If you are struggling with drug addiction, you may be ready to get help. Many people worry that reaching out for help will lead them into legal problems. You may be wondering, “Can I tell my doctor about illegal drug use? Will I get in trouble if I do?”
Yes, you can tell your doctor about your illegal drug use without getting into legal trouble. In fact, it is critical that you open up to your doctor about what you are using so they can provide the best type of medical support to you.
Your Confidentiality Is Protected
Illegal substances are those classified by the federal government as such. Examples of illicit drugs include cocaine, ecstasy, and heroin. However, using prescription drugs not written for you is also illegal. So, how can I tell my doctor about illegal drug use without getting in trouble?
Doctor-patient confidentiality protects you from any type of action by your doctor. Doctors are there to help you. They cannot disclose information about you to anyone else that is not directly connected with your situation and that you’ve given permission to hear about this information. If a doctor were to report your illegal drug use to the police, for example, they would face legal consequences for doing so, and that may include losing their license. In short, they are not going to do so.
What You Should Know About Doctor-Patient Confidentiality
It’s hard to trust that you can open up to your doctor about what’s happening to you and what drugs you’re using. Yet, it is your right to do so. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
- Doctor-patient privilege is a nationally recognized legal concept. Doctors cannot discuss information about you without your consent. That includes in a court of law, even if you confess to using drugs.
- There are some limits to this rule. For example, if you are in an emergency and someone needs to administer help to you, your doctor can tell them what to do, even if it means revealing that you are using illegal drugs.
- Doctors take the Hippocratic Oath, and that applies here. This oath states that medical professionals will take no step that causes harm to the patient. This is an ethics question, and nearly all doctors will adhere to it.
You may have some protection under HIPAA, too. HIPAA is a law that was put into place to protect patient privacy. It simply means that doctors cannot share specific information about you with other people – even close family members. This law protects certain types of information, such as your personal identification information, that may be used to identify you. That means that if you come in to seek help from your doctor about your drug addiction, your personal information cannot be put into the hands of a secretary that is working there.
Why Is It So Important to Tell Your Doctor About Your Illegal Drug Use?
If you know you have an addiction, speak to your doctor about what’s happening to you. Chances are good they already have an idea something is wrong. They can provide you with information on what is happening to you, such as the types of complications you may have from your use. They can also help you understand what withdrawal symptoms are and how to manage cravings. Most importantly, these professionals can help you find the help you need through a substance abuse counseling program.
How Does This Confidentiality Help You to Get Help for Addiction?
Men and women seeking help for drug and alcohol addiction need to know they can ask for that support without facing legal consequences. There is no doubt this is possible for you. Consider these steps if you are struggling with addiction right now and unsure what to do.
Reach out and ask for help
Reach out to a treatment center to get information. You do not have to provide your name or any contact information when you call. Ask the questions you have about privacy and the protection of your rights if you come in. You can also ask about doctor-patient confidentiality.
Learn about the organization’s privacy rules
You can always ask a treatment center what they do to protect your privacy. For many people, this is critical. If you do not feel safe and protected within the drug treatment center, you may not get the amount and level of care you need to overcome addiction. In other words, you have to feel as though you can trust these professionals. Asking about privacy rules may help you to gain some confidence in this area.
Your doctor is your ally in your battle for drug and alcohol addiction recovery. All you have to do is to reach out and request help, and the admissions process can begin. Don’t wait. Your privacy is protected, and your health is worth taking action today.