We have 8600 welfare recipients, so we would expect 860 drug users.Of the 7000 who agreed to testing, we know that 2.5% are drug users – that’s 175 people.In order to use the Florida data to say that welfare recipients in general use drugs at a rate of 2%, we would need to assume that drug users were no more likely to refuse drug testing than nonusers, even though the testing rewarded non-use with money but punished use with a loss of money.
But there’s actually a foolproof solution that cures drug addiction approximately 100% of the time. Tennessee conservatives suspicious that welfare recipients are a bunch of drug-addicted slackers were proven dead wrong. After instituting dehumanizing drug-testing requirements to welfare recipients on July 1, 10 people total were flagged for possible drug use and asked to submit to testing.
That solution is – put people on welfare in Tennessee. Five others tested negative, and four were rejected after refusing.
Only 2.6 percent of welfare recipients tested positive.
The rest of the Florida’s population use drugs at a rate of 8 percent. Apparently welfare recipients were asked to pay for their own drug tests, and would be reimbursed if the results came back negative.
And if they were found to use only two-thirds, or half as many drugs as the general population, this might indeed be the lesson. Welfare users use only about one percent as many drugs as the general population. The National Coalition For The Homeless notes that about 26% of them use drugs, which is about 2.5x as high as the general population.
I crunched some data I have from the hospital I work at, and it shows that poor people (defined as people who get health insurance through an aid program) have moderately higher rates of drug use related problems than the general population.
So, again, welfare recipients used drugs less than everyone else.” Now we’re merely at one-quarter of the drug use rate people with good methodologies find. 7000 welfare users did this, but 1600 declined to do so – numbers that were not mentioned in most of the pieces above.
Opponents of the program say that maybe those 1600 people could not find drug testing centers near them, or couldn’t afford to pay for the tests even with the promise of reimbursement later, or something like that.
Or at least that is what I am led to believe by articles like Mic’s A Shocking Thing Happened When Tennesee Decided To Drug Test Its Welfare Recipients, which describes said shocking thing as: 1 out of 812 applicants tested positive for drugs. As Think Progress notes, that means that just 0.12% of all people applying for cash assistance in Tennessee have tested positive for drugs, compared to the 8% who have reported using drugs in the past month among the state’s general population.
If you assume the four people who refused were on drugs, it’s still a paltry 0.61%.