I have literally lost track of the number of alcoholics and addicts I know who have used their disability checks, utility checks and food stamp cards to get alcohol and drugs. I have concluded that putting any kind of benefits check or a food stamp card directly in the hands of someone with a substance abuse disorder is an exercise in stupidity.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying they shouldn’t receive the benefits. Addiction is an illness, and having an illness doesn’t disqualify a person from receiving assistance. Entitlement programs can help addicts gain the stability they need to begin or maintain the recovery process. But a disability check can also be used to buy alcohol. A food stamp card can be cashed in to buy crack. And that enables the addict and wastes taxpayer dollars.
Why doesn’t the government require that people with addiction disorders have payees for their disability checks, utility checks and food stamp cards? Good question, huh? I sure wish someone would answer it for me. I’m so tired of seeing my friends drink and smoke their checks. I hate addiction.
P.S. I don’t totally have the answer for this. Even with payees to receive the checks, pay the bills and buy the groceries, there are still ways to get alcohol and drugs. You can panhandle. A 40oz beer is a couple of bucks. You can trade anything for crack. Seriously. I recently heard about a guy trading in cans of food he got at a food pantry. Wow. If you want it bad enough, you can rob and steal. But still, having a payee for benefits would cut down on the enabling and taxpayer fraud. That would be something, right?
Update, 10/23/2010: Since I first wrote this post, I have personally witnessed payees from a government agency regularly giving money to an addict, even after being told that the money was being used to buy drugs. This included writing checks directly to the addict for large sums of money ($500 and $1000), and doing nothing to intervene or assist the addict in getting treatment. The government required a payee because of the addiction history, but the government-agency payee gave the addict large sums of money, knowing that it would be spent on drugs. This is one of the most frustrating situations I have ever encountered. And it is happening with other people I know. I have concluded that the government payees must not care very much about the addicts or about taxpayer dollars.