Because of the stigma and judgment that comes with substance use and addiction, you might be concerned about your confidentiality when you enter drug addiction treatment. You might be worried about the ways your personal information is used and who has access to the fact that you’re getting treatment for addiction. It’s understandable that you would want to protect your personal information and you have rights that maintain your confidentiality.
If you’re working with a doctor or therapist, both of these professionals are required by HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) to protect your health information. HIPAA is legislation that protects a patient’s private information – from their personal information, such as their social security number, to their health information, such as the type of diagnosis they have. A professional, whether in the medical or mental health field, is required to follow strict guidelines in order to protect your information. Furthermore, HIPAA not only protects information shared on hard documents, but also information shared electronically and even verbally.
This is also true for healthcare agencies such as rehab clinics who provide treatment for addiction. In addition to HIPAA, addiction treatment centers are also held accountable by federal law. For instance, these facilities must have security measures in place, such as signed agreements for both their staff and their patients. They are required to remain in compliance by federal and state governments.
Even if you were to participate in a support group as a means to stay sober, your confidentiality is protected there as well. Most groups have an agreement shared by their members to keep information shared within the group private. Members are asked to read and sign the agreement in order to participate. Of course, no one can prevent one of the group members from sharing information outside of the group. However, because each member generally shares the same feelings about keeping confidentiality, he or she is likely to stay respectful of the information of others.
You might want to specifically ask about the privacy of your information when participating in mental health therapy, visiting your doctor, and attending support groups. Each level of addiction treatment will have their own ways of protecting your information. And from what you read above, you might have concluded that a support group might not be as safe with your information as others.
Furthermore, there are reasons why a health professional may need to break your confidentiality. For instance, if you are in danger of hurting yourself, such as being suicidal, then your information might be shared with another party to help protect your life. Also, if you are in danger of hurting someone else, your information will be shared with another party in order to protect the other person’s life. And if there is a child in your care who is at risk of abuse, then your personal information will need to be shared. Lastly, if you’ve provided consent to share your information with another health provider, then your information will be shared then too.
It’s natural to want to keep your personal information confidential when you’re seeking addiction treatment. Except for specific circumstances, your information is protected by law.
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