06 Dec Is Drug Rehab Confidential?
Many people who are thinking about seeking treatment for an addiction to drugs or alcohol are worried about their privacy and whether their information will be kept confidential. In addition to wondering what to expect in rehab, one of the biggest worries that people have is that other people will be able to find out that they attended a drug treatment program and what happened while they were there. They ultimately wonder if drug and alcohol rehab is confidential.
No one should ever feel ashamed about seeking treatment for an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Science proves that addiction is an illness, not a sign of weakness or a character flaw, and it requires treatment just like any other illness. However, each person should be able to decide if and how much they want to tell other people about their addiction and treatment in a program. As a result, the treatment professionals at HARP take confidentiality very seriously. When you attend our drug and alcohol treatment center you can feel confident that personal information about your stay at our center, as well as the details about your treatment and addiction will remain private – thanks to our commitment to confidentiality and a special law called HIPAA.
Our drug and alcohol treatment professionals want to ease your worries about privacy and confidentiality in a rehab program. As a result, we have summarized the most important parts of HIPAA for people who are planning to attend rehab, while also explaining how HARP goes above and beyond to protect your privacy. We also have included some information about anti-discrimination laws that will protect you, if you decide to disclose information about your addiction and treatment.
The U.S. Congress passed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA, under the Clinton administration. HIPAA is designed to give healthcare consumers certain rights and protections, including the right to have personal information and data safeguarded. HIPAA doesn’t just apply to hospitals and doctor’s offices, it also applies to drug and alcohol treatment programs.
HIPAA has two main sections, known as titles. Title I pertains to the right of healthcare consumers to obtain and maintain health insurance. Title II covers fraud, privacy protections, and administrative functions. Each one of these sections has special applications for people who attend a drug and alcohol treatment program.
Title I protects workers who lose or change their jobs while they are covered by a group plan. To ensure that a worker does not lose insurance, their insurance coverage will extend until the plan at their new job takes effect. If you lose or quit your job when you attend a drug or alcohol rehab center, you will generally be able to stay insured while you are being treated.
Another benefit of Title I relates to restrictions that insurance companies can place on preexisting conditions. If you have an addiction to drugs or alcohol and you have relapsed multiple times, you can often still get insurance coverage for addiction treatment. The fact that you are actively using drugs or alcohol, or you have received treatment in the past generally does not exclude you from insurance coverage for addiction treatment.
Title II applies directly to the question about confidentiality because it deals with the privacy protections of HIPAA. According to the law, all healthcare workers who have access to sensitive or protected information must receive training from their employer on how to properly handle this data in compliance with HIPAA.
Many types of past, present, and future information are protected by HIPAA, including information about any of your health or mental health disorders, the level of care you received, your payment information, your personal patient information, and your medical records.
Ultimately, HIPAA guarantees a healthcare provider, including a drug and alcohol rehab center, cannot give information about you, release your records, verify that you received treatment, or identify you as a client. Basically, HIPAA means that the treatment professionals at HARP cannot give information or confirmation about you or any other client at our treatment center.
To help enforce HIPAA, Congress gave the federal law some severe penalties for violating it. The person who breaks the law will be prosecuted, and the criminal penalties can be as much as $250,000 and 10 years in prison.
There are some important exceptions to HIPAA. Healthcare workers can share information without a person’s consent if there is a suspicion of abuse or neglect. Additionally, subpoenas and court orders must be honored, even if a patient does not consent to release information.
To ensure that all treatment and healthcare professionals at HARP stay in compliance with HIPAA, our treatment center provides them with regular updates about the latest HIPAA guidelines and developments.
Privacy and Confidentiality at HARP
The drug and alcohol treatment professionals at HARP value your privacy and confidentiality not just because of HIPAA, but because we value you as a person. Recovering from an addiction to drugs or alcohol is difficult enough without having to worry about the protection of your personal information. As a result, we believe that you and all of our clients have a right to privacy and the right to receive treatment using evidence-based practices and therapies.
Our team knows that protecting client privacy and effective treatment work together. When you first come to our drug and alcohol treatment program, you can feel safe providing detailed and accurate information about your background. Without the fear of having personal information exposed, you can start rehabilitation on the right foot. Furthermore, when you know that your information will stay confidential, you can truly open up and work with a counselor or therapist – without being worried about issues surrounding your privacy.
It might feel strange to open up to someone about your personal struggles with addiction, but it becomes much easier to do so when you realize that our treatment professionals will keep your information private while they work to help you recover from your addiction to drugs and alcohol.
More Information about Your Rights
HARP will do everything in our power to protect your personal information, but you may want to tell other people about your stay in rehab when you have to field questions from friends, neighbors, and coworkers about where you’ve been during your time in treatment. Despite your desire to tell them, you might be worried that you will be discriminated against if they find the truth.
Some people may still stigmatize addiction. However, most people in our society have come to accept that addiction to drugs and alcohol is a treatable disease, not a weakness or a character flaw. Furthermore, federal and state laws are designed to protect you from being discriminated against for seeking or receiving treatment for addiction. Some examples include The Americans with Disabilities Act, The Fair Housing Act, and The Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
As far as your rights at work, most employers must offer 12 weeks of unpaid leave to any employee who needs time off for treatment for a major medical necessity. You cannot be punished for requesting medical leave as long as you have met certain eligibility requirements, such as having worked for the company for at least one year. Additionally, your employer must provide reasonable allowances to you for medical reasons, as long as it will not cause undue harm. As such, your employer must allow you to alter your work schedule to attend weekly appointments with your therapist if it is part of your medically-required treatment for addiction.
Similar to HIPAA, if your employer has access to your medical information for insurance or any other purpose, they must keep it confidential and they cannot reveal it without your consent.
Many companies use drug testing; however, you cannot be discriminated against if on-the-job drug testing reveals the presence of a legal and prescribed substance. One example would be therapeutically-used methadone. Not only can your employer not punish you, he or she cannot tell anyone about the presence of such a substance without your consent.
If you are applying for a new job, it is illegal for the prospective employer to ask you about past substance abuse or if you have ever received treatment for addiction. Additionally, if you are interested in participating in a federal or state job placement or employment training program, you must have equal access to the program and you cannot be discriminated against past substance abuse or addiction treatment.
When it comes to your rights to housing, you cannot be denied access to renting or buying a property due to past substance abuse or treatment. You must also be permitted to have access to public housing. The only thing that might change this requirement is if you have a criminal conviction relating to drugs or another offense.
You also have rights to government support services and programs, including employment assistance, housing assistance, and welfare. No one can deny you access to these services and programs due to past substance abuse or addiction treatment. Again, a criminal conviction might affect your ability to access some of these services.
If you have previously struggled with substance abuse or have sought treatment for addiction, you cannot be denied access to any private facility that offers services to the public. The list of facilities that this law covers is broad, and includes churches, daycare centers, emergency shelters, hospitals, senior centers, schools, and universities.
It is important to note that all of these protections only apply if you are no longer using drugs. In contrast, the laws will generally protect people who are still actively abusing alcohol. However, when you abuse alcohol, you may exhibit certain behaviors that could give employers and organizations legal grounds to take action against you. For example, your employer can legally fire you if you assault a coworker while you are intoxicated. He or she can also terminate you if you stay home to drink alcohol, causing you to miss work.
Thanks to the vast protections of these laws, you have the option to tell people about your past substance abuse and treatment in a rehab program if you chose. This is a personal decision that each person needs to make for themselves, and you have no obligation to tell anyone about your substance abuse or treatment, even if they ask.
Our treatment professionals realize that many clients are worried about privacy and confidentiality when they come to a drug and alcohol treatment program. However, there is no need to worry. The protections of HIPAA and the commitment of the treatment professionals at HARP work together to ensure that your personal information is safe. If you share information about your struggles with addiction or treatment, you can rest assured that you will be protected by federal and state laws against discrimination. With this knowledge, you can move forward with confidence in your drug and alcohol treatment, focusing on the important work of recovery.
If you have questions about the HARP methodology and how we treat drug and alcohol addiction, you can contact our experienced and caring drug and alcohol treatment professionals to get the answers you need to feel confident that your confidential information will remain that way. If you or someone you love is ready to get help beating addiction, the experts at HARP are here.