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CJ Henry Law Firm, PLLC

Is Addiction a Disability Under Your Insurance Plan?

  • Published: June 19, 2019

The opioid crisis in this country is a reminder that addiction affects the lives of all types of people. Prescription drugs as well as illegal drugs can lead to addiction and impact your ability to perform your job or manage your daily life. But is addiction a disability under your long-term disability insurance plan? It’s important for you to be aware of what your policy covers.

How Addiction Begins

For many people, the road to addiction starts with an accident or injury. A doctor may prescribe medication to help manage the pain you experience. If the pain isn’t controlled by the prescribed dosage, people may begin to misuse their prescription drugs or look for illegal drugs as a way to manage their pain. Or they may look for relief using alcohol because it is legal.

In addition to increasing the prescribed dosage, people may explore other ways to use the drug. Instead of taking the whole pill, they may crush and snort it or dissolve it in water to increase its potency. Misuse of prescription drugs can be the doorway to use of illegal drugs such as heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamines.

Addiction Is a Disease

Many people don’t realize that addiction is a disease. It can prevent individuals from functioning in their personal and professional lives and may be characterized by compulsive behavior. Opioids and alcohol are not the only substances which can develop into an addiction.


Are you surprised to see tobacco listed? Nicotine is addictive and many people never break free from its effects. Smoking is not the only way to use tobacco. Vaping and chewing tobacco are also harmful to your body.

Heroin and Cocaine

These drugs are highly addictive and illegal. They are substances that increase the dopamine in the brain, triggering feelings of happiness.


Individuals who abuse opioids may have a particularly difficult time stopping their use. The withdrawal from the addiction may cause symptoms from the original injury or illness to return.


While gambling can be as addictive as drugs and alcohol, it?s unlikely you would receive disability benefits for the condition. However, you may qualify for benefits if you undergo treatment — especially in-patient treatment for mental health disorders that motivate compulsive behavior.

Eating Disorders

Food addictions include binging, anorexia and bulimia and can be life-threatening conditions. Anorexia can lead to organ failure and ultimately death. Bulimia can damage the digestive system and teeth and gums. If your insurance policy has coverage for eating disorders, the benefits are typically very limited.

How Addiction Works

Individuals with addictions are often blamed for their condition which reinforces the perception that they have a choice of whether or not to use substances. Addiction causes physiological and psychological changes in brain chemistry that interfere with rational thinking and decision-making. And, the range of withdrawal symptoms can fluctuate between being disruptive to debilitating.

  • Withdrawal symptoms include
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Restlessness or anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Excessive sweating, shaking, and tremors
  • Insomnia
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations

Drugs have a physical and psychological impact in your body because they affect your brain and trigger or inhibit certain activity. Some drugs increase dopamine to create feelings of well-being, others reduce pain, or change behaviors. Drug abuse and addiction can be particularly hard to overcome because permanent changes to brain chemistry may occur.

Treatment for Addiction and Substance Abuse

The treatment of addictions and substance abuse involves mental, emotional, psychological, and physical components. All these systems need to be addressed in treatment to increase its chances of success. Treatment regimens have developed based on studies and research into addiction. Recommendations include

  • A holistic approach to treating all components of addiction (physical, psychological, etc.)
  • Compliance with treatment over an extended period of time
  • Gradual withdrawal from the substance rather than a “cold turkey” approach
  • Behavioral and psychological counseling to understand the causes of addiction
  • Medication to ease withdrawal
  • A treatment plan created by physicians and mental health professionals to monitor patient progress
  • Testing to identify diseases which may result from risky behavior such as sexually transmitted diseases, hepatitis, HIV, etc.
  • A support system to encourage long-term success

Limitations on Disability Benefits for Addiction

Insurance companies often impose substantial limitations on long-term benefits for substance abuse and addiction disabilities. They may also wrongfully deny disability benefits for conditions that “result from” or that “are related to” addiction. Benefits may also be denied if you have had previous substance abuse issues.

Is Addiction a Disability? Speak to an LTD Lawyer Today

Obtaining disability for addiction is difficult, but it isn’t impossible. An experienced Ocala FL long-term disability lawyer can help. Contact CJ Henry Law Firm PLLC to learn more.

Claudeth Henry

Attorney Henry is a Florida disability lawyer Florida disability lawyer uniquely suited to help you
with your disability-related legal needs...Protect Your Benefits Today (352) 577-7746