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How Will a Drug and Alcohol Detox Center Respect My Privacy?

While there are many barriers to recovery, one of the most common ones is fear of people finding out that you struggle with addiction. Oftentimes, people who suffer from substance use disorders hide their addiction from their employers, friends, and even family members to prevent stigma or stereotypes from affecting them. 

Thankfully, drug and alcohol detox programs are required to keep your information confidential. Various federal laws ensure that your privacy will be protected and your medical information will remain confidential so you can receive the treatment you need without fear of judgment from others.

Laws that Protect Your Privacy During Detox

When you are thinking about attending detox for a drug or alcohol addiction, privacy is a major concern. Oftentimes, people worry that their employer will find out that they received treatment for a substance use disorder, costing them their careers. Thankfully, there are a few laws that protect your privacy during drug and alcohol detox.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal law that ensures the privacy of your medical records. It includes records about addiction and mental health, too. Under HIPAA, your medical records cannot be released without your written consent. 

HIPAA protects you by:[2]

  • Prohibiting your medical information from being shared in a manner that does not directly relate to your healthcare.
  • Allowing you to request that your information is never shared with specific entities. 
  • Notifying you who has seen your medical information and when it is being shared. 

Confidentiality of Substance Use Disorder Patient Records

The Confidentiality of Drug and Alcohol Abuse Patient Records is very similar to HIPAA. It protects your privacy when you are seeking addiction treatment at a federally assisted or regulated program. 

Within this law, Title 42 Part 2 prevents the release of information that identifies or reveals that you suffered from a substance use disorder and received treatment for addiction without your written consent.[3] This means that your privacy will be protected unless you allow your information to be released to a specific entity. 

The exceptions to this law include:

  • Child abuse or neglect reporting
  • Cause of death reporting 
  • Court orders 
  • Medical emergencies
  • Crimes 

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is a law that prevents employers from being able to ask questions about substance use disorders or addiction treatment.[4] Additionally, they are not allowed to ask about your use of legal drugs, such as prescriptions you take or whether you drink alcohol or smoke marijuana in states where it is legal. 

The EEOC ensures you will not be asked about past visits to alcohol or drug detox centers when you are interviewing for a new job. However, if you have a conviction that relates to substance abuse, you are required to disclose that information when you are asked.

Are There Any Exceptions to These Laws?

While your information will not be provided without your consent in most cases, there are circumstances where it may be necessary. Being aware of these circumstances is important if you are looking to maintain your privacy during drug and alcohol detox. 

The exceptions to privacy laws include:

  • Court Orders – If you find yourself in court, your medical records can be subpoenaed by a judge. In some cases, judges might require proof that you received addiction treatment. 
  • Insurance – If you use your insurance to pay for drug and alcohol detox, your treatment information will be documented to determine coverage. Thankfully, this information is also kept confidential by your insurance company.
  • Healthcare – Your information will be shared between healthcare providers who you are receiving treatment from to ensure that you are getting accurate care.
  • Law Enforcement Investigations – If you are involved in a criminal investigation, law enforcement officers will be able to access your medical records in certain situations.

In any other case, your medical records will remain confidential unless you permit them to be shared, and you will maintain a high level of privacy while you are in a drug and alcohol detox facility. 

Get Connected to a Confidential Drug and Alcohol Detox Program

If you or a loved one suffer from a drug addiction or alcohol use disorder, it’s time to seek help. While you might be worried about your privacy, you can rest assured that programs like Mandala Healing Center maintain a high level of confidentiality and professionalism. 

To learn more about our drug and alcohol detox center, contact Mandala Healing Center today. 

References:

  1. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): SAMHSA Announces National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) Results Detailing Mental Illness and Substance Use Levels in 2021, Retrieved July 2023 From https://www.samhsa.gov/newsroom/press-announcements/20230104/samhsa-announces-nsduh-results-detailing-mental-illness-substance-use-levels-2021
  2. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS): Your Rights Under HIPAA, Retrieved July 2023 From https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-individuals/guidance-materials-for-consumers/index.html
  3. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): Disclosure of Substance Use Disorder Patient Records, Retrieved July 2023 From https://www.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/does-part2-apply.pdf
  4. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC): Confidentiality, Retrieved July 2023 From https://www.eeoc.gov/confidentiality