More than 15 million adults in the United States suffer from an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines an AUD as a “chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using.” The terms “alcoholic or alcoholism” aren’t medical, but they typically refer to a severe form of AUD.
Your individual or group long-term disability insurance company will expect you to present proper and persuasive evidence of your alcohol use disorder if you apply for long-term disability benefits. Attendance records at a 12-step support program such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) aren’t generally enough to support a valid claim for individual or group long-term disability benefits. Typically, you must seek medical help from a treating physician, or drug or alcohol behavioral specialist or therapist, for your AUD and document how the restrictions and limitations prevent you from working.
Alcohol use disorder is a diagnosable mental health condition that may qualify you for individual or group long-term disability benefits. The terms of your individual or group long-term disability policy will dictate the availability and length of benefits for alcohol-related conditions. Some individual or group long-term disability policies severely limit benefits for alcohol addiction to 12, 18 or 24 months.
The experienced individual long-term disability attorneys and seasoned national group ERISA attorneys at DarrasLaw know that alcohol addiction is a disease for which you need focused and intensive care and treatment. We can fight for your wrongfully delayed, denied, or terminated individual or group long-term disability benefits. Our award-winning individual disability attorneys and top-rated national group ERISA lawyers know how to help claim and win individual or group long-term disability benefits for alcohol addiction. Call America’s premier long-term individual disability attorneys and stellar national group ERISA lawyers at DarrasLaw today at (800) 458-4577 or contact us online. We offer a completely free disability policy analysis and free claim consultation, even with complicated ERISA group disability claims.
Understanding and Diagnosing Alcoholism
Healthcare professionals categorize alcohol use disorder as mild, moderate, or severe. The level of your condition depends on how many of the following symptoms you’ve experienced in the last year:
- Withdrawal symptoms, such as tremors, anxiety, or headaches, when you have no alcohol in your system
- Needing to drink more to get the same level of intoxication—that is, tolerance
- Drinking more than you intended when you started
- Experiencing hangovers or alcohol poisoning
- Refusing to cut back on your alcohol intake
- Failing to engage in meaningful work, schoolwork, or care for family responsibilities as the result of alcohol use
- Continuing to drink despite negative consequences
- Losing motivation to participate in usual daily activities
- Ending up in a dangerous situation due to your drinking
- Drinking despite physical and mental health problems it causes, including blackouts
Substance abuse professionals will classify your condition as mild if you experience two or three of these symptoms, and moderate if you experience four to five symptoms. You suffer from severe AUD if you experience more than five of these symptoms.
Many of these symptoms are “self-reported,” although blood alcohol testing can provide empirical objective support for an individual or group long-term disability claim. Unfortunately, your individual or group long-term disability insurer is looking for compelling medical evidence and proof indicating you have and are treating an AUD. This can include liver function testing, blood alcohol testing, and a psychological evaluation indicating the presence of the above factors. Your individual or group long-term disability insurer may also require statements or a narrative report from your treating doctor certifying the presence of a medically recognized alcohol-related disorder.
The Physical Impact of an Alcohol Addiction
Addiction is a chronic disease that professionals define as compulsive and difficult to control behavior that persists despite the negative consequences.
Alcohol addiction is one of the most common addictions in the United States. For most adults, alcohol is legally obtainable without limit. This makes it an easier addiction to develop and sustain.
Addiction will make you feel its immediate physical and mental impact when you begin to enter “withdrawal.” Withdrawal involves the symptoms that occur when you immediately stop, drastically reduce, or significantly change your normal intake of the addictive substance.
Alcohol is unique in that it causes immediate physical effects even after it has left your system, even when you’re not addicted. Most of us understand this phenomenon as a hangover. After excess alcohol consumption, you’ll experience the following symptoms, even without an AUD:
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Excessive thirst
- Muscle aches
- Vomiting and nausea
- Inability to concentrate
- Rapid heartbeat
Withdrawal is different than a hangover. It occurs in patients with mild, moderate, or severe AUD. It’s a sign that your body has adjusted to the physical effects of alcohol. In this stage, going without a drink alters your body chemistry.
Alcohol is also a depressant. It relaxes you by slowing down brain function and alters the signals sent between your brain and the rest of your body. It affects the central nervous system, which goes into overdrive to help make up for the difference in brain function during alcohol use. Your body adjusts to this hyper-vigilant state with time and stays that way even when you’re not drinking. This disparity causes withdrawal.
Symptoms of withdrawal occur when you don’t drink or drink significantly less than you normally would. Symptoms include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Excessive sweating
- Rapid heartbeat
- Increased blood pressure
Most people do not suffer such severe withdrawal symptoms, but the longer and more you drink, the worse your symptoms become.
Always differentiate withdrawal from a hangover. A hangover should last less than 24 hours, while withdrawal can last for days or weeks. Withdrawal is a sign that your body has become dependent on alcohol. Treating alcohol use during the tolerance or dependency stage can help prevent alcohol addiction.
Long-Term Disabilities Caused by Alcoholism
Claiming individual or group long-term disability benefits to treat alcohol dependency may prove difficult. The more comprehensive your individual or group long-term disability policy, the more likely you’ll receive some level of coverage.
Excessive alcohol use causes many illnesses even if you’ve been sober for years. You may qualify for individual or group long-term disability benefits if you suffer from one of the following medical conditions arising from alcohol addiction:
- Liver disease – Alcohol damages your liver, which is responsible for processing toxins in your blood. Fatty liver disease and cirrhosis of the liver often result from chronic alcohol abuse. Scar tissue forms when alcohol damages your liver, causing your liver to stop functioning as it should. This causes toxins to build up in your body leading to confusion, bleeding, skin conditions, and excessive stomach fluid. You may also eventually need a liver transplant.
- Stroke – Alcoholism increases your risk of suffering an early life stroke. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel in your brain bursts, causing pressure and permanent brain damage. This results from a weakening of blood vessels in those already susceptible to brain hemorrhages. A stroke may disable you totally or partially.
- Cancer – The American Cancer Society reports that alcohol use increases your risk of breast, prostate, mouth, throat, liver, colon, stomach, and pancreatic cancer. The inflammation and scarring caused by alcohol use increases your risk of cancers in the inflamed areas. Alcohol, especially the ethanol in alcohol, irritates the entire digestive system and causes liver and kidney damage. Alcohol also converts into a dangerous chemical in the colon, increasing your risk of colon cancer.
- Anemia – Anemia involves a lack of healthy red blood cells in your body, which carry oxygen. Alcoholism is linked to anemia because alcohol reduces your body’s production of red blood cells, it can cause bleeding ulcers in the stomach, and destroy red blood cells in inflamed or damaged areas.
- Dementia – Alcohol is a toxin, so when bodily toxins build up during years of abuse, it can cause damage to brain and nerve cells. It also causes the brain to shrink and vitamin B1 deficiency, which is essential to brain health. These factors lead to an increased risk of dementia in alcoholics.
- Seizures – Seizures often result from withdrawal and excessive alcohol use. Alcohol-induced seizures can prove fatal and result from alcohol-related changes to the chemical and electrical makeup of the brain. Even binge drinking can lead to seizures.
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) – Because alcohol is an irritant that must travel through your digestive system, it often causes inflammation resulting in IBS. IBS usually involves abdominal pain, diarrhea, and nausea. You may find performing the important duties of your occupation with IBS difficult because of the often-unpredictable flare-ups.
- Hepatitis – Alcoholic hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver brought on by excessive alcohol use. This causes malnourishment and can lead to serious forms of liver disease. Hepatitis can result from abdominal fluid build-up, kidney and liver failure, and a build-up of toxins in the body leading to mental confusion and overall illness.
- Heart disease – Studies show that very small amounts of certain alcohol, such as red wine, can increase heart health. Excessive alcohol use raises the level of bad fats in your body, which can clog the blood vessels leading to and from your heart.
- Pancreatitis – Alcohol may cause inflammation in the pancreas. The pancreas becomes irritated and scarred from the chemicals in alcohol, leading to severe abdominal pain, fever, and vomiting. Pancreatitis may occur years after you’ve stopped using alcohol.
Your individual or group long-term disability policy may provide severely limited benefits to treat an alcohol use disorder such as alcohol addiction. Individual and group long-term disability insurers often limit substance abuse benefits to 12, 18, or 24 months. These are generally lifetime benefit maximums and you may not claim them again for a relapse or a related self-reported condition.
At DarrasLaw, our experienced individual disability attorneys and group ERISA lawyers can review the terms of your disability policy and medical records. We can help determine whether your individual or group long-term disability insurer has wrongfully delayed, denied, or terminated your disability benefits.
Treating Alcoholism and Addiction
The nature of your alcohol use disorder, age, and overall health will dictate how best to treat your alcohol addiction. Get help before your addiction takes over. Many alcoholics only focus on their next drink, which can cause them to drink at work and easily lose their concentration and jobs.
Employers provide the majority of group long-term disability insurance policies. You’ll generally lose your long-term group disability insurance if you lose your job. Our top-rated individual and ERISA attorneys can help you take advantage of your long-term group disability benefits for alcohol addiction before it’s too late.
Twelve-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous have proven effective at supporting sobriety for some people. The key is maintaining accountability over the long term and removing the temptation to drink.
Speak to your treating doctor, who may move you into a medically assisted detoxification program where professionals can ease the symptoms of your withdrawal. You might then move to an in-house program and treatment center followed by lifetime support meetings.
Behavioral and cognitive therapy may treat any underlying depression or other conditions contributing to your excessive drinking. Reducing stress is also key, as many alcoholics work in stressful and demanding occupations.
Our award winning individual disability attorneys and nationally honored group ERISA attorneys can provide a free disability policy analysis and a free claim consultation to determine whether you qualify for individual or group long-term disability benefits.
Contact the Top-Rated Long-Term Disability Lawyers and Award Winning Group ERISA Attorneys at DarrasLaw Today
America’s top disability lawyer Frank N. Darras and his firms have recovered almost $1 billion in wrongfully delayed, denied, and terminated insurance payments. Our disability policy analysis and claim consultation are both free. We can help you understand how your individual or group long-term disability policy may cover substance abuse and addiction issues.
No case in America is too large or too small for DarrasLaw. Disability claimants struggling with alcoholism should contact us online or call us at (800) 458-4577 today to set up a free disability policy analysis and free claim consultation today.