Drug Testing of Welfare Recipients – Pros and Cons

The problem of a drug testing of welfare recipients has sparked a public outcry. The question of whether welfare recipients should be drug tested or not has its own supporters and detractors. The arguments of those who think that drug testing is necessary are obvious. It is believed that the government saves public funds by refusing from the financial aid to those citizens who fail the test. Moreover, when this legislative intention was just implemented, Senator David Vitter stated that in such a way, the government was planning to find out and to control the drug edicts in families that need government assist (Bennet 9).

It seems to me that this unfair statement implies the fact that the drug edicts are more numerous among welfare recipients in comparison with the rest population. Moreover, to a certain degree, Vitter’s statement may be considered as an intrusion into privacy. However, apart from the moral aspects of this problem, it seems to me that the drug testing of welfare recipients has many other negative factors.

Speaking about the financial benefits of this issue, the advocates of the drug testing state that every dollar of taxpayers should be spent properly. It is believed that by means of this measure implementation, the funds are distributed in a proper way, and government assistance is received only by those families who need it. At the same time, it is believed that drug edicts are rejected from this assistance, and in such a way, the economy of taxpayers money takes place. My strong belief is that point of view is a myth. Stating this, the advocates of drug testing do not take into consideration the cost of all the necessary procedures of the drug screening.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the estimated cost of drug testing depends upon the State and averages 31 dollars (Ingersoll, Pfister, and Arrington 5). From the very beginning of the implementation of this legislative intention, it was predetermined that this procedure would be free of charge. At the same time, drug testing implies not only the mere procedure but also a complex of different activities.

It is a necessity to purchase and to deliver the drug tests, which means additional logistical costs. It is necessary to pay laboratory tariffs and to pay wages to the staff that is involved in servicing, monitoring, and administrating the drug testing (Radel, Joyce, and Wulff 3). Moreover, these are not all the expenses. Considering this, in some states such as Florida or Alabama, an applicant has to pay independently for the drug test. In case a recipient fails the test, he loses his money spent on it. Nevertheless, in the case of the negative result of the drug test, the charges of the applicant are reimbursed.

In this regard, the brightest example that demonstrates the senseless of this policy, from the point of view of the cost-saving, is a trial-run performed in Florida. During this testing program, according to the demands of the authorities of Florida, every welfare recipient had to pay for his or her drug test. Concluding the data of this experiment, Alvarez states that among all the participants, only 2.6% of applicants have failed the test (2). In such a way, practically all the charges have been compensated by the local budget. The example of Florida is clear evidence of the pointless of this approach.

Apart from the financial disadvantages, the drug testing of welfare recipients may be considered as a rude violation of the law. The fourth amendment of the Constitution of the USA states every citizen is protected by the government from “the unreasonable searches and seizures” (Carpenter 2). It means that the government has no right to interfere in the private life of a person and to search for a person without a reasonable cause. In spite of the fact that the Supreme Court states that “the government-administered drug tests are searches under the Fourth Amendment” (Carpenter 2), this question is still rather disputable.

It may be said that the legitimacy of the drug test for welfare recipients depends on the question of whether the reason for this test is reasonable or not. Moreover, the demand for drug testing of a person who wants to receive a governmental aid contradicts the Declaration of Independence, which states that all people are created equal. By forcing on a group of citizens to pass through the drug testing, while for all the rest it is not necessary, the government violates this principle and in such a way, emphasizes the inequality in society.

Moreover, there is also a moral aspect of this problem. It is easy to imagine the situation when a problem family with moderate means depends upon its one member who is a welfare recipient. In case he fails the drug test because of his drug addiction, all the members of the family, including children, will suffer from it.

In the way of conclusion, I would like to say that I am a determined opponent of the idea of the drug testing of welfare recipients, because of its financial pointlessness, a contradiction to the existing laws and moral injustice.

Works Cited

Alvarez, Lizette. No Savings Are Found From Welfare Drug Tests. 2012. Web.

Bennet, Erica. Should Welfare Recipients Be Drug Tested? 2013. Web.

Carpenter, David. Constitutional Analysis of Suspicionless Drug Testing Requirements for the Requirements of Governmental Benefits. 2015. Web.

Ingersoll, Nick, Abigail Pfister and Hannah Arrington. Drug Testing of Welfare Applicants and Recipients. 2013. Web.

Radel, Laura, Kristen Joyce and Carli Wulff. Drug Testing Welfare Recipients: Recent Proposals and Continuing Controversies. 2011. Web.

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LawBirdie. (2023, June 27). Drug Testing of Welfare Recipients - Pros and Cons. Retrieved from https://lawbirdie.com/drug-testing-of-welfare-recipients-pros-and-cons/


LawBirdie. (2023, June 27). Drug Testing of Welfare Recipients - Pros and Cons. https://lawbirdie.com/drug-testing-of-welfare-recipients-pros-and-cons/

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"Drug Testing of Welfare Recipients - Pros and Cons." LawBirdie, 27 June 2023, lawbirdie.com/drug-testing-of-welfare-recipients-pros-and-cons/.


LawBirdie. (2023) 'Drug Testing of Welfare Recipients - Pros and Cons'. 27 June.


LawBirdie. 2023. "Drug Testing of Welfare Recipients - Pros and Cons." June 27, 2023. https://lawbirdie.com/drug-testing-of-welfare-recipients-pros-and-cons/.

1. LawBirdie. "Drug Testing of Welfare Recipients - Pros and Cons." June 27, 2023. https://lawbirdie.com/drug-testing-of-welfare-recipients-pros-and-cons/.


LawBirdie. "Drug Testing of Welfare Recipients - Pros and Cons." June 27, 2023. https://lawbirdie.com/drug-testing-of-welfare-recipients-pros-and-cons/.