No Health Insurance Company Covers Medical Marijuana


Despite the fact that almost half the states in the country have legalized marijuana for medicinal use, it is almost impossible to find a health insurance company that will cover the cost of the “medication.”

If it’s truly a medical treatment, why doesn’t health insurance cover it? It’s a question that has many taking a hard look at whether or not marijuana is truly a viable medical resource, and perhaps rightfully so.

Not an Approved Medical Treatment

Health insurance companies will rarely cover the cost of any medical treatment that has not been approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and marijuana is as yet an unapproved substance. Additionally, it doesn’t look like it’s going to be approved any time soon. It takes years of multiphase studies that cost millions of dollars to approve a medication for use, and since the drug is classified as a Schedule I substance – highly addictive and with no medical value – by the federal government, researchers must jump through a lot of hoops in order to stage a study and even then must only use the marijuana that is provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), another limiting factor.


Those who use marijuana medicinally are given a card that allows them to buy the substance from approved dispensaries. For those who use the drug regularly, purchasing buds to smoke from plants or marijuana edibles, the cost can be hefty – as much as $1,000 per month, according to the Los Angeles Times. Few health insurance companies want to take on that bill, and the people who currently have insurance but don’t want or need medical marijuana don’t want their premiums to increase in order to pay the cost of covering those who do want the drug.

It’s worth noting, too, that even if the drug were to be approved by the FDA for medical use, it’s doubtful that coverage would be widespread since large companies rarely opt for the most expensive health insurance plan options for their employees, and few single families would be able to afford the cost of a plan that included medical marijuana coverage.

Coverage for Treatment

What health insurance policies do cover, however, is the cost of certain treatments and therapies to overcome marijuana dependence. If your loved one is struggling with marijuana abuse or addiction, your health insurance company may be able to help you cover the cost of the bill for a comprehensive and effective rehabilitation program. Contact us at Alta Mira today to learn more.

Legal Marijuana Illegally Leaking Into Nearby States

rolling a joint
Though Colorado legalized marijuana for recreational use, its neighboring states did not – but that hasn’t stopped law enforcement in these states from finding copious amounts of Colorado’s newest tax-producing product within their state lines. The number of arrests for possession have been increasing in the past year in Nebraska, Kansas, and New Mexico, according to the Los Angeles Times, and the sheriffs of the rural counties that border Colorado have been hit hard – and they’re not happy about it.

Black Market Shift

One of the goals of legalizing marijuana was to eliminate the black market for the drug. Unfortunately, because it is still illegal in neighboring states, it has created a ready source for marijuana trade in these underground markets. It’s a problem for the small law enforcement agencies tasked with maintaining the law in these large rural counties. Often, there are few deputies and too much ground to cover, making it open season for marijuana traffickers who travel in and out of Colorado via the back roads with their wares.

Increased Drugged Driving

The problem of people driving into Colorado in order to get high and driving out while still under the influence is a growing problem as well. So too is the problem of residents of neighboring states driving under the influence of marijuana. In some places, the number of drugged driving arrests has exceeded drunk driving arrests for the first time.

Increased Marijuana Abuse and Addiction

There hasn’t been time to document exactly how marijuana legalization in Colorado has impacted neighboring states. Since we know that arrests for use have increased, it’s likely that use has increased as well. Studies suggest that an average of 9 percent of people who use the drug will develop a dependence upon it, so it’s likely that this increase in use has translated into an increase in rates of marijuana abuse and addiction – and an increase in all the problems related to drug abuse and addiction.

Increased Need for Treatment

Alcohol, marijuana, and prescription drugs: what do they all have in common? They are all legal, they are all highly addictive, and addictions to these substances are all treatable at an evidence-based addiction treatment program.

If your family member is struggling with finding balance with marijuana use, we can help. Contact us at Alta Mira at the phone number above and learn more about our innovative program and how it can help your loved one to get back on track today.

Self-Image in Recovery: Can Looking Better Help You Fight Relapse?

Drug Detox at Alta MiraMany people believe that if you look better, you feel better. In the best of circumstances, it certainly helps to improve mood and confidence to take pride in one’s appearance to a degree, but is it a concept that can help those in recovery to remain clean and sober for the long-term?

The Damage Caused by Drug Abuse

One just has to look at the Faces of Meth campaign to see the physical damage that can be done by drugs and alcohol. Mere months can age the person by years due to hard living. Gaunt faces, dramatic weight loss, scabby skin, lackluster hair – the “after” photo often barely resembles the “before” picture.

Drugs and alcohol are toxins so it stands to reason that heavy use can cause physical damage to one’s appearance. Additionally, few who are living with an active addiction take care of themselves. In most cases, they don’t brush their teeth regularly, take regular showers, or go to the doctor or dentist for checkups – all this can add up to a poor physical appearance relatively quickly.

It can be so bad that simply quitting the use of drugs and alcohol does little to address the problem. Though scabs may heal, scars remain, and it can take quite some time to get one’s weight and vitamin levels back to where they should be.

Improved Self-Esteem

It’s often that people in recovery report that low self-esteem contributed to their use of drugs and alcohol in the first place. When they stop getting loaded and look in the mirror to find that their appearance has hit the skids, many find it impossible to feel confident in themselves on any level. Replacing the destructive behavior of drug abuse with positive behaviors that improve appearance and increase wellness can be a step in the right direction.

One man reports that getting his teeth fixed after years of drug abuse did wonders for his self-esteem and helped him to have the confidence that he needs to remain dedicated to his recovery. Others say that running or exercise has been the key to their ability to avoid relapse. They find the natural high created by endorphins released after exercise to be powerful, and seeing the progress created by their dedication to working out – increased stamina, weight loss, muscle definition – spurs them to remain committed to their new defining focus in life.

Staying Healthy

Though it’s possible to take it too far and begin unhealthy behaviors with the goal of altering one’s appearance, in general, taking measures to look and feel better can help those in recovery to feel stronger and better able to handle stressors without drugs and alcohol.

Learn more about the different coping mechanisms that can be effective in recovery by beginning the journey at an intensive rehabilitation program. Contact us at Alta Mira now and find out more about how we can help.

Molly Deaths Trigger Intensive Drug Screening at Music Festivals

ecstasy subculture

After concert-goers died at summer music festivals after taking Molly last year, organizers are taking extra precautions this year to protect patrons from these and similar drugs. According to Reuters, some new protective measures may include:

  • Drug-sniffing dogs
  • Personal searches of attendees
  • Tents staffed with medical professionals
  • “Amnesty bins” were concert-goers can dump illicit substances without penalty before they are searched

The organizers of Electric Zoo in New York, the summer music festival where two of last year’s deaths occurred, said that concert-goers would have to watch an anti-drug video before their wristbands would be activated. They’ve also pushed back the start time to reduce sun exposure, which can contribute to dehydration and medical issues among those who drink or use drugs. This is in addition to the safety measures put into place last year, including free bottled water and occasional safety reminders.

The Need for Increased Precautions

The deaths last summer were not isolated incidents. They’ve been happening for years, but the media attention has pushed concert organizers to better publicize the efforts they are making to help those who could get into trouble.

Recently, in Boston, more than 80 concert attendees at TD Garden ended up experiencing symptoms of Molly overdose; about 50 of them were treated on site while another 36 sought emergency medical attention at local hospitals. The sheer number of people who were harmed by use of the drug has caught even more people’s attention. It’s clear that something must be done but protection measures at concerts are just the beginning. When it’s clear that a family member is abusing drugs of any kind for any reason, families must come together and support their addicted loved one getting into treatment.

Recreational Drug Abuse Is Deadly

Many people believe that treatment isn’t necessary unless a full-blown physical and psychological dependence is so obvious that even complete strangers can tell that the person is in need of help. The fact is, however, that recreational drug use can be just as damaging and even deadly to the user as chronic, daily drug dependence. Overdoses can occur any time; so too can accidents while under the influence. Additionally, those who binge abuse serious drugs recreationally – as in the cases of concert- and party-goers – are more likely to become victims of sexual assault or involved in a physical altercation.

If your family member is having legal problems, medical issues, or just veering off course due to their use of any illicit substance, don’t wait until it’s too late to intervene. Contact us at Alta Mira now and learn more about our rehabilitation and treatment program.

Can a Recovery Coach Help You Beat Addiction?

Peer counselors, sober companions, and life coaches – recovery coaches are often called by these names and they may offer some of the same services. It all depends on the recovery coach and the needs of the person they are serving.

The primary goal of a recovery coach? To help an addicted person remain dedicated to their recovery after they leave drug rehab. Would your loved one benefit from a recovery coach as he rebuilds his life in sobriety?

The Need for Extra Help After Rehab

An estimated 40 to 60 percent of heroin addicts relapse in the first year after treatment. Intensive aftercare support is recommended as a result – a combination of services defined by the patient’s strengths and weaknesses in recovery as well as his long-term goals. A recovery coach can be the glue that adheres the aftercare support measures to the patient, holding him personally accountable for his choices and helping him to recognize when he’s starting to veer off track long before it leads to a relapse.

Recovery coaches may:

  • Accompany the patient to places where they may feel tempted to use
  • Maintain tabs on the patient via GPS tracking and notify them when they are in areas where drugs are commonly sold
  • Check in with them regularly, even multiple times a day, to assess their emotional state and strategize on how to deal with stressors
  • Assist with day-to-day needs like applying for jobs, gathering identification documents (e.g., Social Security card, driver’s license, birth certificate, etc.), applying for vocational or college programs, and finding a place to live
  • Help the patient to choose specific therapies, treatments, and wellness support services to improve growth in recovery

Robert Lubran is the director of the Division of Pharmacologic Therapies at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). He told WBUR: “This is an evolving field. [We are] learning more and more about the best ways to treat addiction and certainly the use of peer counselors, or peer coaches, has become more and more widespread.”

Finding the Positive in Recovery

Often, a recovery coach’s primary service is to continually redirect the person in recovery to focus on the positive as opposed to dwelling on the negative. It’s no small thing, nor is it an easy feat. It is easy for those in early recovery to be thrown off balance by day-to-day stressors or stumbling blocks that appear as they attempt to rebuild their lives. Learning to continually reframe negative experiences in order to hone in on their positive gifts can be the most effective weapon against relapse.

Learn more about what it takes to beat addiction and how we can help set up your addicted loved one for success in recovery when you contact us at Alta Mira today

More and More States Trying to Fight Epidemic of Heroin Addiction

pain management concerns

Opiate addiction has been a growing problem in the United States for the past 10 years, but with new regulations limiting the prescription of addictive painkillers, the drug of choice has shifted from prescription medications to heroin. States that had formerly worked hard to limit the harm caused by painkiller addiction through statewide drug databases, increased regulations for pain clinics, and more are now turning their attention to heroin addiction in their respective states, according to USA Today.

At least 18 state legislatures have introduced new bills that directly addressed the problem of heroin abuse and addiction. Some of the bills looked at such issues as:

  • Increased access to treatment for low-level heroin users or first-time offenders
  • Increased access to naloxone among emergency medical providers
  • Increased access to naloxone for friends and family of addicts
  • Heavier penalties for heroin traffickers

Addressing Problems at Home

Different states have introduced bills or made political moves to overcome the specific problems facing their states due to increased rates of heroin abuse and addiction.

For example, Governor Peter Shumlin called Vermont’s opiate addiction issues a “full-blown heroin crisis” and said, “In every corner of our state, heroin and opiate drug addiction threatens us.”

Similarly, when the rate of opiate overdose in Massachusetts increased by more than 90 percent in 10 years, Governor Deval Patrick declared a public health emergency in the state. To address the problem, more than $10 million was allocated in the state budget to creating a drug court program that would connect nonviolent drug offenders with the treatment that would help them heal.

The Push for Treatment

Access to effective treatment is the focus of most of the new proposals hitting state legislatures across the country. Unfortunately, in the states where heroin addiction and opiate dependence in general are the biggest problems, there is often little to choose from in the way of effective drug rehab. For this reason, many families opt for out-of-state treatment, offering their addicted loved ones the space and time to undergo thorough medical and psychotherapeutic rehabilitation so that they can get the help they need to successfully return home ready to face the challenges of sobriety.

If your family member is struggling with opiate dependence, contact us at Alta Mira now and learn more about how our uniquely designed treatment program can help.