Online Program

Association between substance use patterns and welfare receipt in the United States

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Candice Beathard, PhD, MA, Health Management and Policy Program, School of Social and Behavioral Health Sciences, College of Public Health and Human Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
Jangho Yoon, MSPH, PhD, College of Public Health and Human Sciences, Health Policy and Management Program, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
background: Drug testing welfare (TANF) recipients is a policy proposed by over half of all states. This study adds to the drug testing conversation by examining the relationship between substance use and welfare receipt.

methods: We analyze 2013 data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Using univariate probit regression models, we analyze substance use as a function of TANF receipt and TANF receipt as a function of substance use. We dichotomize both outcomes and categorize substance use into four groups (e.g. substance use including cannabis only, substance use excluding cannabis, substance abuse, and substance dependence). Additionally, for policy considerations, we restrict our analysis to three subpopulations of TANF recipients focusing on alcohol abuse and dependence and mental health issues to explore the covariates’ effects. Estimates are adjusted for the complex survey design.

results: Seven percent of the survey population received TANF. Of those, 26% used cannabis only, 14% used an illicit substance excluding cannabis, and 2% and 6% were classified as experiencing substance abuse and dependence, respectively. TANF receipt and substance use patterns are positively significantly associated in all models except substance abuse. Alcohol recency, cigarette use, age, and number of children were significant predictors of past year mental health treatment and alcohol abuse and dependence among TANF recipients.

conclusions: TANF and substance use patterns are significantly associated. States proposing drug testing policies for TANF recipients might also consider additional screening because TANF recipients are experiencing higher rates of mental health issues than substance abuse and dependence.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Describe risk factors for substance use among TANF recipients. Evaluate the link between TANF receipt and substance use patterns. Discuss policy implications of the identified relationship between TANF receipt and substance use patterns.

Keyword(s): Drug Abuse, Welfare

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the principal and co-principal of multiple grants focusing on mental health and co-occurring substance use and abuse.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.