Performance Improvement 2007. Is Substance Abuse a Barrier to Employment and How Effective Are Substance Abuse Treatment Interventions for Welfare Recipients?



Research findings on substance abuse disorders among welfare recipients were examined. Reviewers offered suggestions for how past research findings could inform future policy and research questions.

Research on four questions was examined: (1) What is the prevalence of substance use and substance use disorders among Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) recipients? (2) To what extent are substance use disorders and co-occurring problems a barrier to employability? (3) Can screening strategies in welfare settings successfully identify and refer clients to substance abuse treatment? (4) What types of services do these clients need to attain self-sufficiency?

The review found that 8 to 20 percent of women on TANF have a substance abuse problem that probably interferes with their functioning. Women with substance abuse disorders experience substantially more barriers to employment and are less likely to become employed and more likely to lose welfare benefits as a result of a sanction. Screening procedures are being used in many States to identify individuals receiving Temporary Assistance to Needy Families benefits who have substance use disorders. However, such screening identifies only a minority of those with substance use disorders. Evidence from a rigorous random assignment study indicated that more intensive interventions could yield better treatment participation rates and substance use outcomes.

Report Title: Welfare Reform and Substance Abuse Treatment for Welfare
Agency Sponsor: ASPE, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation
Federal Contact: Radel, Laura, 202-690-5938
Performer: National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, Columbia University; New York, NY
PIC ID: 8478

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"PerformanceImprovement2007.pdf" (pdf, 717.63Kb)

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