Anyone who has been through an addiction treatment program knows the importance of safeguarding your information. Despite the efforts of clinicians and psychologists in the addiction treatment world, there is still a stigma surrounding addiction and the treatment of addiction. Still, addiction is a chronic disease that needs treatment to overcome. And addiction treatment often goes beyond just a substance use disorder; it also involves medical and psychological treatment that can get very personal. And rightly so. Addiction treatment needs to be tailored to your individual needs to be effective. So your therapist and clinicians will be most successful when they get to know those needs.
When you first enter treatment, you will go through an intake assessment process that is designed to determine the best level of care for your needs. As soon as you are able, you will sit down with your therapist to go through what is called a biopsychosocial assessment, which involves a questionnaire that will review your biological, psychological, and social history and current needs. Needless to say, it will unearth some personal information that you will want to be kept secure.
At the same time, sharing information is a part of the continuum of care. Addiction treatment goes beyond a week in detox . It involves several levels of care to help you break free from chemical dependence and learn to manage cravings and triggers.
Effective treatment also goes beyond substance use. It also needs to address medical, psychological, social, legal, and financial needs that might directly or indirectly contribute to your substance use disorder. To refer you to the help you need in these different areas, your therapist or clinicians may want to share some of the information you have provided to help specialists create the best treatments for your needs.
So how can you be sure your information will be kept safe during treatment?
Learn more about the privacy standards that are practiced and enforced in addiction treatment and how you can be protected when you go through an addiction treatment program.
Legally operating addiction treatment centers are expected to follow the same or similar confidentiality practices that doctors offices and hospitals do. Confidentiality refers to laws put in place to protect the information of a patient who is in a medical or clinical professional’s care. That information is to be kept private unless the patient gives consent for that information to be shared, and then it can only be shared with whoever that patient directs. Patients can also sign consent forms that allow practitioners to share information with anyone who might also treat them, like referrals.
In the 1970s, the government began to recognize addiction as a condition that required medical treatment. Congress saw the stigma that came with addiction and that people were avoiding treatment for fear that their information would get out and ruin their reputation. Congress passed legislation protecting people seeking treatment for substance use disorders under federal confidentiality regulations.
Three decades later in 2000, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services further defined confidentiality when it issued the “Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information” privacy rule. This rule put substance use disorder confidentially in accordance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).
Consent can refer to a variety of things in addiction treatment. For one, you will be required to give consent to be treated in the first place. Generally, you are never forced into addiction treatment or any specific therapy options. Even when it comes to court-ordered treatment, you may still have the option to serve prison time instead of attending a treatment program. Even when it comes to medical detox, if you can’t take the withdrawal symptoms and you want to leave, you cannot be forced to stay in treatment.
However, when it comes to the security of your information, consent refers to your permission to share your information. When you enter an addiction treatment program, information becomes an important factor in giving you the best treatment possible. As soon as you start treatment, you, or someone you’ve chosen to represent you, will be asked to give consent to be treated.
Only then will clinicians start to collect information by asking you questions, and medical professionals may gather information be running tests. At this point, data is being used to provide safe treatment. For instance, it’s important to find out if you are allergic to any medications before you are given any medicine.
When you sit down with your therapist or doctor, you will formulate a treatment plan that’s tailored to your needs. In most cases, that can involve medical treatment for illnesses, infections, or injuries and it can involve psychotherapies that are directed by your therapist or other clinicians. In some cases, you may require treatment that needs to be addressed by a specialist, and you will be referred to someone outside of your treatment center. For instance, if you are diagnosed with schizophrenia, that often requires consultation or treatment from a psychiatrist that specializes in schizophrenia.
In such cases, you will need to give consent to authorize your treatment center to share your information with the referring doctor. This consent is usually given before treatment starts or in the beginning stages. You may be asked to read and sign a form specifying what information you are willing to share and with who.
If you give consent, your treatment team can refer you to the treatments you need freely. However, you can choose to revoke your consent at any time, even if you’ve already signed a consent form.
Your addiction treatment center needs your consent for more than just sharing information with other medical practitioners. Without consent, addiction treatment therapists, doctors, and clinicians can’t talk about you or your information, including your parents, family members , or friends. Your treatment center can’t even disclose protected information to law enforcement without your authorization unless the situation meets specific qualifications. In fact, clinicians can’t even say whether you are at a facility if you haven’t given consent to disclose information.
When it comes to family members, it can be helpful if your therapist or other addiction practitioners can share information when it’s necessary. Your family members may have specific information that can help treat you. For instance, they may have better insight into any family history of mental disorders or substance abuse that you aren’t familiar with. Being able to speak to family members is especially helpful in the early days of treatment when you might be less responsive because you are going through withdrawal symptoms.
Hear more about how your information will be handled and how addiction therapies can help lead you to a life free from active addiction. Even though addiction is a chronic disease, it’s one that can be treated with the right help at your side. Call anytime to take the first steps on your road to recovery today. Addiction is a chronic disease that often requires treatment to overcome effectively. To learn more about safe and accredited addiction treatment programs, call an addiction treatment specialist at Delphi Behavioral Health Group at 844-899-5777.
Sources HHS Office of the Secretary, Office for Civil Rights. (2013, July 26). Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule: A Guide for Law Enforcement. Retrieved from https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/ocr/privacy/hipaa/understanding/special/emergency/final_hipaa_guide_law_enforcement.pdf
SAMHSA. (2013, July 15). Confidentiality Regulations FAQs. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/about-us/who-we-are/laws-regulations/confidentiality-regulations-faqs
SAMHSA. (2014, August 04). Medical Records Privacy and Confidentiality. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/laws-regulations-guidelines/medical-records-privacy-confidentiality
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (2019, January 04). Health Information Privacy. Retrieved from https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/index.html