Document Type



Final Published Version

Publication Title

Contemporary Drug Problems



Publication Date



This paper reviews the history of the drug addiction and alcoholism (DA&A) program within Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and the controversies that dogged the years before its termination in 1996. The DA&A program began in 1972, and for reasons understood early on, it was susceptible to rapid growth and discrediting scandal. Through the mid-1980s, the program remained very small, mainly because of a conservative judicial climate that limited the ground for claiming substance abuse as a disabling impairment. Once the legal barriers were breached, SSI became an attractive welfare alternative for impoverished substance abusers and for local governments seeking to shift welfare and medical assistance costs to the federal government. By the early 1990s, program growth was extraordinary, and oversight bodies deemed the program "out of control." This was compounded by highly publicized misuse of funds by beneficiaries. Seen as an instance of state-induced harm, the program became an early target of the conservative welfare reformers who took control of Congress after the 1994 elections.

Included in

Social Work Commons