There are certain realities about drug addiction that everyone must face. One thing addiction treatment professionals have to accept is the fact that most drug use involves illegal substances. If a client enters rehab with an addiction to drugs like fentanyl, heroin, meth, cocaine, or a host of other illicit substances, the rehab facility’s personnel are well aware the user has been involved in some level of criminal activity.
While the use of illicit drugs is very concerning, addiction treatment professionals have very little desire to be judgemental. Their job is to help clients recover from the disease of addiction with no regard for the legalities surrounding the client’s drug abuse. If you are addicted to an illicit substance, you might be reluctant to seek help for your addiction problem. You avoiding treatment out of fear you might get in trouble with law enforcement is the last thing anyone in the addiction treatment community wants to see happen. It’s for that very reason that most rehab facilities offer a high level of confidentiality for the benefit of their clients. We understand this is a very sensitive issue.
Again, we want everyone who needs help to feel safe about asking us to help them. That applies to you. With that said, there are some gray areas that we need to address. We will do so in the sections below.
The Laws Regarding Confidentiality for Rehab Patients
For most rehab facilities, protecting the privacy of clients is a matter of law. The laws that have been set forth about protecting the right to privacy for clients have been established by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and section 543 of the Public Health Service Act. Said laws fall under the guise of providing clients with certain protections when seeking medical care. In order to provide a safe environment for clients to openly discuss the circumstances surrounding their drug use, they must be able to speak freely without the threat of legal repercussions.
The ability to speak freely is the cornerstone of the relationship between a client and their therapist. Without legal protection, clients would need to think twice before admitting they have had involvement with the illegal drug community. That would be counterproductive to the entire addiction treatment process. Now that we have established that we will do everything in our power to provide you with the confidentiality you are entitled to by law, we need to discuss potential exceptions. There are reasons that could happen that would compel us to forgo privacy rules.
The three most prominent reasons are:
- There is a warrant out for the client’s arrest
- The client gets caught trying to distribute illicit substances to other rehab clients
- Commission of a violent crime while under the influence
Warrant Out for the Client’s Arrest
Under no circumstances are we allowed to harbor a fugitive from the law. If we were to knowingly harbor a fugitive, it could result in the arrest of our staff members and the possible loss of our licensing. If we don’t know there is a warrant out on a client, we cannot be reasonably expected to call law enforcement. All of that changes the moment we find out a client is wanted.
Drug Distribution Within the Rehab Faccility
Whether or not we would report a client for using illicit drugs while in the rehab facility would be a matter of discretion. However, the illegal distribution of any kind of drugs would represent a felony, something we would have to report to law enforcement.
Criminal Activity While Under the Influence of Drugs
We have a legal obligation to protect our clients and staff members against criminal activity. If one client’s substance abuse were to result in the harm or potential harm to other people within the rehab facility, we would have to report any related incidents to the police. That would include if we felt the client was in imminent danger of harming themselves while under the influence. We hope the above information has addressed your concerns regarding your addiction to an illicit substance and the protection of your rights to privacy.
After providing you with this information, we hope it motivates you to come forward for treatment. When you are ready, we will be here to give you the care you need. For more information about our facility and addiction treatment services, we would like to encourage you to contact us as soon as possible at 833-762-3739.