The key to fighting the opioid crisis in the United States is acknowledging and treating opioid misuse during its early stages. Nearly 80 percent of heroin addicts report they first abused prescription opioids, and one in four patients prescribed opioids for pain misuse them.
Opioid abuse is escalating in the United States, and potentially fatal opioid overdoses have increased by 30 to 70 percent in the past few years. New medical treatments are available for opioid dependency, and doctors are treating chronic pain with fewer opioids.
Opioid abuse and addiction is serious and may often prove fatal. Opioid addiction is preventable, and your individual or group long-term disability insurance may help. Unfortunately, not many beneficiaries know about the individual or group long-term disability insurance benefits they could receive to help recover from opioid addiction.
Chronic pain after a car accident, fibromyalgia, and nerve pain can prove difficult to treat without prescription pain medication. Many individual and group long-term disability insurers provide extremely limited benefits to treat opioid addiction, but may provide additional benefits to treat any underlying conditions. Individual and group long-term disability benefits for opioid addiction are difficult to claim. Your addiction must prevent you from performing the important duties of your occupation, something you must often support with compelling medical evidence and objective proof.
America’s top-rated long-term disability attorneys and nationally respected group ERISA lawyers at DarrasLaw can fight a wrongful delay, denial, or termination of addiction disability benefits from coast to coast. Led by nationally renowned disability icon Frank N. Darras, our team of skilled long-term disability lawyers and top-ranked ERISA attorneys have more than 100 years of combined litigation and claim experience fighting for wrongfully delayed, denied, or terminated disability benefits. Call us today at (800) 458-4577 or contact us online if your insurer has wrongfully denied your individual or group long-term disability benefits for your opioid addiction.
Understanding Opioid-Class Medications and Drugs
Did you know that your body actually has an opioid system? It consists primarily of chemical receptors that, when triggered, releases natural pain relievers throughout your body, resulting in a euphoric effect. Not only do opioids have strong pain relieving properties, they actually improve your mood, fight depression, and calm the body.
Your natural opioid system isn’t equipped to relieve severe pain, so opioid-class medications bind with these receptors that put them on overdrive. That’s why prescription pain medications are so effective—and dangerously addictive.
Opium itself, a substance derived from poppy plants, forms the chemical base of most opioids. Opioid-class medications are the strongest pain relievers medicine has to offer. They include:
Morphine is the active ingredient in opium. In turn, heroin was developed from morphine, and the remaining opioid-class medications were synthesized to mimic morphine’s effect on your opioid system.
People have used opium to relieve pain for more than 5,000 years, and morphine is still the world’s preferred drug to treat severe pain. Most patients face minimal addiction risks when doctors prescribe opioids to treat post-surgical patients for the temporary relief of serious pain. The prospect of fatalities arises when doctors overprescribe these opioid class medications to patients susceptible to addiction.
Opioid Misuse, Dependence, and Addiction
Opioids are addictive because your body begins to crave the higher levels of endorphins they produce. Addiction itself is a disease caused by these abnormal changes in body chemistry, but other reasons can contribute to opioid addiction.
First, they can often relieve the chronic pain associated with severe injuries and illnesses. Withdrawing from opioids can mean a return of this chronic, debilitating pain. Second, they can relieve the depression associated with these chronic illnesses. Some patients find this depression worse than the pain itself. Taken together, most patients would rather risk overdosing on opioids and the serious conditions they cause rather than breaking the addiction.
There is a difference between lawful opioid use, opioid misuse, opioid dependency, and opioid addiction.
Not every patient prescribed opioids develops an addiction. Some patients recover from the underlying injury or illness and cease taking opioids. Others develop a tolerance or dependence, which means they need higher doses of medication to treat their pain.
This tolerance typically arises from misuse. This means you’ve used the medication in a way in which doctors did not prescribe. Perhaps you’re not taking the medication orally, taking more of the substance than prescribed, or taking the substance outside of the prescribed times.
Signs of tolerance, as opposed to a compulsive addiction, include:
- Taking more of the drug than prescribed or for longer than prescribed (misuse)
- Intense cravings and desires for the drug that do not rise to the level of compulsion
- Unsuccessful efforts to reduce opioid use
- Difficulty focusing on daily tasks such as school, occupation, or home life
- Continued use despite suffering from side effects
- Continued use despite an overdose scare or other life-threatening events associated with opioid dependence
Opioid dependence still requires treatment. Your chances of suffering a fatal overdose or making bad decisions decline, however, if you choose the proper treatment during the dependency stage.
The experienced long-term disability lawyers and nationally preeminent group ERISA attorneys at DarrasLaw may help you claim long-term disability benefits if opioid dependency prevents you from performing the important duties of your occupation.
Medical professionals define an addiction, as opposed to a dependency, as when your behavior becomes compulsive and uncontrollable despite suffering from the physical, financial, and professional consequences of your drug abuse. Your treating doctors or mental health professionals may diagnose you with an opioid addiction if you suffer from the following symptoms of a potential overdose but cannot cease taking opioids:
- Mental fog/confusion
- Slowed or stopped breathing
- Bowel distress/constipation
- Loss of focus, sustained attention, and concentration
Addiction is a disease that needs treatment, and the premier individual long-term disability attorneys and top-ranked national group ERISA lawyers at DarrasLaw may help you claim disability benefits to support you during the treatment process.
The Danger of Opioid Addiction
Many individual and group long-term disability claimants may qualify for benefits for an underlying injury or illness, such as a car accident that necessitated the opioids. Consult a premier long-term disability attorney or nationally top-rated ERISA lawyer at DarrasLaw to determine if you qualify.
You may claim individual or group long-term disability benefits for the addiction itself, especially if you suffer from the following symptoms of withdrawal that leave you unable to perform the important duties of your occupation:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Muscle aches and cramping
- Excessive sweating
- Blurry vision
- Diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea
- Rapid heartbeat
- High blood pressure
- Loss of focus, concentration, and sustained attention
Those who don’t qualify for individual or group long-term disability benefits for addiction may qualify for benefits if they develop a disorder associated with opioid addiction. These include:
- Coma – Most fatal opioid overdoses involve a loss of oxygen to the brain. This initially causes patients to enter a coma, which is an indefinite state of unconsciousness from which you may not wake. Toxic buildup in the brain from excessive drug use may also cause a coma. Overdose patients may end up on life-support with permanent brain damage, which may qualify you for individual or group long-term disability benefits.
- Mental health conditions – Substance abuse can trigger depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia. You may need to seek treatment for these conditions even after you successfully stop using opioids, but your individual or group long-term disability insurance company may limit you to 12, 18, or 24 months of total individual or group long-term disability benefits due to substance abuse or mental illness limitations.
- Toxic brain injury – This condition occurs when you suffer multiple non-fatal overdoses, such as when you pass out from an overdose or enter a coma. The damage to your brain during these episodes accumulates, leading to the death of brain cells. This can occur due to lack of oxygen and nutrients to the brain, brain tissue damage, destruction of neurotransmitters, and alterations in your brain chemistry and hormones.
- Cognitive dysfunction – This differs from mental illness, as it results from physical brain damage. Most patients suffer from severe brain damage after only three minutes without oxygen. Cognitive dysfunction can result in serious difficulty with concentration, memory loss, sensory loss, loss of balance, confusion, inability to perform daily functions, and difficulty writing, reading, typing, or communicating. The longer an overdose deprives your brain of oxygen, the more damage you’ll sustain.
- Infections – Opioid misuse, especially heroin use, is linked to increased cases of HIV and hepatitis C. Almost one in 10 of all HIV infections are spread through injectable drug use, which is primarily heroin.
Every individual and group long-term disability policy is different, so DarrasLaw provides a free disability insurance policy analysis and free claim consultation. Our leading individual disability attorneys and premier ERISA lawyers at DarrasLaw may then help you fight a wrongful delay, denial, or termination of substance abuse benefits.
Treating Different Types of Opioid Addiction
Whether and for how long you need to treat an opioid addiction depends on the substance. Patients addicted to heroin almost always need inpatient hospitalization and monitored rehabilitation. Patients with opioid dependency may do well with alternative medicine and pain management combined with outpatient therapy and support groups.
Studies show that rapid detox and unmonitored/unaided withdrawal seldom prevents relapse. Instead, most physicians recommend you enter monitored rehabilitation through inpatient services, a private facility, or an outpatient program.
One of the most promising treatments for opioid addiction is a medication called buprenorphine (brand name Suboxone). Buprenorphine has similar pain relieving and anti-depressant properties as opioids but does not cause dependency. Research shows that taking buprenorphine greatly increases your chance of treatment success. However, pain relievers are always temporary solutions.
Eventually, you’ll have to face the underlying condition that led to your addiction. You may need to see a pain management doctor, surgeon, psychologist, or physiologist to manage your physical, emotional, and mental pain. Prescription opioids are typically prescribed legally, so patients with an opioid addiction may not fear seeking help.
Claimants struggling with heroin may find more difficulty getting the help they need, but our disability policy analysis and claim consultation are completely free and confidential at DarrasLaw. With our help, claimants whose insurers have wrongfully delayed, denied, or terminated individual or group long-term disability benefits may qualify for the financial help they need to get or continue treatment.
Claiming Individual or Group Long-Term Disability Benefits for an Opioid Addiction
Individual and group long-term disability benefits are typically available to beneficiaries who suffer an injury or illness, including an opioid addiction, if it prevents them from performing the important duties of their occupation. Individual and group long-term disability insurance companies consider substance abuse disabilities self-reported conditions, although, blood testing and medical documentation may provide compelling objective proof of treatment and withdrawal.
Most individual or group long-term disability insurers provide 12, 18, or 24 months of lifetime long-term disability benefits if your addiction prevents you from performing the important duties of your occupation. This lifetime limitation means you don’t get another 12, 18, or 24 months of individual or group long-term disability benefits if you relapse, and it typically also encompasses depression and mental illness.
Your individual or group long-term disability benefits will replace a portion of your lost income during your disability period. This may give you time to detox, seek substance abuse treatment, and find alternative means of treating your underlying condition. Fighting for your rightful individual or group long-term disability benefits early on can prevent substance abuse fatalities, job loss, and financial stress.
Every case of substance abuse is different. The top-ranked long-term disability attorneys and nationally respected ERISA lawyers at DarrasLaw can analyze the specific facts of your case to help you obtain your individual or group long-term disability benefits.
Call the Award-Winning Long-Term Disability Attorneys and Nationally Prominent ERISA Lawyers at DarrasLaw Today
Opioid addiction is a serious disease that requires medical treatment. Some injuries are too difficult to treat without powerful pain medication, and this can lead to chemical dependency. Don’t let a wrongful delay, denial, or termination of long-term disability benefits stop you from getting the help you need.
At DarrasLaw, we’re passionate about helping you fight individual or group disability insurance companies to rightfully obtain your individual or group long-term disability benefits. Our initial disability insurance policy analysis and claim consultation review are completely confidential and free.
From $10 to $1,000,000, no case is too small or large for us at DarrasLaw. Frank N. Darras and his firms have recovered almost $1 billion in wrongfully delayed, denied, and terminated insurance benefits worldwide. Claimants facing a wrongful delay, denial, or termination of individual or group long-term disability benefits should contact DarrasLaw online or call us at (800) 458-4577 today to set up a free consultation.