into Unconstitutional Limits.Ind. LJ,66, 579.

Carey, C. A. (1998). Crafting of a challenge to the practice of the drug testing welfare participants: the federal welfare reform, and state response as one of the most recent chapters in the war against drugs.Buff. L. Rev.,46, 281.

DiNardo, J. (1994). The critical review of estimates of the specific costs of alcohol and drug usage. InDrug testing in the workplace(pp. 57-76). Springer US.

Pavetti, L., Olson, Nightingale, D., Duke, A. E., & Isaacs, J. (1997). Welfare-to-Work Options for Families Facing Personal and Family Challenges: Rationale and Program Strategies.

Hora, P. F., Schma, W. G., & Rosenthal, J. T. (1998). The therapeutic jurisprudence, as well as the drug treatment and court movement: A Revolutionizing of the response system of the criminal justice to drug abuse, and crime in the U.S..Notre Dame L. Rev.,74, 439.


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