The prevalence of self-reported illicit drug use among welfare recipients has remained relatively stable post-reform, and remains below observed prevalences of the early 1990s.
As indicated, self-reported prevalence peaked during the early 1990s and thereafter remained stable before and after the 1996 welfare reform. NSDUH data are not directly comparable to NHSDA data due to improvements in survey methodology. However, analysis of more recent NSDUH data indicate continued stability in patterns of self-reported use. Specifically, we examined the six waves of cross-sectional NSDUH data between 2002 and 2007 regarding substance use behaviors among women age 18-49 with children. These data indicate that consistently one-fifth of women TANF recipients age 18-49 reported recent illicit drug use. This is approximately twice the prevalence reported by women with dependent children who did not receive TANF. Because TANF recipients are a somewhat younger group than non-recipients, we followed Pollack and Reuter (2006) to present age-adjusted prevalences, whereby data for non-TANF recipients were weighted to represent the age distribution of women receiving TANF aid.
The top line shows self-reported past-year illicit drug use by TANF recipients. The bottom line shows the comparable prevalence among non-recipients, with the middle line reflecting age-adjusted prevalence among nonrecipients.