Does rehab show up on a background check?

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Does rehab show up on a background check? 

No, rehab does not show up on a background check. Rehab is a process of overcoming addiction and should have nothing to do with one's criminal record. You’re entitled to confidential help in a rehab treatment.  

In fact, the Health Insurance Accountability and Portability Act privacy rule shields you from your health data breach and gives you full control of your medical records. Therefore, your drug and alcohol rehab treatment can never appear in the validation process. [1] 

Sadly, there’s a lot of stigma surrounding drug and alcohol abuse, and people have reservations about seeking help.

And that's why many would prefer their enrolment in drug and alcohol rehab to remain hidden and never show up in any employees check.  

The Impact of a background check on drug users after addiction treatment 

Drug use is a problem getting more and more prevalent in society. Statistics show that while 269 million people abuse substances, 35 million have a substance use disorder, and it is a problem that is only going to grow as the years go by. [2] 

However, this popular notion causes a lot of employers to discriminate against those with substances concerns.

A background search is for validation purposes, but a drug history will result in a red flag on a job application or potential for employment but may never easily be found unless with your consent.  

Also, if you have a past criminal offense, it's most likely to affect you. 

Unfortunately, many people cannot get their lives on track with a good job because of a past with drugs. 

What happens in a background check? 

It’s an evaluation of an individual's life to determine if they can stay sober and are suitable for a certain position or task. Both individuals and companies can conduct background checks.  

Rehab is a tricky minefield to navigate, and it can be tough to figure out who will and won't show up on a background check!  

The individual needs to provide the company performing the search with personal information, including name, social security number, date of birth, education, previous employers, and references.  

The company reviews the information and scans the individual through public records, law enforcement, and other entities.

The benefits are that the company has an idea of what to expect from the individual before hiring them. 

Are there privacy laws to protect workers after drug rehab? 

Yes, there are privacy laws legally required to keep any permanent record reserved. Don't worry; there are already government laws to give you legal help and keep your reputation hidden.

For instance, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) works with treatment programmes that require federal help. [3] 

So, under Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act policy, an alcohol treatment centre cover personal data for anyone enrolled in drug rehab treatment plan.

Fortunately, this privacy law minimizes the number of people to know your data. And that's why most rehab treatment centres will ask you to acquaint yourself with only one name: your first name.  

Apart from that, rest assured that the policy has a safe online storage record that only reveals your health data to a few relevant personnel.

Well, anytime you enrol in an alcohol treatment centre, seek the HIPAA policy, read and understand it. You have probably interacted with the policy while visiting a health facility for other reasons. 

Another regulation is the Confidentiality of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Patient Records. It also protects your addiction treatment rights.

It does not release information nor let out any data concerning your medication to an outpatient or residential treatment centre without your written agreement. [4] 

And the directive has a few exceptions to the strict confidentiality guidelines, for example. A court order may bridge the need for a written agreement if the case is a criminal offense like child abuse.

But such cases are uncommon, and you may already be aware of a past criminal history.  

Get the basics about alcohol rehab here.


Whom can you tell about your substance abuse treatment? 

You can choose to tell some people in your inner circle of your treatment plans.

It’s no damage for your employer (though not a must), family spouse, and even the insurance company of your enrolment to a substance abuse or alcohol specific treatment centre.  

The disabilities act law states that addiction is a disability, and it forbids even your employer from discriminating against any person when they're sober or have chosen the path to sobriety.

But you may decide to keep your alcohol treatment confidential. [5] 

Well, if you're concerned and want to remain private, then you'll need to complete the procedures in place for a medical leave or a job protected leave before attending a residential specific treatment centre.

And if you want to have extreme privacy, then an outpatient treatment programme is the best option. No one can keep paper trails, and work will go on as usual. 


Though not a must, your current and future employers can be aware of your addiction recovery.

Sometimes they may talk to treatment providers and organize employee assistance programmes and drug test to analyse and ensure your recovery. 

Insurance Company 

Your insurance company can keep records of your drug rehab stay. But the good news is that only a little basic data will be exposed, like the need for therapeutic services.

And the records are left unchanged and can be revealed only with your consent.  

So most insurance companies apply these laws. But if you find this isn't the best option, then you may have to use other financial options that may not require record-keeping by your insurance agency. 

Family / Spouse 

Your family members or loved ones cannot keep permanent records. They can only offer the best support and can even attend the therapy sessions with you.

They'll ensure your transition to recovery and a good life is well supported. 

Returning to work after addiction treatment. 

When you're coming back from addiction treatment, whether it's rehab or a 28-day programme, you're going to want to ease back into your old schedule as much as possible to avoid negative consequences. 

Remember to overcome drugs use. It takes bravery and commitment. So, if you decided to go to rehab facilities, and come out well, you deserve an award.  

Because according to a UN world drug report of 2019, about 35 million people have a drug use disorder, yet one in seven people undergo treatment.

Also, approximately 76% of the US workforce have substance concerns; therefore, bravo if you made one among the seven! [6]  

When undergoing addiction, you may often get to work under the influence, which makes you vulnerable to harmful character, poor decision making, and even serious physical harm.  

Regrettably, it's rare for such people to get the appropriate treatment as they do not want to risk their jobs. But in one way or another, their jobs might be vulnerable.

Thank goodness a rehab might save your job without it being known by any other than your current and future employers. 

Rehabilitation can be a process for anyone, no matter the severity of the addiction. So, before you return to work, make sure you've taken all the steps to make this transition successful for yourself and your employer. 

Steps for transition after drug rehab 

They include:      

  • Doing well in your rehabilitation programme.    
  • Get clearance from your treatment provider.     
  • Find out if your company has any policies you need to adhere to.       
  • Consider the impact on your well-being if you're still vulnerable to relapse (e.g., working with people who are still drinking or using drugs).        
  • Please consider that your employer may need to update its policy on substance abuse.      
  • Get information about the company's substance abuse policy. 

Remember, the workplace can be an excellent place to recover from an addiction without any stigma. You don’t need to worry much about that. 


Whether to go to drug treatment for addiction or not, it is difficult for employees to answer. A major concern for people considering rehab is that it will show up on a record in a background check.

When deciding whether or not to go to rehab, it is important to remember that there are many benefits to attending drug treatment, and it will never pop up nor be stored as their permanent record.  

If you're in search for help to end that substance abuse, there is paid advertiser online with specific treatment centre listing they can handle all you concern.

You can easily contact them for your quick recovery to retain your employer or job. 

Abbeycare Pricing Bot

About the author

Laura Morris

Laura Morris is an experienced clinical practitioner and CQC Registered Manager with over twenty years experience, over ten of which have been as an Independent Nurse Prescriber.

She has held a number of senior leadership roles in the substance use and mental health sector in the NHS, the prison service and in leading social enterprises in the field.

Last Updated: October 31, 2023