WASHINGTON — Welfare recipients are no more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol than the general population, according to a new government study.
The findings, published in today's American Journal of Public Health, contradict Columbia University's widely quoted conclusion that 20% 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% to 13.8% across five welfare programs, reported Bridget Grant of the NIH's National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. About 14.8% of those surveyed who did not receive welfare admitted to being heavy drinkers, she reported.
Between 3.8% and 9.8% of welfare recipients used drugs, statistically comparable to the 5.1% of people not on welfare, the study found. And 1.3% to 3.6% of welfare recipients were dependent on drugs, compared with 1.5% of people not on welfare.