Substance abuse is a fairly common problem in the U.S., and people who are suffering with an addiction will often have a whole host of problems, including difficulties going to work. While there’s no guarantee that a person with substance abuse problems will qualify, there are certain circumstances that they might qualify under a listing in the Blue Book that’s put out by the Social Security Administration. If this happens, the person with the substance abuse problems can get the financial benefits that they need to pay their bills so that they can get healthy again.
What Is Substance Abuse?
People can have substance abuse problems with a wide range of types of drugs and alcohol. When someone has a substance abuse problem, they are unable to quit using the drug or alcohol of their choice without help.
People with substance abuse disorder can be abusing a range of drugs, but one of the most problematic drugs currently in use today is a class of drugs called opioids. Abuse of this class of drugs is on the rise partially because it’s so much more readily available than it was a few decades ago. Although it’s widely known that opioids are highly addictive, medical providers sometimes prescribe them for certain types of pain when the patient doesn’t respond to other types of medications.
Alcohol is another type of drug that’s commonly abused. Part of the reason that many people start to abuse alcohol is because it’s so readily available.
Anyone can become addicted to drugs, and certain kinds are more addictive than others. But there are some risk factors involved in who becomes addicted more quickly and who tries illegal drugs to begin with. Environmental factors, such as a person’s family’s opinions on drugs, can cause a person to be more likely to try drugs in the first place. Secondly, once a person begins to take drugs, some people are more genetically prone to become addicted quickly.
Having certain mental health disorders, such as ADHD and depression, also put someone at a higher risk of developing a dependence. And people who start earlier in life are at a higher risk of developing a drug addiction because early drug use changes developing brains.
Ultimately, the best way to avoid drug or alcohol addiction is to avoid taking drugs altogether. Alcohol should only be drank in moderation, and people who were prescribed drugs should only take them the way that they were intended. Additionally, patients should report any problems that they’re having with their medications to their doctors immediately so that their prescriptions can be altered.
Symptoms of Substance Abuse
While the symptoms of abusing a particular drug or withdrawing from it can vary according to the specific drug, deciding when a person has a problem with abusing drugs and alcohol as a whole has several symptoms.
One of the first things that someone around the substance abuser might notice is them cutting back on time with friends and family to use the drug and not meeting work obligations. Loved ones might also notice that the person with the substance abuse problem will spend money on the drug when they don’t have the money to pay for necessities, such as their housing and electricity. They might even resort to stealing to get the drugs even if they don’t have a previous history of stealing.
Changes in appearance and behavior are common with people who are abusing substances. And some people will have changes in health, such as weight loss or gain.
Additionally, people who are struggling with substance abuse will need more of the drug to achieve the same effect, and they’ll go out of their way to ensure that they always have their drug of choice on hand. People with a substance abuse problem will have an intense need to take the drug, sometimes several times a day. These urges are so strong that they can block out all other thoughts.
Finally, while many people with substance abuse problems will try to stop taking the drugs, they’ll also fail, and they’ll have withdrawal symptoms when they try.
Treatments for Substance Abuse
People who are going through treatment for a substance abuse problem will likely receive a few different types of counseling, and they might receive other drugs to help ween them off of their drug of choice.
Detoxification is usually the first stage of treatment. During this process, their dependence of the drug is slowly lowered until they no longer need the drug. There are a few ways that this can be accomplished. For instance, some doctors will slowly lower the amount of their drug of choice that they receive, and other times the patient might receive a different drug in replace of the original one so that they can wean themselves off the drug of choice. Finally, another option for detox is to simply stop taking the drug. This method will cause the person to go through severe withdrawal symptoms, and they should go through withdrawal in front of medical professionals in case they experience a complication to withdrawal.
Once the drug is cleaned out of their system, clients will go to counseling sessions. There are several types of counseling that have been found to be effective, including group counseling, family therapy, and individual therapy. Some people might need to go to an inpatient center, but other people might only need outpatient counseling. Additionally, there are also self-help groups, such as Narcotic Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous, that can be helpful in staying away from substances.
Disability Benefits for Substance Abuse
While the Social Security Administration puts together a list of conditions that qualify for benefits in the Blue Book, substance abuse isn’t one of the listed conditions. In addition to not being able to get disability benefits for substance abuse, any conditions that are material to the drug or alcohol addiction will also be denied. For instance, someone with emphysema who is addicted to alcohol will likely still qualify for disability benefits because alcohol addiction doesn’t cause or worsen emphysema. But if a person is addicted to smoking and has emphysema, they wouldn’t meet the listing for emphysema because smoking causes and worsens emphysema.
If a person has emphysema but quit smoking years or even decades ago, finding an attorney is especially important so that the paperwork is filled out properly so that the applicant has the best opportunity possible to gain disability benefits.
Even further, knowing whether or not a condition is reversible is essential in determining whether or not the addiction is material to the condition. Basically, if a condition would reverse if the person quit doing the drug, then they aren’t eligible for an approved claim. If the condition wouldn’t be reversed when the person quit, then they might be able to qualify for disability insurance.
It’s possible to qualify for benefits with a different condition. For instance, people who have other mental health problems, such as depression, that don’t subside when no longer taking drugs or alcohol, might be able to qualify for disability benefits.
How We Can Help
There are several ways in which the team at Osterhout Berger Disability Law can help you receive the benefit you deserve. We help individuals who need to…
- Apply for Social Security Benefits and want to ensure everything is done right the first time
- Appeal a denial of Social Security Disability Benefits
- Appeal an existing denial of Long Term Disability (LTD) Benefits
If you are facing one of these situations due to Substance Abuse, please do not hesitate in reaching out. Our team of experienced attorneys are here to help, and your consultation is free.