Drink, Drugs and Disability: An Introduction to the Controversy

By Hunt, Sharon R.; Baumohl, Jim | Contemporary Drug Problems, April 1, 2003 | Go to article overview

Drink, Drugs and Disability: An Introduction to the Controversy


Hunt, Sharon R., Baumohl, Jim, Contemporary Drug Problems


It is highly unlikely that when Congress passed the SSI program in

1972 . . . members realized they would be writing a guaranteed

annual income and medical care [program] for addicts.

Rep. Rick Santorum, February 10, 1994

I think probably most of the American people would be outraged

to find. . . that someone is even receiving disability when

they inflict it on themselves.

Rep. E. Clay Shaw, Jr., February 10, 1994'

Since 1950 the federal government of the United States has provided income support to people with work disabilities unrelated to military service. The eligibility of alcoholics and drug addicts for these benefits has always been controversial, but for over 25 years drug addiction and alcoholism were treated as potentially disabling impairments-albeit with official reluctance and confusion. In this paper we examine the history of the drug addiction and alcoholism (DA&A) "program"2 operated by the Social Security Administration. This began with the authorization of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) in 1972, was extended to Social Security Disability Insurance in 1994, and was eliminated by Congress in March 1996.

In retrospect, it seems fair to say that the DA&A program was established on terms that invited controversy. For technical and fiscal reasons that were well understood early on, the program was extremely difficult to manage, and as a consequence it was susceptible to rapid growth and discrediting scandal. It was thus distinctly unloved by its bureaucratic parent. The Social Security Administration (SSA) largely ignored the program through the 1970s and 1980s and made no official effort to defend it once a newly conservative Congress laid siege in 1994. Still, even had the SSA been inclined to resist the lawmakers, it had little political leverage because the program lacked a unified constituency. Treating addiction as a work disability never sat well with many legislators and some members of the substance abuse treatment community; to use a term that became popular in the 1980s, they believed the program "enabled" addiction.

We consider these issues in due course. However, to properly introduce what is of necessity a complicated story, we first lay some groundwork. Immediately below, we provide a brief summary of the two current Social Security disability programs, followed by a somewhat detailed treatment of the definition of work disability and the process by which it is determined. We then take up definitional aspects of drug addiction and alcoholism as qualifying impairments for disability. At this point, we sketch the DA&A program's implementation from 1974 to the early 1990s. These are rather technical, even laborious sections, but they dissect the serious administrative problems that contributed to the DA&A program's growth, introduce terms that recur throughout this paper and others that follow in this issue, and provide points of reference for these other papers, especially insofar as their findings reflect the influence of administrative processes.3

Finally, with this technical prologue complete, we analyze the SSI DA&A category's extraordinary growth beginning in the late 1980s, the controversy it provoked, and the political response that resulted first in the program's reform in 1994 and then in its elimination in 1996. In conclusion, we locate the controversy about the DA&A program in addiction's ambiguous cultural status, the federal structure of American income maintenance, and the enduring tension between social welfare and social control in public welfare programs.

A last word by way of introduction: We rely for evidence on a variety of published and unpublished government documents, newspaper accounts, and interviews with dozens of people involved in one way or another with the DA&A program over the years. Hunt did most of the interviews in the course of her dissertation research (Hunt, 2000); Baumohl did others during research on SSI's forebear, Aid to the Permanently and Totally Disabled (1950-74). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Drink, Drugs and Disability: An Introduction to the Controversy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.