Drug Rehab for Teachers, Professors & Educators (Is it Confidential?)

2 min read · 5 sections
Being an educator and having a substance use problem can feel overwhelming and you might be wondering what you can do to receive help for your addiction. As of 2020, 5.5% of people within the education community suffer from a substance use disorder (SUD).1
What you will learn:
The prevalence of substance abuse issues in the education community.
What substance abuse treatment looks like.
How substance abuse treatment could impact your career.

Statistics on Drug & Alcohol Abuse in Teachers

Educators are among one of the most stressed populations for various reasons, putting them at high risk for burnout.2,3 A study in 2020 found an association between levels of stress and substance use disorder symptoms.3 Here is a glimpse of what educators face:1,4,5

  • High teacher stress is associated with psychological distress, often alleviated through poor coping skills.
  • 7% heavy drinking in educational occupations.
  • 8% illicit drug use in educational occupations.
  • 5% of a diagnosed substance use disorder in educational occupations.
  • Stigma associated with substance use.

Why Do Educators Abuse Substances?

There is limited research on the explicit reasons educators might use substances. However, the following list includes some possible reasons as to why educators might be more susceptible to using (and abusing) substances:

  • High levels of stress: Nearly 93% of teachers in a 2018 study indicated high levels of stress.6 Research has shown that increased stress levels can put you at greater risk of using substances.3 Below are some triggers for educator stress.
    • School organization. The different dynamics within a school and the district can cause stress on teachers.7
    • Job demands. Teachers are frequently asked to take on a full workload which can feel overwhelming if not managed appropriately.
    • Work resources. A lack of support from leadership can lead to teacher’s stress.7
    • The teacher’s ability to manage stress. Teachers often have limited access to emotional development resources.7
  • Increase of depression and anxiety in educators during the COVID-19 pandemic.8
  • Substance use increase during COVID-19.5
  • Burnout. Persistent professional stress and low or absent coping skills.6

Is Substance Abuse Treatment Confidential for Educators?

Finding treatment can be intimidating, especially if you’re concerned about how it might impact your career. The good news is that there is hope and certain laws and policies exist to help you protect your career as an educator. Rehabilitation and substance abuse treatment falls under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996.9 HIPAA protects your privacy with a few limitations; you can seek treatment confidentially except if you or someone else’s safety are in danger.10

Many educators have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) which is a benefit that allows employees to utilize counseling and other services.11 EAP services abide by confidentiality standards.11 Similar to HIPAA standards, EAP providers cannot release private information unless there is a signed document from you or the provider believes that releasing the information would protect you or others from imminent danger.11

Seeking rehab treatment through your EAP can be intimidating if you aren’t sure what information might be shared with your employer. EAP providers are required to disclose any outside relationships or conflicts of interest, further securing your privacy.11 If you are using the EAP, be aware that your employer will be billed for the treatment.11 As someone seeking rehab treatment, you are also covered by the Confidentiality of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Patient Records privacy rule which keep your records private unless you give your written consent.10

Can I Still Be a Teacher If I Go to Rehab?

Returning to teaching after attending rehab might be an option but is contingent upon several factors. Some of these factors include location, professional organization, and personal decisions. For example, Florida has a Recovery Network Program that helps teachers seek treatment for alcohol and substance use without fear of being unable to attain a job again.

Other organizations, like the United Federation of Teachers, offer protections to aid you in seeking treatment.

Rehab & Treatment Options for Teachers

There are a couple of different types of rehab options including inpatient rehab, outpatient rehab, and detox. Depending on your concerns, one of these formats will likely suit your needs. The different programs have different lengths of time for treatment. You can call AAC’s drug addiction helpline to get more information about treatment programs.

Alcohol and substance use treatment might be covered by your insurance or EAP benefits.11 You can check your individual plan or call the helpline to find programs near you that take your insurance. With your EAP, you should receive a list of approved providers where you can get help. If you need to take time off from your work, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) covers employees pursuing rehab.12

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