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Report: Substance Abuse Can Lead to Long-Term Disability

While our Boston Social Security Disability Insurance attorneys recognize that securing federal benefits for someone who suffers from alcohol or drug addiction is possible, it tends to be somewhat of an uphill battle.
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However, there are a number of conditions brought about by chronic substance abuse and addiction that might more readily result in approval of benefits. These include long and short-term memory functions, heart conditions and perhaps injuries caused by crashes or accidents that happened due to the patient’s intoxication.

To get an idea of the scope of the problem, we turn to two recent papers being published by The Lancet as part of an ongoing project focusing on the global burden of disease.

The approach of this research was somewhat different from what we’ve seen in the past. Most of those measures focus on how substance abuse leads to premature deaths – which it inevitably does. However, this was tough to accurately measure because in many cases, deaths are classified according to their immediate physical cause. So for example, a drug overdose of prescription drugs is going to be classified as an “accidental poisoning.”

So what these researchers did was look at these issues from the scope of illness and disability. What they found was that substance abuse and mental illness accounted for about 25 percent of the world total disease. That’s more than any other singular cause worldwide.

The study authors measured this in terms of something called a “Disability-Adjusted Life Year” or DALY. One DALY would be one year of a person’s healthy life that is lost to the disease. When looked at through this prism, substance abuse and mental illness combined cost some 184 million in healthy life years annually.

What this means is that the cost of these conditions is far higher than what we are putting into preventing and treating them.

The reason our Boston SSDI lawyers were particularly interested in this research is the fact that so often, we hear the outcry regarding the rapid growth of the SSDI program. This rise was fully anticipated for decades and in no way evidence of fraud or wrongdoing on the part of those applying. However, if these pundits are so interested in driving down the number of disability applicants, this research appears to indicate that a good place to start would be curbing substance abuse and funneling more resources toward mental illness, which is often a root cause of severe substance abuse.

The researchers say depression accounts for about 40 percent of the illness, followed by anxiety, illicit drug use, alcohol abuse, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, developmental disorders and eating disorders.

It seems that the incidents of such conditions are growing, largely as a result of a population that is both growing and graying. Researchers say that in the 20 years since 1990, the global incidence of mental disorders and substance abuse has ballooned by nearly 40 percent.

While two-thirds of the world’s substance abusers are male, that varies from location to location. The countries that are the worst-affected are high-income countries, such as the U.S., England and Australia. These nations have a substance dependency rate that is 20 percent higher than the global dependency rate.

Additionally, disability and illness due to cocaine, amphetamines and opiods spiked by nearly 50 percent from 1990 to 2010.

Meanwhile, legal drugs like tobacco and alcohol reportedly account for 10 percent of the worldwide burden of death and illness.

Regardless of the cause of your disability, our compassionate SSDI lawyers are here to help.

If you are considering filing for SSDI in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:
Illicit Drugs And Mental Illness Take A Huge Global Toll, Aug. 28, 2013, By Richard Knox, NPR
More Blog Entries:
Boston SSDI Eligibility Could be Impacted by Outside Factors, Aug. 18, 2013, Boston Social Security Disability Lawyer Blog