Is Drug Rehab Confidential? HIPAA And Privacy Rights

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on

You have the right to keep your healthcare information private from outside parties. Learn about legal protections you have while receiving substance abuse treatment.

Is Drug Rehab Confidential? HIPAA And Privacy Rights

Your rights under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) are essential to understand if you are considering or currently receiving addiction treatment at a licensed healthcare facility.

Other confidentiality laws also come into play regarding the disclosure of the specifications regarding your addiction treatment.

Health Information That Is Kept Private

HIPAA ensures that your personal and sensitive health information cannot be disclosed by any outside party without your certified consent.

These protected medical records include but are not limited to:

  • your personal demographic information
  • your current health status
  • your specific healthcare facility
  • your insurance and/or payment method information

These records make up your protected health information, or PHI. Because these medical records can personally identify you, outside entities like your employer or school must have express permission from you to access this data.

In recent times of internet-based records keeping, there has been an increased focus on patient privacy and preserving sensitive information in the digital age.

Additional Privacy Protections

HIPAA has been strengthened by the Privacy Rule, developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 1974.

The Privacy Rule states that your personally identifiable health information must be processed under a standard format.

On top of this confidentiality regulation, another protection is awarded to people who are undergoing, or have undergone in their lifetime, substance abuse treatment.

Under Title 42 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 2, those with a substance use disorder or a history of substance abuse have the right to keep any information about past drug use private.

This includes disclosing information to:

  • employers
  • lawyers
  • law enforcement
  • healthcare providers
  • other outside parties

Under CFR Part 2, your medical records are your business, and any one person or entity that may want that information from you must first receive your express consent.

How To Give Consent To Access Your Medical Information

Because you are in charge of your own privacy, the ability to share your information is also left in your hands.

Your chosen treatment facility will offer consent forms to be filled out by yourself and distributed to the parties requesting information.

You can choose the exact data points to be shared with outside parties by specifying that on your consent forms.

For example, you may want to share how long you have been attending a treatment program, but may not want to share that you are receiving treatment for alcohol addiction.

Under the protection of federal law, your rehab center and medical personnel team are not allowed to disclose any information not previously specified without your written or oral consent. This consent can also be revoked at any time by you.

In the event of a medical emergency, some HIPAA protections still apply. However, the release of PHI will always be the minimum necessary for treatment purposes, in order to protect the confidentiality of alcohol and drug abuse patient records.

Your Loved Ones And Your Privacy

When it comes to your family members and your PHI, the patient’s consent is still required in order to disclose sensitive data.

Many people enrolled in rehab programs choose to disclose some or all of their protected health information so that they can stay close to their loved ones during the detox and recovery process.

If you are interested in keeping your support system in the loop, talk to your treatment provider about modifying your consent forms.

Ultimately, the details of your treatment plan are yours and yours alone. Contact your rehab facility with any additional questions you may have about patient privacy and how to share your health information on your terms.

Healthcare Privacy Matters

Limiting ready access to patient information regarding substance abuse treatment, especially online, increases security levels surrounding patient privacy.

Privacy laws like HIPAA and CFR Part 2 act as safeguards against threats like internet hackers, as well as threats to your personal reputation in certain situations.

Get Help For Drug Or Alcohol Addiction Today

If you are hurting from the effects of drug addiction, we can help. Contact to find addiction treatment options today.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.

These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on
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