Does a therapist have to report drug abuse or addiction?

In over the last 50 years, there has been a societal push to rid the stigma of addiction so that addicted individuals can seek help without fear of judgment or reprisal. In 1975, a landmark federal law known as 42 CFR Part 2 was passed by Congress in an effort to increase confidentiality standards by preventing addiction treatment records from being disclosed to law enforcement in order to prosecute individuals who were struggling with addiction. Since then, many other laws were enacted such as Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) to safeguard personal health information from unauthorized disclosure in order to protect client confidentiality in receiving treatment. Although the answer to the above question can vary depending on the circumstances of the case, seeking therapy for drug/alcohol addiction is usually safe in that patients do not need to fear being reported for their drug/alcohol abuse; therapy is designed to be a safe place where clients are able to honestly address issues without fear of disclosure. However, there are several important exceptions to confidentiality that apply universally to counseling regardless of the client issue:

  1. Plans, threats or attempts to hurt oneself
  2. Plans, threats or attempts to hurt another person
  3. Suspected child and/or elder abuse
  4. Court order issued by judge

Please be advised that different states, counties, and towns may have different variations or additions to the above listed exceptions; when in doubt, consult your local therapist or attorney for more information. In summary, addiction counseling is designed to be a safe environment for those seeking drug help; individuals need not fear being reported provided they do not fall into the categorical exceptions to confidentiality listed above. While navigating addiction recovery can be a difficult task, there is an addiction counselor near me who has the skills to help in addiction treatment. To look at the services that are offered, please click here.