A new approach to helping drug-addicted women on welfare that treats substance abuse and addiction as a chronic disease promises better outcomes of sobriety and employment than current approaches that focus on employment first, according to new research from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University.
The study of CASASARD — an intensive case-management program for drug-addicted mothers in New Jersey who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits — compared participants to women who received standard services that focused on employment first, then addiction screening and referral.
Researchers found that the case-management group had three times greater rates of treatment initiation, engagement and retention, were almost twice as likely to be abstinent at 12- and 24-month follow-ups, and were more than twice as likely to be employed full-time after two years.
“CASASARD offers a promising new approach to reduce the human and economic costs of addiction to our welfare system and to achieve the goals of welfare reform throughout the nation,” said Joseph A. Califano, Jr., chairman and president of CASA, which runs the CASASARD program. The project recently was expanded from two counties to 19 counties in New Jersey.
The study was published in the February 2009 issue of the American Journal of Public Health.
Read the CASA White Paper (PDF, 306 KB)