Drug Addiction, Homelessness, and Mental Health
Republicans believe that there should be drug testing for people who receive benefits from welfare programs and Democrats don’t agree. I believe that there is a middle ground here that can help solve the problem. The purpose of welfare programs is to help those in need. But if the main problem is a drug and/or alcohol addiction that’s preventing that person from being a productive member of society and we’re not able to test for that problem, then we’re not actually helping the problem. All we are doing is just enabling the user by providing resources to purchase more drugs and alcohol. Thus, continuing the downward spiral until the point where even the assistance that they were getting doesn’t help the end result of them not being able to afford rent or take care of themselves. That leads to homelessness and more using which leads to the further deterioration of their mental and physical health.
What I suggest is that people who apply for benefits get drug tested, but it doesn’t mean that they won’t receive benefits if they do test positive. After testing positive the applicant has three months to either find a job or test negative on the 2nd drug and alcohol test. Three months is plenty of time for someone to get sober on their own. Drugs do not stay in your system for three months. Alcohol does not stay in your system for more than 24 hours in a urine test and if they have three months advance notice of their next test and they drank the day before then that person has a problem. If the person can’t quit drugs or alcohol on their own, then they need help. After the 2nd positive drug test, they still do not lose benefits but they are required to attend an outpatient program where they will be tested regularly. If they continue to test positive or do not show up, then they will be required to attend an inpatient program if they would like to continue to receive benefits.
There is no 3 strikes and you’re out (or any amount of strikes for that matter) where the person loses their benefits for testing positive. As long as they comply with the program and go to rehab, they will continue to receive benefits. Going through an inpatient detox is not something that someone will want to do regularly. Eventually most people will get better. People who are on benefits generally have Medicaid, and Medicaid covers outpatient and inpatient treatment. The cost is far less than continuing to pay benefits to someone who is not going to get better and enabling someone to continue their addiction resulting in further damage to their mental and physical health. If the purpose of programs is to help people, then let’s help them and get to the root of the problem before it becomes worse and they’re added to another member of the growing homeless population in New York.
If you agree with me, then I hope that you will help with my campaign so I can get to work on fighting to make this idea a reality. Whether you donate, volunteer, or just spread the word by sharing my website on social media, your help is appreciated. Thank You!
State Assembly Candidate of the 46th Assembly district in NY.