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STUDY LINKS WELFARE MOMS, DRUGS

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One in four mothers on welfare abuses alcohol or drugs, according to a new study that says "getting them unhooked" must be the central element of welfare reform.

The report, released Monday by the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, also finds that mothers on welfare are three times more likely than other mothers to be substance abusers.Among the youngest parents on the rolls of Aid to Families With Dependent Children - those parents targeted for job training and work programs under the Clinton administration's new welfare reform proposal - the rate of addiction and abuse is 37 percent.

"If we are serious about getting them off welfare, we have to be serious about getting them into treatment programs and after care," said Joseph A. Califano Jr., chairman and president of the center and a former secretary of health, education and welfare.

But the Department of Health and Human Services, in a statement Monday, called Califano's study "seriously flawed" and said it overstates the number of women on AFDC who are impaired by substance abuse.