Anonymity and addiction treatment
Anonymity is essential to recovery. It helps the recovery process and allows us to be intimate without fear. Anonymity positions principles above personalities, without creating inequality. So, what can you do to be sure that data regarding your private addiction treatment remains confidential? What rights do you have to your medical information?
On this important question, we’ve invited House of Freedom (a rehab for executives located in Florida) to share more on methods of protection regarding this topic. Orlando Vargas is Director of Research Development at House of Freedom and in this interview, he explains what are the most important factors in maintaining anonymity. Also, he shares some tips on how patients can protect their anonymity in rehab and afterwards, at home.
If you have any additional questions, comments or would like to share an experience, please send us a message in the section at the bottom of the page. We welcome your comments and questions. Further, we try to respond to all questions with a personal reply.
ADDICTION BLOG: What should executive professionals look for from a rehab in terms of privacy? For example, is a private location a MUST?
HOUSE OF FREEDOM: I believe you are correct when you say a private location is a must.
At House of Freedom we have an undisclosed location that we use for our executive professionals in order to maintain the privacy at its full capacity. And not only is the location undisclosed/confidential, but if the patient desires so, s/he will be the only one there in order to avoid being seen by others. This is critical for those executives or celebrities that do not want to be identified by someone who might disclose that they are in treatment.
ADDICTION BLOG: What other factors are important in maintaining anonymity?
HOUSE OF FREEDOM: Other factors that are important in maintaining anonymity are things like never using the patient’s name. For example, here at House of Freedom we assign a number to the person that only the patient and House of Freedom know in order to avoid being identified by someone.
In addition, the patient decides who and for how long someone gets to know about their progress, if anyone at all. This consent may be revoked by the patient at any time as well if they change their mind for any reason.
ADDICTION BLOG: How can executives address their workplaces or HR Department when planning for a stay in rehab? What are some best practices in this delicate matter?
HOUSE OF FREEDOM: This is a very sensitive topic, as you already know. Executives may take a leave of absence for medical reasons. The medical reason does not always have to be disclosed and substance use disorders and mental health disorders are considered illnesses.
Federal civil rights laws prohibit discrimination and individuals needing to take a leave of absence from work are protected from discrimination by:
- The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- The Rehabilitation Act of 1973
- The Fair Housing Act (FHA)
- The Workforce Investment Act (WIA)
ADDICTION BLOG: With whom do treatment centers/rehabs share addiction-related medical records? Why and in what cases?
HOUSE OF FREEDOM: We share information sometimes with other clinics for services that we do not offer in house. For example, at times if the patient authorizes we need to send blood work to be analyzed at a lab and for this the patient’s name needs to be disclosed. But it is very rare for us to have to share much information, since we do most everything in house.
ADDICTION BLOG: How are patient medical records generally safe from the public?
HOUSE OF FREEDOM: We utilize a system based on an EHR (Electronic Health Record) which has the most sophisticated encryption on the market. There is no paper trace, which minimizes the exposure of that information falling into the wrong hands.
ADDICTION BLOG: How can executives speak with their families and friends about time spent in rehab?
HOUSE OF FREEDOM: This may be done either via the telephone or video conference. Or patients sometimes opt to use regular mail.
ADDICTION BLOG: How important is anonymity to future personal development after rehab has finished?
HOUSE OF FREEDOM: It is as important as the patient makes it to be.
Different patients have different views on how private to keep their drug rehab past. We once had a celebrity who decided to make a video and tell the fans what he was up to in order to motivate others to do the same if they were facing the same struggles.
ADDICTION BLOG: What is the average length of stay in rehab for busy execs?
HOUSE OF FREEDOM: This varies, but it is usually from 2 weeks to 60 days for busy execs.
ADDICTION BLOG: What kind of aftercare is recommended after a stay in an executive rehab?
HOUSE OF FREEDOM: This depends greatly on the specific circumstances, but usually we recommend 90 days of aftercare support to ensure a smooth transition.
ADDICTION BLOG: Can you share with us some general tips on how patients can be careful in protecting their anonymity?
HOUSE OF FREEDOM: The best kept secret is the one that is never told.
Sometimes, even if you trust someone, you best protect them from sharing this information by never telling them in the first place. That way, you may have peace of mind that nobody will know what you don’t want them to know.
ADDICTION BLOG: What is the percentage of people who attend private, executive rehabs that DO NOT want to remain anonymous and why? How might this demographic affect public opinion?
HOUSE OF FREEDOM: I would say that the vast majority want to keep it private because there still a lot of stigma associated with drug use in the United States. But those who do decide to share it, most of the time do it to motivate others to seek treatment and to inform them that recovery is a possibility.