How Can You Ensure Privacy While Seeking Addiction Treatment?

You don't have to be a reality TV celebrity or movie star to crave privacy while seeking treatment for a drug or alcohol addiction. Whether you're a local business owner who doesn't want to have his or her recovery gossiped about within the community, or a parent worried about your child's classmates finding out about your rehab stay, you may be wondering how you can seek treatment while ensuring that others in your personal or professional lives aren't made aware of the intimate details of your recovery. Read on to learn more about your options for retaining privacy when seeking treatment in an inpatient rehab facility.


Depending upon your role in your local community and the nearness of the available recovery facilities in your area, you may want to seek treatment in another state -- or even across the country. If you're only "famous" locally, it's unlikely that anyone you encounter in treatment will be tempted to spill the beans on your enrollment. Attending rehab in another city or state can also help you break some of your old bad habits or avoid triggers that may cause you to relapse or continue using.

Because many recovery centers on both the East and West coasts are located in picturesque or tourist-friendly locations, it's also fairly easy to play off your rehab stay as a vacation if nosy neighbors or others begin to inquire as to your whereabouts. These recovery centers often cater to a more privacy-seeking clientele due to their proximity to metropolitan areas. 

Investigate confidentiality agreements

Both the physical and psychological components of addiction treatment are covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Privacy Act (HIPAA). This law renders certain healthcare information confidential, and prevents your care providers and others at the rehab facility from providing information (to the public or anyone else) about your addiction treatment. HIPAA even prevents these care providers from confirming or denying that you are a patient if such information is requested.

However, HIPAA does not extend its coverage to the actions of your fellow patients -- which is why you often read tabloid tell-all stories of a celebrity's stay in rehab from an "inside source," often a fellow patient who was paid for his or her story. Requiring your fellow patients to sign a confidentiality agreement preventing them from telling others about your stay at rehab or the details of your treatment can eliminate this possibility. Although this may seem an extreme step, it can provide you with the grounds for a lucrative lawsuit if someone breaks this agreement.

Check your insurance records

If you're hoping to use Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) time to help preserve your job while you're seeking treatment, you may be required to provide a physician's statement or other documentation to your employer so that they can submit this claim on your behalf. However, this doesn't mean you need to disclose the specific type of treatment you're seeking -- just a doctor's statement that you require a certain amount of time away from your job in order to make a full recovery.

You may want to also check with your health insurance provider to determine what aggregate information will be provided to your employer. Most health insurance companies are permitted to provide this type of mass, anonymous information about employee claims. For example, the insurance company can let your employer know that last year, 500 employees sought treatment at an urgent care facility, but cannot provide the specific identities or other identifying information for these employees.

However, if you work in a small facility, this aggregate information could be used to "out" you -- particularly if you're the only employee who had a lengthy FMLA absence that year. Check with your insurance provider to determine the level of detail that will be provided to your employer about your type of claim. 

There are ways to ensure your privacy during recovery. For more information, you can contact local recovery centers, or click here to continue reading more about recovery centers and their policies.