Getting Alcohol or Drug Abuse Counseling?

 What you say is NOT confidential.Meeting Of Support Group

A cornerstone of alcohol and drug abuse counseling and treatment is honesty. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has a healthy recovery percentage (around 5%, a little higher than average for the rehab industry), but the key to recovery is honesty. According to a 2014 Cornell Law Review article on privileged communications by Ari Diaconis, the possibility of recovery for those who attend AA but do not participate in discussions is virtually zero. The same applies not just for AA meetings, but any type or form of alcohol or drug rehab.

In Absalon v. State, 460 S.W.3d, 158, the highest criminal court in Texas, the Court of Criminal Appeals, ruled that if drug or alcohol counseling is court ordered, then all discussions in the counseling are not confidential or privileged and can be used against the person. They cited Article 38.101 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure and Texas Rules of Evidence 509(b). In this particular case, the defendant made some confessions to his rehab group that were then used to convict him.

This rationale and reasoning in the law is flawed. When probation officers can use alcohol and drug treatment discussions to revoke a person’s probation, there is no incentive for a probationer to feel at liberty to be honest in discussing pertinent issues. For example, how can a person seek treatment to stop drinking, if he or she can’t be honest in describing their mistakes (falling off the wagon) when such a confession will get their probation revoked?  This defeats the purpose of probation.

Last week, I was discussing this concern with a felony assistant district attorney and he too agreed that the lack of confidentiality defeats the purpose of treatment.

It is very important for anyone who is court ordered to seek treatment to understand that there is no confidentiality and that everything they say can be used against them to send them back to jail or prison.

It is a shame that our criminal justice system is designed to assist in incarcerating folks more than treating them.

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