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DIC, Smoking and PTSD

Smoking and PTSD, can you get DIC Benefits?

Is there a connection between smoking and PTSD? You may be asking, “If my deceased spouse suffered from PTSD and smoked cigarettes, can I receive DIC benefits?” This article will give you some answers.

PTSD is a serious brain injury that has a number of serious symptoms. Sometimes, the link is indirect. That is the case with PTSD and smoking, which is why surviving spouses in these situations may be eligible for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation benefits.

DIC veteran’s benefits are generally available to surviving spouses who were married to the deceased veteran for at least one year, continuously cohabitated with the deceased veteran, and have not remarried. These rules are not set in stone, as some exceptions apply in some situations. Typically, DIC benefits begin at approximately $1,300 per month. Additional benefits are available in some cases.

Smoking and PTSD

People with PTSD are more than twice as likely to smoke as people without PTSD. The nicotine in cigarettes gives smokers a feeling of euphoria and temporarily increases cognitive functions.

In other words, cigarettes restore some of the things that PTSD takes away, at least for a little while. PTSD is a physical brain injury and not a processing disorder. Exposure to combat stress erodes the cerebral cortex. This part of the brain controls logical thoughts and responses. If the cerebral cortex shrinks, even just a little, the amygdala becomes too powerful. This part of the brain controls emotional responses.

As a result, many PTSD victims have a higher incidence of nightmares, flashbacks, adverse associations, and other negative emotional responses. At the same time, because their cerebral cortexes are smaller, logical thought is more difficult. Cigarettes offer a temporary reprieve.

There are other smoking/PTSD links, as well. For example, nicotine affects anxiety levels. It either extinguishes fear memories, at least temporarily or makes these memories much stronger. So, PTSD victims often smoke large quantities of cigarettes in the hope of obtaining anxiety relief. Sometimes that relief comes and sometimes it does not. Either way, PTSD victims see no alternative but to keep smoking, largely because nicotine is so addictive.

There is a presumed connection between military service in an active war zone and PTSD, according to the government. So, to obtain compensation, victims need only to establish damages. If the PTSD victim was also a smoker, that is relatively easy to do.,

Smoking-Related Illnesses

Sometimes, smoking itself may support a DIC claim. But the claim is even stronger if the deceased person developed a smoking-related illness. Some examples include:

  • Lung Cancer: This disease kills four out of five victims within five years. 87% of the people who develop lung cancer were smokers. These two statistics alone may be enough to support a DIC claim.
  • COPD: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a progressive condition. It is also the third leading cause of death in the United States. At first, COPD victims are unusually out of breath after somewhat strenuous activities, such as playing with grandchildren. Eventually, the bronchial obstruction makes even regular breathing extremely difficult or almost impossible.
  • Heart Disease: Toxic cigarette smoke also narrows and obstructs blood vessels. That means less blood and oxygen reach the heart. Not coincidentally, when the smoking rate in the United States declined, the heart disease rate declined, as well.
  • Diabetes: Tobacco use increases blood sugar levels as well as insulin resistance. So, people who smoke are more likely to suffer from diabetes. Smokers have a harder time controlling their diabetes and their complications are much worse.

Smoking also increases the risk for many other adverse health conditions, including reproductive problems, low birth weight in infants, blindness, and about a dozen other kinds of cancer.

Reach Out to Experienced Attorneys

Many people who suffer from PTSD also smoke and thereby make a bad situation even worse. For a free consultation with an experienced veterans disability lawyer, contact Cameron Firm, PC at 800-861-7262, or fill out the contact box to your right. We are here to successfully represent veterans nationwide.

This article is for educational and marketing purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship.


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