If you truly think about it, we all have our addictions. It could be shopping or eating or spending or cleaning or exercising or whatever it is that you are overly obsessed about. That compulsive behavior can lead to other more serious things like drugs and alcohol. This addiction has led many states to put in place a program that will make those who depend on government assistance to take drug tests in order to attain and keep it. It has become a very hot topic that has been swirling across the country for a very long time and when I first heard of it I had my personal opinion on it.
West Virginia’s Governor just signed on Wednesday, a bill that will allow the state to begin mandatory drug testing for individuals who receive public assistance. Now I was a huge advocate for this when I first heard about it because I felt like, if I as a employee of my company am subject to random drug testing to keep my job and maintain the code of ethics that I won’t do drugs, then why not those who receive the benefits of my tax dollars? That might sound harsh to some but in all honesty, it made complete sense to me. As I started reading up on the states that are currently doing this, I didn’t necessarily have a change of heart but I think we really need to pay attention to how we actually implement something on this level across the states. We want to be effective, save money and hopefully identify people who really need help with drug addiction.
The following table is a list of the 10 states that have already had a trial run of the program and how many people have come up positive during the trial in 2015.
For most states there were only subsets of people who were tested and yes it does show that not even a third of those tested in that subset came up positive. But even if that is the case, I don’t feel that should discourage the states from moving forward. What I do not believe is that they shouldn't necessarily be dropped from their benefits right away. With drug addiction being such a big problem in this country, this would be a perfect time for states to step in and help these people with their issues. Offer them programs and counseling. If they continue to fail after receiving the help they need to reform, then that’s when their government assistance should be in jeopardy. That means they aren't willing to do what it takes to keep their assistance coming in until they no longer need it.
According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency, the amount of money it costs the country for addiction is astronomical:
The estimated cost of drug abuse exceeds $190 Billion:
- $130 Billion in lost productivity
- $20 Billion in healthcare costs
- $40 Billion in legal costs including efforts to stem the flow of drugs
So let’s be honest, there are millions of people in this country that suffer with addiction. On one end or the other we are paying for them to be addicts even if people don’t look at it that way. If we are only as strong as our weakest link, this is just a tool to help us move forward. In the grand scheme of things, we are without a doubt making strides towards cutting costs. Yes it may take some sacrifice initially and we will have to invest, but it’s like anything else. Invest on the front end and reap the benefit on the back-end. Refine the process and think about some of these things:
- If it takes 20,000 dollars to test 3,050 people, where can we begin to save money there? This is a fraction of what we are likely contributing to the uninsured, those who die without life insurance, those who leave their children and they fall victim to the system, those that go to jail, those who are not working and putting money into the economy. There is a snowball effect that I think a lot of people who are looking at the program from the outside are not considering.
- Identify all the state and federal funded programs that exist now that provide addiction help and make that readily available.
- Educate recipients now on the process and why it is happening.
This is a well known issue around us and it's a real disease to those who are afflicted with it. People suffer with this ailment and though many may not want help, some don’t know where to get it or how to get it. We live in a world now where everyone is so easily turning a blind eye to the problems we are facing as if it doesn’t affect them. But the truth is, regardless to how much we pretend, many things about this issue affect us. I have drug addicts in my family so I know first hand how hard it is to deal with it or help them identify that they need the help. So I strongly stand behind a program like this one because I believe in the long run it will be something that does more good than harm to our nation and as a whole.
Until Next Time Lovies!