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Discrimination rights to drug treatment and privacy.

Updated on September 26, 2011

Your legal right to treatment

A recent NIDA poll of alcoholics revealed that almost a quarter of people who wanted to get treatment for their disease, did not do so because they were worried about the stigma and repercussions of being known as an alcoholic.

They would rather continue to drink than face the realities of life as a recovering alcoholic!

This is tragic, and also completely unnecessary, as rights to confidential treatment and privacy are enforced by legal statute.

Your rights to privacy and treatment!

  • The law varies slightly, but for the vast majority of people (employed by companies with greater than 12 employees, and having worked for more than one year…) 12 weeks of medical leave is mandated by law.
  • You can take almost three months of unpaid leave and cannot be sanctioned for it by your employer…by law. Your employer cannot also reveal what type of treatment you have undergone, and cannot either punish you for taking needed medical leave.
  • You cannot also be asked by any future employer about any past addiction or drug or alcohol treatment, and you are under no legal obligation to reveal this information.
  • You cannot be denied access to any governmentally funded program because of a history of addiction, and you cannot also be denied rental tenancy or ownership of a property because of a history of addiction, or of addiction treatment.

Addiction is a disease

Addiction is a disease, and you have the same legal rights to privacy as patients with any other medically recognized disease. If you do not wish to tell anyone of your participation in drug or alcohol treatment, you are under no obligation to do so, your employer cannot reveal this, and all medical, insurance and treatment records are confidential.

Alcoholism or addiction is a disease, is medically recognized as such, and there should be no shame associated with recovery…indeed we should celebrate those that had the courage and determination to better themselves. This is of course not always the case, and as such rights to confidentiality protect those who wish to remain silent about a history of addiction or alcoholism.

There are a number of state and federal agencies operating to protect your rights to confidentiality, to employer rights, and to access to governmental programs, and if you want more information on your rights to treatment, or feel you are being penalized for a history of addiction or addiction treatment, contact the appropriate organization for protection from discrimination.

Links to Governemental protection orgs.

employee rights

medical leave rights

housing rights


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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      thats bull crap, alcohol users are a different drug addict yet I cant go to a good concert a smoke a joint, screw you Australian Government!

    • profile image

      Rick R 

      8 years ago

      during my active alcohol use i caused mental abuse to my spouse, now finding out while in a treatment center she was having an affair which i confronted her with about 1.5 months before and she 100% denied as well as the other party involved, I want to know if i have any legal rights to adultry charges, for i do know i did cause her pain, it is not the way of my program, it is just a question


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