Methadone: A Flicker Of Light In The Dark

Methadone: A Flicker Of Light In The Dark

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 Drug Tests For Unemployment Checks

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PostSubject: Drug Tests For Unemployment Checks   Wed May 06, 2009 9:34 pm


DRUG TESTS FOR UNEMPLOYMENT CHECKS
With states across the country feeling the effects of the economic crisis gripping the land, some legislators are engaging in the cheap politics of resentment as a supposed budget-cutting move. In at least six states, bills have been filed that would require people seeking public assistance and/or unemployment benefits to submit to random drug testing, with their benefits at stake.
In Arizona, Hawaii, Missouri, and Oklahoma, bills have been filed that would force people seeking public assistance to undergo random drug tests and forego benefits if they test positive. In Florida, a bill has been filed to do the same to people who receive unemployment compensation. In West Virginia, both groups are targeted.
In most cases, legislators are pointing to the 1996 federal Welfare Reform Act, which authorized -- but did not require -- random drug testing as a condition of receiving welfare benefits. But a major problem for the proponents of such schemes is that the only state to try to actually implement a random drug testing program got slapped down by the federal courts.
Michigan passed a welfare drug testing law in 1999 that required all Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) applicants to provide urine samples to be considered eligible for assistance. But that program was shut down almost immediately by a restraining order. Three and a half years later, the US 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an earlier district court ruling that the blanket, suspicionless testing of recipients violated the Fourth Amendment's proscription of unreasonable searches and seizures and was thus unconstitutional.
"This ruling should send a message to the rest of the nation that drug testing programs like these are neither an appropriate or effective use of a state's limited resources," said the ACLU Drug Policy Litigation Project head Graham Boyd at the time.

According to the ACLU's now-renamed Drug Law Reform Project, which had intervened in the Michigan case, the other 49 states had rejected drug testing for various reasons. At least 21 states concluded that the program "may be unlawful," 17 states cited cost concerns, 11 gave a variety of practical or operational reasons, and 11 said they had not seriously considered drug testing at all (some states cited more than one reason).
Random drug testing of welfare recipients has also been rejected by a broad cross-section of organizations concerned with public health, welfare rights, and drug reform, including the American Public Health Association, National Association of Social Workers, Inc., National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs, National Health Law Project, National Association on Alcohol, Drugs and Disability, Inc., National Advocates for Pregnant Women, National Black Women's Health Project, Legal Action Center, National Welfare Rights Union, Youth Law Center, Juvenile Law Center, and National Coalition for Child Protection Reform.
But that hasn't stopped politicians eager to take a stand on the backs of society's most vulnerable. Using remarkably similar rhetoric, legislators across the land are demanding that those seeking benefits be tested.
In West Virginia, Rep. Craig Blair (R-Berkeley County) has created a web site, Not With My Tax Dollars, to publicize his bill, which would apply to anyone seeking welfare, food stamps, or unemployment insurance. "I think it's time that we get serious about the problem of illegal drug users abusing our public assistance system in West Virginia," he wrote on the site. "We should require random drug testing for every individual receiving welfare, food assistance or unemployment benefits. After all, more and more employers are requiring drug testing. Why not make sure that people who are supposed to be looking for work are already prequalified by being drug free?"
In Florida, Sen. Mike Bennett (R-Bradenton) has sponsored a bill that would require random drug testing of one out of 10 people seeking unemployment benefits. Those people are supposed to be "ready, able, and willing" to work, he told Tampa Bay Online. "If they can't pass a drug test for unemployment compensation," Bennett said, "then they can't pass a drug test at my construction business."
In Hawaii, Rep. Mele Carroll (D-District 13) introduced her "Welfare Drug Testing" bill last month. "The idea came from knowing a lot of families and members in the community who are on assistance that may or may not use some of our public funds for their drug habit," Carroll told KHON in Honolulu. "If the state is pouring money out there to assist families, this could be a way to look at some of our families who are on substance abuse. Make them accountable," she argued.
But such arguments didn't fly with any of the welfare rights, civil liberties, or poverty and child care organizations the Chronicle spoke with in recent weeks. They were unanimous in denouncing welfare drug testing as ineffective, arguably unconstitutional, and just plain mean-spirited.
"Drug testing welfare recipients is coming back?" asked an incredulous Maureen Taylor, Michigan state chair for the National Welfare Rights Organization. "That's ridiculous. The courts slapped it down when they tried it here, and they should slap it down again. These politicians think the reason people are poor is because they're on drugs, and that's just stupid," she scoffed.
"We are in favor of a drug free America and we believe people who exhibit strange behavior should be tested," said Taylor. "Elected officials who propose such things would be an excellent place to start. The politicians should lead by example."
"This is really bad policy," said Frank Crabtree of the West Virginia ACLU. "These are the most vulnerable people in our society, and their children are even more vulnerable. These are people of whom the legislature has no fear. They have to deal with the problems of daily life to such a degree that they are not as politically active, and that makes this bill just seem like a bullying tactic."
Crabtree also addressed the legality of any such programs. "Constitutionally speaking, I don't think the state can force you to give up your right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures to obtain public benefits," Crabtree said. "This would seem to fit that category."
Crabtree saw the West Virginia bill more as political grandstanding than a serious contribution to public policy. "If part of their rationale is that there is more drug use among recipients of public assistance, that argument fails," said Crabtree. "But this does appeal to a certain kneejerk mentality, which leads me to think this is just a lot of political posturing and pandering to a conservative constituency."
"I oppose such legislation for both philosophical and practical reasons," said Darin Preis, executive director of Central Missouri Community Action, which works with poor families. "The proposal here would have state social workers taking on yet another task for which they are not prepared. This will add cost and more bureaucracy, and with our state budget in the fix it is, I don't think we can pull this off," he said.
"Philosophically, I think we should be holding people accountable for what we want them to do, not for what we don't want them to do," said Preis. "People want to take care of their families, to do the right thing. It just doesn't make sense to me. Taking away benefits from someone struggling with substance abuse issues isn't going to help them; it will only make matters worse."
"These bills are a waste of money at a time when governments don't have money to waste," said Bill Piper, national affairs director for the Drug Policy Alliance. "And they're extremely discriminatory in that they focus on someone smoking marijuana, but don't address at all whether someone is blowing his check on alcohol or gambling or vacations. The bottom line is that even if someone is using drugs, that doesn't mean they should be denied public assistance, health care, or anything else to which citizens are entitled. These bills are unnecessarily cruel and they show that some politicians still think it's in their best interest to pick on vulnerable people with substance abuse issues."
The bills seeking to drug test people seeking unemployment benefits are even more pernicious, Piper said. "Unemployment compensation is something that people pay into when they're working, that's not a gift from the state," he said. "If you are unemployed, you earned those benefits and you shouldn't have to prove anything to anyone."
"Drug testing welfare recipients or people getting unemployment is a terribly misguided policy," said Hilary McQuie, western director for the Harm Reduction Coalition. "If you find people and cut them off the rolls, what's the end result? You have to look at the end result."
Legislators proposing random drug testing of welfare or unemployment recipients have a wide array of organizations opposing them, as well as common sense and common decency. But none of that has prevented equally pernicious legislation from passing in the past. These bills bear watching.


[url=http://digg.com/submit?phase=2&url=http://www.alternet.org/drugreporter/132850&title=Drug Tests for Unemployment Checks? Just Cheap Political Theater&topic=politics][/url]


Phillip S. Smith is the editor of Drug War Chronicle.
Question
How about some feedback? How do you feel about drug-testing people drawing unemployment? How about welfare recipients? Let me hear from some of you? You must have some feelings one way or the other?
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PostSubject: Re: Drug Tests For Unemployment Checks   Wed May 06, 2009 11:22 pm



I think it would be another waste of money. Why test the people on Welfare and unemployment? Why single them out? I think it is so unfair? Not all people on State aide are drug users.
Every time I read about this it irritates me.
Mistakes can and do happen in labs .
What happens if a mistake is made and a mother looses their children because of the mistake?
Will anybody be willing to admit that a mistake has been made? I doubt it.
Can't the government think of a better way of spending money? Say like, building more shelters for the low income families that are forced to live on the streets, because they don't qualify for State Aide.
I will add that not all people that are buying drugs on the streets are abusing those drugs. Some of them cannot afford to go to a doctor to get the medication that they may need. A Lot of people cannot afford health insurance, even if they have food stamps they don't necessarily have medicaid to pay the doctor bills. And it they do have a doctor they can go to. Most doctors now days won't or are afraid to prescribe pain medications, so you have those people going out and buying what they need. I'm not saying it is right but it is happening every day.
I just think it is a big waste of money.
Why not do something positive for the people of our country for once?
That's my point of view. You don't have to agree or disagree, but lets hear it.
Dee


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PostSubject: drug testing   Fri Aug 14, 2009 4:24 am

Tell me if I'm wrong, but isn't it usually conservative politicians who favor such measures?
If so, aren't these also the same ones who are always yelling about getting "big government" off our backs, and government being too big, and the "nanny state", and deregulating, etc.?

Ever notice how they only yell these things when it's in the interest of big business, but when it's private citizens they are all for "big government" intruding on our privacy.

I'd tell these lawmakers I'll take a UA, when they all take one, for their checks!

Rxwoman.
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PostSubject: I think they SHOULD require drug testing..........   Tue Aug 18, 2009 12:05 am

I know we all are going to disagree on this subject, but in my opinion I can actually see where it is beneficial to drug screen welfare recipients.

I worked in the Food Stamp/AFDC and the Workforce Developement office in Texas both as a clerk and a case manager for over 8 years. The town I worked in, I had also lived in for over 18 yrs so I knew the majority of people that came in for benefits personally and I was not just making a judgement based on appearance or superficial factors.

Now as a MMT pt, I will use my experience with that to give you an example of what I am talking about when I worked at the welfare office.

We are in MMT to live sober and to use the program for what it is intended. BUT there are twice as many(if not more) people who are abusing MMT therapy as there are of us who are trying to use it right. You know that, I know that and it is something we can't do anything about.

But it's those who are abusing the program that make it harder for the ones who are trying to use it right. They are the ones giving the program a bad name and all of the honest ones are having to suffer the consequences and laws that are put in place because of those who are abusing it. If we want MMT therapy, we have to follow those guidelines and rules even though they seem irrational and unfair, especially to those of us who are trying to legitimately use the program.

How many times have we had to suffer an embarrassing procedure or be made to feel like we are doing something wrong because of the rules that have been imposed upon us because of the ones who abuse the system?? Numerous times. It's not fun and it shouldn't be that way, but it is that way because of the abusers and if we want to be in MMT, we have to suffer through those rules along with the bad ones.

My experience with Welfare and Unemployment Benefit clients has been EXACTLY the same. There are a group of people who honestly need the help and are using it for what it is intended, but on the flip side, the MAJORITY of people on welfare and unemployment benefits are not using it for what it is intended for and are taking advantage of the system to have drug money, money for alcohol and/or other things it wasn't intended for. Therefore, the ones abusing it are making things harder and giving the ones who are legit a bad name.

Again, I know this from personal experience and not just from what I think or am assuming.

The money they are getting is my tax dollars that I work hard for and I don't think it's fair for me to have to foot the bills for the drug abusers and alcoholics so they can have money for their drugs. I pay my money out to a MMT clinic and work a job so I can have a better life for myself and they can do the same.

Now having said that, it is unfortunate that the honest people who need the benefits are lumped into the same category as the dishonest ones but again, that is usually how it goes. The few honest are being punished for the majority of the dishonest.

So personally, I don't have a problem with them requiring a drug test to receive benefits. I think it is a necessary evil in this day and age.

Yes, it cost money to administer the tests, but think of all the money that will be saved by denying the drug users the welfare and/or unemployment money that they don't really need and give it to the ones that do? Who knows, they may can actually give the ones who really do need it a raise in benefits that might actually help them with some of that money they will be saving.

Yes, drug test can be misinterpreted, but that is where they will have to set up some kind of guidelines on how they will handle positive results such as running it again to double check a positive result, and take into consideration those who have a positive who are in treatment and trying to straighten out and such.

There are pros and cons to both ways, but in the end, I am for the drug testing.

RuthAnn Alston


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PostSubject: It doesn't stop with drug testing either..   Tue Oct 20, 2009 6:09 am

If it were only drug testing some of us might be able to get on with life, but they go even further.
If you have ANY outstanding fines anywhere you get refused for all sorts of help. You can't even get food stamps if you have a fine you can't pay anywhere in the US. If you've left any jurisdiction to avoid prosecution for any kind of drug charge forget getting any kind of assistance anywhere.
I'm disabled, but have outstanding charges so there is no way for me to get disability and if I turn myself in I sit in jail without methadone or any real medical help so for me and many like me it can be a death sentence.
So it's now either go die in jail first or don't bother to apply. If you don't die then risk daily raping where guards look the other way while the strong take the weak. That's why I consider suicide as an alternative. When "The People" come I plan to just blow my brains out because I know all about their sinister system. It has nothing to do with justice and everything to do with JUST US!
Is this a GRATE country or what?
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