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Drug Tests for Welfare Recipients

Drug Test for Welfare

Do drug tests for welfare recipients save money or have any positive effects on society? Most of the data published has echoed the sentiments of the organization that published it. It’s not easy to quantify the success of these programs because the number of welfare applicants change as the economy improves and declines.

In a study conducted and touted by Think Progress they found that only 1% out of the 263,000 applicants that could have been subjected to drug testing were rejected. Think Progress is a liberal organization that sets out to oppose drug testing for welfare recipients.

Their claim is somewhat misleading; the 263,000 number is included in almost every mention of the study but it doesn’t have a whole lot to do with the results. Also states enacting drug testing expect it to deter applicants that wouldn’t be able to pass a screening.

 

Drug Tests for Welfare in 2018
Thinkprogress showed that overall a lot of money was spent to have only a small percentage of applicants test positive.

 

For example Utah spent $30,000 in 2013 on their drug tests for welfare program, but only 12 people tested positive. 250 others did not meet testing requirements however and Governor Brad Wilson stated that denying benefits to those people alone saved the state $350,000. Brad Wilson has a vested interested in the success of the program because he promoted it.

It would be hard to calculate the number of people that did not apply because they knew they had a drug habit and did not want to subject themselves to testing.

In another instance of organizations pushing their agendas the Florida Civil Liberties union found that Florida’s welfare drug testing program cost the state $45,000 more in testing than it saved in welfare payments. After a Florida judged blocked the bill and made the state pay out benefits retroactively the conservative Foundation for Government Accountability showed that costs grew quickly which suggests that the law was saving money.

Arguments for Drug Testing

There have been several arguments made for mandatory drug tests for welfare recipients. The primary motivation for voters is that they believe their tax money should not be given out in entitlements that subsidize behavior they disapprove of.

Some of the primary goals of welfare drug test programs are

  • Referring people that test positive to treatment
  • incentivizing recipients to abstain from drug use
  • reduce spending on welfare
  • identifying custodians of minors that use drugs
  • denying benefits to people that would subsidize their drug habit with them

Proponents point out that most employers drug test their employees and think that it isn’t fair that welfare recipients do not work and aren’t subjected to the same scrutiny.

Arguments Against Drug Testing

The primary arguments against drug testing recipients are

  • The cost outweighs the savings
  • drug addicts on welfare are deterred from seeking treatment
  • such laws unfairly target poor and minority citizens
  • it’s a violation of the 4th amendment

32 proposed bills focused on drug tests for welfare recipients in 2009 and 2010 but none of them made it to a legislative vote because they mostly focused on testing every applicant as a requirement for receiving benefits.

A 2003 court of appeals case Marchwinski v. Howard found that subjecting every welfare recipient to drug testing with no reasonable suspicion was unconstitutional. However the federal government does require any employee that works for a company that competes for federal contracts to be subjected to random drug testing under the Drug Free Workplace Act.

Opponents of these laws say that the premise itself is discriminatory because it suggests that welfare recipients are more likely to use drugs. In the vein of the Drug Free Workplace Act you could look at it as anyone that accepts federal or state funds is subject to higher scrutiny.

Public Sentiment

Public sentiment is divided about drug testing welfare recipients, but it’s not divided along party lines as much as other mainstream topics of political discussion.

Since we could not find a published study that didn’t seem to have a political bias at its core we decided to do our own survey about the public’s opinion on drug testing welfare applicants and recipients.

In a study we conducted of 400 random Kentucky residents 183 said they did not support drug testing welfare applicants, 116 said they did support drug testing welfare applicants, and 101 had a mixed opinion and did not definitively choose. I expected the results to be closer to an even split, but it was clear that overall the majority of the public doesn’t clearly support welfare drug testing legislation.

We hoped that the participants would correspond to political affiliation and income levels nationally, but we had a higher level of lower income individuals.

A surprising aspect is that the group that most likely supported drug testing welfare recipients were recovering drug addicts. There was also a level of bi-partisan support on the basis of “if I have to be drug tested to work my job they should be drug tested to receive my taxes”.

 

SentimentNumber of Votes
No183 (46%)
Yes116 (29%)
Unclear101 (25%)

 

Some of the reasoning we received from people surveyed was very interesting. Here is a sample of some of the more interesting remarks.

No Voters

“I’m a hater of government assistance but I still don’t see any fairness in requiring drug tests for benefits. We don’t drug test business owners that get tax breaks or subsidies.” – M.B.

“A lot of these same folks would end up homeless, clogging the streets, increasing crime, and cost even more money long term. What’s the better alternative?” -M.G.

“No. It’s become increasingly difficult to even get benefits as it is. Single adults without kids must have a job or do community service to even receive SNAP now. Someone with no job that just wants to get free assistance won’t get anything anyway.” – C.M.

“Nope. If they start testing then all government (state and federal) employees should be tested as well.” -J.C.

Yes Voters

“I’m tested every time I start a new job and am subject to random testing. It’s a requirement for my paycheck, why should it be any different when it comes to using my taxes for people on welfare. I’m certainly not against welfare, and am a firm believer that it’s a good thing when used as it was intended.” – J.P.

“Yes cause odds are if the parents are on drugs they are trading food stamps for money to get drugs so children aren’t getting the food they need anyway and children should go to someone else that will feed and take care of them properly.” -C.R.

“I think yes! People are saying children are involved and will go without food, but so would the children of parents loses their job due to a failed drug test. People on drugs get way too many free passes and handouts yet not getting any real help offered to them, like rehab, counseling.” – S.J.

Unclear Voters

“There’s good and bad in it. We get tested to work so they should get tested to draw. At the same time what do we do with the people getting cut that become homeless? What about the children who were barely eating before? They should be tested, but we need a plan to negate the negatives before it can be considered.” – M.J.

“Hard question because the kids gotta eat it isn’t their fault. But who’s to say the parents use the welfare for food?” – K.J.

“If they get tested, they would have to test levels. Because even if they get prescribed the medicine they can still abuse it.” – K.J.

Welfare Drug Testing Laws by State

Alabama – 2014 passed a law that requires welfare recipients with a drug conviction in the last 5 years to submit to drug testing.

Arkansas – 2017 Arkansas passed SB 123 making their drug testing program permanent.

Florida – 2011 passed a law HB 353 requiring all applicants for TANF benefits to be tested. Florida courts struck down the law as unconstitutional.

Georgia – 2012 passed legislation requiring drug tests for all applicants for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

Kansas – 2013, Kansas enacted legislation to require drug testing for applicants and recipients suspected of using controlled substances.

Maine – 2015 passed a law requiring welfare recipients that had a prior drug conviction to submit to drug testing.

Michigan – Governor Rick Snyder signed HB 4118 and SB 275 into law on December 24, 2014. The bills require the Department of Human Services to establish and administer a suspicion-based drug screening and testing program in at least three counties.

Missouri – 2011 passed HB 73 requiring the department to require a urine drug test for all applicants and recipients of TANF for whom they have reasonable cause to believe based on screening that they are engaged in illegal use.

Mississippi – 2014 Governor Phil Bryant signed HB 49 into law on March 24, 2014. The bill requires all applicants for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to complete a written questionnaire to determine the likelihood of a substance abuse problem. If the results indicate a likelihood the person has a substance abuse problem, the applicant must submit to a drug test.

North Carolina – 2013 passed HB 392 which included a provision to require drug testing of welfare applicants or recipients based on reasonable suspicion.

Oklahoma – 2012 passed HB 2388 requiring DHS to screen all adult applicants for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to determine if they are engaged in illegal use of controlled substances.

Tennessee – 2012 approved a bill to require the department to develop a plan for substance abuse testing for all applicants.

Utah – 2012, passed HB 155 requiring individuals applying for cash assistance to complete a written questionnaire screening for illegal drug use. If there is reason to believe the person has a substance use disorder or is engaging in illegal drug activity, the applicant must take a drug test.

Wisconsin – 2015 budget bill (SB 21) included a provision to drug test individuals participating in the Wisconsin Works and the Transform Milwaukee Jobs program and work experience programs for non-custodial parents. The bill also included a provision to test applicants for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program which was challenged by the Federal government.

West Virginia – 2016 Governor Tomblin signed SB 6 on March 23, 2016, which creates a 3-year pilot program to screen welfare applicants for substance abuse issues. If the caseworker has reason to believe the applicant is abusing drugs, a drug test will be ordered.

 

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What Age do Kids Start Using Drugs?

what age do kids start using drugs

Drug use is an issue that every parent fears. With drugs becoming more dangerous it’s important for parents to understand what age kids start using drugs.

The Ages Kids Start Using Drugs

You should start looking for signs of drug use at the age of 10. Usually kids that start using drugs at or below 10 years of age have an extremely dysfunctional home life and their parents may even give them drugs or force them to use drugs.

A second tier of drug use begins around the age of 12-14. These children often have parents that are not strict and let their children operate with a high degree of trust and autonomy. Kids that start using drugs in this age range are most often exposed to drug use by older friends or siblings. 86% of teens reported knowing someone who smokes, drinks or uses drugs during the school day.

The final group of very young drug abusers start at age 14-15, during their first years of high school. In high school they are exposed to young adults that will view drug use in a different way than children do. 46% of teens reported using illicit drugs before graduating high school. 82% of kids have had their first drink by the age of 16, so intoxication is a common experience for teenagers by age 16.

 

First Drink by Kids Graph
This graph shows the age that kids reported having their first drink by. 82% of kids had their first drink by age 16. Intoxication becomes a normal facet of life for teenagers by the time they graduate high school.

 

Peer pressure is the biggest danger to middle school and high school aged children faced with trying drugs. As kids get older they are exposed to more drug use and become more at risk with every passing week. 29% of teens aged 12-14 have friends that abuse drugs, but that number increases to 61% for teens aged 15-17.

Drug Use at School

In 2018 30% of teens witnessed illegal drug use and the most common place for this was at their school. Teenagers spend a considerable amount of time at school and interact with hundreds of different kids every day.

Many schools have started searching children, bringing in drug sniffing dogs and adopting other measures to curb drug use. Kids are more likely to abuse drugs early in the day so the evidence is not on their person.

 

what age kids start using drugs
This chart shows a breakdown of which drugs are most popular with high school aged kids.

 

Besides peer pressure a driving motivation for kids is quick profits from selling drugs. In many states kids are limited in how many hours they can work until they’re 18, and selling drugs is a way to make more money than they could with a minimum wage after school job. Kids may obtain drugs at home or purchase them on the street to bring to school where there is a high demand.

Pharmaceuticals are the most popular drugs at school because unlike smoking marijuana there isn’t a strong smell. Tablets can be crushed into powder quickly and snorted and unlike alcohol the effects are more manageable and easier to conceal.

Drug Dealers at Home

Once children have been exposed to drug use their views on the matter change significantly. They may have been told that marijuana kills instantly and other exxaggerations to deter them from using drugs.

They will learn how to identify drugs and even if their drug of choice is marijuana they will likely be exposed to other drug users that use a variety of drugs. Knowing that other drugs hold value to their friends they will now be aware of any prescription narcotics that are in your home. Some children that do not use drugs will sell drugs found in medicine cabinets at home.

 

promethazine syrup
Promethazine cough syrup has become a popular drug of choice for urban teens. It is often mixed with cold drinks. Parents often consider this a harmless cough syrup.

 

Lock up all prescription narcotics and any other pharmaceuticals that could have a street value in a safe. The safe storage of a parent’s medication could be the difference in your teen progressing to harder drugs and sticking with a less dangerous drug such as marijuana.

Education is Key

There has never been a more dangerous time for illegal drug use. Chemists favor high powered opioids such as fentanyl and carfentanyl because their potency means high value shipments and smaller and more valuable. The dealers that break down and package drugs for sale on the street are no chemists however, and overdoses due to potency are becoming more and more common.

Teach your children abut the dangers of fentanyl and its prevalence. Be honest with them. Even though they aren’t very likely to die from a marijuana overdose, Fentanyl deaths have risen considerably and there is no way to know if a dose of heroin will have a toxic amount of fentanyl in it.

Another pressing danger is prescription drug abuse. It’s more common for a teenager in 2020 to start by abusing prescription drugs and move to heroin due to cost, availability and potency. 78% of teens say that their doctors and dentists never spoke with them about how dangerous prescription drugs can be.

 

Naloxone Pen
A naloxone injection is a cheap and effective antidote for opiate overdose if administered soon enough. Unfortunately the potency of fentanyl has led to some overdoses needing 3-5 naloxone shots to counteract,

 

If you suspect your child has used or is susceptible to drug use consider getting a couple naloxone pens and keeping them at home. Organizations are giving out free naloxone pens and offering free classes to learn how to use them across the country. This small step could one day save someone’s life.

Learn how to identify signs of drug use and be open with communication. 55.8% of teens said the main deterrent to using drugs was their parents.

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What if My Drug Test Results Come Back Positive?

drug test results come back positive

So you were given a drug test a recently and when the results came back your were positive for one or more drugs. You may have suspected they would, or in rare cases it’s a total surprise. What should you expect and what should you do when your drug test results come back positive?

Don’t Freak Out When Your Drug Test Results Come Back Positive

A positive drug test is not the end of the world. The first thing to do is settle your mind. You don’t need additional stress and worrying will have no effect on the outcome.

Consequences are hardly ever as severe as people think but people have done many things they regret immediately after receiving bad news. The worst thing you can do is continue using drugs.

What are the consequences of Failing a Drug Test?

Depending on what your drug test was for consequences can range from nothing to prison time. In the vast majority of cases people overestimate the consequences of failing a drug test, and in other cases they are extremely positive about the outcome.

Unless someone has firsthand experience or knows someone that has been through the exact process with very similar circumstances they will rarely have a totally accurate idea of the consequences of failing a drug test. Here are some likely scenarios by case.

Probation

If you fail your probation drug test it will most likely be sent to a lab for confirmation giving you several days to worry. The consequences of a failed drug test will be different depending on your original crime, your time on probation, the drugs you failed for and your probation officer’s own discretion.

In most cases someone that has done well for a while and has their first infraction will be referred to a drug counselor and may be asked to attend rehab after an assessment. For someone that has failed multiple tests however you could have your probation revoked. People that do go to jail for a failed probation drug test often get out sooner than expected.

Pre Employment Testing

If you fail a drug test when applying for a job 99% of the time you will not be hired and that will be the end of it. Many employers have a statute about how long a failed drug test will affect hiring, so you may be able to re apply in 6 months to 1 year.

Random Drug Testing At Work

Many employers do random drug testing to comply with federal guidelines and meet insurance requirements. For small businesses the result of a positive drug test will mostly be up to the discretion of the owner and your work history and importance will likely play a big part in how it turns out.

Larger corporations almost always have a drug treatment policy where employees that have a positive drug screen are given the opportunity to attend treatment and accept terms of a more strenuous testing program to continue their employment. A violation of this program will usually result in termination.

Post Accident Drug Test

Employers are required to do a post accident drug test of all involved parties when an on the job accident occurs that causes serious injury or death. This is probably one of the most serious drug tests. You and your company could face lawsuits and even jail time for negligence or manslaughter.

If you drive a vehicle or work around dangerous equipment, consider this before taking drugs even outside of work.

Medical Patient

Healthcare facilities drug test patients for many reasons. The most common is when prescribing narcotics. These tests are to inform the doctor about any drugs you may take or addictions you may have and depending on your treatment you may get a prescription anyway. In most cases during a healthcare screening you need to show positive for any drugs you are prescribed and negative for any other drugs. Any other result is a good reason for your Doctor to withhold a prescription or even discharge you from care.

What to Do If Your Drug Test Comes Back Positive

If your drug test comes back positive the first question you need to ask yourself is why you failed the test. If you used drugs accept that it’s your fault and admit guilt; probation officers and employers are more likely to help if you are honest and they will know you’re lying when the confirmation comes back.

If you have not used drugs you should request a confirmation. Make a list of all the medications you have taken in the last month and a list of any unusual foods you may have consumed. Educate yourself about false positives on a drug test and stay confident that it will be worked out at the lab.

If someone was injured you should retain legal counsel and not answer any questions unless instructed to by your lawyer. You should get a quantitative blood screen as soon as possible to document the levels of any drugs in your system. You may be able to use this as evidence in court if your impairment was truly not the cause of the accident.

Immediately quit taking drugs. In many cases you will face suspension or other consequences until you can pass a drug test.

If you have a drug problem seek help. The longer you use drugs the harder it is to quit and there are many benefits to living a drug free life.

The consequences for trying to tamper with a drug test are usually more severe in the legal system and healthcare, and identical to failing in an employment setting. Never attempt to adulterate a test because it will negate any opportunity for leniency or forgiveness.

Dealing With Positive Drug Tests

I cannot stress enough that failing a drug test is not the end of the world and in most cases the consequences are never as dire as people expect.

For organizations and individuals giving drug tests I would like to remind you that everyone deserves respect and just because someone fails a drug test does not make them a bad person. They are likely under a lot of stress and you can really help their state of mind by being understanding. Please do not use drug testing as a tool for personal revenge.

For anyone taking a drug test I’d like to remind you that the person in charge of your test is just doing their job and following procedure. They do not want to see you fail a drug test and it causes them a lot of stress knowing that you may lose your job or suffer other consequences as part of their job.

 

 

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How To Tell if Someone is High The Definitive Guide

breathalyzer

The average person that’s unfamiliar with drug use doesn’t usually know how to tell if someone is high. Still, drug use has become a pervasive part of everyday life and over the last 2 decades prescription drugs have brought drug use into more homes and businesses than ever before.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health 38% of adults battled a substance abuse disorder. Drug users are becoming more sophisticated at concealing their behavior. To help parents, law enforcement, employers and friends Drug Test City has put together a definitive guide on how to tell if someone is high.

Physical Signs That May Indicate Someone is High

The body gives away its secrets if you listen. When proactively identifying drug or alcohol impairment I like to start at the top of the head and work my way down.

Drug Impairment Indicators of the Eyes

The preferred field sobriety test of Law Enforcement is the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Eye Test because the eyes are the most obvious physical indication of impairment and it’s the only indicator associated with the eyes that will hold weight in court.

how to tell if someone is high

The test for eye nystagmus is a complex and lengthy test that checks for involuntary jerking when the eye moves to a certain angle, but this is useless for the average person trying to covertly make a determination. Parents and other authority figures however may be able to perform sobriety testing or even a drug test to get more definitive answers. Other indicators are more obvious, non intrusive and easily noticed.

  • Redness
  • Glassiness
  • Constricted or dilated pupils
  • Involuntary or rapid eye movement
  •  Avoiding eye contact
  • Watery or dry eyes
  • Excessive blinking
  •  Tired eyes

Examples of Eye Indicators

Olfactory Drug Impairment Indicators

Depending on the route of administration drug use can case runny nose, redness, bloody nose and dry sinuses.

Users that snort drugs have a hard time concealing the drug residue that can become caked in their nostrils or lightly color one nostril’s hairs.

The most obvious olfactory indicator that someone is high or recently used drugs is your nose, not theirs. Alcohol and marijuana both have a pungent odor that is hard to mask. The majority of traffic citations issued for marijuana use cite the smell as probable cause. Careful users will carry cologne or perfume in their car and try to conceal the smell. If someone smells like fresh perfume after every break and coming back from lunch I would have strong suspicions of drug use. These smells will be easier to notice when the user is moving around or speaking.

Drug Impairment Indicators of the Mouth

The mouth may be the most affected part of the body by drug use. Bad oral hygiene can indicate long term drug use, but several other symptoms an suggest that a person is currently under the influence.

Dry mouth: Several classes of drugs dehydrate the body and cause dry mouth. Everything from marijuana to methamphetamine can lead to dry mouth.

Lip smacking and Licking Lips: This is a common reaction to dry mouth.

Teeth clenching: Many stimulants will cause users to clench their teeth.

Bad breath: Users that are high functioning on a maintenance drug such as Methadone or Suboxone may do a good job at hiding outward signs and symptoms of their drug use, but they will still usually suffer from dry mouth which causes bad breath over time.

Pot / Alcohol breath: Less careful users will often emit the smell of their preferred drug when they speak. More careful users may try and cover it up with excessive mouthwash.

Excessive talking: Most stimulants and many narcotic pain relievers cause euphoria and excessive talking. If someone has excessive bouts of talkativeness it’s very likely to influence of drugs.

Appetite: Drug use most often decreases appetite, although it can also increase it. Some drugs like Methadone cause users to crave sweets. A change in appetite coupled with other signs can be a strong indicator.

Slurred or rushed speech: Most drugs will have an effect on the user’s speech. Be aware of anything that is unusual in speech pattern or dialect.

Other Physical Signs

  • Exhaustion: Either from drug use or an associated lack of sleep. Fatigue can manifest itself physically in several different ways .
  • Track marks: IV drug users sometimes leave visible signs on their arms and hands. Others will noticeably attempt to hide their arms from plain view. It isn’t normal for someone to wear a jacket on hot summer days, wear a wrist band around their elbow or have makeup on their arm.
  •  Burns on hands and lips: Crack and meth users handle hot pipes and often burn their hands and lips.
  •  Sores: Using drugs itself rarely causes sores, but instead addicts will scratch and pick at their faces and arms.

Behavioral Signs Used to Tell When Someone is High

A person’s behavior can reveal a lot about themselves, especially any recent drug use. While it’s easy to notice exaggerated movements of a methamphetamine addict or a heroin junkie in a nod, subtle clues are harder to notice but just as hard to conceal. Reading someone’s behavior to suggest drug use is just another form of deception detection.

Movement: Stimulants can cause users to move erratically and spastically. Other drugs like marijuana can slow reaction time and delay movements.

The video below shows a woman high on flakka outside an apartment complex. This type of behavior isn’t common, but less exaggerated movement is common in most stimulant users.

 

Speech: Slurred speech is the hallmark of many narcotics and alcohol. Prescription pills like benzodiazepines and stronger narcotic pain relievers can cause slurred speech. As I mentioned before stimulants and opiates can cause euphoria and talkativeness. One of the most common indicators in a high functioning drug user, look for a person to have an episode of higher energy at specific times of day.

Energy level: Drug use is like a roller coaster of motivation and energy. Although some mental health diagnoses mimic this pattern, consider the subject’s indicators as a whole.

Confidence: A euphoric high will increase a person’s confidence. Specifically look for major shifts that are recurring.

Mood Swings: Newer users especially are affected by mood swings. Anger is the most common, but withdrawal from many drugs causes uncontrollable depression during the onset. The euphoria that accompanies a high is just as quickly replaced by lethargy later in the day.

Memory: Many drugs are associated with forgetfulness. Short term memory loss has long been noted as a side effect of marijuana use. Benzodiazepines such as Xanax can cause even more severe memory loss. Almost all drugs will cause some level of loss of focus. In the corporate world and college smart drugs have become popular, which have the opposite effect. Adderall can help students study for an exam, but it’s important to remember that it’s an amphetamine and is just as dangerous and addictive as a street drug.

Subtle Cues of Intoxication

Most of the time heavy drug users and those that exhibit obvious symptoms are easily spotted. You’re going to use this guide to identify the not-so-obvious ones.

Drug addicts need to work and live life too. They’ve been hiding their drug use for a long time and learning to work around people noticing. An advantage to being high everyday is that people recognize your behavior as normal.

If you have reasonable suspicion that an employee, child or subordinate is impaired you should drug test them immediately. If it’s a colleague or superior, you will want to verify your suspicions as much as possible before reporting them or making an accusation. People in higher positions are more likely to be higher functioning.

You will need to pay closer attention to observe mild symptoms and associate unrelated symptoms with each other. The biggest thing is unusual behaviors or fluctuating moods. Since many of the milder signs are common in the general population you should track observation of symptoms and look for patterns. Consider giving others the benefit of doubt though; it’s just as easy for them to make accusations and find an aspect of your life or work to draw attention to.

If someone that is actively concealing drug or alcohol use suspects you have noticed they may become nervous. Watch for signs like:

  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Shaking
  • Elevated heart rate

We hope this list helps you identify intoxication when it is a danger to you or those around you. Always use a drug test to confirm suspicions before issuing punishments or taking administrative actions against someone. We should all try and be more compassionate toward those with substance abuse issues, feel free to contact the staff at Drug Test City if you would like guidance on dealing with a friend, family member or co-worker that you believe has a substance abuse problem.