5 Things You and Your Family Need To Know About Alcoholism, Addiction and Your Health Insurance

Alcoholism and Addiction is a widespread epidemic affecting millions of American’s nationwide.  We reported in a previous article America: The World’s Leader in Prescription Drug Abuse Part 1 that Americans utilize 99% of the worlds’ hydrocodone supply, 80% of its oxycodone supply, and 65% of its hydromorphone (Dilaudid) supply. More Americans have abused prescription drugs than have tried cocaine, heroin, and hallucinogens combined

A 2013 Study estimated that 24.6 million Americans aged 12 or older had used an illicit drug in the past month.  Another study showed the 88,000 people die as a result of alcohol related causes each year. In 2010 alcohol misuse problems cost the United States $249 Billion Dollars.

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#1 – Affordable Care Act and Substance Abuse Disorders

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) colloquially known as Obamacare has put in place health insurance reforms which includes substance use disorders as one of the ten elements of essential health benefits.  With this inclusion of benefits in health insurance packages for Drug Rehab and Alcohol Rehab Treatment health care providers and drug and alcohol treatment centers can now be reimbursed for these services provides access to treatment options.

#2 – Pre Existing Conditions

Alcoholism and Addiction follow the disease model for which there is no known cure. It is a progressive disease that often can be fatal if left untreated. For individuals that have had a history of substance abuse or alcoholism this would be considered a pre-existing condition. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) No insurance plan can reject you, charge you more, or refuse to pay for essential health benefits for any condition you had before your coverage started. Once you’re enrolled, the plan can’t deny you coverage or raise your rates based only on your health.

#3 – Choosing the Right Treatment Options

There are a variety of options available for Substance Abuse and Alcoholism.  This includes drug rehab and treatment options that include faith based programs, 12 steps programs, men and women’s only programs, holistic treatment options, and a variety of other substance abuse programs. Often times, it can dependent on the individual circumstances to find the best fit. In almost all cases, getting removed from their environment is crucial to success to allow for a medically supervised detox and to provide a setting where the addict or alcoholic can focus on themselves. Typically these involve 30 day inpatient drug treatment center which often includes addresses any dual diagnosis issues such as depressions.

 #4 – After Care

In patient drug rehab only addresses the disease short term. It provides the ability for you or your loved one to start to heal. However, that healing process will continue long after they leave an inpatient drug and alcohol facility. For most, drugs and alcohol where not their problem. Instead it was the solution to thier problems. Aftercare is crucial be it 12 steps meetings, Intensive Outpatient programs and building a support network.

#5 – Checking Your Health Insurance Benefits.

While the Affordable Care Act has a provision for Substance Abuse the extent of what is reimbursable widely varies across Health Insurance carrier policies and states. Factors such as EPO, HMO, PPO, and Out of Network benefits play a large role in finding a center that can work with your insurance carrier. For the loved ones such as parents of the person suffering from addiction and the spouses this can be a frustrating processes. In addition, there may be other out-of-pocket expenses from travel arrangements to co-pays. It is important to check your benefits to find out what your insurance will cover.

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Addiction and First Responders: Break the Silence

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Fire fighters, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), and police officers face inordinate stress and trauma on the job. Some become addicted to substances as a way to help stay awake, relax or numb feelings after facing tragedy. Others find they become addicted after being injured and come to enjoy the effects of morphine, Oxycontin, and other narcotic painkillers is also possible. Even those workers deemed most heroic are vulnerable to drug addiction.

However, admitting issues with drugs and alcohol can threaten first responder careers. Discretion, sensitivity, and effectiveness must all be considered in a treatment plan for first responders. This review will cover the unique challenges of first responders facing addiction and how to overcome them.

The Unique Circumstances

There is little information regarding addiction among other groups of first responders. However, trade journals estimate that drug or alcohol dependency among police officers is as high as 20 to 25 percent. There is more education on burnout and dealing with fatigue and stress, but some workers still fall through the cracks and find themselves seeking comfort in substances.

The problem is many of these jobs depend on their officers and workers remaining sober. Some police departments reject applicants with a previous history of drug use. Fire fighters and EMTs are subject to drug tests and a positive result can lead to suspension, if not termination. The need to make a living often eclipses honesty when these individuals face drug addiction.

However, not treating the condition compromises public safety. Drug and alcohol use reduces the ability to make judgments, perform procedures, and behave reasonably under stressful circumstances. One mistake in these professions can mean the death or disability of another.

This creates an ultimate Catch-22. The job itself presents the conditions that often lead to drug addiction and dependency. However, once that threshold is crossed, admitting the issue means losing the job–and a good support system. That is why there have been new ways to approach this issue that balance both first responders and public safety.

New Ways to Approach This Issue

Fortunately, with increased awareness, addiction in first responders is receiving more therapeutic attention as a health problem rather than as a discipline issue. The platform cleanandsoberlife.org allows individuals to privately check their benefits and treatment options without going to a supervisor or HR, this ensures your privacy and insures returning safely to full duty.

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Cleanandsoberlife.org is an excellent first step in knowing what your option are. HIPAA and FMLA laws will protect first responders who need to take a leave of absence for treatment. You can also speak to a live person at 24 hours a day. Sometimes, just being able to call someone to plan the next step can prove to be a lifesaver.

It is clear that accessing treatment and improving health is a much better approach than keeping it hidden. Knowing the symptoms of risky behavior means being able to confront them sooner; if you are a first responder who feels you “need” a drink or a particular drug to get through your shifts, it is likely you have an addiction issue. If you are the spouse, friend, or other relative of a first responder who display troubling symptoms, know that you can reach out without worrying about career repercussions.

7 Ways to Identify Addiction in a Loved One

Addiction is a complex problem that can manifest in different ways, so it’s not always easy to tell when someone is an addict. Addicts may be in denial regarding their drug or alcohol use, or they may go to great lengths to keep it hidden from their loved ones. You may be suspicious or even in denial yourself. So, how can you tell if a loved one is addicted? Here are seven common indicators.

#1 Mood swings

Sudden changes in mood can indicate that a person is preoccupied with their

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habit. When they have not used for a while, they can quickly become irritable, depressed or fatigued. Alternatively, you may notice sudden improvements in a person’s mood. When a cranky person suddenly becomes upbeat and happy for no apparent reason, it could be the result of drug or alcohol use.

#2 Isolation

Addicts often isolate themselves as to deal with stress or to relax after a hard day at work. They may withdraw emotionally while engaging in the addictive behavior in the presence of loved ones, or they may spend more time alone engaging in their habit.

#3 Unexplained absences

Addicts often try to hide their habit by making lengthy, unexplained trips away from home or work. For example, you might notice that a 5-minute trip to get milk from the grocery store now takes hours. Addicts frequently use these errands as excuses to get away from others or meet with other addicts to engage in their habit.

#4 Loss of interest in social or recreational activities

Addicts often give up on social or recreational activities in the pursuit of their addiction. For instance, someone who loved exercising loses interest in keeping fit, stops going to the gym and prefers to go where they have access to drugs or alcohol. Alcoholics may avoid activities where alcohol is not available, and drug users may avoid trips or social gatherings where they can’t hide their drugs or drug use.

#5 Financial problems

Addicts can develop financial problems as their addiction gets out of control and they spend more of their money on their habit. When a loved one suddenly has no money for basics such as rent or groceries, drains their bank accounts or starts borrowing heavily and lies about what they need money for, they may be financing an addiction.

#6 Unexplained changes

Family members, friends or colleagues will often notice that something is wrong but are unable to figure out the real cause of these changes. Even when confronted with the above behaviors, an addict may get defensive, deny they have a problem and shift the blame to other people or circumstances. Major changes in personality, finances or routines without other legitimate explanations might stem from the effects of drugs or alcohol or the stress of supporting their habit.

#7 Behavioral changes

Changes in sleep patterns, loss of or excessive appetite, neglect of physical appearance and inattention to personal grooming can indicate that an addict may be using drugs or drinking excessively. These can also be symptoms or drug or alcohol withdrawal. Severe withdrawal symptoms include excessive sweating, hallucination, paranoia, anxiety and confusion.

These are just some of the signs of addiction that can indicate your loved one is no longer in control of their life. If a loved one is exhibiting any of these signs, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are an addict – there might be another explanation. However, a combination of signs and symptoms can indicate trouble, especially if the person has a history of drinking or drug use.

What you can do

 Get help right way. If you suspect a loved one may be addicted, watch for these changes and don’t hesitate to intervene and get them the help they need before it’s too late. Help has never been more readily available. National attention is now focused on addiction and the struggles families and communities face each day. Mental health and substance abuse are one of the ten essential health benefits that are now the law.

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The ACA, also known as The Affordable Care Act recognizes that addiction and the underlying mental health issues that are known as co-disorders are mandatory components of all health plans.

 If you have insurance whether it’s a group plan through work or an individual plan, regardless if it’s a private or subsidized plan, it must include these benefits. The first step is checking your benefits to see what types of treatment options are available to you depending on your loved one’s addiction. Check my Coverage.

Coverage and treatment options for drug and or alcohol rehab include Inpatient drug and alcohol treatment including detox for drug and alcohol addiction. Once the problem is identified and a solution is in place, your loved one should be back on track once again, living a clean and sober life

4 Strategies to Encourage Treatment When Living with an Addicted Spouse

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You’re not alone an estimated 23.5 million Americans are in need of treatment for a substance abuse disorder such as alcohol or drug addiction, less than nine percent received care from a specialized facility. This figure shows the depth of the treatment gap that negatively impacts countless individuals, families and marriages. If your spouse is an active addict, chances are that you have tried to encourage him or her to stop or get help on numerous occasions. You’ve been promised over and over again that this

is the last time. Your heart may even be breaking or you’re just simply at your wits end.

Use these 4 strategies to arm yourself and increase the odds of your partner choosing to go to rehab before their addiction spirals even further out of control.

 #1 Establish Personal Boundaries

Everyone has a breaking point, but you should never feel pushed to it by another person’s addiction. This is why it is critical to establish your own personal boundaries that clearly outline what you are and are not willing to put up with. Once those boundaries are crossed, follow through with predetermined and doable consequences such as moving out of the home. This strategy can show your addicted spouse that you will not continue to be impacted by their addiction.

#2 Stop Enabling

Many people think they are being compassionate and caring when in reality they are enabling an addiction to continue. Providing basic necessities such as food and shelter to a loved one with an active substance abuse disorder may seem like the right thing to do, but actually allows the person to continue to use. Intimacy or sex is another example of enabling in action. In order for your spouse to hit rock bottom sooner, you must stop supporting their habit.

#3 Be Consistent

Consistency is key to helping a spouse get into rehabilitation, but many people falter due to strong emotions, manipulation on the addict’s end, and other circumstances. You must maintain fluidity in your behaviors, responses and consequences in order to show your spouse how serious the problem really is.

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#4 Create an Ultimatum

An ultimatum is an effective tool when it comes to the recovery process. Once you feel that you have tried every other option without success, consider hosting an intervention. During it, you should present your ultimatum and stick with it if your spouse refuses treatment.

Living with an addict can hurt your emotional well-being, but does not need to control your life. Your health insurance should cover the cost of drug rehab or alcohol rehab treatment for both you and your spouse. Both Inpatient and outpatient drug and alcohol treatment options are available. You also need to seek treatment on your own to recover from the effects of addiction whether or not your spouse begins treatment. A good place to start is checking your benefits. Having drug or alcohol rehab treatment options ready, and being able to present a clear solution to your spouse will work far better than continuing to talk or argue about it.

Used in addition to these strategies, you can significantly increase the odds that your loved one will choose to get the help they need and start living a clean and sober life.

4 Reasons Why a Cure for Alcoholism Being Kept Quiet

The FDA has licensed the use of a drug in the treatment of alcoholism. Treatment with this drug is reported to have a success rate of over 50%.

Yet, most addiction professionals don’t use it. Instead, they employ the tried and newlife-four-320x480tested, but almost invariably unsuccessful, rehabilitation methods based around AA’s 12 steps, detox and counselling. The success rates of such programs are usually around 5%.

That leaves an astounding 95% relapse or failure rate.

What is the name of this drug? I am going to tell you in a minute. But first let’s look at the reasons why it’s being kept quiet.

With an over 50% success rate, why isn’t this drug the number one treatment for alcoholism?

There are four main reasons.  

The first reason though it’s hard to believe, is many doctors don’t know much about it, or, if they do, they are unsure of how to prescribe it. That may seem preposterous since, for most important drugs, doctors get a huge amount of educational information from the drug companies.

That leads to the second reason:

This drug is out of patent and is now a generic drug. This means that the pharmaceutical companies can’t make huge profits from it.

The third reason also relates to money:

Alcohol rehabilitation is such a huge industry worldwide that a cure would seriously reduce profits and could put some practitioners out of business.

The fourth reason is to do with a mind-set:

You can slowly cut back your drinking while you take this medication.

This is unacceptable to many alcohol addiction professionals who regard abstinence as a precondition for treatment.

Which is counter intuitive to for example a very popular smoking cessation drug. The drug works by keeping you smoking avoiding going cold turkey. You lose carvings for smoking while on the drug and stop smoking entirely within 10 -12 weeks.

Some argue that the drug doesn’t actually cure alcoholism since the patients continue to drink. That’s missing the point and engaging in semantics. A treatment program centred on this drug can help alcoholics lead a normal life. They can keep their drinking within safe limits or choose to abstain. This transforms their lives. It means they can maintain personal relationships, hold down jobs and no longer seriously endanger their health. Technically, they may still be alcoholics, but no longer in the way the term has been understood for centuries.

newlife-three-320x480The person who championed the use of this drug for alcoholism was a scientist in Finland at the Finnish National Public Health Institute, Dr. David Sinclair. His interest in alcohol addiction started in the early 1960s, while he was an undergraduate at the University of Cincinnati. In his research into the effects of alcohol on rats, he observed that the more they were deprived of alcohol the more they craved it. This challenged the prevalent belief of the time about what caused an alcoholic’s craving and led Sinclair to ask why some drinkers became alcoholics and others didn’t.

Drinking alcohol results in the release of endorphins, which induce a pleasant feeling. Due to their genetic make-up, alcoholics have very powerful receptors for endorphins. Each time they drink, the effect on the endorphin receptors is reinforced. It becomes increasingly difficult for the person with such powerful endorphin receptors to resist the craving for alcohol. Sinclair surmised that some way of reducing or eliminating those cravings, other than by consuming alcohol, was needed. After much research, he determined that a non-addictive drug, used at the time for heroin addiction, was a good candidate. The drug was called naltrexone.

Numerous trials were carried out. Naltrexone was shown to dramatically reduce cravings in alcoholics and could lead to controlled drinking and even voluntary abstinence. Trials showed that it did not work if the patient was abstinent when they started taking it. Furthermore, they had to continue drinking while they were on the drug and stop taking the drug if they stopped drinking. Based on the research, Sinclair created a program of treatment that became known as The Sinclair Method.

The reticence of many addiction professionals to prescribe naltrexone would be understandable if the drug were illegal or doctors were being asked to prescribe it for unauthorised uses. That’s not the case. The World Health Organisation endorsed naltrexone’s use in the treatment of alcoholism, as does the US Food and Drug Administration. More recently, The American Medical Association recommended it in the treatment of alcoholism. Yet, with such authoritative endorsements, only a tiny percentage of US doctors prescribe naltrexone in treating alcoholism.

Surely, the reasons cannot just be fear of financial loss by vested interests or the inherent reluctance of alcohol addiction experts to be involved in any treatment that does not require abstinence. Despite the sceptics and naysayers, when used as part of a medically supervised program, naltrexone has transformed the lives of most of those who use it.

For many reasons, some medical, it is not suitable for everyone. But, why many more of those plagued by alcoholism are not able to benefit from it, is still largely a mystery.

If you or a loved one need help with alcohol take the first step and find out if your health insurance covers treatment you can do this by checking your benefits and treatment options at 888-743-8618 or here: (http://cleanandsoberlife.org/health-insurance-to-pay-for-drug-and-alcohol-addiction-treatment/)

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