Mental health, drug use, and the transition from welfare to work

  • Isaac D. Montoya
  • David C. Bell
  • John S. Atkinson
  • Carl W. Nagy
  • Donna D. Whitsett
Special Section


This study examines the effects of drug use and work requirements on psychological distress and employment among chronic drug-using and non-drug-using welfare recipients. Using a natural history design, 442 female Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients (including 251 with chronic drug use problems) were interviewed every 4 months in order to assess changes in psychological functioning, employment status, and wages. Data from the first year (four waves) indicate that employment and wages increased substantially, though less so for drug users than non-drug users. Psychological distress decreased only slightly over the study period. Growth curve analyses show that drug use had no direct effect on wages; however, drug use did significantly increase psychological distress. Both the work mandate and psychological distress contributed to wages. The authors consider the implications of these trends for the mental health service needs of drug-using TANF recipients.


Mental Health Health Promotion Psychological Distress Mental Health Service Growth Curve 
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Copyright information

© Association of Behavioral Healthcare Management, NCCBH 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Isaac D. Montoya
    • 1
    • 2
  • David C. Bell
    • 1
  • John S. Atkinson
    • 1
  • Carl W. Nagy
    • 1
  • Donna D. Whitsett
    • 1
  1. 1.Affiliated Systems CorporationHouston
  2. 2.College of PharmacyUniversity of HoustonUSA

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