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Drug Detox and Rehab Could Help Kentucky Welfare Recipients Become Self Sufficient
At a time when drug abuse and addiction have reached record levels across America, and government agencies from the White House down are involved in serious efforts to provide more treatment facilities, the State of Kentucky is considering a bill that cuts off all public assistance to anyone testing positive for drugs – including access to publicly funded drug detox and treatment programs.
The new bill would mandate random drug testing of all adults who apply for, or who are already receiving, public aid such as welfare, food stamps or help from Kentucky’s publicly funded medical programs. If welfare applicants or recipients refuse to be tested or test positive, further public assistance would be refused.
The proposed bill that would cut off access for these people to public assisted detox and rehab programs is perplexing when one considers that Kentucky has among the highest prescription drug abuse statistics in the country: One study found 20% of the population using prescription drugs illicitly – that’s one person in every five getting prescription drugs from an illicit source. Prescription drug addiction, dependency and abuse accounts for 20% of Kentucky’s admissions into drug detox, drug rehab and other treatment modalities.
Indeed, abuse of the narcotic prescription painkiller OxyContin has been so prevalent in Kentucky that the drug is known by the dubious nickname “hillbilly heroin.” Kentucky has literally thousands of OxyContin addicts, many in jail or awaiting detox and rehab, and hundreds of deaths have been attributed to the drug. But prevailing opinion in Kentucky is apparently a reluctance to spend taxpayer money on welfare if the recipient is abusing drugs.
However, by refusing treatment on the strength of a drug test, the new bill would contribute to increased addiction, more drug-related crime and higher criminal justice and medical costs. Taxpayers would wind up paying more, in the long term, than the cost of drug detox and rehab, and the state and society would lose the opportunity to return its citizens to productivity.
It’s been proven many times that, with the right encouragement, motivation and support, almost any drug addict or drug abuser will agree to enter drug detox and rehab. Thousands of dependencies and addictions are treated successfully every day with medical drug detox to help remove immediate cravings and withdrawal symptoms. When followed by comprehensive drug rehab, former addicts return to responsible, drug-free and productive lives, not drug-abusing welfare addicts.
It’s understandable for taxpayers to recoil from footing the bill for welfare recipients who abuse their status through drug abuse. But a different approach could help satisfy reluctant taxpayers and also get drug abusers into treatment and back into the productive mainstream of Kentucky life.
Why not offer those on public assistance who flunk the drug test at least one opportunity to accept an alternative, a drug detox and rehab program, rather than barring them at the outset from help with their drug problem.
Refusing to enter drug detox and rehab, or failure of any subsequent drug tests after completing drug detox and rehab for as long as they’re on welfare, would go a long way in reducing the welfare rolls and boosting the work force with rehabilitated citizens.
A few days in a good medical drug detox program followed by a thorough rehab could help turn the whole situation around in Kentucky, and open the door to increased productivity and money saved for all concerned.
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