Legal Services & Litigation
Legal Action Center provides free legal services to people with drug or alcohol addiction or other substance use disorders. LAC also bring lawsuits to create broader change that can benefit many people.
LAC provides free legal services to fight discrimination based on drug or alcohol addiction, access insurance coverage for addiction treatment, and protect privacy of substance use treatment records. Some services are only available to people living in New York. LAC’s services include:
- Discrimination in employment
- Access to addiction medications like methadone, buprenorphine, & naltrexone
- Health insurance coverage for substance use disorders
- Protecting confidentiality & privacy
Legal Action Center’s services range from brief advice to informal advocacy and full legal representation. LAC also brings lawsuits to create systemic change.
If a criminal justice or child welfare agency is forcing you off addiction medication, such as methadone, buprenorphine (Suboxone), or naltrexone (Vivitrol), please visit, Advocating for Medication Assisted Treatment.
If you live in New York and need help getting health insurance to pay for substance use treatment, ask your health care provider or lawyer to call LAC’s parity hotline at (212) 243-1313. People in all states can read LAC’s Parity Guide to learn how to get health insurance coverage for addiction and mental health care.
For other substance use issues:
- If you live in New York State, you may be eligible for LAC’s legal services. To speak with LAC’s legal staff, please call (212) 243-1313, Monday through Friday during regular business hours. Initial intake is by phone only. LAC will not respond to requests by e-mail and cannot serve “walk-in” clients.
- If you do not live in New York State, please visit FAQs and Resources.
For answers to common questions about addiction and substance use issues in the workplace, access to addiction medications, and access to health insurance coverage for addiction treatment, please read the FAQs.
Visit Resources for publications, recorded webinars, and training materials on all of these topics.
Legal Action Center fights to increase coverage for substance use services, including medication-assisted treatment (MAT). LAC fights for access to the full continuum of these services in the community and criminal justice system and for an end to discrimination against people with histories of addiction.
LAC fights to ensure substance use services and medications that are effective in helping people become and remain well, or services that help people avoid disease, are covered just as they are for other health conditions.
LAC fights to ensure that all people with substance use disorders can access the appropriate type and duration of care and supports they need to become and stay well.
LAC fights to end discrimination against people with histories of addiction, including protecting health information privacy and reducing legal and policy barriers.
LAC fights to increase access to health care, including addiction treatment, for people in the justice system.
Technical Assistance for Providers
Through our telephone hotline, Legal Action Center’s attorneys provide free legal advice to service providers and government agencies. We assist dozens of agencies annually with questions about confidentiality of treatment records, discrimination and other issues.
LAC provides legal information and advice to service providers and government agencies on these issues:
Confidentiality of Alcohol & Drug Treatment Information:
LAC’s confidentiality hotline provides information about the federal law protecting the confidentiality of drug and alcohol treatment and prevention records (42 C.F.R. Part 2). The hotline is free to New York treatment providers and government agencies. Outside New York, the hotline is accessible if the State alcohol/drug oversight agency subscribes to LAC’s Actionline service. To speak with a hotline attorney, please call LAC Monday through Friday between 1:00 and 5:00 p.m. at (212) 243-1313, or toll-free at (800) 223-4044.
For additional help with confidentiality questions, please read the Legal Action Center’s seminal book, Confidentiality and Communications: A Guide to the Federal Drug & Alcohol Confidentiality Law and HIPAA.
Denial of Access to Addiction Medications:
If someone was forced off addiction medication by a criminal justice or child welfare agency, please visit, Advocating for Medication Assisted Treatment.
Health Insurance for Substance Use Disorders:
To get help accessing insurance coverage for substance use disorder care, health care providers and other advocates in New York State may call LAC’s parity hotline at (212) 243-1313.
Legal Action Center conducts trainings on a variety of legal issues critical to people with addiction and other substance use disorders.
LAC conducts free training for addiction and substance use service providers in New York State if the provider serves people living with HIV/AIDS.
Current training topics include:
- Employment Rights for People with HIV, Viral Hepatitis, and Substance Use Disorders
- Accessing Insurance Coverage for Substance Use & Mental Health Treatment: the Federal Parity Law
- Overcoming Employment & Housing Barriers for People with Criminal Records
LAC also periodically provides training on cutting edge alcohol and drug confidentiality topics such as “Patient Privacy & Confidentiality in the Changing Health Care Environment: HIPAA, 42 C.F.R. Part 2, and Health Care Reform.”
To learn about upcoming trainings on issues related to addiction and substance use, please visit Upcoming Trainings. Or, to request that LAC conduct a training for your New York organization’s staff on one of the topics listed in What We Do, you may contact Vanessa Severino.
Service providers and government agencies outside of New York State may contact Vanessa Severino to see if LAC is currently offering trainings outside of New York. Please note that training outside New York is only offered occasionally.
To receive alerts about new trainings, please sign up.
To view materials from past trainings, please visit our Resources page, where you can also find publications and other resources on the topics listed in What We Do.
Legal Action Center has created many helpful resources on legal and policy issues related to addiction and substance use disorders.
Visit the Online Store to purchase:
- Book: Confidentiality and Communication: A Guide to the Federal Drug & Alcohol Confidentiality Law and HIPAA
- DVD Series: Understanding the Federal Drug & Alcohol Confidentiality Regulations
- Hard copies of LAC’s manuals and brochures, such as: HIV/AIDS: Testing, Confidentiality & Discrimination: What You Need to Know About New York Law
Learn more about Legal Action Center’s past Achievements in the area of Substance Use.