Substance use/abuse


Hi Jim. The VA doctor who took over my medical care and kept me on my Xanax usually does drug screens on patients every 90 days. They stopped doing them when COVID started but are doing them again now. Are they only looking for the narcotics or are they looking for everything? I do smoke weed to help with my anxiety so when it shows in my urinalysis what will they do?

Jim's Reply:

Veterans disability benefits aren't predicated on the veteran being drug free, the only determining factor is the degree of the service connected disabling condition. So, no worries about losing benefits. Veterans are screened at almost every encounter for 8 different substances.

Medications, particularly opiates and psychoactive prescriptions are a different matter. Most providers don't care if you're using marijuana other than mental health providers. They don't like to have a psychoactive drug in combination with the drugs they may prescribe so the mental health provider may decline to write prescriptions if you test positive.

Other providers may cease any further prescriptions for narcotics or drugs like Xanax or Valium. That decision is up to each provider. VA treats substance abuse or use as a health problem, not a criminal issue...a good thing. If other drugs are detected you'll get invited to a rehab program, nothing more.