Deciding to go to rehab is hard enough, but for some looking to get help the worry about the perception others may have of them if their stint in rehab is discovered is a major hurdle to getting professional help. Society has a view of those that struggle with alcohol or drugs as being irresponsible, immoral, foolish, and weak. For those who decide to take the first step to get help, they may be concerned that admitting they have a problem and going to rehab may impact their future employment opportunities or their place in the community. There are several laws in place to assure rehab participants anonymity, as well as a variety of programs available nationwide.
Rehab participants have their anonymity protected by two different Federal laws as well as different state laws. One very strict law that protects rehab participants is HIPAA, which is an acronym for the Health Insurance and Portability and Accountability Act. Enacted in 1996 after the AIDs epidemic, this act requires that anyone with access with your health information not to be able to disclose any personal information about you including your condition, name, age, treatment facility, and address to anyone other than those who you have consented to have it. HIPAA violations are dealt with severely and can result in very hefty fines for the facility and individuals. With possible fines exceeding over a million dollars, healthcare facilities, including rehab centers, stress the importance of anonymity and confidentiality to their employees, as well as use state-of-the- art security systems to avoid a security breach. Most facilities make patient confidentiality one of their primary concerns.
The Alcohol and Drug Abuse Privacy Law is a second layer of protection for those who wish to undergo rehab to recover from their alcohol or drug addiction. This law protects the information of those who have a history of substance abuse, carrying stricter penalties than a breach of doctor-patient confidentiality. Depending on your state, there may be other privacy laws in place both in regards to treatment centers and rehabilitation programs. If you are not comfortable with the amount of protection that your state has on the books, you can see if a nearby state has stricter laws and seek treatment there instead.
Keep in mind that while rehabilitation program records are confidential, criminal records are not, so your drug addiction may prohibit you from getting a job in the future if you are caught in possession of a controlled substance or operating a vehicle under the influence. It is best to get a handle on your addiction before it lands you in legal trouble which will follow you for the rest of your life. Making the decision to go to rehab yourself will carry far fewer negative consequences for you in the future than if you are court ordered to go to rehab.
The culture of rehab centers also fosters a sense of anonymity amongst the rehab participants, since this is a journey that you are all undergoing together. If you meet someone in your rehab program, make sure to keep the way you met confidential, as they may not want others to know. This code of conduct is based on the mutual respect and support that participants are to show for one another and is the basis for many different rehabilitation programs.