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.


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