Learn / Privacy in Rehab: How to Keep Your Treatment Confidential
Addiction can affect anyone, including public figures and those in high-profile positions. For these clients, concerns around confidentiality can be one of the biggest barriers when it comes to seeking treatment.
Because of this, privacy is among the most important considerations when choosing a rehab.
The good news is that you have options. In general, rehabs are at least held to clinical standards of patient confidentiality, and due to the sensitive nature of addiction treatment, most are located in discreet premises and take measures to protect your privacy. Some premium programs cater specifically to clients who need extra seclusion, with many featuring private villas and exclusively one-on-one treatment sessions. Other treatment centers also focus on confidentiality and understand that for certain clientele, like celebrities and recognizable figures, anonymity is essential.
Understanding the protection you’re entitled to in clinical settings, and learning what to look for in a residential rehab, can give you the peace of mind you need to focus on your recovery.
Recovery is a highly personal journey. If opening up to others about your struggle isn’t something you feel comfortable with, that choice is completely valid.
While mental health stigma is decreasing1 thanks to growing visibility, coming out about a substance use disorder can, unfortunately, have consequences in some cases. In a 2017 study published in Addiction Research & Theory, researchers found that the stigma of being identified as someone struggling with addiction2 can have personal, medical and professional consequences similar to those who are dealing with mental illness. These consequences can be especially high-impact for those who are in the public eye.
Celebrities, politicians, and high-profile businesspeople often choose to pursue more discreet treatment options. Fortunately, many centers have exclusive programs that cater specifically to this need.
Healthcare providers in the U.S., including rehab centers, must adhere to certain privacy protection laws. Two important ones that concern addiction treatment include the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA3 and 42 CFR Part 2.4
HIPAA is a privacy law that enforces national standards to prevent the sharing of health information of individual patients without their consent or knowledge. Under this law, you have the right to access and examine your healthcare records and can request amendments or accounting of disclosure of your protected health information.
All healthcare providers, health plans, businesses and healthcare clearinghouses must comply with HIPAA.
While HIPAA applies to all medically-related information, 42 CFR Part 2 applies specifically to those who will enter, who have entered, or who have already gone through addiction treatment programs.
Under this law, rehab centers are prohibited from disclosing any individual information that identifies or indicates that the patient has dealt with addiction. This is so that people in recovery aren’t treated unfairly in cases of employment, child custody, or divorce. Without your written consent, treatment centers are unable to share any of your information, even with other medical facilities and practitioners.
42 CFR Part 2 applies to any entity that provides a recovery program, so all programs in the U.S. must adhere to this federal law.
As for facilities outside the U.S., the laws can differ significantly. For example, in Canada, the Privacy Act of 1985 prevents treatment centers from sharing any mental or physical health information5 that might be harmful to the patient.
Because privacy levels can vary from program to program, it’s best to ask admissions staff at centers you’re considering what steps they take to ensure privacy and what kind of regulatory oversight they have in this area.
While these protection laws are designed to keep the information of rehab center patients safe, there are still ways you can ensure extra layers of privacy if discretion is a major concern.
Whether you’re looking for a residential rehab program or an intensive outpatient program (IOP), certain markers can help you identify which ones offer a more confidential experience. On the most exclusive end of the spectrum are luxury rehab centers that cater specifically to clients who need to keep a low profile.
Here are some of the ways residential rehab programs can offer a more private experience:
Distance From Your Community
For many people, the fear of bumping into familiar faces during or on the way to rehab prevents them from starting treatment. With residential rehabs, you live onsite for the duration of your program. Removing yourself from your everyday environment not only reduces the chances of being recognized, but also reduces circumstantial triggers. This gives many people the comfort they need to focus on their recovery.
Luxury inpatient rehabs are often located in remote, naturally beautiful settings, which offer the added benefit of total seclusion. These peaceful, awe-inspiring surroundings are the perfect backdrop for inner healing, says Dr. Jasleen Chhatwal, Chief Medical Officer of Sierra Tucson in Arizona:
“Trying to heal in a main metropolis, where you hear cars, sirens and noise is not very conducive. When clients come to Sierra Tucson for treatment, suddenly they’re in a quiet space without extraneous sound. There’s no interference from the outside world and people can really focus inward and take care of themselves.”
Many luxury rehabs aren’t recognizable as treatment centers from the outside, and some don’t even publicly list their location.
An Extra Layer of Privacy at Destination Rehabs
If you’re looking for anonymity, you may consider traveling to a destination rehab where you have even more space from your usual surroundings. Local culture can even play into which destination is more appropriate for those seeking an escape from the public eye.
Jan Gerber, CEO of Paracelsus in Zurich comments on Switzerland’s non-sensationalist culture, and how it can be attractive for clients who want to avoid media attention:
“Confidentiality is Switzerland’s second name. Some of our A-list celebrity clients will go to a local Starbucks, and while they’re recognized, they’re not in the news. Local tabloids don’t write about it and they’re not harassed for autographs either.”
Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) are for those who don’t need 24/7 care or medical detox. This could be a good option for people who have a milder addiction diagnosis, or as a step-down from a residential rehab program. Some studies show that IOPs are just as effective as residential rehabs,6 as they offer more intensive schedules with additional hours of therapy in comparison to standard outpatient programs.
If you’re looking into an IOP but are concerned about privacy, keep the following in mind:
Some IOPs Cater to Your Schedule
Some luxury rehabs offer IOPs as a step down from residential rehab or as a standalone program.
These treatment centers understand that many clients who want to attend intensive treatment still need to keep up with their daily responsibilities. Most of their programs are designed to fit your schedule, and are located in metro areas that are more accessible from where you live.
Passages Malibu in California, for example, has an IOP program designed to help graduates of residential treatment integrate back into daily life. They understand that this is an opportunity for clients to return to work and other day-to-day responsibilities while still receiving a high level of support for their recovery journey.
Virtual IOPs Offer Extra Privacy
With telehealth on the rise, many treatment providers now offer a virtual IOP option. This is especially beneficial if you’re nervous about being seen at a treatment center. Usually, you can design your schedule to avoid causing any disruptions at work. Additionally, many people feel more comfortable attending treatment from the privacy of their own homes.
A small number of rehabs cater specifically to high-profile clients who need very high levels of privacy. They place a special focus into ensuring client comfort and utmost confidentiality. These centers may be in isolated locations, and some even accept only one client at a time.
Paracelsus in Zurich, Switzerland is one of the world’s leading and most exclusive luxury rehabs. Catering to the ultra-wealthy, including politicians, celebrities and royalty, their program is designed for those who need to remain completely discreet: they take in only one client at a time. Founded in 2012 as a family business, Paracelsus boasts an incredibly tailored treatment experience, with a team of over 15 therapists and doctors who care for one client.
During treatment, clients stay at their exclusive lakefront residence, featuring penthouse apartments with a main bedroom and ensuite bathroom plus an additional room for an on-site therapist. Stays here also include a private butler and housekeeper.
Paracelsus goes to great lengths to accommodate their clients–their CEO Jan Gerber explains why:
“There’s a group of people who are underserved when it comes to addiction and mental health treatment. These are people who come from money or power and require 100% confidentiality and a place they can trust. They have a very specific background and need comprehensive care tailored to their situation. It’s important for our clients to feel at home without any disruption to the lifestyle they’re used to. Such disruptions can be incredibly negative for treatment.”
Mercui Recovery prides itself on its high standards of discreet care. As a top luxury treatment center, their private residences rest amongst some of the most scenic and tranquil surroundings in Aspen, Colorado; Malibu Canyon, California; Ibiza, Spain; and the Pacific coast of Mexico. They take in one client at a time, and you can choose from one of their many locations or select an in-home option.
Clients can expect five-star service and exclusivity at Mercui Recovery, with a team of dedicated professionals for 1:1 treatment. Their treatment program is hyper-tailored to each individual, with clients ranging from politicians to business elites. Here you’re offered the full continuum of care, from initial detoxification to intensive aftercare.
The Banyans in Brisbane, Australia is an exclusive treatment center that caters to the privacy needs of clients and places emphasis on the clinical aspect of care. Taking in no more than 8 people at a time, clients are accommodated in a luxury residence on a secluded 13 acres overlooking lush hills.
Known as Australia’s most therapeutically intense private treatment program, they offer over 9, 1:1 treatments with 6 medically trained doctors as part of your clinical team.
Keeping privacy at the forefront, association of clients with The Banyans is never disclosed. This means they use personal names instead of ‘The Banyans’ on booking and reservations, no uniforms with their logo and unbranded cars for transportation.
They also offer a 14-day virtual program called The Banyans at Home for those who prefer to receive treatment from the comfort and privacy of their own house.
For a deeper dive into exclusive, ultra-private addiction treatment programs, see our guide to single-client luxury rehabs.
Your ability to focus on recovery and healing can make your addiction treatment experience that much more impactful. Recovery is a sensitive process that shouldn’t be hindered by external factors like privacy issues.
In addition to standard protections, there are many ways luxury rehabs centers can cater to clientele in the public eye, with solutions that range from single-client intakes to discreet transportation to and from facilities.
You deserve a safe space for recovery and healing. See our collection of select luxury rehabs to discover a center that could be the perfect fit for you.
When choosing a rehab program, consider facilities that prioritize privacy and confidentiality. Look for rehabs located in discreet premises, offering private accommodations and 1:1 treatment sessions. When calling a treatment center, ask what measures they take to protect your privacy. This knowledge can give you the peace of mind you need to focus on recovery.
Privacy matters in rehab because addiction recovery is a personal journey. Seeking treatment in a confidential setting helps avoid potential consequences of stigma. Luxury rehab centers often have exclusive programs tailored to clients who need extra privacy, ensuring their anonymity is respected throughout the treatment process.
Choosing a program that’s not located in your home community can provide an extra layer of privacy for your treatment experience. Luxury rehabs often have discreet locations in remote and naturally beautiful settings. For those opting for an intensive outpatient program (IOP), luxury rehabs may offer flexible schedules and even virtual IOP options for added privacy and convenience.
HealthPartners. “Stigma of Mental Illnesses Decreasing, Survey Shows.” HealthPartners, https://www.healthpartners.com/hp/about/press-releases/stigma-of-mental-illnesses-decreasing.html. Accessed 29 Aug. 2021.
Katherine Nieweglowski, Patrick W. Corrigan, Tri Tyas, Anastasia Tooley, Rachel Dubke, Juana Lara, Lorenzo Washington, Janis Sayer, Lindsay Sheehan & The Addiction Stigma Research Team (2017): Exploring the public stigma of substance use disorder through community-based participatory research, Addiction Research & Theory, DOI: 10.1080/16066359.2017.1409890
How does HIPAA interact with the federal confidentiality rules. (2018, January 18). HHS.Gov. https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/faq/3005/how-does-hipaa-interact-federal-confidentiality-rules-substance-use-disorder-treatment-information-in-emergency/index.html
Confidentiality of Substance Use Disorder Patient Records. (2017, January 18). Federal Register. https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/01/18/2017-00719/confidentiality-of-substance-use-disorder-patient-records
Branch, Legislative Services. Consolidated Federal Laws of Canada, Privacy Act. 6 Aug. 2021, https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/p-21/fulltext.html#:~:text=2%20The%20purpose%20of%20this,of%20access%20to%20that%20information.
McCarty, Dennis, et al. “Substance Abuse Intensive Outpatient Programs: Assessing the Evidence.” Psychiatric Services (Washington, D.C.), vol. 65, no. 6, June 2014, pp. 718–26. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ps.201300249.
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