Illicit Drug Use and Mental Health Problems More Common in Women on Welfare Than Those Who are Not

Substance abuse and welfare reform

Researchers from the University of Michigan, Pennsylvania State University and the University of Chicago analyzed the relationships among substance abuse, mental health problems, welfare and employment.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) national Substance Abuse Policy Research Program (SAPRP) (for more information see Program Results).

Key Findings:

  • 19 percent of female welfare recipients had used an illicit drug during the prior year.
  • 19 percent met the diagnostic screening criteria for major mental health problems.
  • Psychiatric disorders were more prevalent than drug dependence among recipients.

Key Recommendations:

  • Screening and assessment programs should distinguish drug use from drug dependence and should identify alcohol dependence and psychiatric disorders.
  • States should provide a range of treatment services to address substance abuse and mental health problems among welfare recipients.