Welfare recipients are no more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol than the general population, concludes a new government study.
The findings, published in today’s American Journal of Public Health, contradict Columbia University’s widely quoted conclusion that 20 percent of mothers on welfare are alcoholics or use illegal drugs.
National Institutes of Health researchers analyzed a 1992 federal survey that questioned members of 42,862 households about drug or alcohol use and welfare status.
The proportion of welfare recipients who were heavy drinkers ranged from 6.4 percent to 13.8 percent across five welfare programs, reported Bridget Grant of the NIH’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Some 14.8 percent of those surveyed who did not receive welfare admitted to being heavy drinkers, she reported.
Between 3.8 percent and 9.8 percent of welfare recipients used drugs, statistically comparable to the 5.1 percent of people not on welfare, the study found.