Where’s the line between recreational drug use and drug addiction? Very few addicts are able to recognize when they’ve crossed the line, but once they do – and seek help – a new life of promise awaits.
While the amount of a particular drug consumed doesn’t necessarily constitute an addiction, addiction is characterized by the following characteristics:
- Taking a recreational drug which causes a surge in levels of dopamine in your brain, which trigger feelings of pleasure. Your brain remembers these feelings and wants them repeated.
- If you become addicted, the substance takes on the same significance as other survival behaviors, such as eating and drinking.
- Changes in your brain interfere with your ability to think clearly, exercise good judgment, control your behavior, and feel normal without drugs.
- Whether you’re addicted to inhalants, heroin, Xanax, speed, or Vicodin, the uncontrollable craving to use grows more important than anything else, including family, friends, career, and even your own health and happiness.
- The urge to use is so strong that your mind finds many ways to deny or rationalize the addiction. You may drastically underestimate the quantities of drugs you’re taking, how much it impacts your life and the level of control you have over your drug use.
Common Drug Addiction Myths Include:
- Addicts can control their intake with willpower
- Addicts have to hit rock bottom before recovery works
- Addicts will not get better if they’re forced to get treatment via legal measures. Treatment can be recommended and pressure brought to bear by parents, family and legal actions, and the success rate is high when interventions and legal problems occur.
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 21 million Americans may be abusing drugs or alcohol at any given time. While fewer than 2.5 million receive treatment through a drug recovery program, a positive intense effort can be made to counteract the disruptive effects of drug and alcohol abuse.
Recovery programs can take the form of outpatient or inpatient methods which include group participation and individual counseling. Medical intervention may be required during the early days of treatment if physical withdrawal symptoms are severe.
Here’s the problem: anyone currently abusing a substance will be declined for life insurance.
There is hope, but it will require the passage of time. Those who have discontinued using drugs for a minimum of two years may be considered for coverage, and this list of bullet points can help provide an idea of how a client with drug abuse issues will be viewed during the underwriting process:
- Date of diagnosis or treatment
- Drugs used or abused
- Relapses from sobriety
- Legal problems such as DUI or other
- Frequency of attacks
- Additional psychiatric problems or physical complications
- Current medication
- Level of alcohol consumption
- Participation in Narcotics Anonymous
- Smoking cigarettes
If a user has been clean and sober for less than 2 years, seeking insurance should be postponed. If more than two to five years have passed clean and sober, applicants are likely to be “rated,” and after 5 years, applicants may be considered for coverage within a standard rate class.
If an abuser has been clean and sober for 10 years without medical complications, life insurance premiums should be in line with standard rates as if the patient had never used drugs.