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Study Discounts Drug, Welfare Link

October 24, 1996| Associated Press

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.

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