Missouri Drug Abuse: Positive Steps Taken to Curb Drug Addiction in Missouri

Over the last few decades many debates have been held discussing the efficacy of drug testing people who receive public assistance. Missouri legislatures think it wise to do so and are taking steps to make this reality as are lawmakers in other states. A number of other states, such as Oregon, Kentucky, New Hampshire and Nebraska, are considering similar laws.

Without question those that receive assistance should be held to the same standards as those in the workforce. There are thousands of state, federal and municipal workers subject to the same tests along with other workers as well.

Over the years many civil liberties unions claim that drug testing relies on unproven stereotypes about those that do receive assistance and being on drugs. Of course this is not the case but many addicts do abuse the system and it is a safeguard for Missouri taxpayers and the children of the recipients.

Even at that, in my experience dealing with addicts, many are on some kind of public assistance, often worked out by the very mental health officials providing the mental health services. Although those that receive food stamps may not be party to this, they certainly should not be allowed to fall outside of workforce requirements.

Still civil rights activists argue that testing costs more than it saves. Considering the impact of substance abuse on state government is in the neighborhood of $ 1.3 billion annually with societal costs for Missouri being up around at $ 7 billion. Most of the cost to state government is related to the burden of substance abuse and addiction – particularly on the criminal justice and education systems. As it stands now the Missouri state government spends more money dealing with the burdens of substance abuse than on prevention or treatment.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an estimated 477,000 individuals in Missouri have alcohol or illicit drug dependence or abuse within the past year, representing roughly 10 percent of the State’s population.

Nearly one million Missourians were using food stamps, which is more than one-sixth of the state’s population as January 2009. Food stamp use in Missouri has been increasing steadily since 1999, but the growing number of food stamp applicants accelerated in 2008, according to a January 2009 report from the Missouri Department of Social Services.

If the civil rights activist’s numbers are correct, then there are approximately 100,000 food stamp recipients with a substance abuse problem which makes up over 20% of the addicted population in Missouri. With those numbers and knowing the average cost not to treat a substance addicted individual is a $ 17,300 cost to society, so any measures taken to relieve a $ 1.73 billion costs to Missouri is a good thing.

Regardless, the burden on Missouri drug rehabs is heavy, with nearly half million people needing substance abuse treatment and capacity to service just under 35,000 the proof is in the pudding as far as this Chemical Dependency Counselor is concerned. Without more prevention efforts are needed.

Lee Otis is an addiction treatment professional and contributing editor to Addiction Treatment Watch which provides information to individuals and families throughout the country on addiction treatment and drug rehabilitation.

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